Farmers keen to grow houses MailMarks


WHAT would many farmers in our still wonderful Garden of England like most to crop: fruit, corn, vegetables, animals – or houses? Sadly, many would go for cement, bricks and mortar. I studied more than 300 landowner

offers to Maidstone Borough Council in its call for development sites to meet ever-increasing Government demands for housing. I was amazed and depressed by the huge number of farms, many of them large, among offers. It seems these owners and families now prefer to turn away from their farming lives and capitalise on high development land values to protect their futures. These are decisions not made lightly. The council must have been surprised

by offers which could have accommodated about 60,000 more houses in Maidstone – but at this stage probably needs about 10,000 of them. And many of these will be in centre or urban Maidstone, where required services already exist. But markers have now been put down, and with Government determined to “build, build, build” it may not be too long before the council will be forced to allocate more big residential sites. This will be more pressing if the proposed two garden villages at Lenham Heath and Lidsing do not progress. At this stage, the council is largely not accepting many new offers of substantial farmland around its selected growth villages of Marden, Staplehurst, Headcorn, Lenham and Harrietsham. Their current growth is already assured. But the offers are now in place… Among 300 offers are many unlikely

ever to make it. Some are highly-valued and protected sites – others would create major problems and local chaos. But if Church Lane, Otham, will now be

More traffic in Otham

REFERENCE the article about the Otham Bellway Homes appeal decision published in the Downs Mail.

In our view, the inspector’s decision will now generate even more traffic congestion on what everyone knows is an already congested road. This is not the way to resolve Maidstone’s ever-worsening traffic situation. Even worse, is the likely effect on the rural roads in the area where it would appear that genuine safety concerns expressed by residents have been ignored. Once again, it seems that the views of residents and their elected representatives have been overridden. Elected members of Maidstone Borough Council met three times to discuss this matter and each time came to the same decision that the application should be refused. The council considered that the concerns expressed by



developed with 400-plus houses following a successful appeal by the developer, what is sacred?

Does our farmland not now become an

even-more valued national asset with Brexit achieved? We import much farming produce from the EU, and in the next few years it may be more secure and cost-effective for this to be home produced.

King Street kings a

MOTORISTS are the kings of King Street, Maidstone. The unconsulted pop-up cycle paths nanced with Government money and speedily actioned by county and borough council officers caused immense problems and huge public complaints. KCC Highways say they must now be

removed – a massive defeat for the anti- car lobby. Questions about all the wasted costs are being asked.


Exciting times I JOIN the excitement (not

unanimous!) across Maidstone, Malling, Kent and the nation of the hard-fought agreement with the European Union after we voted time and again for Brexit. There have been tough, frustrating, annoying times, but now the job has been done and Britain has regained its full sovereignty and takes back control of our money, laws, borders and seas. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has

suffered plenty of knocks, mostly highly

Kent Highways regarding safety and traffic congestion were very important. Kent Highways are the experts and have a great deal of local knowledge, so it is somewhat surprising that the inspector chose to take a different view. It would appear that greater weight has been put on the old shibboleth of ‘modal shift’ as the answer to all our problems. Cllr John Perry, leader of the Conservative Group on Maidstone Borough Council

Review must be public

IT WAS reassuring to see some co- operative and cross-party thinking from the members of MBC’s policy and resources committee following Gordon Newton raising the issue of the inspector’s decision on the Bellway Church Road, Otham, planning application. There is no doubt that local residents

Now he has four years, at least, to lead us to a new and more successful place in what seems a big waiting world. He needed our support and loyal patience to achieve the many stages of Brexit. He needs it again from so many to create a more powerful and prosperous nation. Exciting times.

a A real Pippin

SO OFTEN I despair about the bullet- hard and rather tasteless apples sold in supermarkets, even though their colours attract.

Now I rejoice in the true English Cox Orange Pippin, which is best between late autumn up to spring. It is a much softer, tastier apple, usually with a very rosy glow. Not all Cox apples are the same variety, so beware!

Sadly, they are not widely stocked, but I have found the farm shop at Teston where they grow their own. The magnicent taste takes me back to my youth and childhood.


Post haste WARNED about possible Royal Mail delays, I posted my main batch of Christmas cards two weeks before Christmas at Barming Post Office box. On January 7, I received a call from a Maidstone friend to thank me for the card, with a cheque enclosed, which had just arrived. So, it took the best part of a month. At home, we received no post from December 21 until December 29, when 10 Christmas cards arrived, with others following even later. I tried to get a comment from Royal Mail press office – but that was as dead as its service.

who fought so hard to secure the planning refusals for these applications are, like myself, devastated that the inspector granted permission while acknowledging the additional congestion it would create, but refuting that the congestion would be sufficient to create a safety hazard. This is despite the statutory highway authority (KCC) stating very clearly that Bellway’s proposals represented a serious safety concern, especially due to the nature of Church Road. I therefore welcome the fact that MBC has requested a report from an independent legal source to evaluate their prospects for pursuing a successful judicial review of the inspector’s decision based upon irrational reasoning given to justify his decision and, let’s face it, it was incredibly irrational! What I nd disappointing is the suggestion that these councillors will hold

political or unfair, during an awful virus year no one envisaged when he won an overwhelming General Election victory.


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