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‘Prairie’ village could help meet homes target


THE Lib Dem group says a new village of more than 2,000 homes near Lenham could help meet the demand for housing in Maidstone.


Cllr Tony Harwood, the group’s deputy leader and planning spokesman, believes a large new self-contained village would be a better alternative than Maidstone Council’s approach of increasing the size of urban areas and villages. However, his group’s leader Fran


Wilson seemed reluctant to endorse the idea, insisting such a develop- ment would only be a “last resort”, with the Lib Dems continuing to pri- oritise brownfield, town and urban sites for new homes.


The Lib Dems – the largest group in opposition to the Conservative-


led minority administration – will continue to demand a much lower figure than the present target in the draft local plan of 18,600 homes be- tween 2011 and 2031.


Cllr Harwood told the Downs Mail: “I personally and my group as a whole have long supported the principle of a new village on ‘arable prairie’ to the east of Lenham, south of the A20.


“This would reduce the need for unsustainable urbanisation of green spaces within and surrounding Maidstone’s villages and suburbs and help preserve quality of life and


Orient Express to visit


THE Belmond British Pullman from the world-famous Venice-Simplon Orient Express is to make two trips from Maidstone East station, due to overwhelming demand. The Heart of Kent Hospice in Aylesford had arranged to bring the


prestigious train to the town this July to raise vital funds for the hospice, but the trip proved so popular that all the tickets sold out in just 14 days. Now the fundraising team is lining


up a second trip in September. Richard Neville, eventmanager for


the hospice, said: “Support for the train and the hospice has been so great that we felt it was right to offer those who missed out another opportunity to make the trip from Maidstone. The Downs Mail’s Dawn Kingsford


boarded the train from London Victoria for a tour of the Surrey Hills. She said: “The train, the food and the service were amazing. I felt like royalty for the day. It’s the


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our beleaguered wildlife.” Cllr Harwood has earmarked land near Lenham Heath and close to the border of Ashford borough for the new settlement. He believes it could be as large as Lenham, which has a population of almost 3,500, and a community infrastructure levy could fund a railway station on the existing domestic line between Lenham and Charing.


This would protect other parts of the borough including Lenham vil- lage , which would be expanded by 1,750 homes if the draft local plan comes to fruition.


£200m proton unit pledge


A £200m proton therapy unit to treat cancer could be built in Maidstone – one of the first in the country. Franz Dickmann hopes to get cut- ting-edge proton beam therapy available at the Maidstone Medical Campus (MMC) – next to the Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery (KIMS) at Newnham Court Farm, off M20 Junction 7 – within two years.


Proton beam therapy caught the nation’s attention late last year when the parents of Ashya King (5) sparked a manhunt when they took him to Prague to receive the treat- ment for a brain tumour because it was not available in this country. Mr Dickmann is confident he can get the financial backing to under- take the therapy, a targeted and con- trolled way to administer radiation to a tumour. “We will definitely do it,” he told the Downs Mail. “It is the future of cancer therapies because linear ac- celerators [a radiation technique] will be outdated by then.” Three other locations across the country are also hoping to 12


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The Big Yellow Building, St Peters St, Maidstone 01622 691 291 www.lincolnfur niture.co.uk February 2015 No. 214 News £5.7m road scheme


WORK to improve the one-way system in the centre of Maid- stone should begin next year.


4 Action to help OAPs


ALLINGTON has one of the high- est numbers of elderly people in the borough, according to a report on loneliness. 5


Slow upgrade job


SOUTH East Water has admitted the Week Street water main re- placement project has been delayed.


Primary concern 27


THE new Jubilee School in Gat- land House, Fant has hit back at its critics.


Obituaries Comment


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46-47 32-33


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IS the Travelodge the ugliest building in Maidstone? One writer thinks so.


Crime Reports 43


Parish Councils AN investigation was under way


FURNITURE was lent out in Barming; members allowances were snubbed in Loose; plastic wallets were debated in Tovil.


after a python was stolen from a home in Fant.


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Recycling goes up


ALMOST half of all waste in the borough is now being recycled. For more information see the Maidstone Council-sponsored 12-page Borough Update in the centre pages.


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