Relief road |News Eco village plan to pay theway

TENS ofmillions of pounds could be realised towards the cost of a relief road from the development of land near Kingswood, its own- ers have claimed. Farmer Rob Schroeder and busi-

nessman Keith Cook (pictured right and left), who between them own more than 120 acres of agri- cultural land, have put forward a scheme for an “eco village” of 900

homes. Broomfield Park Eco Vil- lage would be based where the Kingswood Christmas Trees busi- ness is sited, off Gravelly Bottom Road. “When it’s finished, no one will

knowit’s even here, itwill be pretty invisible,” said Mr Cook, who owns a small portion of the land available. He spoke at the public meeting

on November 2 and claimed that there are “developers ready, will- ing and able” to finance a large pro- portion of the estimated £75m cost of a relief road. The new by-pass road would in-

volve the widening of Burberry Lane with access to the eco village from a roundabout halfway along its length on the Langley side of Park Barn Road where the road turns sharply to the right. From there the link would cross

the B2163, proceed behind Langley village and emerge near the Potting Shed on an enlarged Horseshoes Lane. Although Leeds

Castle’s manage- ment have backed a relief road, it seems unlikely a link on its side of Leeds village will be viewed as favourably as if it cut through the opposite end. Plans by Eco

road and in a safe, traffic-free envi- ronment”. The Eco Build Partnership UK

brochure for the scheme says there is existing planning permission for a biomass heat and power station on the site where chestnut chip- pings from local coppicing work can be turned into energy. Mr Schroeder said: “There is a

significant amount of coppicing work going on here all year round and you can put wood chips into that.” The businessmen said the devel-

opment aims to be a “cradle to grave” scheme.

MrCook added:

Build Partnership UKwould provide retirement homes, rural housing and about 50 busi- ness units. Broomfield Park, which would

There are “develop- ers ready, willing and able” to finance a large proportion of the estimated £75m cost of a relief road

be surrounded by agricultural land and existing ancient woodland, aims to provide its own local pri- mary school and village green. The owners also claimthat it can

provide a cycle and jogging track, walking and pet-exercising “all off-

“You could move here as a first time buyer and leave in a box because of the different types on units we will have here.” Mr Schroeder

said that the com- munities secretary Sajid Javid should “call in” the issue of a south Maid- stone relief road

for urgent review. He added: “This has been going

on for decades. Nobody will put their oar in thewater over this. The traffic around here is horrendous and it is getting worse all the time. “The MPs Helen Whately and

Helen Grant should go toMr Javid and see if the issue of a relief road can be called in.”

Farming in the blood of rural stalwart

ROB Schroeder (70) has lived in the area all his life and is the fifth gen- eration of farmers to tend the land locally. His family has run the Kingswood Christmas Trees business since 1955, after they moved away fromrearing turkeys and pigs. He ismarried to Jenny and has two children and five grandchildren.

FOR what was billed as a “non-po- litical” publicmeeting so that local people could air their feelings about the ever-worsening traffic is- sues in the southern parishes of Maidstone, it didn’t take long for the politicians to revert to type. The little love lost betweenMaid-

stone Borough Council and Kent County Councilwas nevermore ev- ident. Of course, there are always ten-

sions between county bodies and the local district authorities, even when they are controlled by the same political party. Throw in tribal rivalry, and there

is often one depressing outcome – the people lose out. For the uninitiated, Maidstone

Borough Council is the planning au- thority which is run by the Liberal Democrats. It put together the

It all hangs on ‘modal-shift’ Comment by Simon Finlay

Local Plan and its 17,000-plus homeswhichwas adopted recently – albeit grudgingly bymany of the Tories. The road-building, highways au-

thority, Kent County Council, is run by the Conservatives by a hand- some margin. Some KCC members believe the Local Plan should have had at its heart an integrated transport strategy. In plain English, that means roads. Roads to carry the 30,000 plus cars expected as a result of the Local Plan. Much of the two hours at the

hotel formerly known as The Great Danes was spent raking over the past. The Torieswere accused of re-

writing history, the LibDems of not listening.What could have been an evening of positivity and hope for the future turned into a Tory/Lib Dem ding dong. The natives be- came understandably restless and irritated, however polite they re- mained throughout proceedings. For many leaving the hall, there

was a feeling of modest uplift, if only that the MPs Helen Whately and Helen Grantmight bang some heads together in an effort to get the squabbling factions to agree on something, anything. If the Lib Dems lose control of

the council at next year’s borough elections, it won’t be because of

the Local Plan per se – the housing quotas were central government impositions, after all – but because of “modal shift”. This is MBC’s natty, local gov-

ernmentway of saying thatwe are not to worry about the extra cars because there will be public trans- port provision and encouragement to cycle or walk. On paper, modal shift can look

almost plausible. The trouble is that local people –

who see what they see on the roads every day – can’t believe it. They won’t believe it. Both MBC and KCC claim they

are now working together more closely and that there is co-opera- tion. But, as was demonstrated in sound and vision on November 2, the people have no reason to be- lieve that, either.

Maidstone Weald December 2017 19

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