Maidstone Borough Council has rejected a request from the Hollingbourne Village Hall Committee for a traffic survey relating to the likely impact on the development of 12 houses alongside the Windmill Lane Public Footpath (PROW KH199) at the rear of the Windmill Public House in Eyhorne Street.
Other developers including Fernham homes who wish to build 10 houses next to Godfrey House have provided Transport surveys or Statements and there is concern locally that no survey has been prepared for the Windmill Lane development even though it can only be reached by a narrow 55 metre long public footpath with no space for pedestrians or passing places. It also joins Eyhorne Street at a narrow point and the drive in is no more than 4 metres wide and professional advice received by the Committee suggests that there will be around 100 more vehicle movements a day along the privately owned and maintained Windmill Lane. At the time of writing the planning applicants have not received permission to use the Lane for vehicles and no maintenance plans are in place.
The Village Hall Committee wrote to the Borough Council on 27th January with the following information:-
It is a legal requirement (under The Town and Country Planning Act) that planning decisions shall take into account material considerations. The access to the site is clearly a planning consideration as are the requirements of the NPPF. For the authority to not request a Transport Statement to enable fair and consistent assessment of the proposed development is tantamount to biased pre-determination in favour of the proposal without proper account taken of all material considerations.
This had been rejected by Maidstone planners despite a public site meeting on 8th February organised by KCC Councillor Jenny Whittle with KCC Highways where it was agreed that a Transport survey should be undertaken and that Kent Fire and Rescue Service should also be consulted about the access. The request for a Transport survey has also been backed by local MBC Councillor Patrik Garten and by Hollingbourne Parish Council.
At the time of the MBC call for sites exercise last year KCC Highways stated the following :-
Concern about access, as it lies along narrow track next to the pub. Particularly difficult for pedestrians.
This is on the MBC website and you can see the reference on 103-189 on page A708 onwards is at http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/106965/Appendix-A.2-Housing-Site-Assessments-2016.pdf
Since the application was first made in December 2016 (MBC Reference 16/508436/FULL) there has been some dispute as to the width of the Lane and the plans have been modified to reduce the width which is only 3 metres wide from kerb to kerb at the narrowest point. The minimum recommended width for a fire engine is 3.7 metres.
On 1st February the applicant filed plans suggesting that an MBC refuse vehicle could navigate the Lane although no MBC refuse vehicle has used the Lane for the regular Thursday collections in living memory presumably because the Lane is too narrow. Details are at http://pa.midkent.gov.uk/online-applications/files/7E0222E6A288FCD6983EC13427CBCE25/pdf/16_508436_FULL-Vehicle_Swept_Paths_Plan_No_2-3890447.pdf Internet research suggests that the width of most refuse vehicles is about 3.2 metres including wing mirrors accounting for .6 metres. It should be noted that smaller non-MBC vehicles owned by contractors collect commercial waste from the Windmill PH and the Village Hall from time to time.
MBC operatives actually collect bins as required from Windmill Lane. If it is necessary for MBC operatives to collect the bins from the new houses this will be contrary to the MBC guidance to developers which reads as follows:-
The boundary (point of presentation) should be as close as possible to where the vehicle passes but no more than 25m from vehicle to collection point.
Reversing refuse trucks can be hazardous so where possible, the road layout should include sufficient space for vehicles to drive in and turn around keeping reversing manoeuvres to a minimum.
All houses are required to have an individual collection and must not be provided with communal collection arrangements.
The current closing date for comments is 17th February and these should be sent (quoting 16/508436/FULL) to firstname.lastname@example.org
One other outstanding query is the lack of a sewerage capacity check of the type organised by Fernham Homes with Southern Water which is generally recommended for developments of 5 or more houses. The nearest public sewer is 60 metres from the site entrance on the other side of Eyhorne Street and there is some speculation as to whether the sewer is higher or lower than the 12 houses which could be an issue. The installation of a new sewer will cause major disruption in Windmill Lane and in the Eyhorne Street Conservation Area and there have been previous sewerage and drainage issues in the village.
Pictured below is a typical morning traffic jam in Eyhorne Street showing the entrance to Windmill Lane on the left.