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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 residents’ meetings have been called by Cllr Gary Cooke to discuss 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 ease congestion through Willington Street, Langley, Shepway, Leeds and Otham – will meet a “signifi- cant funding challenge”. Special reports, pages 4&5 Comment, page 30


Final go-ahead for Barty Farm houses


THE final sticking point on a controversial development in Bearsted appears to have been bridged. The borough council had already


given outline permission for 100 new houses at Barty Farm, leaving just the repositioning of the roadside wall at Barty House for its planning committee to resolve in January. A report to the meeting noted that the need for listed building consent to improve the site lines on to Roundwell meant the applicant, Crabtree and Crabtree (Bearsted) Ltd, had been “left with a resolution for planning permission that could not be implemented”.


The discussion that followed to demolish and set back the boundary wall 2-5-3.5m raised a number of is- sues, backed by 20 letters, many call- ing for the plan to be re-considered, in full, after being “rushed through previously at committee”. Thurnham Parish Council was concerned about the precedent that could be set for further development


at junction 8 of the M20 and the infill between Water Lane and Thurnham Lane as well as the lack of local school places. However, planning officers con- cluded that while the ‘green’ lawn setting of the property will be sub- stantially reduced, a new lower, and more gradual slope on the wall was


better, with pedestrian steps across the lawn creating a more formal gar- den approach. Councillors were rec- ommended that “the limited harm to the setting and fabric of the Grade II listed building should not prohibit the development of the site”. Borough councillor Nick de Wig- gondene said: “We tried our best with Barty Farm but their minds would not be changed. Only Cllr Prendergast from Headcorn sup- ported us and she was excellent but alone.”


The scheme faced considerable opposition, not least from the re- spected Bearsted and Thurnham So- ciety. The society’s Denis Spooner is pictured here by the controversial wall last summer.


Kate Kersey wrote on our Face- book page: “This is an utter disgrace - the only people that will benefit will be the developers..”


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SALE NOW ON


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.


15 Royal Star Arcade High Street, Maidstone 01622 296680 www.lfgs.co.uk


FREE No. 238


News Castle backs by-pass


LEEDS Castle boss Sir David Steel has backed a by-pass scheme to relieve congestion in south Maidstone.


Send-off for Francis


THE funeral has taken place for Francis O’Sullivan, who died in a charity event.


Return of dog bins


LENHAM has decided to pay for dog waste bins removed in council cost cuts. 10


April shop closure


A POPULAR Hollingbourne shop will close in April, villagers have been warned.


Snow brings chaos


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


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Town’s fringe festival 22


MAIDSTONE stages its seventh music fringe festival in May.


Obituaries 25


Comment 30-31 Parish Councils 42-43 Crime Reports 43


A LAND Rover Freelander was damaged outside a house in Ware Street, Bearsted.


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