News – 12th May 2017

  1. Congratulations to and resignation received from our Chairman, Denis Spooner
  2. Triumph for democracy at last night’s MBC Planning Referrals Committee meeting
  3. Continuation of support to Co-ordinating Team
  4. New Woodcut Farm planning application
  5. Local Plan Main Modifications consultation
  6. Reminder of AGM date

Firstly, congratulations to our Chairman, Denis Spooner, who was elected with 73% of the vote as the third ward councillor for Bearsted in the by-election last Thursday, following Mike Revell’s resignation after just two years.

In the short time he has been chairman Denis has done an enormous amount under the Society’s umbrella to support residents in both parishes. His extensive planning experience and knowledge of the workings of local government, including a wide awareness of the local area, have been put to great use both in his written submissions to Maidstone Borough Council and speaking on behalf of the Society at several MBC Planning Committee meetings.

Unfortunately for the Society, however, his election has resulted in him stepping down as both Chairman and committee member.

We wish him well in his new role and will, of course, be calling upon his services (as, indeed, we frequently do with Cllrs Val Springett, Mike Cuming and Nick de Wiggondene) to help with local issues.

Secondly, some good news for a change. MBC’s Planning Committee on Thursday 27th April overturned officers’ recommendations that MBC SHOULD NOT DEFEND THE WOODCUT FARM APPEAL scheduled for October. Following a concerted campaign by both the Co-ordinating Team and visiting members, including our own four ward members, the small three member Planning Referrals Committee (set up under the constitution to enable officers to make a second attempt to halt decisions made against their recommendation) which has only been convened once before, upheld the 8-5 Planning Committee’s wish that MBC should defend the Woodcut Farm appeal.

The Co-ordinating Team, including Roger Vidler, put four questions to the Chairman, and made extremely well researched 3 minute statements to the committee.

Time and again visiting councillors got up to say that the Planning Committee’s decision must be upheld otherwise what is the point of that committee, or any other committee for that matter?

Finally after 1 ¾ hours of debate, the Chairman, Cllr Janetta Sams (Independent ward member for Harrietsham & Lenham) proposed the committee should vote to uphold the earlier democratic decision. This was agreed by 2-1.

A triumph for democracy.

If you would like to receive copies of the Co-ordinating Team’s questions and statements to the committee and also its letters to Alison Broom, MBC’s CEO, prior to last night’s meeting please email this address.

 Your committee plans to continue to support the Co-ordinating Team and also the Joint Parishes Group and CPRE in preparing for the Woodcut Farm Public Inquiry in October.

Woodcut Farm planning application – in the meantime we regret to advise you that a further planning application (consisting of 82 documents), billed as a resubmission but with 19 as opposed to 15 buildings, was both received and validated by MBC on 2nd May (something of a record for MBC). However, it seems that only Thurnham Parish Council received notification of this just yesterday, whereas neither Hollingbourne, Langley nor Sutton Valence parish councils, nor the Society had received the courtesy of such a notice. It has only just arrived in the past hour in the Weekly Planning List as apparently validated in the past week! We will offer you our thoughts on this when we have had a chance to digest the details.

Please let us know if this link does not work. It is to planning application no. 17/502331/OUT

Local Plan Main Modifications consultation

A reminder that the consultation on the Local Plan Main Modifications drafted by MBC planning officers is out for consultation until 19th May

Please let us know if this link does not work.

The Society will be contributing to this within the Co-ordinating Team.

A reminder that the AGM will be held on Friday 23rd June at 7.30 p.m. (doors open 7.15) in the Memorial Hall, Manor Rise, Bearsted.

We have offers of help to take on the role of Treasurer following Roger Vidler’s wish to step down, but we urgently need new committee members. Please do contact us if you think you can help.

As ever we thank you for your continuing support.

Woodcut Farm

Woodcut Farm

The planning application for wholly speculative commercial development at Woodcut Farm (agricultural land north of J8) is to be determined by Maidstone Borough Council’s Planning Committee next Thursday 30th June at the Town Hall at 6 p.m.

