An Outline Planning Application for a Major Development
The Binbury Park outline planning application, much trailed over recent months, has now been submitted to the Maidstone Borough Council for decision. The proposal provides for up to 1,750 houses, 46,000 sq.m. of commercial space, a hotel, a local centre, a new primary school, a park and ride facility and new strategic road works facilitating access to the site and the A249 in both directions.
This application, although publicised as Detling, is actually all within the civil parish of Thurnham, apart from a very small area in the civil parish of Stockbury.
You may have attended the Thurnham Parish Council meeting on 16th July when representatives from Quinn Estates gave a presentation followed by a detailed Q&A session. Thurnham Parish Council’s November meeting at the Marriott Tudor Park Hotel provided an excellent opportunity for members to listen to councillors’ comments and to ask questions.
Thurnham Parish Council has been given an extension until the beginning of December to submit comments. Although the official deadline for public comments is 4th November it is highly likely that those received up to the beginning of December will be taken into account.
Your Committee takes the view that the application should be opposed, a view also held by Protect Kent, the Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, with whom we met in early October, and it would be helpful if as many members as possible made their individual views known to the Council. The Determination Deadline is 17th January 2019, and the Expected Decision Level is Officer Decision, which means that this entire outline application could be determined by just one person, Simon Rowberry, a Planning Officer.
In our view, the grounds for objection are:-
• The site is not allocated for development in the Local Plan.
• The Local Plan already earmarks sufficient land to meet identified employment need at Junctions 7 and 8, and housing requirements throughout the borough.
• It follows that permitting this site would undermine the Local Plan strategy and would lead to other speculative applications being submitted.
• The site lies in the countryside, outside the urban area.
• The site forms part of the North Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). While the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) does not preclude development within an AONB, provided there are compelling reasons and justification, no compelling reasons are given in this case.
• While the development is of a size to make a major impact on the environment it is not sufficient to comprise a sustainable community and would therefore impose additional burdens on already overstretched infrastructure.
• We doubt that the money the developers say they would contribute to the road works is sufficient to meet their cost, thereby imposing a burden on Kent County Council and, as a result, tax payers.
As you may be aware, Government policy requires local authorities to find more land for additional housing development to meet the national shortage. The figure for Maidstone is around 7,000, with even more in the near future. But this is yet to be agreed and no plans have been discussed as to how and where such an increase might be accommodated. The Maidstone Local Plan is now entering its First Review stage and it would be entirely wrong to start allocating large tracts of land for development until consideration has been given, within the context of the review, as to how best this can be done.
Your comments may be sent by post to
Simon Rowberry, Maidstone Borough Council, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, Kent ME15 6JQ.
Or by email