MBC meet again to discuss garden town

24 / 06 / 20

Maidstone Council’s garden community proposal is due to be discussed again at their Policy & Resource Committee meeting tonight, Wednesday 24th June starting at 6:30pm. If you’d like to watch live please click here.

Councillors passed a motion at their last meeting on the 29th April calling for greater transparency and scrutiny. They required officers to bring an update report to all future P&R committee meetings and the first of these update reports is now published for all to view. The report itself tries to make the scheme sound a lot more rosey then reality.

You can find the report HERE

Paragraph 2.3 states there have been a number of topic reports provided to MBC planners on the 15th June. SOHL asks, why are these not in the public domain and why are they not provided for member scrutiny?

Paragraph 2.4 states that MBC is working on a new Masterplan for the proposal. MBC has reduced the number of homes for the proposal to 4,000. This is still unrealistic as they will be able to build on the Mineral site for 20 to 30 years. Read more here on the quarry plans.

MBC are still trying to persuade councillors that a new motorway junction could be viable. Our view is that a new motorway junction is undeliverable, and uneconomic to the scheme. That’s before we even start on talking about car dependency and the impact such a car-based development would have on the environment.  Our understanding following talks with counterparts in Ashford, is that MBC have not spoken to them about a possible junction at Lenham Heath or Ashford, despite what MBC Council Leader, Martin Cox claimed at the last meeting.

Paragraph 2.5 refers to 16 acres of employment. Are they referring to the already established Rose Lane Industrial Park? MBC can not claim they have created employment, isn’t that cheating by using already existing employment?

Paragraph 2.6 sets out the landownership arrangements. However, MBC do not fully explain in their report how complicated the landownership structure is at Lenham Heath. They have kept the section vague on purpose to let councillors think there is potential. The residents at Lenham Heath and surrounding villages know this is false.

Paragraph 2.8 briefly talks about financial viability. MBC have not provided a Business Case or Financial analysis to prove the viability of the project. This would be deemed in many professions as unacceptable and unprofessional. We need to hold officers to account on this failure of governance and due diligence.

We have written to councillors of the Policy & Resources Committee ahead of their meeting to give them the real facts of the project rather than just the overly positive officer report. You can view our letter here.

We will post an update Blog after the P&R meeting on Wednesday 24th June.