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Maidstone Town Edition August 2013 No.196 Fears over homes shortfall


MAIDSTONE Council faces an uphill task to prevent new homes being built in the coun- tryside after it emerged it has not fulfilled the Government’s order to provide a five-year land supply for new homes. With the council’s emerging


Core Strategy not due to be adopted until summer 2014 at the earliest, planners have so far relied on the borough’s existing development plan, dating back to 2000, to determine where housing is and isn’t permitted. But the Government’s Na-


tional Planning Policy Frame- work (NPPF) demands that authoritieswithout a Core Strat- egy should have in place a five- year land supply – and


WHAT a difference a year makes! Two of the borough’s largest an- nual events – the Kent Showand Leeds Castle concert – took place below cloudless skies on the hottest weekend of the year. Thiswas in marked contrast to


12 months earlier when heavy rain and cool temperatures put a dampener on both events. Therewerenosuchproblems


at Leeds Castle this year as a record 14,000 picnickers stretched across the grounds as far as the eye could see, in glori- ous sunshine. In Detling, 75,000 people vis-


ited the Kent County Show- ground over three days, just a year after heavy rain transformed


the parking area into a mudbath and led to thousands of visitors being turned away. Kevin Attwood, chairman of


Kent County Agricultural Society, which organises the event, said:


“Whilst we are unable to control the weather, the sunshine cer- tainly encourages significantly more visitors to attend.”


 Leeds Castle concertP6  Kent County ShowP30


Anger as woodland quarry agreed


A DECISION to allow quarrying to go ahead in a treasured area of ancient woodland in Maidstone has caused outrage among resi- dents and environmentalists – not only locally, but nationwide. Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has granted permission to extend Gallagher Aggregates’ Hermitage Quarry, inHermitage Lane, into 32 hectares of ancient woodland at Oaken Wood, be- tween Barming and East Malling – a site revered as a home to rare and threatened species of flora and fauna. The decision – the first real


test case of Government's Na- tional Planning Policy Frame-


work in relation to ancient woodland – is considered to be of national as well as local sig- nificance and could put hun- dreds of other precious wildlife habitats under threat. It follows a three-week plan-


ning inquiry inNovember,when residents and conservation char- ities battled long and hard to save the woodland from poten- tial devastation. Kent Wildlife Trust has dubbed the decision “a bitter disappointment” while local MPs say the Government has “badly let down” the British public. TristanOsborne, Labour’s par-


liamentary spokesman for Chatham and Aylesford, said: “It is a deeply disappointing re- sult for residents in Ditton. “This Government promised


to protect our cherished green spaces, yet they have done the exact opposite.” The decision has come as a serious blow to opponents of the Croudace proposals for a nearby residential development (see story on page 6) who are fighting to protect Bluebell Wood in Allington. Woodland Trust chief execu-


tive, Sue Holden, said: “This is a landmark decision, but for all the wrong reasons. This


P30


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Recycling boost FROM Monday, August 5, re- cycling and rubbish collec- tions in Maidstone will change to help increase the amount residents can recycle from home. For more details, see the Maidstone Council- sponsored 12-page Borough Update in the centre pages.


Council refuses plea to protect woods


P6


Children’s centres may be closed P24


Maidstone has a shortfall, which has now been picked up by a planning inspector in a po- tentially landmark decision. Using an interim figure of 11,080 new dwellings between 2006 and 2026 – as stated in the South East plan – officers have calculated that 2,508 new homes are required from April this year until April 2018. The council has land supply for 2,135, meaning there is a short- fall of 370 (14.8%). The resulting difficulties are already being felt, with a plan- ning inspector deciding that a single detached dwelling in East Farleigh should be given permission for this reason. Francis Burniston appealed


over non-determination for his proposal for Eastleigh, Work- house Lane. Planning inspector John Papworth wrote: “The site is outside settlement bound- aries and within the country- side where policies of restraint apply.


“However, in the light of the apparent failure to identify a five year supply of housing land and the lack of real harm caused by the development…it is consid- ered that the benefits of the scheme outweigh the policy pre- sumption against development.” Following this decision, it is


now feared that the council will be unable to prevent housing de- velopments in open countryside. Principal planning officer


Sun shines on county celebrations P6


Golf part of plan for park


GAME golfers could get the chance to learn about Maid- stone’s heritage while taking a swipe with their putters if plans for Mote Park go ahead. An adventure golf course is


just one thing being considered to develop the park’s earning potential. Others include an ar- tificial ice-skating rink and a café and conference centre, overlooking the lake. Cllr Malcolm Greer said the


golf course, which would tell the history of Maidstone from marshland to the millennium, would increase visitors to the park. He also hoped the confer- ence centre could be a licensed wedding venue. Cllr Greer told the town’s business forum: “We need to look at franchising and increas- ing the earning potential of our assets. A council is not the thing to run facilities such as this, but we need to make Maid- stone some money and Mote Park could be a big earner.” Cllr Greer said the plans would include more car park- ing, plus more Wayfarer signs around the town, to help visi- tors find local attractions. With 400 people due to start


work at the new KIMS hospital next year and plans for the re- development of Notcutts, Cllr Greer said he was hoping a cir- cular bus service could be in- troduced linking Notcutts, KIMS, the town centre and the proposed Next at Home store.


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