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News | Roads and housing Councils clash over housing

MAIDSTONE Council chiefs have sent a thinly-veiled warning to neighbouring Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council to ease up on planning proposals which border its boundaries. Responding to TMBC’s Local

Plan consultation, Maidstone’s chief executive Alison Broom (pic- tured below) said her residents have been in contact to “express their gave con- cerns”. A letter to

the head of planning pol- icy Ian Bailey was described by one sea- soned observer of local politics described as a “declaration of

war”. It states: “Should Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council proceed with its development strategy, mit- igating transport impacts on al- ready busy routes into Maidstone will be vital, including the A20,

Drivers face diversions as

roads close A ROAD near Maidstone is due to be shut for up to 15 days for telecoms work to be carried out.

The closure comes in on Jan-

uary 3 next year in Back Street, near the villages of Leeds and Langley, at the junction with Avery Lane. Kent County Council sug-

gests drivers use the alterna- tive route via Back Street, Caring Lane, Forge Lane, B2163 Upper Street, Horseshoes Lane, Back Street and vice versa. The closure is to enable the installation of a new street cab- inet to be carried out by BT Openreach. There is also to be a tempo-

rary road closure at Caring Road, near Leeds, from No- vember 28, 2016, for up to five days for housebuilding to take place. The road will be closed be-

tween Otham Lane and Caring Farm. The suggested alternative

route is via Caring Lane, A20 Ashford Road and Otham Lane and vice versa. The road closure is to enable

a new entrance to be con- structed to a home. The work will be carried out by Hague Construction Ltd.

36 Maidstone December 2016

Hermitage Lane and A26, the latter having already been subject to a significant increase in traffic fol- lowing developments at Kings Hill.” The letter highlights potential proposals on the Maidstone border at South Aylesford and Ditton which “suffers from severe traffic congestion” and raises the “current problems around Hermitage Lane and the A20. It adds: “Focus in this regard should be upon an alternative route that draws road traffic away from this part of the A20 and Her- mitage Lane in particular, whilst having regard to mitigating con- gestion and improving traffic flows on the wider road network in the area.” The letter says that the proposal

could “also allow settlements to co- alesce with Maidstone” and that

Howard Rogers, the cabinet member in charge of panning at TMBC, said: “We have gone out with The Way Forward (consulta- tion) document and are awaiting the responses to come back. That particular issue has not been given to us by Maidstone Borough Coun- cil up to now but, at these early stages, we will get these responses in and qualify accordingly. “I am aware there are traffic is-

A protester at Hermitage Lane

“open space as part of any devel- opment, in order to address this issue, should therefore be a prior- ity”.

sues in that part of Maidstone and I amaware of a lot of development work. We are a long, long way away from looking at planning ap- plications but rather looking at where potential building could happen and what would be needed in terms of infrastructure to ac- commodate it.” One local planning observer told Downs Mail itwas “a highly signif- icant letter – a declaration ofwar”.

MP fails in bid to get plans for A274 homes ‘called in’

ANATTEMPT to have the govern- ment “call in” three controversial proposals for housing develop- ments on the A247 Sutton Road has failed. MP Helen Whately put the case

to the Minister for Housing and Planning, Gavin Barwell, in an ef- fort to have them reconsidered. Mrs Whately (pictured) said she was “out- raged” earlier this year when the three plans were put before Maidstone Bor- ough Council’s

(MBC) planning committee before the Local Plan Inspector had a chance to consider them. They have since been approved. The three sites which are next

door to the large Langley Park de- velopment would see another 1,300 homes built on the A274. The MP, county councillors and

parish councillors have expressed profound worries about the effect the housing will have on already- stretched roads, especially at peak times. Mrs Whately told Downs Mail:

“I asked to call in a bunch of things and those included the three de- velopments on the A274. “The minister said that he could-

n’t call them in because they are not of strategic importance or a

House-building in the Sutton Road area has been blamed for traffic problems

major national heritage site. It’s disappointing, of course, and I am afraid there is no next move from me. “I will continue to oppose the schemes.” MBC had commissioned its own consultants who agreed the junc- tions serving the new develop- ments would be at over-capacity but was happy the developers could mitigate against this. Kent County Council – the county’s highways authority – dis- puted the A274 could cope with the extra traffic. The three sites are at Bicknor

Farm, north of Bicknor Road and south of the Sutton Road. The issue of housing in the area

is likely to be one of the major is- sues at stake for the Maidstone

south east division seat on Kent County Council at nextMay’s elec- tions. The sitting Tory member for the

area, Gary Cooke, has been im- placably opposed to the develop- ments. He said: “Putting hundreds and hundreds of extra houses onto the Sutton Road without properly mit- igating for the transport conse- quences is just madness. “Considering that each of these

new houses may have one or two cars each, not to mention the houses that remain unsold on the existing, recently-built estates they’ll all end up on the Sutton Road.

“From there, they’ll further clog

up the roads in Willington Street, in Langley, Otham and Leeds.”

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