Green Party candidate: Mike Summersgill
Marden Planning Opposition Group (MPOG), have received a statement from the Green Party’s local election candidate for Marden and Yalding Ward, Mike Summersgill, which with permission, we will relay. This is a statement for the Maidstone Borough Council election on Thursday 6th May 2021.
“I have lived close to Marden for over 10 years, and south of Maidstone since 1988; I’m a recently elected Parish Councillor for Hunton, and have been their volunteer Tree & Pond Warden for the past 8 years. I am an active member of Marden Club and (until 2020) used the station for regular trips to London where, as a soil/water civil engineer for 45 years, I advised on technical bodies helping to remediate industrial contamination issues in the UK & EU. I’m also a Past President of an international water/environment Institution, CIWEM.
The Green Party is against the principle of building on greenfield land when so much derelict and brownfield land exists to sustain any new housing requirements. There are numerous brownfield sites in Maidstone and surrounding locations that have been identified in the existing MBC Local Plan, but developers ignore these ‘difficult’ sites and seem to take an easier/cheaper option of ‘finding’ fresh field locations. All the main parties’ councillors on MBC have supported its ‘local plan’ over the past few years, with its central government housing targets, and we can all see the effect of that on transport queues in Maidstone.
As residents of Marden, Staplehurst & Coxheath know, the Local Plan designation of a ‘Rural Service Centre’ sounds innocuous but leads to substantial loss of open fields and woodlands. Yet the infrastructure supporting our villages doesn’t get ‘improved’, and more of our minor roads become ‘rat runs’ (like that through Chainhurst & Hunton) as the main roads clog. As the Green Party in Maidstone showed, the invisible effects of air pollution remain a health hazard, and the background effects of traffic noise and lighting pollute our countryside… besides a tragic effect on our wildlife (and open spaces) by removing trees and hedgerows!
New homes need to be high density, affordable and social housing, for our younger families and single households, not larger executive homes in the ‘country’. That housing needs to be close to town centres and of sustainable efficient construction; government planning policy since 2010 seems to have been to encourage mass construction on greenfield without a view to future sustainability of housing stock and the communities growing around them.
The Countryside/Firmin proposal is not a ‘garden community’, it is development on agricultural land seeking to play on the closeness of a railway station for convenient transport links. Garden villages are designed to be 1500-10,000 homes in a ‘new’ location, with appropriate infrastructure. Tinkering around with a few ‘sustainable’ urban drainage features will not stop the site’s flooding, because that is the nature of the topography here!
Nothing adds up with this proposal, and I encourage you all to continue opposing it. Like the recent adoption of a ‘Climate Emergency’ by MBC’s councillors (only after Greens raised the concern publicly at a Council meeting), and our own installation of air pollution monitors in the town centre (to check air quality near schools), local Green Party activists continue to raise environmental concerns as responsible citizens, long before the main parties catch up.”
You can read the other candidate’s statements here: