Welcome to the website of the Bearsted and Thurnham Society
Please bear with us as we update the website.
The Comments, Join us, Renew subscription and Links pages have been revised, although not yet finalised.
About us, Home and News will be revised and simplified soon.
Data protection has its own page which appears for now under Navigation in the right hand pane.
The Society cares about Bearsted and Thurnham and their residents. It is vigilant in scrutinising proposals for change which might threaten the character of the two parishes, their gardens and other green open spaces, their Conservation Areas, the North Downs Area of outstanding Natural Beauty, and the area of special landscape value in its foreground.
The Society liaises closely with the representatives of the two Parish Councils, with Kent County Council and with Maidstone Borough Council, with whom it is registered as the amenity group for the two parishes. It submits comments on planning applications and planning policy, road safety, traffic, public transport, amenities, litter, trees, open spaces, water, crime and anti social behaviour and other local matters. It attends Council meetings at parish, borough and county levels to monitor and, where appropriate, comment on, or object to, proposals affecting Bearsted and Thurnham. It works in close contact with concerned local residents.
Virgin Media – 2017
You will no doubt have seen the extensive works being carried out in the area recently by Virgin Media. We have been made aware of a large number of complaints regarding such issues (in no particular order):-
- Broken pipes
- Broken telephone and internet connections
- High cost of using a mobile to try to submit a complaint
- Lack of, or no response to telephone complaints
- Lack of safety equipment
- Scorched hedges
- Lack of, and chaotic signage
- Lack of safe walkways
- Bumpy and messy resurfacing
- Uncovered holes in pavements
- People being marooned in their properties
- Barriers left in an unlinked position, therefore vulnerable to the wind
- Barriers stacked against garden shrubs
- Lack of clearance of debris produced by works from roadside gutters
- Blockages caused by construction of new boxes
The Society has been assisting individual local residents, not least by acting as a conduit between residents left with no ‘phone/internet connection, and attended a meeting recently between Thurnham Parish Councillor John Horne, another local resident and representatives from both Virgin Media and KCC to discuss the issues.
A formal complaint, including a number of photographs, has been submitted by one local resident to KCC Highways. These are really serious issues. KCC has now placed Virgin Media on stop pending discussions on future working practices. This is not the only area in the country where Virgin Media has had its excavation licence stopped. In some areas large fines have been imposed on the company.
Following that meeting, Kate North, the Regional Affairs Manager (South) – ‘phone no. 07773 936891 – commented as follows:
“ I have passed the photographs kindly provided on to our Head of Compliance and the Head of Health and Safety. Both have come back to me with assurances that these will be considered seriously and quickly”.
As requested, she has also supplied contact details for a Community Liaison Officer, Stephanie Foulis, who can be approached for all comments and complaints, and has offered to visit the area.
Stephanie.Foulis@virginmedia.co.uk Tel. 07815 660138
We strongly suggest that you contact Stephanie if you have issues requiring resolution. Do copy us in.
22nd August 2017
Action required please
As you may have heard, yet another planning application has been submitted to develop Woodcut Farm. The application reference is 17/502331/OUT and details can be accessed from the Maidstone Borough Council website http://pa.midkent.gov.uk/online-applications/applicationDetails.do?activeTab=summary&keyVal=OPBJ6MTY0XJ00
This latest application, like those before it, is for the erection of over 45,000 sq m of mixed commercial development. This time the number of units is greater, 19 increased from 15, though their individual size is smaller. The closing date for comments is:-
9 June 2017
It is very important to sustain the level of objection seen thus far to this development which MBC’s Planning Committee has twice refused. Those decisions are now the subject of appeal by Roxhill to be heard at a Public Inquiry lasting ten days commencing 10th October. This date was chosen by the developers in the clear hope that by that time MBC’s Local Plan, which designates Woodcut Farm for development, would be signed off by the Inspector; thereby increasing their chances of success.
Your Society, along with other groups, including the Kent Association of Local Councils, the Joint Parishes Group and CPRE, has been working hard to counter this by arguing that Woodcut Farm should be excluded from the Plan and that the claimed need for extra commercial space should be the subject of further investigation as part of the plan review process due to be completed by April 2021.
If at all possible, please find the time before 9 June to object to these latest proposals. Comments should be sent by email to RichardTimms@maidstone.gov.uk and email@example.com or by post to
Richard Timms, Planning Officer, Planning Department, Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ
Set out on the next page are some of arguments you may wish to highlight.
