Downs Mail Windmill Lane photo call.

The Downs Mail is doing a feature about Maidstone Borough Council’s approval of a planning application for ten one million pound detached houses alongside the Windmill Lane Public Footpath despite strong opposition from Hollingbourne Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, and twenty one local residents. The application was passed on the 26th April 2018 subject to a legal agreement with the developer which must be completed by 1st July 2018.

Local Borough Councillor Patrik Garten supported the Hollingbourne opposition against the development which can only be accessed by a 3 metre wide privately owned and maintained Footpath. Councillor Garten opposed the application on the grounds that the access is poor and that there is no affordable housing within the village associated with the development. This is the third recent scheme outside of the former Village Envelope with no affordable housing for Hollingbourne.

The Downs Mail asked at short notice that local residents, who are against the development, should appear for a picture with Councillor Garten. In the event some 40 turned up with many others apologising for their absence. The feature by Dawn Kingsford will appear in the next issue.

The planning permission is subject to the applicant, Country House Homes Limited, achieving the necessary legal agreement with Maidstone Borough Council by 1st July and satisfying some 23 conditions which were set out by on the Report Summary that was supplied to the members of the Planning Committee prior to the meeting on 26th April. The full Report Summary can be downloaded at  17503118-Committee-Report.pdf (4 downloads) .

The comments from the Planning department that all of Hollingbourne’s concerns have been satisfied is in dispute. Only last week a lorry trying to enter the Footpath became stuck as reported previously on this website and in the Kent Messenger. In the past properties on both sides of the Footpath have been damaged by larger vehicles.

Among the conditions is a requirement relating to the closure of Windmill Lane for the installation of underground services that “Alternative routes will be provided for the duration of the closure”. As the Footpath is the only vehicular route to the Windmill PH car park, the Village Hall, and other properties this may pose a problem for the developer. It will be necessary to excavate the Footpath for the installation of a sewer and possibly other services and just now no sewerage capacity check has been done with Southern Water despite Hollingbourne having well previously publicised sewerage issues.

It is understood that EI Group PLC, who are the landlords of the Windmill PH and the Village Hall are yet to grant vehicular access rights to the development site and that this will not be considered until the developer can satisfy the conditions of the planning consent. According to public records at Companies House the developer of this multi-million pound project is a company with a share capital of £2.

EI Group PLC have so far declined to renew the Village Hall lease which expired in August 2016 pending the outcome of this development scheme. In the circumstances the Village Hall Committee is concerned for the future of the 50 year old Hall, a designated Community Asset, which will cost around £1 million to replace.

Pictured below is Councillor Garten on the right (in the olive shirt) in the Lane with local residents at the point where it is only 3 metres wide. The drive in from Eyhorne Street is only 5 metres wide which is not sufficient for more than one vehicle. The picture shows the section which is owned by EI Group PLC who must give permission for vehicular access to the developer. From the point where the picture is taken, the Footpath is owned by others who also presumably need to grant vehicle access rights.