Ruin approach

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12 Jan 2011
COUNCILLOR Bowles may be happy with the consultation procedures regarding planning proposals, but I feel that he is suffering from self-delusion.

As secretary of the Sittingbourne Society, I was heavily involved in submitting comments on the submission draft from the developers. I know that Bapchild Parish Council also made extensive representations.

When the local development framework panel reviewed the comments, they were effectively dismissed out of hand.

There are two key issues relating to that proposed development. The outline proposal was produced at a time when the previous Government had imposed substantial.targets for new housing on Swale and when the required housing density was high. Sittingbourne and its surrounding area was seen as the least-desirable part of Swale and it was used as a dumping ground for cheap and nasty housing.

The second key issue is the matter of the 15 hectares of green space at the eastern side of the proposed development, which is to be kept in perpetuity as a buffer between Srttirigbourne and Bapchild. Here, real smoke and mirror tactics are being used. On the one hand, the council is set to give its blessing to the proposed development, yet it knows that Kent County Council wants to drive the Northern Relief Road right through the middle of it.

Councillor Bowles needs to make a distinction between what is best for his plans, which were developed under pressure from the previous Government, and what is best for Sittingbourne and its surroundings.

Rather than hiding behind local plans and the like, all Swale Council has to do is to wait until the Localisation Bill has received Royal Assent, when it will be free to act in
the best interests of the town and its electorate.

If any approvals are given before then, one of the most scenic parts of Sittingbourne will be blighted forever by an unsightly development which would ruin the eastern approach to the town.

Michael Baldwin,
Farm Crescent, Sittingbourne

Published in East Kent Gazette