A Freedom of Information (FoI) request was recently lodged with Maidstone Borough Council to reveal further information about the discussions, plans and finer details of the proposals to build 2,000+ houses in Marden. Contrary to popular belief these are not always strictly confidential. The FoI request was complied with, and the information is now available below for anyone to download, distribute and review themselves as it’s now fully in the public domain.
Some of the information within had previously been disclosed, however a lot of it is entirely new. Reader’s attention is drawn in particular to the fully scaled maps and plans. The proposals clearly show the unprecedented scale of this development – if it goes ahead.
Please feel free to share your comments on this new data on the MPOG Facebook page.
About the Freedom of Information request
The full text of the Freedom of Information request sent to Maidstone Borough Council requested the following:
It is understood that the joint landowners [which include ALAN FIRMIN LTD] and/or the planning agency [DHA PLANNING LTD] and/or the developers [COUNTRYSIDE PROPERTIES PLC] have received pre-application advice, in regards to your “Call for Sites” scheme (2019) for the site at LAND NORTH OF MARDEN, off the MAIDSTONE ROAD in regards to the mooted “sustainable Garden Community”.
Please provide copies of any information regarding this pre-application submission, including but not limited to, the following:
– Details including notes of the site visit(s)
– Details including notes of any meetings, and
– The Case Officer’s written response
On 3rd April 2019, Maidstone Borough Council replied, you can read the full request here. They complied with the FoI request, provided the requested documents, and issued this written response:
At the request of their planning agents, an initial scoping meeting was held on 4 February 2019 between officers of the Council and the Countryside (the Promoter) and their planning agent DHA. The purpose of that meeting was for the Promoter to introduce the site to Maidstone Borough Council officers. No written advice was provided at or following the meeting, but Maidstone Borough Council officers identified the imminent ‘Call for Sites’ consultation and suggested that the Applicant should engage with the Highway Authority and both Maidstone Borough Council and Parish Members at an early stage.
On 15th February the Promoter and their agent met with KCC Highways. Maidstone Borough Council Planning officers also attended. Attached are a series of plans that were tabled by the Promoter at that meeting. Maidstone Borough Council offered no written advice.
On 25th February, at their request, the Applicant and their agent presented to officers and Members of the Borough Council and Members of Marden Parish Council. The Promoters tabled a brochure during the meeting, copies of which were taken away by both the Borough and Parish Council attendees. The brochure is attached. The purpose of this meeting was for the Promoters to brief the respective Members. Maidstone Borough Council officers attended and their feedback during the meeting was limited to (i) an indication that in promoting any scheme Countryside should consider including employment as part of a sustainable mix of uses; (ii) the suggestion that there should be a further meetings [sic] with Members to look at transport issues and to reiterate to all present the importance of the of the Call for Sites process.
Other than those documents referred to above, no further material has been provided to the Council and no written advice has been provided by Maidstone Borough Council officers and no meeting notes or minutes have been provided by either Maidstone Borough Council officers, the Promoter or their agent.