Villagers protest at plan for new homes
VILLAGERS are fighting to protect their identity after the countryside fringes surrounding their community were earmarked for hundreds of new homes.
Signs saying "No more housing" and "Save our village" were put up along the A2 in Bapchild on Sunday to draw people's attention to the threat from the proposals.
Stones Farm, off Fox Hill, has already been the subject of detailed proposals for about 600 houses. And one of Swale Council's four options for its long-term development plan identifies Bapchild for more new homes, although do.es not specify an amount.
Parish council chairman Andy Hudson said: "We are only a village of 450 houses.
We seem to be continually targeted by the borough council for additional housing.
"We are not against new housing, we've already got 600 at Stones Farm. However, with another, 2,000 - based on previous plans, we could see more housing developed in Bapchild than for the Sittingbourne town centre regeneration.
"I don't think it's appropriate, necessary or viable."
Sittingbourne and Bapchild have been identified as the first priority for 5,000 new homes under option 4 of the core strategy consultation - the option that would lead to the number of homes in the borough increasing by 18,500 in 17 years - from about 55,000 to more than 70,000.
Council leader Councillor Andrew Bowles, who is backing option 4, stressed: "I do not agree with building one house in that area (south of the A2)," he said.
Commenting on the signs, he added: "I they (the residents) address whether they would lower the number of new homes. If so, what would they do about their children and grandchildren that cannot afford housing and cannot find rental accommodation?"
He added: "If they are not questioning the level of house building, where else should they go?"
Have your say on the council's core strategy "pick your own" consultation.
Visit www.swale.gov.uk/pyo or the council's Facebook and Twitter pages. Write to Spatial Planning Policy Manager, Swale Council, Swale House, Sittingbourne, Kent ME10 3HT.