Vil­lage ‘will be de­stroyed’ by plans for 50 homes

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Mixed Fortunes For Luxury Hotel - By Rachael Woods

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”.

Pic­ture: Gary Browne FM4212631

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

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