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News Bypass ‘increasingly urgent’

A PROMINENT county councillor has told the inquiry into Maidstone Borough Council Local Plan that the authority is “determined to deliver housing regardless of the consequences”. Cllr Gary Cooke, who represents

“Subsequent planning decisions

south east Maidstone, said Maid- stone’s proposed 18,000 homes by 2031 is “disproportionate and ex- cessive”. The pressure on infrastructure

has caused the issue of a relief road linking the A274 and the M20 to be- come ever more urgent. In a highly-critical written state-

ment to inspector Robert Mellor, Cllr Cooke said: “We find it utterly unacceptable that a disproportion- ate and excessive amount of hous- ing is being crammed into the most severely congested part of the urban area of Maidstone, namely the south and south east area. “This has now been the case for a number of years but most unjustifi- ably since July 2015, when evidence became available to the borough council that highway capacity was a constraint to be applied to growth in this particular area.

taken by the borough council in the face of strong objections from KCC as local highway authority and local parish councils have caused many to conclude that the borough council is simply determined to de- liver housing, regardless of the con- sequences for the residents of the borough. “Many question the council’s de-

cision to hire its own consultants to justify private development and to contradict the views of the highway authority.” Cllr Cooke – who sits on the Joint Transportation Board (JTB) made up of parish, borough and county council members – refers to the re- lief road as a “desperately-needed piece of infrastructure” which is needed at the “earliest opportu- nity”. He wrote: “South-east Maid- stone, and in particular the village

Frustrated villagers ‘ramp up pressure’

FED-UP villagers in Leeds will be “ramping up” the pressure in the NewYear to highlight “worsening” traffic problems. Gill Fort (pictured), the Conser-

vative member on the borough council for the area, has already in- dicated residents are ready to be- come more militant if progress is not made for a relief road. She told Downs Mail: “It seems

to be getting worse in Leeds by the day. It’s not just the sheer volume of the traffic coming through but theway that people drive. “They go too fast, are aggressive

and shouting matches between drivers are all too common, I am afraid. HGVs roll through here every single day, despite the lorry ban, and few non-local people take any notice of the 20mph speed limit, particularly around the school and the church. “You’ll see a ramping up of pres-

sure in the new year, that’s for sure. People round here and in Langley, Sutton Road, SuttonValence, Shep- way and Otham are all saying the same thing. They’re fed up.” The Joint Transportation Board

(JTB) – made up of parish, borough and county council members – is currently sitting on three possible by-pass options but have yet to re- veal any detail publicly. It has led to accusations the proposals will not be revealed until after the Kent

28 Maidstone East January 2017

Council elections in May 2017. Downs Mail revealed in October

the three routes that are currently on the table. The issue is set to be one of the

major issues in the forthcoming polls, paricularly in the divisions affected by house-building in south Maidstone . At the public inquiry in to Maid- stone’s Local Plan, placard-waving protestors from Kingswood and Broomfield were reported to be in in FAVOUR of more house-build- ing. They want 900 homes on Broomfield Park, as a proportion would be affordable to local young people priced off the housing lad- der. A Broomfield Park development

has not been included in the Local Plan, despite a reported £20m con- tribution by the developers to- wards the estimated £50m cost of a relief road.

of Leeds, has needed a bypass for years. KCC has been working on a scheme since the early 1990s. “Originally, the strategic linkwas intended to support an urban ex- tension of the town out and into the more rural areas. Sadly this did not happen, andwhat residents are fac- ing is effectively the urban exten- sion but without the appropriate mitigating highways improve- ments. “On behalf of all my residents, I

urge you to ensure that the Local Plan contains whatever policies and reviews are needed to bring forward this desperately-needed piece of infrastructure at the earli- est possible opportunity. “Please restore some confidence

in the planning system in this part of the south-east and stop this plan perpetuating decades of poor deci- sions by a planning authority that is failing its residents.”

Cllr Gary Cooke

London air is cleaner than in Maidstone

AIR pollution levels in Maid- stone are as bad as those in cen- tral London, according to new claims.

Maidstone Green Party set up

itsownnitrogen dioxide stations, with four of the five locations tested breaching the 40mg/m3 limits. The Greens said Upper Stone

Street was more polluted than Leicester Square, Oxford Circus and Regent Street with 85mg/m3. The gyratory system around Maidstone’s Medway bridges measured 70mg/m3. Spokesman Stuart Jeffrey said

his group placed five diffusion tubes at different locations to monitor levels which they claim are breaching EU guidelines. Headded:“Weknowthat there

is very little air pollution moni- toring in Kent, indeed across the UK, so we decided that if the council doesn'twant to check the amount of pollution that we col- lectively breathe in then we will do it ourselves.” Ukip borough councillor Eddie

Powell (pictured),whohas raised serious concerns about pollution levels related to Maidstone’s pro- gramme of house-building, said: “We’ll all end up choking to death. We could end up like China with peoplewalkingdown the street with masks on their

faces. I was able access public health figures quite easily to il- lustrate the problems relating 1,300 new houses on the Sutton Road and theywere quite shock- ing. “I hoped that the pollution fig-

ures would help in hav- ing the ap- plications rejected but I was in a minority of one. The re- sponse seems to be to plant lime trees. “It’s pretty simple: the more houses you build, the more peo- ple you get and the more cars they drive mean more emissions.” Astatement for Maidstone Bor-

ough Council said: “We are com- mitted to working with our partners to improve air quality in the town while also balancing commitments to support busi- nesses and provide the housing that our residents need going into the future. “There is an existing Air Qual-

ity Action Plan that was agreed some time ago and is being im- plemented. Air quality is not an issue that can be readily resolved by a district council alone.”

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