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KCC U-turn in bid to limit traffic issues

KENT County Council has launched an offensive to halt over-develop- ment in the southern part of Maidstone.

In a surprising policy U-turn, KCC has said it will in future raise objec- tions to sizeable planning applica- tions in the south of the borough if they are likely to impact on traffic flows at the Wheatsheaf junction. KCC’s approach has been adopted after a modelling study for Maid- stone Council's emerging local plan. Almost 3,000 vehicles an hour pass through the Wheatsheaf A229/A274 junction during the morning rush hour, causing conditions KCC de- scribe as severe.

KCC strategic transport and de- velopment planner Brendan Wright

Why Tracey has braved the Shave

THIS was Tracey Smith, who owns Sweeney Todd Barbershop in Lenham, moments before her dis- tinctive locks were shaved off to raise money for charity. Tracey lost all of her hair during chemotherapy treatment after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010, so when she heard of Macmillan Cancer Support’s Brave the Shave campaign, she was keen to take part. To read her story and see how she looks without her hair, turn to page 8.

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SO HAIRDRESSING 01622 739001

said: “Our position as highways au- thority is that no further develop- ment beyond that committed within the planning system can be accom- modated on these routes.” Without a Leeds-Langley bypass in place, KCC predicts some 3,500 vehicles an hour will pass the Wheatsheaf by 2031 – an increase of 11%, causing an 83% escalation in delays for motorists. Even with a Leeds-Langley bypass, morning de- lays will increase by 28%.

Cllr Brian Clark, who sits on both Maidstone and Kent councils, said: “I have campaigned for a number of

years for KCC to recognise the se- vere traffic impact of housing devel- opment along the


corridors and I welcome this change of stance.

“In recent years local residents

have been all too aware that the con- gestion at the Wheatsheaf is severe, and the recent high level of housing development along the A229 and A274 has pushed things to crisis point. “

Maidstone Council planning com- mittee chairman Cllr Clive English remained sceptical. He said: “In my 20 years as a borough

4 Villagers fail

to secure land RESIDENTS in Bearsted and Thurn- ham have failed to buy a parcel of land to protect it from development. Locals had pledged more than £500,000 to secure land at Bridge Farm, east of Water Lane, which once formed part of the controversial Kent International Gateway (KIG) proposal. Bearsted Parish Council had also pledged £80,000 to help purchase the land.

A spokesman for the Bearsted and Thurnham Society, which helped co- ordinate the response, said: “Sadly, we were not successful.” Thurnham Parish Council had offered £10,000 to the bid. Chairman Cllr Daniel Skinner praised those involved for rallying to the cause so quickly. Two plots were advertised for sale, with guide prices of £550,000- £600,000 and £300,000-£325,000, at the western end of the former KIG site. They form a sizeable green belt between residential development in Bearsted and the M20.

Mary Richards, secretary of the Bearsted and Thurnham Society, said: “The agent, Hobbs Parker, has told us that they are unable to reveal the identity of the purchaser.” 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

October 2015 No. 222 News Religious birthday

THE building that houses the United Reformed Church in Maid- stone is reaching the ripe old age of 150.

3 Bus idea in reverse

THE park and ride proposal for Linton has been thrown out by Maidstone Council. 4

We will remember

TRIBUTES are being paid to Bearsted servicemen who died during WWI. 18

Cycle track wanted

CYCLISTS are calling for Maidstone’s first ever pump track to be built.

21 Back from the bike

KATE Bosley has penned a book about her recovery from a serious cycle crash.

Comment Obituaries

22 46-47

42-43 44

Parish Councils 54-55

VEHICLES were added to the Speed Watch register in Boughton Malherbe; the future of the parish council was in doubt in Bredhurst; a dog killed several sheep in Harrietsham; driving on pavements was caus- ing concern in Hollingbourne; Otham was moving forward with a neighbourhood plan; a meeting was held in Ulcombe to discuss a contentious extension proposal.

Crime Reports 55 Road deaths

DANGEROUS driving and dis- traction have led to an increase in the number of serious injury traf- fic accidents in the past year. The number of people killed and seriously injured (KSI) on roads in Kent and Medway in- creased by 10% in 2014, up from 650 in 2013 to 715.


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