We don’t want your “benefits”
Dear CountrysideWe read your ‘Position Statement’ about the land north of the train line in Marden with some puzzlement. We realise that part of your role is to try to engage with, and engender support from, the existing residents of Marden, but you present your proposal implying that we would welcome the ‘benefits’ you claim this garden community would provide us with.Countryside, we do not think you know the people of Marden very well at all!You need to understand that we have actively chosen to live in Marden, either by staying local to the place where we grew up, or by moving here from another part of the country. All residents – in older houses and in newer houses – chose Marden (rather than Maidstone, or Tunbridge Wells) because it is a small rural village. You understand the appeal yourselves – your sales literature for Russet Grove describes the development as “Set against a stunning countryside backdrop in the picturesque village of Marden. Offering everything you’ll love about a historic community in a peaceful, rural setting”. Your latest proposals will turn Marden into a town. We do not want to live in a town.You say your proposal will bring better links with Maidstone and improved road junctions. We do not want better links with Maidstone – we chose to live rurally where a visit to a town requires a decision and a journey. We do not want larger road junctions, making space for more cars and busses – we chose to live in a quiet village, where our children can cycle freely and breathe the good air.You say you will provide a new primary school and a secondary school. We love the scale and setting of our existing village primary school; it has served our children well for 125 years. And we love the independence that travelling to secondary school by bus or train fosters in our young people.Apparently with no trace of irony, you say that we will benefit from “significant levels of publicly accessible open space”. We do not want your ‘managed’ open space – our village already has generous amenity land, endowed by past residents, and is blessed with a fine network of footpaths taking us through the productive farmland that surrounds us.We don’t want your benefits. Instead, Countryside, please allow us to tell you about the “Places People Love” in Marden. All of which will be lost should your proposal enter the local plan.We love our farming landscape – our wheat fields, our traditional pear and modern apple orchards, bounded with tall hedges from the original hop gardens. We love Marden’s fruit-growing heritage, and share our children’s pride when, on a day out, they spot Marden-grown apple juice for sale.We love the stoats and weasels, the foxes and rabbits, the bees and butterflies, the frogs, the voles, the birds of prey; the wildlife we see each day when we walk out into our Garden of England.We love our ‘Marden Skies’ – our stunning vistas over the Low Weald and towards the Greensand Ridge, changing dramatically with each season. Such is our affection for this beautiful landscape, we have a large, public-curated photographic group (established 2016) carrying that same name.We love spending time walking, riding and biking in the open countryside – raising our children to know about dock leaves and grass trumpets, Lady’s Smock and hedgerows, thunderbugs, wild garlic, acorn cups, muck-spreading, bird calls and minnows.We love getting a seat on the train up to London – it’s a long and tiring journey, but we chose to live out in Marden and sit (rather than live further in along the line and stand) because we love returning each day to the peace and quiet of our village.We love our dark nights with no light pollution – camping out on a trampoline with our children in summer to observe the circling bats and then locating Orion’s Belt as the night grows darker.We love the rural setting of our many historic buildings, both listed and unlisted – peg-tiled, cowled, cruck-framed and weatherboarded, all reflecting the distinctive local character and agricultural heritage of Marden.We love all these things about living in a small rural farming village.So Countryside, whilst we realise you have a job to do, and in the face of opposition and competition need to spin the positives of this proposal in any way you can, please do not claim it would benefit the existing residents of Marden. It would not – because we chose to live in a small rural village, and we don’t want your benefits.
Marden Resident Testimonials