Kent Messenger Column – 06-04-17
Fant Farm. For local people two words synonymous with a priceless Medway valley view and a haven for nature; a vital buffer between the urban and the rural in our county town, and the subject of avarice by speculative housing developers for all of my ten years or so in Maidstone.
As reported in last week's KM a Planning Inspector has just dismissed an appeal against a Maidstone Borough Council planning refusal, rightly concluding that the character of the area would be significantly damaged.
I was thrilled for the 'Save Fant Farm' group who have fought tirelessly for this result and I was proud to play my small part as a member of the team. The outcome demonstrates the power of collective community action and reinforces the importance of the Localism Act (Nov 2011), designed to give more power to local communities in the decisions that mean most to them.
Planning and infrastructure have long been amongst the most frequent topics in my mailbag and that is why protecting this constituency from inappropriate developments was one of my core election pledges.
More housing demands more infrastructure and the resulting increased traffic adds to the still unaddressed, and increasingly serious, public health issue of vehicle emissions in Maidstone.
Now in its final consultation stage the Borough's emerging local plan (eLP) should address these issues, to balance the controversially large number of new homes destined for Maidstone in the coming decade. It does not, despite the strenuous representations of many, including myself.
We have one last opportunity to persuade the planning inspector to further modify his report on the eLP through the final consultation process launched last Friday. Residents have until 5pm on Friday 19th May 2017 to respond and can do so online here: http://bit.ly/2mUZvMc
Fant Farm has proved the strength of collective local voices. Let us use them once again for the best interests of the wider Maidstone community.