- Development of this site would be very damaging to the local environment and the setting of the North Downs AONB.
- It would also have a damaging effect on the setting of Leeds Castle, Maidstone’s most important tourist attraction and the only building of national importance within the borough.
- Access and egress from the site (between two large privately owned residential properties) would be dangerous.
- Development would lead to a large increase in traffic, not only on the A20 but on the narrow roads to the south which are already congested during peak times.
- The proposed development is on an isolated site separated from urban Maidstone to the west.
- The site is not served by public transport meaning that the overwhelming majority of workers would have to rely on cars to get there.
- The case for additional development at motorway junctions is not proven. The prime example here is Eclipse Park which was once the great white hope for high quality well paid jobs in headquarters office blocks. This aim has never been realised. No evidence has been brought forward to suggest that development at Woodcut Farm would be any more successful.
- The proposal is entirely speculative. There can be no knowing how development of the site will progress since market forces will prevail and this is a time of great economic uncertainty.
- At the inquiry into the Maidstone Local Plan the Inspector called for a review of the need for additional employment provision and sites. Most importantly he asked that this review should be made across the wider economic area (i.e. including Tonbridge and Malling, Tunbridge Wells, Ashford, Swale and Medway). This is exactly the kind of assessment your Society and other groups have been calling for. The review MBC commissioned demonstrates that, when looked at on this wider basis, there is no immediate need for additional job creation. All are agreed that there is no immediate demand for additional office space.
- The above review failed, in our view, to adequately take account of commuter flows from Maidstone to other locations, especially to London where commuting numbers doubled between 2001 and 2011 and to Tonbridge and Malling and the thriving commercial corridor that exists between Aylesford and Larkfield where many people from Maidstone already work.
- The need for the Plan to be reviewed by April 2021 (which means that the process needs to get under way later this year) provides the opportunity for further and better thought to be given to these issues and to take account of all the additional sites that exist, or could come on stream, within the wider economic area. This would result in a balanced, strategic assessment of need.
- We hope these points will be of help, but if there are points you would like to discuss do get in touch. Thank you as ever for your support.
Maidstone Borough Council Local Plan
Examination in Public
This will commence at 10.00 a.m. on Tuesday 4th October 2016 at Maidstone Town Hall, High Street, Maidstone, ME14 1TF, over a period of five weeks, with the first two weeks starting on 4th October 2016, and a further three weeks of hearing sessions starting on 8th November 2016. The Inspector has issued a Procedural Guidance Note Procedural Guidance Note from Inspector and a draft programme Programme Draft 2 130816
If you plan to attend any of the sessions we would suggest that you check here first as the programme is always subject to change.
Tuesday 4th October 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. – participants Session 01A Legal Procedural Needs Participants 20160806 pages
2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. – participants Session 01B Legal Procedural Needs Participants 20160806 pages
Agenda Session 01B Agenda 20160805
Wednesday 5th October 10 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. – participants Session 02A (2) Housing Needs Housing policies participants 20160806
2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. – participants Session 02B Housing Needs (2) Housing Policies Participants 20160805 copy
Thursday 6th October 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. – participants Session 03 Transport Seminar + Alternative Strategy Participants 20160805
2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.- participants Session 03 Transport Seminar + Alternative Strategy Participants 20160805
Tuesday 11th October 10.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. – participants Session 04 Environmental Constraints 20160806
Wednesday 12th October 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. – participants Session 05A Housing Supply overview Participants 20160805
2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. – participants Session 05B Housing Supply SE Maidstone Participants 20160805
Thursday 13th October 10.00 a.m. to 1.00 p.m. – participants Session 06A Maidstone Larger Villages Participants 20160805 Agenda Session 06A Agenda 06A MIQ 20160805
2.00 p.m. to 5.00 p.m. – participants Session 06B Maidstone Larger Villages Participants 20160805
2016 Annual General Meeting
The Bearsted & Thurnham Society’s AGM will take place at Madginford Hall, Egremont Road, Bearsted ME15 8LH on Friday 1st July at 7.30 p.m., doors open at 7.15 p.m.
Local resident Martin Potts from Highways England will speak about the Lower Thames Crossing following the conclusion of the AGM business.
Light refreshments will be available as usual.
