Farmland decision in council's hands

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15 Oct 2010
Today (Friday) is the last day for people to submit their views about the controversial development of farmland.

Swale council’s Local Plan allocates land at Stones Farm in Bapchild for about 600 homes and 15 hectares (about 37 acres) of public open space.

If adopted, it will form part of the local development framework for the council.

But the land is also Kent County Council’s preferred route for Sittingbourne’s Northern Relief Road (SNRR).

The brief has caused uproar among villagers as the land, which measures 37 hectares (91 acres) in total, is meant to act as a countryside gap between Sittingbourne and the village.

Questions have also been raised as to whether or not the site is needed in light of the coalition government scrapping the previous government’s South East Plan housing targets.

The purpose of the development brief is to guide the preparation of more detailed planning policies.

Andy Hudson, Chairman Bapchild Parish CouncilAndy Hudson (pictured), chairman of Bapchild Parish Council, said: "The numbers put forward are based on housing targets that don’t exist any more. It’s now down to Swale council to decide their own housing targets. We feel, until the council decides what it’s going to do in the future, it’s a big site to bring forward and it would be better to wait because they may then know more about the SNRR.

"If the road comes through the site it will go through the countryside gap which is surely in conflict with the local plan which says 15 hectares of
the site is allocated for public open space for informal use forever.

"I understand why the landowner is doing this, but this is our community. We have to live here and I think it’s worth fighting for.

"We are going to do our best to fight off the site or restrain how big it gets."

The development brief will go before the council’s Local Development Framework committee when it meets at Swale House at 7pm on Thursday, November 25. 

By Hayley Robinson
Kent Messenger