Village ‘will be destroyed’ by plans for 50 homes
A resident in a village where permission has been given to build 50 homes says she feels “upset and helpless” at the decision.
Sarah Louise Bowers joined a band of villagers at Smarden, who together with the parish council tried to fight the plans by Gladman Developments – and lost.
Although Ashford Borough Council (ABC) rejected the scheme at land between Smarden Charter Hall and Weathercock at Pluckley Road, Smarden, following an appeal, a planning inspector ruled in favour of Gladman last month.
The deadline to apply for a judicial review against the decision passed this week, meaning that campaigners have run out of options.
Retired nurse Mrs Bowers said: “Smarden is a beautiful village and it’s going to be absolutely destroyed by all these houses.
“I’m very upset but you feel helpless. The mind boggles at how they [the developers] will get 50 houses into the field.”
The parish council had already agreed to Gladman’s initial proposal for 25 homes but put its foot down, along with ABC, when the firm doubled its bid to 50.
“We all understand the need for housing but the four and five-bedroom homes that are planned are inappropriate,” said Mrs Bower.
“If there are two cars at each of the 50 homes, it will add to the traffic which at peak times is already an absolute night- mare.”
Sarah Ellison, chairman of Smarden Parish Council planning committee, said the body had put forward its arguments over a lack of school places, full doctors’ surgeries and traffic increases in a village where entrance and exit points are pinched, together with the existence of a conservation area – to no avail.
She said: “We fought these plans for around two and a half years and while we accepted the need for some growth we didn’t expect to have 50 homes just parachuted in.”
Mrs Ellison said the parish council had consulted with ABC but concluded that while there were concerns over wording of Gladman’s appeal document, they did not have a strong legal case to overturn the decision.
In a sideswipe to landowners who sell to developers Mrs Ellison said that they “might care to reflect on the mounting building on Kent’s finest agricultural land”.
Villagers have objected to plans to build 50 new houses next to Smarden Charter Hall
Planning committee chairman Sarah Ellison, right, has raised fears over primary school places