Farmland could still get 600 homes

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01 Dec 2010
Old plan remains, despite imminent new powers

FARMLAND which Swale Council once protested it had "reluctantly" earmarked for housing is another step closer to being built on.
Despite housing targets being scrapped by the Government, the council has been ploughing ahead with a document that will pave the way for hundreds of new homes at Stones Farm, Bapchild.

Senior councilors met on Thursday and agreed to rubber-stamp principles that will guide the development of 600 homes between the A2 and the railway line on the eastern fringe of Sittingbourne.
Council leader Andrew Bowles hinted at his frustration at the timing of the decision, just weeks before the Government is set to return decision-making powers for housing to local authorities.

Speaking afterwards, chairman of Bapchild Parish Council Andy Hudson said: "This is simply a case of
pushing this site through the planning process as quickly as possible before there is the need to re-evaluate the housing numbers. There is absolutely no reason why the progression of this site could not wait until such time as the council had a clear understanding of what their position was."

Councilors at Thursday's meeting of the Local Development Framework Panel agreed builders should make a financial contribution to the community but not necessarily to the planned Northern Relief Road.

The proposed route of the road, which has been shown crossing the Stones Farm development, was not a consideration, it was claimed.

Mr Bowles said: "I would not want those people in housing need in the borough to be left in limbo, waiting for a road some of us may not live to see."

In other planning news, councilor John Wright suggested the maintenance of a proposed 15 hectare open space could be transferred to Bapchild Parish Council.

Steve Waite
East Kent Gazette