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‘Prairie’ village could help meet plan 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

Neuro homes vision

MAIDSTONE is set to be home to a groundbreaking new facility, caring for people with dementia and mental health issues. A plan is to be submitted for a

neuro rehabilitation village, offering round-the-clock care in a home-from-home environment for people with Alzheimer’s and other neurological conditions. The village, to be sited alongside the Kims hospital next to Newnham Court, off M20 Junction 7, would cater for single people and couples, allowing patients to be cared for 24/7 in a home environment, improving – and potentially prolonging – their life. The 6.5-hectacre site already has outline

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.

£1.3m site lost 14 Franz Dickman with his scheme

MAIDSTONE Council has lost a £1.3m grant because it was unable to purchase a suitable gypsy site in time. In 2012 the council was awarded the sum from the Homes and Com- munities Agency for a travellers’ site on condition that it becomes es- tablished within three years. That limit will expire on March 31 and the Tory-controlled council has admitted defeat. Cllr Fran Wilson, leader of the Lib Dems, said: “The borough really does need to move faster than it currently seems to do.” In spring 2013 the council almost purchased a plot in Kettle Meadow, Lenham Heath that would have pro- vided 15 pitches but was thwarted by locals who got wind of the idea and swiftly bought the land themselves. A council spokesman said: “We are now looking at alternative op- tions to fund the initiative including another bid to the Homes and Com- munities Agency.” However, Cllr Brian Mortimer says he has been advised that any successful grant from the agency would only be about 50% of that awarded in 2012. The new site would have helped address the borough’s shortfall of gypsy sites, which prevents the coun- cil from protecting unallocated land from being taken over by gypsies.


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

BEARSTED has one of the high- est numbers of elderly people in the borough, according to a report on loneliness. 6

Slow upgrade job

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

Village housing

COUNCILLORS were stunned by the extent of new homes planned for Harrietsham.

12 24 Crime Reports 25

A PARKING permit was stolen in a car break-in in Maidstone.

Comment Obituaries

46-47 30-31

28 Parish Councils 42-43

BOUGHTON Malherbe spent £4,300 on a history book; an anti-social driver persistently sounded a truck horn for 15 min- utes after midnight in Holling- bourne; thirty black sacks of clothing were dumped in Leeds; a grant was agreed to improve the village hall in Ulcombe.


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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