Update on Maidstone Local Plan Review – Sep 2020

04 / 09 / 20

What has happened in the last few months?

The second masterplan for the Council’s proposed Garden Community at Lenham Heath was considered at the Policy & Resources Committee on 21 July. In the new masterplan, the rail station, motorway junction and secondary school have been dropped, and the complications of the Chapel Farm quarry, which will extend beyond the life of the scheme, have not been addressed.

The A20 is already close to capacity and the Council’s vision that residents will predominantly live, work and play within the development and commute by public transport is completely unrealistic. The planned junction improvements and bus rapid transit scheme will do very little to alleviate any future traffic problems.

The outcome of the July Council meeting was that councillors voted to continue with the proposal which will be submitted as part of the forthcoming Local Plan Review consultation in the autumn. The vote, however, was close with nine councillors voting for and six against taking the proposal forward.

In recent months, SOHL has been campaigning to stop the proposal by:

  • asking searching questions of councillors at MBC’s committee meetings
  • requesting information from various agencies
  • working with the Parish Council, Borough Councillors, MPs and KCC representatives.
  • issuing press releases to raise public awareness
  • keeping the community informed via social media, our website and email notifications.

The development is far from a done deal. MBC’s proposal is now being evaluated along with the other sites submitted in the call for sites process by the Council’s planning team. MBC is defining its spatial strategy for the next 20 years as part of its next Local Plan.

We are hoping MBC will also release the reports it has commissioned to assess the call for sites. At the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee meeting in October, the councillors will debate MBC planners most favoured scenario for the Local Plan review. At this stage, we will know if the East of Lenham proposal will be included, or not.

SOHL’s strategy is to provide evidence to prove that the Heathlands proposal is unviable, unsustainable and undeliverable. We are preparing detailed environmental and viability reports and have commissioned a professional transport assessment. We will be lobbying councillors over the coming weeks to ensure they understand that this proposal should be thrown out as It doesn’t have any sound planning reasons.

If MBC’s proposal is included in the Local Plan Review, what is next?

The Local Plan Review will then go out to public consultation from the middle of October and will finish on the 13th December 2020. We have heard rumblings this may be delayed and could start in November; however, we have heard nothing official yet. This will be your chance to have your say. We will be asking residents to respond to the consultation, and it is vitally important that every one of us does this.

We will keep you updated via our website and social media when there is any more information.