A274 |News

Traffic delays homes verdict

APPROVAL for plans for 1,300 houses on the Sutton Road near Langley have been put on hold until Maidstone Borough Council (MBC)officials hold “urgent” talks with Kent County Council (KCC) over highways concerns. Amajority of Conservative mem-

bers voted to defer a decision to urge MBC to meet KCC Highways officers to discuss away forward. At the heart of the impasse ishow

developer contributions in the form of so-called S106 cash can be used to mitigate the effect 1,300 houses will have on the roads. KCC has voiced continued wor-

ries about the “severe” impact three large developments will have on south Maidstone’s already under- pressure infrastructure but is not in negotiations about S106 agreements. We understand KCC will argue

S106 money should be ploughed into investigations for a Leeds-Lan- gley relief road. MBCofficers say housing on land

south of Sutton Road (800 houses) and two plots north of Bicknor Wood (500 homes) “will not lead to a severe impact on highways”. Borough planning officials say

KCC has “failed to implement nec- essary highways improvements… to relieve congestion on the A274” and, for this reason, has been ex- cluded from S106 decisions. KCCdirector of transport Barbara Cooper has written toMBCchief ex- ecutive Alison Broom towarn of the “severe cumulative impacts” the three developments will have onthe A274/A229 corridor.

She added: “It remains pro- foundly disappointing that your au- thority has chosen to exclude KCC from S106 negotiations, as this has effectively removed any scope for collaborative working…” The decision to defer by MBC’s planning committee highlights once again tensions between MBC and KCCover the borough’s intention to build 17,000 homes. Cllr Matt Boughton pushed for deferral because the development on land south of the Sutton Road is the biggest single allocation of hous- ing in Maidstone’s Local Plan and wanted KCC to have a say. Planning chairman Clive English worried that a deferral might leave the applications “non-determined” and lead to a lengthy appeal process or put pressure on the Local Plan’s need for a five-year land supply for its development strategy. Lib Dem councillor Tony Har-

woodargued that, should the appli- cations be delayed too long, the authority will lose its hold on plan- ning matters. The eventual vote went along

party lines with the Conservatives and Ukip members defeating Lib- eral Democrat and independent councillors seven to five.

You vote for relief road POLL RESULTS

DOWNSMail readers have over- whelmingly backed a relief road being built to ease pressure on Willington Street and rural areas affected by increasing traffic in an online poll. Just over 700 people took part

with 652 (93%) casting their vote in favour of a Leeds-Langley re- lief road between the A274 and the A20 at M20 junction eight. Just 29 were against the link

while 20were unsure. Chairman of the influential, cross-party joint transportation board (JTB) David Burton – a Conservative borough councillor – said: “This is a very, very clear outcome from a large sample and the JTB, local and transportation authorities must listen to what the people are saying.” Willington Street pressure

group WILLact founder Jenny Sutton said the finding “totally

We asked: “Does south Maidstone need a relief road between the A274 and the A20 to ease congestion on Willington Street, Leeds, Langley and other villages?”

YES 93% (652 votes) NO 4% (29) NOT SURE 3% (20)

vindicated” her organisation’s stance. She said: “These figures do not surprise me at all - an em- phatic yes! Those who voted ‘no’ or ‘not sure’ have their reasons and I respect that. “Arelief road needs to be built

as soon as possible. The result of this poll demonstrates people’s voices are growing louder and louder – and are no longer to be ignored.”

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