Please take this opportunity to join both the committee and fellow members for a convivial and interesting evening.
The committee members look forward to thanking members personally for their support throughout the past busy year.
Planning application for 100 houses at Barty Farm
With all commonsense cast aside this application has been approved!!!
Yesterday saw both good and bad decisions being made for Bearsted & Thurnham residents.
On the positive side we are delighted to let you know that the application to build 10 houses on land north of Apple Tree House, Ware Street, was rejected by Maidstone Borough Council. The development, if built, would have blighted the lives of residents living in the southern part of Hockers Lane and added significantly to traffic problems along Ware Street. Extra strain would also be put on local services in terms of education provision.
On the other side of the coin about twenty local residents, including Bearsted Parish Councillor John Hughes, sat through an hour and a half’s debate about the proposal for 100 houses at Barty Farm, including the demolition and partial rebuilding of a listed wall at Barty House to provide access, by MBC councillors in the Town Hall.
The running order for speakers was as follows:- Denis Spooner, spoke as an objector (he is currently a committee member of the Society) against the applications, followed by Michael Stark, Thurnham Parish Council, then someone for the applicant, and finally Cllr Mike Cuming as a Bearsted ward member. Cllr Val Springett was not allowed to speak (or even to be present) due to her home being in Roundwell.
Bearsted ward member and member of the Planning Committee, Richard Ash, gave a spirited defence of Bearsted, emphasising all the countryside, highways and education issues possible, but to no avail. He was strongly supported by members who are part of the Rural Alliance, but others seemed determined to push the application through on the grounds that they had voted to approve the Local Plan.
Bizarrely, the application regarding the wall (Bearsted parish) was refused whilst that for the housing development (Thurnham parish) was approved. It will be interesting to see, therefore, what the developer does next. Most likely an appeal to the Planning Inspectorate will appear on the grounds that the houses cannot be built without appropriate access. We will keep you posted.
Planning application for 100 houses at Barty Farm
This application will be determined by Maidstone Borough Council’s Planning Committee at the Town Hall on Thursday 28th April. The meeting starts at 6 p.m. and the application is agenda item 16/17 (the first few items will be dealt with very quickly).
A representative of the Society has requested a slot to speak against this item.
If you have the time do please consider attending this meeting to show your disapproval of the officer’s recommendation to permit this application.
To lobby the planning committee the file Information re Barty Farm application 280416 suggests points to mention and gives contact details of the Planning Committee.
This development, if allowed, would cause untold damage to all residents of the villages of Bearsted and Thurnham in terms of the environment, traffic volume and hazard, school places and other services.
MAIDSTONE LOCAL PLAN: REGULATION 19 CONSULTATION
As members will know, the Local Plan for development up until 2031 has reached the final consultation stage. Comments sent to Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), will form the basis on which the Planning Inspector appointed to review the Plan will reach his/her assessment. Effectively therefore all the comments submitted are being made to the Planning Inspectorate rather than MBC.
The Society submitted a detailed response
including two annexes
Welcome to the website of The Residents Association for the civil parishes of Bearsted & Thurnham
Why Not Join Us?
Aims and objectives of the Society
The aims and objectives shall be:
(a) To encourage civic pride and a sense of responsibility for the future of the Bearsted and Thurnham civil parishes.
(b) To promote schemes for the benefit of either or both of the two civil parishes.
(c) To respond to policies and plans, affecting Bearsted and Thurnham civil parishes, promulgated by the County, Borough or Parish councils, or by central government, or by other organisations, with a view to providing an effective channel for local opinion.
(d) To put before the appropriate authorities the views of the residents on any matters relating to the general well-being of persons residing in either of the two civil parishes.
(e) To oppose inappropriate development and in particular on planning matters, for example, development applications, to consider such matters and to put forward the Society's views including, for example, the appointment of representatives to attend public meetings.
To further these aims and objectives, but not otherwise, the Society, through its Committee shall have the powers to take all such lawful action as may be necessary or expedient.
The Society is non-political and non-sectarian.
(The 2007 AGM voted to agree that in its view fielding candidates in elections was not incompatible with this clause - i.e. not incompatible with the Society's non-political and non-sectarian status as set out in clause 2.)
Copies of the Constitution are available by application to the Secretary as approved 23rd April 1999 and amended 11th Nov 2005, 30th May 2006 and 1st July 2011.