In light of the disappointing news that the proposed “garden community” in Marden has gone through to the second stage of analysis at Maidstone Borough Council, Marden Planning Opposition Group (MPOG) have received the following statement from Steve McLoughlin, Borough Councillor for Marden & Yalding ward, which we are reproducing here:
“I was extremely dismayed and disappointed that the Garden Community proposal for 2000 houses in Marden has been selected together with two others, Heathlands near Lenham and Lidsing the other side of Boxley for further consideration when these other alternatives offer far better access than the Marden site, especially proximity to motorways. However, to be clear on the process the Borough is following in this regard, none of the seven potential Garden Community sites originally submitted in the Call for Sites has actually been rejected yet.
The Local Planning Authority has said that the Heathlands proposal is one of the Garden Community proposals that it will consider in more detail covering landscape impact, place-making and governance, housing, employment, infrastructure, and transport. This site has attracted more attention and publicity than the others as it would yield some 4000 houses even after some of the original participating landowners have withdrawn. Clearly, this would make a much greater contribution to Maidstone’s identified additional housing requirement than the site at Marden would. The Planning Authority also stated they will be exploring whether any of the remaining proposals should feature within the next public consultation, including the one at Detling, which again is a readily accessible site but being situated in an AONB is likely to require a robust justification.
So nothing has been finally decided yet and the next step will be when the preferred options are put before the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee in October. This Committee will decide which ones will go forward to be included in the Regulation 18b document that will then be going out to Public Consultation in November.
The arguments against the 2000 houses Garden Community in Marden have already been fully expressed and I will continue to support your campaign against any such development in Marden.”
Steve McLoughlin (Councillor details)