Residents turn out in force at open day

19 / 11 / 19

Concerned residents from the surrounding villages of Lenham Heath turned out in force on Sunday to a drop-in information session organised by Save our Heath Lands (SOHL) at Charing Heath Village Hall, to find out about Maidstone Borough Council’s (MBC) proposal to build a Garden Community at Lenham Heath.

Members of this newly formed local action group were on hand to explain the proposal and encourage local residents to join them in their campaign to challenge the Council and sign a petition.

Helen Whately, Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for the Conservatives also dropped by to talk to residents and lend her support to the campaign.

SOHL campaigner, Kate Hammond said: “We spoke to over 150 residents who were totally shocked by the scale of this development and how advanced the council’s plans were for this so-called ‘Garden Community’ without any meaningful contact from the borough council. Many people weren’t aware of the scheme until they heard about our event.”

People were concerned and angry at Maidstone Borough Council’s secrecy, lack of transparency and from what we understand councillors on the council committees have already predetermined a £5m cost to the taxpayer for the ‘Garden Community’ proposal.

So many people living in villages to the east of Maidstone will be directly affected by the proposed Garden Community, and it will have a detrimental impact on the local infrastructure and environment.

Kate said: “We fear that the council won’t just stop at 5,000 houses in Lenham Heath and there are rumours that the total number of homes could be in the region of 10,000 to 15,000, crossing the borough boundary into the neighbouring Ashford Borough Council and Charing parish.”

House building has to be sustainable and in the right place as per national planning policy. Many of our villages and Maidstone itself have already accepted many new houses which have been built or are under construction without any improvements to the current infrastructure. It would appear that some of these homes are now standing empty as the housing market has slowed down.

SOHL want to question the Council – Before applying further pressure on communities we ask: why are they not fixing current infrastructure issues that have arisen from the houses that have already been built and are currently being built? Why doesn’t the council make brownfield sites more appealing to developers and allow them to keep the section 106 money so the developers are able to make the brownfield sites ready for homes?

That’s why we are calling on our local communities to unite and join us in our campaign to put pressure on Maidstone Borough Council to reassess their proposals and housing plans.