There was success for campaigners last week, as Maidstone Borough Council's Planning Committee rejected a proposed housing application for 36 homes on a greenfield site in Cripple Street. Helen Grant, the MP for Maidstone and the Weald, attended the packed meeting at Maidstone Town Hall to offer support to her constituents and further her opposition to these new developments.
Mrs Grant has been following this issue for some time, after first being contacted by her constituents last year. She subsequently conducted an MP Outreach Survey of over 1000 houses to identify public feeling and met with local residents, councillors, the Valley Conservation Society and the North Loose Resident's Association to view the proposed site.
It was clear from Helen's survey that the vast majority of local people were against this development. This area is one of natural beauty which is already tarnished by high levels of congestion and pollution, it was clear that further housing would damage the quality of life for existing residents. With this in mind, Mrs Grant wrote to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles and Maidstone Borough Council's Chief Executive and Head of Planning to express her concern.
To the delight of campaigners, the application was refused on the grounds of protecting the historic Bockingford Farmhouse and the Loose Valley Conservation Area.
"It was excellent to see such a great turn out at this meeting and along with my constituents, I was delighted at the result of the planning committee. It was the right decision for the people of Maidstone."
South Ward Borough Councillor Mike Hogg
"This was a stunning victory for local residents and the Tovil Parish council who have tirelessly campaigned alongside with me on this important issue over many months... we must be vigilant for the developer could now appeal against the decision, our countryside is paramount and should be protected for the future."
Local resident and active campaigner Peter Newman said:
"Salvation for the Loose Valley appears to be with us. I am grateful for the dedicated assistance received from Helen who, when I first informed her of the dangers, immediately gave her full support. Without this support, success would have despoiled this haven for nature. It must remain a tranquil space for people to enjoy."
Helen will continue to stand with her constituents to oppose any future appeals that may arise on this development.
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