Yesterday evening the Maidstone Borough Council approved a planning application for a major warehousing development by Roxhill PLC at Woodcut Farm at Junction 8 of the M20 in the Parish of Hollingbourne. Development on the site has been opposed on previous occasions by Maidstone Borough Council, Kent County Council, local Parish Councils, local MP’s, CPRE, Leeds Castle, Natural England, and thousands of local residents. Over three million pounds of public money has been spent at three Public Inquiries fighting two previous developments on the site and on one across the other side of the A20 which was promoted by Gallaghers and which was called Waterside. The Charing based Kent branch of CPRE (Campaign for the Protection of Rural England) is now considering a legal challenge to the decision.
The voting was 7-5 in favour and Mary Richards, Secretary of the Bearsted and Thurnham Society, who have long fought development at Junction 8 called it “a black day for the community”.
The development will cover almost half a million square feet and is at the point where the M20 is closed for Operation Stack. It is also the scene of frequent rush hour traffic jams and is next to an AONB. It is also at the approach to Leeds Castle which is one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions and a major local employer.
Prior to the application going before Maidstone Borough Council a number of residents had expressed concern about the general local traffic impact of the development including a possible new junction at the end of Willington Street with the Ashford Road which is already very busy at most times of the day. There is much local concern about the fact that an A20/Ashford Road to A274/Sutton Road relief road, also known as the Leeds bypass, has been talked about it for several decades with the result that there is often congestion over a wide area including the proposed site of the Roxhill development. Today Leeds County Councillor Gary Cooke has put the following on his Facebook page:
Delighted to report that I personally proposed and KCC have today recommended approval to progress and fund essential feasibility work on a Leeds Langley Relief Road. We will be progressing the necessary work but as I said at the meeting – any contribution from Maidstone Borough Council should be warmly welcomed.
Details of the scheme are on the MBC Planning website as follows:-
The MBC Application Number is 17/502331 and information, plans, and comments are at http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/residents/planning/planning-application-search
Pictured below is the proposed site of the 495,000 square foot development.