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Maidstone & Malling’s No. 1 newspaper

May 2017 We are 20! community it serves. Inside,

we celebrate this milestone with a special edition of DownsMail.

Local Plan ‘will put us back in control’

THE days of speculative building are coming to an end, with Maidstone council’s Local Plan likely to be approved by the autumn.

That is the view of Maidstone Bor-

ough Council’s head of strategic planning, sustainability and trans- portation, following a further two “opportunistic” plans which were thrown out by a government inspec- tor on appeal . “It will see Maidstone regain con-

trol of its own planning destiny,” says Cllr David Burton (pictured). He said:“We have seen a flurry of applications that have been taken to appeal while our Local Plan has been absent. Now we are moving into new terrain, with the plan gain- ingweight each day.” He cited Gleeson Homes’ plan for

225 properties at Fant Farm, near Barming, which was refused by Maidstone council and fought by

campaigners for three years before recently failing on appeal. With the Local Plan in draft form

when he joined the council six years ago, he said: “I am hopeful we will have a fully- adopted Local Plan later this year after years of work. “We have got a

plan that recog- nises the need for development and how we intend to achieve that, meaning opportunistic developments can be refused unless they incorporate opportunities that are truly remarkable. It means that Maidstone will be back in control of its own planning destiny.”

Maidstone and the Weald MP

Helen Grant added: “I hope Maid- stone Borough Council will take heart that its refusals are being vin- dicated and perhaps developers will nowbe less confident in appealing.” If follows another steep learning

curve for Maidstone council, which has faced applications for solar farms in the region, with what Cllr Burton describes as only “vague guidance” from government. How- ever, this has worked in the borough council’s favour, he believes. Arecent proposal for nearly 64,000

solar panels on arable land at Great Pagehurst Farm, in Staplehurst,was also rejected on appeal, after having been refused by the parish and bor- ough councils.

He said: “The government is right


to encourage renewable energy as a sustainableway forward for society in general. Solar farms are not desig- nated and so they can be proposed pretty much anywhere. “However, the council has set a 23 Pudding Lane • Maidstone • Kent

high bar, creating its own case law by insisting that these are in accept- able locations.”

FREE No. 241

News A story of true love

TWENTY years ago, DownsMail landed on doormats for the first time, heralding a new era in local newspaper publishing. It has become a firm favourite with readers and advertisers, trusted for fair and accurate journalism. Two decades on, it is still a family-run company based in the heart of the

A COUPLE have celebrated a magical wedding ceremony – despite the bride learning of a cancer diagnosis. 3

Lockmeadow open

OWNERS of the Lockmeadow entertainment complex say work has finally fiinished

SPECIAL report on the traffic issues in Hermitage Lane.

New primary plan

MAIDSTONE is to get a new primary school, run by a local trust.


Mote Park vigilantes 12

VIGILANTE action has resulted in two arrests of suspected paedophiles.

Princess backs school 22

PRINCESS Eugenie is the new patron of a local osteopathy school.

Obituaries Comment

34 46

Crime Reports 47

A CAR was broken in to at Plains Avenue; tyres were slashed on a vehicle in a driveway in Derby Road; a John Street property was burgled and items stolen; flowers were picked from a garden in Alkham Road by two young women.

Parish Councils 47

CATHERINE James has been co-opted onto the parish council in Barming; the parish council at Loose has said that it is likely to have to pay to have bins emptied at the King George V playing fields; a map showing the location of fire hydrants in Barming is to be drawn up and sent to the parish clerk.

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Hermitage Lane fury 4&5

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