The Maidstone Borough Council this evening narrowly rejected an application by Roxhill PLC for a 46,623 square metre development on Woodcut Farm at Junction 8 of the M20 in Hollingbourne. The Maidstone Planning Committee met is a packed Town Hall to consider an application for development at a location where three similar previous schemes have been rejected since 1991.
It is expected that Roxhill PLC who are part of Slough Estates PLC will formally appeal against the decision not to build on the site. Previous schemes that have failed in the immediate area and which have been fought by Maidstone Borough Council with millions of Council tax payers money include the Hollingbourne Business Park with a new ground for Maidstone United Football Club in 1991, the Kent International Gateway in 2009, and Waterside Park on the opposite side of the A20 in 2015.
The latest scheme which could provide 5,000 square metres of office space, 18,000 square metres of light industrial shop floor, and 24,000 square metres of warehousing has been opposed by all local Parish Councils including the Hollingbourne Parish Council, Kent County Council, Kent Police, local MP Mrs Helen Whately, Leeds Castle, CPRE, the Bearsted and Thurnham Society, and Natural England as well as many others.
The meeting started with Mr Rob Jarman, Chief Planning Officer, explaining that the development was included in the Maidstone Local Plan which will be subject to examination by a Public Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State in October.
A number of Councillors and others spoke and it was suggested that it was premature to consider the application before the Public Inspector accepted the Local Plan. Additionally a number of speakers indicated that the reasons for refusing the application were similar to those relating to Waterside Park and previous schemes especially as their development would be closer to the North Downs AONB.
Local resident Roy Lupton who lives next to the site expressed concern about traffic and the pollution from vehicles accessing the development.
Councillor Alan Bennett spoke on behalf of Hollingbourne Parish Council and caused some merriment as he suggested that the site could be a white elephant as there are already many other similar vacant sites in Kent next to motorways which have been developed but which are empty.
Mr Charles Blake from Roxhill PLC spoke in support of the £47 million development and indicated that some 9 hectares would be left for the planting of 7500 trees and that some £10,000 would be available to Hollingbourne Parish Council for community purposes. Some 3 hectares could be transferred to the Parish Council. Mr Blake also said that 700-1000 jobs could be created and that £14-£20 million a year could be injected into the local economy.
After much discussion about the application and an amendment by Councillor Paulina Stockell to oppose the motion of approval by Councillor Tony Harwood a vote was held and the application was refused. During the discussions many in the audience seemed to come to the impression that the Council officers present supported the application and Chairman John Perry stated that any decision would be made by the Councillors and that information provided by the Officers was merely advice.
For more details about the application (Reference 15/503288) please go to
Pictured below is Mr Charles Blake of Roxhill PLC who are expected to appeal against the decision to refuse planning permission.