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Housing target cut, but villages ‘are still at risk’

MAIDSTONE Council has cut its housing target to 18,600 – but Lenham and Harrietsham could still become part of Maidstone’s urban sprawl.

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics, together with new planning practice guidance, mean Maidstone has been able to re- duce its “objectively-assessed need” for housing by 1,000 to 18,600 homes – the equivalent of 930 new homes each year by 2031.

Harrietsham could gain more than 400 homes in the next few years through various proposals, and the council’s draft local plan earmarks 1,500 homes for Lenham by 2031.

Planning scrutiny committee chairman Cllr Val Springett, who represents Bearsted on the council, said: “Bearsted used to be very small. Sadly, it is on a very good

road – and so are Harrietsham and Lenham. At one time, Bearsted was about the same size as Lenham. Bearsted has been developed – but Lenham has not. The transport and infrastructure are similar and the ar- guments for developing Lenham and Harrietsham are good.” Protestors from HARD (Harriet-

sham Against Reckless Develop- ment) joined Lenham residents in a protest outside Maidstone Town Hall as councillors met to discuss key issues arising from the public consultation on the draft local plan. Although the committee was united in being “appalled” at the housing need target, members ac- cepted that some development was

inevitable – but they wanted to en- sure it was carried out where, when and how it was wanted. Cllr Springett said: “I was not popular with the officers for saying last year that these figures were ‘the consultants’ best guess’. I believe this figure of 18,600 will come down. Housebuilders will not build if their houses are not selling.” UKIP Cllr Eddie Powell said the figures would need adjustment, for example, if immigration were to be halted by border closures but Cllr Stephen Munford said he had no confidence in the report, arguing the council should have waited for the revised figures before coming up with its plan.

6 £4m update

for The Mall A £4m REVAMP of The Mall will get underway in January as the first phase of a bid to bring Maidstone’s anchor shopping centre into the 21st century. While longer-term plans hinge

Park life likely to get busier

MOTEPark could become the Hyde Park of Kent after consentwas granted for a company to hold up to eight major social events per year. Maidstone Council has given a premises licence to Social Events

Worldwide to host more events after The Feast–atwo-day food and drink festival – was organised on the August Bank Holiday weekend. The Social Festival, a dance and cultural event, will return to


on the proposed Newnham Court development, The Mall’s new man- ager,Andy Davy, is aiming to bring the “tired-looking” retail centre up to date. Newflooring and ceilingswill go

into The Mall early in theNew Year and, while short-term leases only are being granted to incoming traders, Mr Davy is confident most of the empty units will have been let by then. Mr Davy, who took over as Mall manager in May, said the site va- cated by T J Hughes was being left “strategically empty”. The 57,000sqft unit has been ear- marked in longer-term plans should Debenhams seek an alter- native site to Newnham Court, off M20 Junction 7,

36 OAK AND PINE The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 01622 691 291

September 2014 No. 209 News

Hotel under threat

THE Russell Hotel could be de- molished and replaced with 14 homes, if a planning appli- cation is accepted.

Threat to wardens

KCC has announced that com- munity wardens could be cut, which could leave some areas without one. 4

Stones ground boost

FOOTBALL Conference games can now be played on Maidstone United’s 3G pitch – if and when they win promotion.

13 Students celebrate

MANY pupils across the borough have a bright future after receiv- ing their A-Level and GCSE results.

Yours, for £15,000

HOLLINGBOURNE paint- ing goes to auction. 31

Warehouse proposal WATERSIDE Park revamp.36

Comment 38-3946-47

THE leader of Maidstone Council responds to an enquiry about housing figures, readers sound off about Willington Street and local MP Helen Grant defends her position on expenses.

Obituaries 40

FORMER mayor of Maidstone Je- remy Hindle dies, aged 68.

Parish Councils 54-55

A VILLAGE history book was backed by Boughton Malherbe for £5,500 funding; Cllr Peter Parvin told Broomfield and Kingswood he would step down from the borough in May; Ul- combe agreed to buy a plaque to celebrate the Tassell family.

Crime Reports 55 26-27 3

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