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News Protesters win homes bale APROPOSAL for 500 homes to the east of Hermitage Lane in Allingtonwas unanimously re-

fused by Maidstone Council’s planning commiee. The Croudace Homes proposal,

which would was for land border- ing Maidstone Hospital and Howard Drive, was refused on three grounds:  Development of the southern fieldwould have needed a link road that would have eroded an- cientwoodland, known locally as BluebellWood.  No contribution towards a country park, seen as essential to maintain the open gap between Allington andAylesford and the built-up area to the west in Ton- bridge and Malling.  The provision of 30% affordable housingwas contrary to policy that encourages 40% in urban fringe sites. There were 900 letters of objec-

tion from residents. Ann Bates, who lives in Howard Drive, repre- sented more than 2,000 members of NewAllington Action Group at the committee meeting. She said: “This site is part of the last remaining

green corridor on this side of Maid- stone and will be totally compro- mised by development. “It has massive biodiversity, with ancientwoodland at its heart, large arable fields and orchards and is surrounded by trees and hedgerows. If you are truly com- mitted to maintaining the gap be- tween Barming and Allington, and Aylesford and Ditton, you cannot allow development on this land.” The proposalwas to develop two

fields. The northern area, which in- cludes a reservoir, was earmarked for 380 homes in the council’s adopted local plan in 2000. Cllr Dan Daley, a ward member

for Allington since 1990, felt the de- veloper and its agent, BartonWill- more, stoked fury among residents by insisting on also developing the southern field, which would have compromised the ancient wood- land. He said: “Any development on this land is going to be difficult be-

‘We must stand up to government bullies’

A MEMBER of a residents group called on Maidstone Council to defy government “bullies” who want to force development on greenfield sites. On top of the Croudace Homes scheme, in the Hermitage Lane area there are pending ap- plications for 250 homeswest of Hermitage Lane, north of Oakapple Lane (Swan Proper- ties) and 80 homes south-

west of Oakapple Lane. Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust was granted outline planning per- mission late last year for 53 homes to replace the former nurses’homes in Hermitage Lane. The draft local plan earmarks the

area for a total of 1,240 homes. JohnWilkes (above), amember of

St Andrew’s Road Residents Asso- ciation, told the planning commit- tee: “Sooner or later, the whole area will be overwhelmed. The UK is now suffering a population explo-


sion, with an extra 400,000 people in the last year alone. It’s a mess, and the result of bad government policies in the last 20 years. It’s not the fault of Maidstone’s planning committee members. But it is your problem, and we expect you to do as good a job as you can to fix it. “We do need more homes but the

scale of the proposed homes in the Hermitage Lane area would de- stroy the local environment.We ask you to do simply what is in the best interests of residents, because we will still be here long after develop- ers have gone. “Look after your people and

don’t be bullied by developers or governments to grant permissions just to satisfy central targets, be- cause MPs atWestminster have no idea what’s needed locally, you do.”  The St Andrew’s Road Action Group was set up in 2012 to fight the proposed reopening of the road as part of a one-way system includ- ing the A26 Tonbridge Road and the B2246 Fountain Lane. The protest was successful, and

the scheme was removed from Maidstone’s proposed joint trans- port strategy the following year.

Read all the latest editons of the Downs Mail at Maidstone South August 2014

Protesters, including Lib Dem parliamentary candidate Jasper Gerard and borough Cllr James Willis, oppose the plan for homes on ancient woodland

cause it is not connected to any local road infrastructure.However, this developer and the agent have done nothing to alleviate problems and have ignored local feelings and escalated the demand and spread of the development. This is seen by us as an expression of anger and greed. “I have seldom, if ever, seen such militant reaction from my commu- nity. We asked them to only de- velop the reservoir field but they virtually doubled their develop-

ment numbers. “We asked them to respect the ancient woodland but they in- tended to drive a road through it.” The council will now turn its at- tention to defending its decision at an appeal. Cllr Tony Harwood, a committee member, said: “The ap- plicant has gone for the lowest com- mon denominator application.” Cllr Fay Gooch, who represents Barming and Teston, felt the scheme would have exacerbated traffic congestion on the A26.

NHS West Kent CCG news

CQC criticised IAN Ayres, chief officer of the NHSWest Kent Clinical Commis- sioning Group (CCG), has told his governing body “there were issues of inappropriateness re- garding some comments” made by the CQC in its criticisms of Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells hospitals. He reported the trust had

raised these with the commission and the CCG had written to NHS England on behalf of the trust.

Poor response THECCGhas been told that local patients are getting “a less re- sponsive” ambulance service for the highest category calls. The problem is being pursued by the urgent care board.

Service fear THE CCG has been told there are “various issues” concerning local dermatology services, which are now not seen as fit for purpose and aren’t meeting patient needs.

Down trend THE majority of patients inWest Kent continue to feel they have a good experience of GP and out- of-hours services – but latest re- sults show a reduction in positive experiences. This finding contin- ues the downward trend since 2011/12.

Homes care WEST Kent CCG has set up a meeting to improve care and practice in nursing and residen- tial homes. It wants visits to be seen as supportive.

Barbecue for African school

THERE will be a fund-raising Sunday lunch barbecue for the charity Gam- BLE on August Bank Holiday Sunday, August 31. The event, to raise funds for the Yalding-based charity, which supports a school in Farato, in The Gambia, will take place in the garden of Thatch- ers, on Benover Road, and feature live music from Childe Rolande, The Rel- ative Minors and Village Voices, as well as a craft sale with gifts from The Gambia, and games for all the family. Visitors can park along the road and should bring their own picnic rugs and chairs. Tickets are now available from 01622 814267, priced £7 each or £20 for a family of four if bought in advance, or £8 on the day, £25 for a family.

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