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Protestors get plans for solar farms scrapped


MAIDSTONE Council has bowed to public pressure and prevented two large solar farms from being established in theWeald of Kent.


In two planning committee meet-


ings, proposals for schemes on agri- cultural land near Staplehurst and Headcornwere refused. The first was an application for


63,888 solar panels on a 72-hectare site at Great Pagehurst Farm, bor- dering Marden Road, Pagehurst Road and Park Road in Staplehurst. The scheme would have met the electricity needs of an estimated 4,200 homes for 25 years. Three weeks later, a proposal to


create a solar farm that would have formed 15% of Headcorn’s built en- vironment was refused. Maidstone Council’s planning committee felt the plan to have 29,400 solar panels on 11.5 hectares of agricultural land at Great Tong Farm for 25 years


would significantly harm the coun- tryside. However, in the same meeting a


solar farm containing more than 20,000 panels was given the go- ahead on nine hectares of land At Widehurst Farm, off Thorn Road in Marden. It will produce enough en- ergy to power the needs of 1,000 homes over 30 years. The Great Tong Farm proposal


was arguably the most contentious; there were a host of objections, in- cluding from Headcorn, Ulcombe and East Sutton parish councils, on the grounds of damage to the coun- tryside. Anew group, Protect OurWeald,


was set up to stop the development. Spokesman Shellina Prendergast


said there were 25 grade II-listed buildings within 1,200m of the site, seven of which were 200m away. She added: “Grade I-listed Ulcombe Church is visible and it will be viewed from there and the Green- sand Ridge.” There was also concern at how


the agricultural classification of some of the land had apparently been downgraded from grade two to three. Nick Richardson, managing di-


rector of applicant Solar Securities, said the scheme had been reduced from 50 hectares to 11.5 hectares since itwas unveiled two years ago. He added: “It is now almost en-


tirely invisible and not caus- ing harm, according to the


22 Flood pair turn home into art gallery


A COUPLE who were washed out of their home by floodwater have turned tragedy into a triumph. Postmaster Tim Chapman (60) and his wife June decided to add a third storey to their house in Yald- ing, after it was devastated in the floods of Christmas 2013. The couple so love their village community they decided to fight not flee – and now live on the upper two floors of their home, the aptly-named Riverside, beside Yalding’s medieval town bridge. Tim (pictured) and June have


lived at Riverside for the past 10 years with their daughter Melanie Rae, a talented autistic artist.


June and Mel belong to the


Yalding Art Group. When their home was rebuilt following the floods, the former living room be- came an empty space so the cou- ple decided to open it as a pop-up art gallery and exhibition space – and the first year’s bookings are already full.


Artists, photographers and sculptors exhibit free, but there is a 25% commission on sales. The gallery opens officially on April 1 and will be open to Sep- tember 30. The first artists are prize-winning photographer David Jenner and equine artist Cheryl Johnson.


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Up to 30% OFF March 2016 No. 227 News Closure averted


AN attempt to close a road near the Wheatsheaf junction in south Maidstone has been thrown out. 4


Times are changing


MAIDSTONE Museum is to close on Mondays to save money and aid maintenance work.5


Cancer heartbreak


AN East Farleigh widow claims her husband was misdi- agnosed by health staff.


Housing demand


MORE than 300 people attended a meeting that called for a rethink of the local plan.18


Young carers praise


TRIBUTES were paid to young carers to celebrate the annual awareness day. 20


Idea to help lonely


MAIDSTONE will feature in a Mu- seums on Prescription re- search project.


25


Comment 30-3146-47 Crime Reports 31


THREE chickens were among items stolen from a farm in Staplehurst.


Obituaries 38 Parish Councils46-47


COUNCILLORS in Coxheath called for action after an unex- pected closure in Heath Road; East Farleigh called for parish unity after lorries were stuck in Lower Road; a play area was being resurfaced in East Sutton; Headcorn was to spend £1,178 on road markings; wet mud balls were being hurled at vehicles in Marden, where there were re- ports of cannabis-smoking at the railway station; a new clerk had been appointed in Ulcombe.


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