MBC Planning Committee to consider Windmill Lane Planning Application 17 months after original application.

Maidstone Borough Council Planning Committee is to formally consider an application From Country House Homes Limited to build ten houses costing around £1 million alongside Windmill Lane at their meeting on Thursday 26th April at 6pm in the Town Hall. The original application for 12 houses was lodged in December 2016 and both schemes have been opposed by the Hollingbourne Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, and a large number of local residents on a number of grounds including the poor access via a 3 metre wide public footpath which KCC Highways says is “dangerous for pedestrians”, the impact on the already stretched infrastructure of Hollingbourne, and the fact that the Eyhorne Street access partially uses the forecourts of adjoining properties. At the junction with Eyhorne Street the traffic is usually one way due to the presence of cars parked on the other side. During the morning and evening rush hours it is often gridlocked.

Additionally EI Group PLC, the landlords of the Village Hall which is behind the Windmill PH, have declined to renew the lease on the Village Hall which expired in August 2016 pending the outcome of the planning decision. This has led to concern about the future of the 50 year old Hall which will cost around £1 million to replace plus site costs. Apart from the fact that the Village Hall is in a state of limbo the possibility of development outside of the previous Village Envelope has caused problems to many local residents ever since MBC identified the site for possible housing.

The Village Hall Committee in particular has expressed concern about the traffic on the public footpath which is partly owned by EI Group PLC but maintained on a pro bono basis by local residents and the Village Hall Committee. A traffic survey was requested by the Committee over a year ago and Maidstone Borough Council refused to do this as previously reported at http://www.hollingbournepc.kentparishes.gov.uk/mbc-reject-request-for-a-windmill-lane-traffic-survey/

The Maidstone Borough Council is supporting this scheme and there are no affordable houses associated with the application although the developer has to pay £248,595 towards the provision of four affordable houses but not in Hollingbourne. The Report from the Planning Officer is at  17503118-Committee-Report.pdf (24 downloads)  

The Council has also declined to request an environmental impact assessment or an archaeological survey in view of the proximity of the site to the  historic Eyhorne Street Conservation Area. KCC has suggested the archaeological survey. Additionally the Council is satisfied that the drive in from Eyhorne Street is wide enough although the actual footpath is just over 5 metres wide before narrowing to 3 metres. The stated legal minimum for a drive-in is 7.3 metres.

The proposed developers and applicants for the multi million pound scheme have an issued share capital of £2 according to their most recently filed publicly available accounts which are freely available at Companies House. The developer has only had one very short meeting with the Parish Council almost two years ago when serious concerns were raised about the vehicle access.

Local Borough Councillor Patrik Garten has “called in” this application so it can be considered by the full Planning Committee which will only allow three speakers from the floor to speak for no longer than three minutes each. These are likely to be representatives from the Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, and just one local resident although a large number have registered objections. All the members of the Planning Committee have been invited to visit the location but at the time of writing only one has been to Hollingbourne although another one has promised to do so before next Thursday’s meeting. The meeting is open to the public.

More information about the application is on the MBC Planning Portal at https://pa.midkent.gov.uk/online-applications/ and the application reference number is 17/503118/FULL. MBC Planners have been asked to confirm the accuracy of the Map on the Portal because it appears to show the site access route crossing private property including a front garden and a 2 metre high grass bank.

Pictured below is the site plan and the narrow gap between the Windmill PH and Stable Cottage which is only 3 metres wide. The stated minimum for a fire engine is 3.7 metres and properties on both side of the public footpath (PROW KH199) are frequently damaged by vehicles both large and small. The planning application indicates that a sprinkler system may be needed in each house which would require water pressure of 30 psi which is about twice the pressure of the Victorian system in Hollingbourne. The house at the corner with Eyhorne Street is still currently undergoing repairs from an accident in June 2017 and the pavement bollard which is currently damaged has had to be replaced a number of times.

Proposed development of 10 large detached houses to the west of Windmill Lane in Hollingbourne. Based on the selling prices for the recently completed Godfrey Meadow development it is anticipated that these houses may sell for around £1 million. No affordable houses have been built of late in Hollingbourne despite a Parish Council housing needs survey identifying a demand for some. All of S106 benefit paid by Country House Homes Limited will be spent on Harrietsham.
Both the Windmill PH wall and the Stable Cottage fence have been repaired several times and the Windmill wall still shows several scars. The grass bank on the right was eroded when a new gas pipe was fitted under the dark tarmac on the right. There is no mains sewer under the footpath and the Village Hall relies on a cesspit. It appears that no sewerage capacity check has been done despite problems that were previously identified when the now completed Godfrey Meadow development was built. The Godfrey Meadow sewerage is stored and pumped out overnight.