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Have your say on our local plan MailMarks

AT long last! Maidstone Council has a

dra local plan for our consideration that will eventually lead to a government decision aer a local inquiry. It took me 10 hours to come to terms with the main detail in the 400 pages – but it is captivating reading, now available on Maidstone Council’swebsite. We know the Government will insist on Maidstone upping its house building in the period up to 2031 – the only question now is, how many it will sele for in approving our local plan. The council has engaged top specialists for the required evidence-based figure of our need and they say a massive 19,600 homes –well above last year’s expectations of 14,100. Maidstonewould like to prove this is too high for our land availability and provision of infrastructure and plans to present a case for 17,100. The dra local plan now unveils a selection of more than 50 sites where most of these houses could go. Most are on the fringes of urban Maidstone, largely to the south either side of Suon Road or to the north-west in the Barming/Hermitage Lane area.

landlord by housing benefit, but I believe this was not the only reason.

Our landlord had not placed our deposit in a rent deposit scheme and when we received the court papers we put this in our defence. When we went to court, she was fined a month's rent. She pleaded ignorance even though she rented out three other properties.

She had previously rented the flat we lived in to foreign tenants because they are not up on English law and I think the same applies to Judith and Fergus Wilson because housing benefit is guaranteed and people can lose jobs in this economic climate.

Linda Sane, by email

There may also be another element to this, Linda. The introduction of the benefit cap last year has frightened off some private landlords from accepting people on housing benefit. With claimants now less likely to afford the market value of their rent and rental property in high demand by those in employment, the temptation is greater for landlords to seek tenants not on state benefits. Response by Stephen

River depth has been lost

Dear Sir – Your January edition had an interesting leer from Bill Young about the effect of silt on flood levels. As a boy in the late 1940s and early 1950s I kept my sailing dinghy at Barnes boatyard at Tovil, so I knew the Medway very well. To find the best fishing places for roach and bream, my friends and I surveyed the

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Maidstone Town March 2014 33


But seven villages with significant services and facilities are designated as rural service centres. Harrietsham has four sites totalling 315 houses; Lenham three with 145 but many more perhaps towards the end of the period; Marden four with 550; Staplehurst two with 905; Headcorn five with 425; Coxheath three with 410; Yalding two with 265. The key philosophies for placing these houses seem sound – but the detail will bring local objections and infrastructure challenges. I hope the parishes will also weigh up the added security a larger population can bring to some services they cherish. The biggest challenges are urban highways and transport. The two key areas for more houses are already too busy at peak times and the council must work very closely with highways

river and took depth readings all the way from Tovil to Farleigh lock. The river was 13 to 13 6ins in the centre and well out towards the banks. I understand it is now about 3 6ins to 4. In the 17th or 18th century, the river was canalised all the way up to Tonbridge to take the large barges, which were hauled by gangs of men. As a boy I can remember two of these barges were derelict just below Tovil; they were big and would have needed that 13 depth. Since the volume of water carried by the river is defined as the cross-section of the river multiplied by the velocity, it is obvious that the capacity of the Medway is now a third of what it was when the river was dredged. Maybe the solution is to dredge the river up to Tonbridge once again. Perhaps the Environment Agency would care to comment. Peter Malby, by email

We spent £45 million in the last financial year on improving river flow, including dredging and weed clearance. However, dredging is oen not the best long- term or economic solution compared with other flood risk measures such as building walls or providing storage upstream. In many cases, dredging will not reduce the risk of flooding, because many rivers quickly silt up again as part of their natural processes. We therefore focus our efforts on dredging at locations where it has a proven benefit of reducing flood risk. Dredging or de-silting of some rivers, including the Medway, is now carried out for navigation purposes on a risk-based approach. As part of the River Medway’s annual

authority KCC to contain the load on Hermitage Lane, Tonbridge Road, Loose Road and Suon Road. It is on the highways case the two councils canwork well together and prove to the Government that a ceiling must be placed on the total number of houses. Maidstone Council plans to launch a new park-and-ride at Linton crossroads and to reduce town centre long-term parking. An emphasis will grow on cycling,walking and public transport, which has to be frequent and cheap to succeed. There are many unanswered questions, of course, but currently my main concern is keeping traffic moving in Suon Road and Loose Road if a bus lane is introduced. My biggest disappointment in the whole dra plan is that a business site is deemed unnecessary at this stage south of M20 Junction 8. It is a sensitive area and any development there must bewell controlled in design and extent. But I feel this is the prime location for new businesses to ensure greater prosperity for our residents. Now it is time for your say. Consultation starts on March 21 and closes on May 7.

maintenance programme, we undertake a 10- week programme of dredging between March and June each year.

Response by Environment Agency

No room for more cars Dear Sir – Isn’t it time a survey was done in Tovil to see if the facilities are capable of supporting so many more houses? Apart from the drain smells that arise down Burial Ground Lane (it’s not the tip) and Church Road, there is the problem of cars parking anywhere and everywhere. All the footpaths have cars parked on them and a good many of the drivers do not live in the roads they park on because there are not enough parking areas or people can’t be bothered to park away from their front doors.

Where I live there are parking spaces around the back of the houses. It’s time people were told to park there. Another problem is Burial Ground Lane. It is impossible to walk on the footpath because of cars belonging to people working and the large lorries and trailers. I know one shouldn’t moan about these things as people are working, but I and people who work at Tesco walk down this road every day, and a good many drivers are not too careful when driving where the road is narrow. More houses will mean more vehicles and more danger. And another thing – when are we going to get a footpath from the top of Farleigh Hill down to Tesco?

P Durant, Flood Hatch


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