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February 2017 Inspector cuts 900 off homes target

THE number of homes to be built in Maidstone as part of the contro- versial Local Plan should be re- duced by 900, according to a government inspector after a seven-week inquiry. Robert Mellor’s 35-page interim report largely vindicates Maidstone Borough Council’s approach but will now build 17,600 new houses instead of 18,500 by 2031. Local MP Helen Whately said

she was “frustrated by the failure to take into account” the many con- cerns raised by residents during the inquiry at the town hall. Two public meetings have been called by Cllr Gary Cooke to dis- cuss the impact on residents in south Maidstone. Cllr Cooke said he was “very dis- appointed” by the report, which he said is “full of inconsistencies”. Mr Mellor ruled that house-

building on A274 Sutton Road could be mitigated by providing bus lanes and road widening. He also warns that a relief road running between south Maidstone and the M20 – which would relieve congestion through Willington Street, Langley, Shepway, Leeds and Otham – will meet a “signifi- cant funding challenge”. Special report, pages 4&5 Comment, page 42

Campaign to stop farmland housing

CAMPAIGNERS hope to convince a government inspector to rule out housing on one of Kent’s iconic stretches of countryside near Maidstone.

Save Fant Farm Community Group and the borough council are both challenging an appeal by Glee- son Development for 225 homes on farmland at Fant.

The fate of the “boomerang” plan now rests with the inspector leading the inquiry.

Campaigners’ frustrations have grown in the face of a 1,200-signa- ture petition, highway concerns by the county council and its rejection by the borough council in April. The campaigning group, some of whom are pictured, has now handed a 53-page report to the inspector list- ing why roads and services in the area cannot cope with the develop- ment and the 400 traffic journeys it would create every day. Chairman Gareth Owen believes Gleeson’s persistence shows a lack of regard for the democratic process when the area is not in the Local

Plan. He told Downs Mail: “This is one of the last quintessentially Ken- tish settings in the area, with or- chards and oasts. We should be looking to provide for the needs of the present, without harming the landscape for future generations.” He will tell the inquiry: “This is a blatant and speculative attempt to circumvent the Local Plan process when it is close to completion. We will provide conclusive evidence

that this development is not sustain- able and little thought has been at- tached in endeavouring to provide any amelioration for the distinct loss of landscape in this already con- gested part of west Maidstone. The group maintains that “irre- spective of mitigating measures”, residents would be reliant on cars. Downs Mail approached MJ Glee- son Developments for a comment but received no response.


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FREE No. 238

News Right demo fizzles

A DEMO against the expansion of Maidstone Mosque attracted only 20 far-right supporters who stayed an hour.

Leeds Castle in cuts

FALLING revenues are forcing Leeds Castle management to make cuts.

8 Edie’s sensory appeal

THE parents of Edie Hughes have backed an appeal for a special sensory appeal. 10

M20 bridge charge

A DRIVER faces charges over the collapse of the M20 footbridge last summer.

Snow brings chaos

THE first snow of this winter brought problems for the roads.

Homeless helpers

SHOPPERS in Maidstone raised £1,000 for homeless people.


Parish Councils 32 Crime Reports 32

A CHIMNEY pot was stolen from the garden of a house in Marsham Street.

Obituaries 33 Comment 42 - 43 22 12 6

Recycling reminder

A FOOD recycling sticker will ap- pear on bins as a reminder to residents. For more, see the Maid- stone Borough Council-sponsored 12-page Borough Update inside.

01622 880840

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