Protest group's march attack on 'monstrous' housing plans

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23 Feb 2011

HUNDREDS of people are expected to take part in a protest march against plans to build thousands of new houses and a major road in Sittingbourne.

The Five Parishes Opposition Group (FPOG) described Swale Council's proposal for 5,000 new homes and a link to the M2 motorway near the Kent Science Park (KSP) as "monstrous".

The group, which represents the parishes of Bapchild, Bredgar, Milstead, Tunstall and Rodmersham, held a previous march in 2006 when similar plans were put forward by KSP. A petition of 3,000 names was collected and the plans were dropped.

KSP said its current plans for a slip road were independent of the council's strategy.

The council is currently consulting with the public on four options for the fulure of Swale over the next two decades. Planners say 13,500 new homes are required to meet the needs of a growing population.

However Andy Hudson. spokesman for FPOG, said the council's pbm was designed solely to enable the expansion of KSP.

He said: 'This is not about meeting the requirements of local people or people moving into the area. We are not depriving anyone of new homes as the borough has already suggested a housing quota of 13,500 new homes in the next 20 years would be sufficient.

"We want everyone to know what's at stake. Two of the options involve large scale expansion of the Kent Science Park."

Mr Hudson says that in order for KSP to get a slip road it must comply with Government policy - and that means it must be linked to a major junction,

"The southern relief road and the 5,000 houses required to fund the road are necessary for KSP to get their slip road, whatever they or the council say," he said.

"Now the housing proposals have re-emerged as part of Swale council's core strategy but the only difference is the possible locations of the 5,000 houses. Bapchild, Tonge, Teynhani, I wade, Minister, Halfway and Sittingbourne have all been identified as possible options."

Protesters will meet outside Wilkinsons store in Sittingbounie High Street at 10.30ani on Saturday.

They will march to the council offices in East Street where a presentation to councillors will take place.

Mr Hudson urged the community to rally round and get involved.

The consultation ends at 5pm on March 14. To view the document visit www.swale.gov.uk/ldf To comment visit www.swale.gov.uk/pyo.

For Kent Science Park's plans and for what they want to achieve at the site, see page 7.

Article by Jill Hurst, Your Swale


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