The Society is extremely concerned that, despite the Local Plan being under consideration by a Planning Inspector, with the Examination due in late September or early October, MBC officers appear to be rushing this application through (see the attached Committee report recommending approval) before the Inspector barely has time to read about it.

This may be the last chance to save the countryside at J8, the eastern part of the former KIG site, between the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Leeds Castle from disappearing for ever. Other items on the agenda are for further enormous housing developments at Langley (850 houses, business and retail) and Langley/Otham (several hundred houses) effectively extending Maidstone even further eastwards from Park Wood enveloping the historic settlement of Langley.

If you have the stamina please copy and paste all the members of Maidstone Borough Council listed below into an email requesting that this item be withdrawn from the agenda next Thursday. Attached are the two letters the Society has sent on your behalf about this development. Unfortunately as this agenda has already been published on MBC’s website the item can only be withdrawn by members at the meeting.

The more members of the public who attend this meeting the better to show the strength of feeling against such development in open countryside.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions.;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;;

Summer concerts at St. Mary’s Church

The Detling Singers are giving a concert on Saturday 4th June at 7.30pm to help raise funds for St. Mary’s Church, Thurnham. There will be Show Songs in the first half and the second half will be more formal. Wine and soft drinks will be served in the interval. The cost is £10 per ticket, available from Taylors Newsagent on the Green in Bearsted, or from Mike Mortlock from the Detling Singers – telephone no: – 01634-862297.

The NSPCC Choir, ‘Dawn Chorus’, will perform songs from four centuries, from Bach to the Beatles, in aid of the NSPCC, on Sunday 26th June at 4 p.m. also in St. Mary’s Church, Thurnham. Afternoon tea with cakes will be served in the interval. Again, the cost will be £10 per ticket, available from Lynette Horton – telephone no: – 01622-739051.

Paydens Pharmacy latest

Thank you to those of you who contacted Helen Whately MP with your concerns about the possible closure of pharmacies, in particular Paydens on the Ashford Road opposite Bearsted Medical Practice. Helen has kindly looked into the situation, and her response Helen Whately ltr 190416 is self-explanatory. It confirms what the pharmacist told us.

Pharmacy/Post Office/Spar shop

You may be aware of rumours around the village about the possible closure of the pharmacy at Paydens and also the post office, both on the Ashford Road opposite the Bearsted Medical Centre.

We have been in to ask questions of all three services.

The situation has been confirmed as follows:-

  1. Post Office – this will close temporarily for refurbishment at 5.30 p.m. on 11th May and re-open at 2.00 p.m. on 27th May. It will be made open-plan in line with other modern post offices.
  2. 2.    Spar supermarket – this will remain open for business as usual throughout the refurbishment and beyond.
  3. Pharmacy – the pharmacist told us that ongoing government funding cuts will result in the closure of some of the smaller and perhaps not so well used pharmacies across the country.

He believes that this particular pharmacy is very likely to survive as it is very well used and always busy. However, it is always possible that government cuts will be so great that it may affect the number of services that this particular branch is able to offer in the future.

In the meantime, if you wish to make your views about the principle of cutting such a service known to our MP, Mrs Helen Whately, the pharmacy has some pre-printed cards for you to complete and post to her. The address is Helen Whately MP, House of Commons, Westminster, London SW1A 0AA.

If you wish to send her an email please write to  (By the way, her surname is spelt incorrectly on the cards in the pharmacy).

Health matters are one of Helen’s particular interests and she is a member of the House of Commons Select Committee on Health.

AGM 17th June

The Society’s AGM for members will be held on Wednesday 17th June at 7.45 p.m. (doors open at 7.15 p.m.) at Madginford Hall. We are pleased to welcome Cllr Paul Carter CBE, KCC’s Leader, as the guest speaker. Light refreshments will be available.