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Boxley Parish Mail

CHAIRMAN: Ivor Davies CLERK: Pauline Bowdery ASST CLERK: Melanie Fooks Parish Office, Beechen Hall,Wildfell Close,Walderslade, ME5 9RU

Tel: 01634 861237 email: Website: Contact details for parish councillors can be obtained from the parish office, the Useful Contact Details leaflet or the website KCC agrees village green status

AFTER eight years’ hard work, the parish council’s initiative to have Walderslade Woods classified as a village green has fi- nally been agreed by the relevant KCC com- mittee on January 21. This means the remaining areas of wood-

land and adjacent plateaux are protected from any future development, so that local residents can continue to use them for recre- ation and leisure pursuits. A village green application for Round

Wood was submitted in 2006,KCChaving ex- pressed interest in developing the flat parts of this area. This application was suspended by the parish council whilst it successfully negotiated with KCC about a possible en- abling development on a small corner of the proposed area, to realise money to fund maintenance and improvements.

Bearsted Road

closed to traffic BEARSTED Roadwill be closed to all traffic for a maximum of three weeks from April 2, be- tween Newnham Court and New Cut Road for the re-routing of underground services. This is part of highway im- provement works connected with the KIMS development. No work will be carried out between 10pm and 6am as it was felt 24-hour working would have an unacceptable impact on local residents; but the road will remain closed. For a week after the total clo- sure, one side of the road will be open under traffic-light con- trol for cars and vans only. This closure will be a major inconvenience for residents in Grove Green and elsewhere. However, although the first fortnight of this period coin- cides with the school holiday, it is expected disruption will also occur over a wide area as drivers try to find other routes. Between 8 and 9am on a nor-

mal weekday, 2,000 vehicles use the New Cut roundabout. Further information is avail-

able on the KCC and parish council websites.Aplan is also displayed on the noticeboard outside Tesco, Grove Green.

Precept agreed THE parish council has agreed its 2013/14 budget and a parish precept of £97,983, net of a £3,005 grant from Government under the new council tax ben- efit arrangements. There will be more information in next month’s Parish Mail.

30 East The recession has placed this plan on

hold, but the parish council, concerned about losing the village green application when suggested new legislation comes in, pressed KCC itself to submit the application for voluntary village green status, which has now been successful. Parish council Chairman Ivor Davies said:

“This is excellent news for everyone as 98% of the woods will now be protected as a ‘vil- lage green’. “It has taken many years to get this classifi-

cation and, with the changes in legislation currently being suggested, we managed to get the timing right. Whilst it won’t, for the pres- ent at least, bring in any extra finance to sup- port the work of theWaldersladeWoodlands Group (WWG), it does mean that there is now legal protection and the threat of developing

the top plateau has gone”. Boxley Parish Council originally set up

the WWG in 2000 and has financially sup- ported the work of the volunteers since then. Two community consultations, the last in

2010, supported the parish council’s wish to see village green status for the woods and adjacent area. These consultations also highlighted the community’s wish for addi- tional facilities, but the chairman explained: “In the current financial situation this is un- likely to happen in the near future, however this is not to say itwon’t ever happen as the parish council tries to supply its residents with what they need”. The woods appear in the KCC Register of

Town and Village Greens under reference VG266.

Nature reserve celebration EVERYONE is welcome to a series of free events celebrating the Vinters Valley nature reserve from 2-9.30pm on Sunday, April 7. In the afternoon, at the Aldons Close community centre, there

will be talks on the reserve’s wildlife and history, a competition and a fun quiz. A DVD showing a year in the life of the nature re- serve will be available for a small donation. In the evening, a torchlight survey in the reserve will give a chance to see and hear night animals, and possibly bats, as well as scan the depths of the ponds and lake for frogs, newts, tadpoles, beetles, fish etc. This activity is especially aimed at families. Full details are available at or on the notice boards in the reserve.

Next store planning application COUNCILLORS did not object to proposals for a Next Home Store near Junction 7 of the M20, but raised several concerns. Representatives from the company outlined the application

for Plot 4, at Eclipse Park, at ameeting of the environment com- mittee.

Members understood the potential employment benefits and

the impact of such a prestigious development on a gateway route into the county town. However, they were concerned about traf- fic issues, the impact on shops both in the town centre and the local district, and of light pollution on the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. A number of conditions were suggested to mitigate these is-

sues, should the planning officer recommend approval of the scheme.

Panels rejected A DISCUSSION on renewable energy was led by Cllr Geoffrey Smith who said installing solar panels on the parish hall would reduce costs and set an exam- ple for residents. Cllr Tony Harwood said the

idea made good business sense and showed strong community leadership. However, other members were worried about maintenance , and whether the panels would be as productive as forecast. The proposal to spend up to £7,000 on solar panels was re- jected by nine votes to five, with the chairman abstaining.

Churchyard grant MAIDSTONE Borough Council has refused the parish council’s request for it to take over re- sponsibility for the closed churchyard due to the cost. It will instead pay a small

grant of £215 towards upkeep. Estates Committee chairman, Vic Davies, said: “It is a fraction of the cost of maintenance.”

Purchase of woodland considered

COUNCILLORS gave further consideration to the future of a 4.3-acre stretch of ancient woodland at Cuckoo Wood, near Boarley Lane, which resi- dents had suggested the parish council could buy and take re- sponsibility for. Cllr Tony Harwood suggested

that, rather than buy the land as proposed by residents, the parish council could support a consortium bid for funding to purchase and/or manage the area. A similar agreement had

been made over HorishWood. He added: “We should seek a valuation and then we can take the next step of talking to po- tential partners.Without know- ing the value, it’s difficult to make any decision.” Parish clerk Pauline Bowdery reported on possible partner- ship working with Maidstone Council, the Mid Kent Downs Countryside


(MKDCP) and other groups, po- tential maintenance costs and grant opportunities such as the

Heritage Lottery Fund. After discussing the importance of preserving ancient woodland and how many parish residents would benefit, councillors agreed to find out the cost of buying the site as a basis for dis- cussion with interested parties. The council had agreed at an earlier meeting to look into the issue after an approach from Burleigh Drive Residents’ Asso- ciation, who had been working with MKDCP to produce a draft plan.

Have you got news for us? Phone our News Desk on 01622 734735

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