In a packed Town Hall Thursday night Lib Dem Councillors defeated a destruct ive plan for a high density housing estate on school playing fields in Boughton Lane, Loose. The 220 unit estate if permitted would have led to fragmentation and direct destruction of part of ancient Five Acre Wood, contrary to national planning policy.
Local Lib Dem Councillor Derek Mortimer spoke passionately against the unpopular hosing estate plan as he presented a 1,500 name petition, while Ian Chittenden moved the successful motion for refusal -which was seconded and framed by Lib Dem planning spokesman Tony Harwood.
County Councillor Brian Clark, also present at the Town Hall commented, "Planning officers prior recommendation for refusal of a housing plan at Bluebell woods was inconsistent with their approval recommendation here. I am glad that the committee sent a strong message of clarity in refusing this application"
The planning application failed to deliver on the required 40% affordable housing demanded by Maidstone Council policy and many questions remained unanswered over how local roads and junctions would cope with the extra traffic. Congestion, poor air quality and pedestrian safety are major concerns in this part of south Maidstone which is being targeted for major housing expansion under the Conservative-led Council's draft Local Plan.
Local Lib Dem Cllr. Derek Mortimer commented after the meeting: "This decision is a victory for common-sense and the quality of life of local residents." He continued: "This planning application was clearly the wrong development in the wrong place." But Derek issued a note of caution: "It is inevitable that the developer will appeal against this democratic decision, and they will have powerful supporters. Local people and their representatives must remain vigilant and ready to fight tenaciously at any forthcoming appeal."