New planning application for 10 detached houses in Windmill Lane – UPDATED.

Country House Homes have submitted a new application to Maidstone Borough Council for 10 large houses in Windmill Lane at the rear of the Windmill PH in the Eyhorne Street Conservation Area. A previous application for 12 houses on the same site by Country House Homes was withdrawn following objections from Hollingbourne Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, and local residents. The site is accessed by the privately owned and maintained Windmill Lane Public Footpath which is only 3 metres wide at the narrowest point and can be dangerous for pedestrians. Occasional large vehicles usually reverse into the Lane which bends slightly with the result that visibility is restricted. Earlier this month there was a serious collision in the Lane.

The application was submitted on 28th June and local Borough Councillor Patrik Garten has already “called in” the application in order that it can be considered by the full Planning Committee and not be decided by a Planning Officer.

Previous objections to this site have included concerns about vehicular and pedestrian access, additional traffic in Eyhorne Street which is narrow and can become congested, the lack of supporting infrastructure including concerns about drainage and sewerage capacity, the lack of spare places at Hollingbourne CP School, and the ongoing maintenance of the Lane surface which is presently maintained by existing local residents on a pro bono basis. It is understood that the pipes for the services to the adjoining properties are just under the Lane surface, which is only 30 mm thick,and that responsibility for any repairs lies with the property owner and now the service provider as Windmill Lane is not a road. As there is no public sewer under the Lane it would be necessary to install one under the Lane and the work would mean restricting access to the Windmill PH, the Village Hall, and surrounding properties for some time whilst the works are carried out. At the present time the Village Hall pipes foul water into a cess pit.

At the time of writing no information is available about the Section 106 payment that the developer must make for local services including the school. However the previous application for 12 houses which has been withdrawn required £28,331.19 to be paid to Kent County Council for the benefit of Harrietsham School and nothing to Hollingbourne CP School.

No information is available about the likely pricing of the houses but as they appear to be bigger than the new ones recently sold in Godfrey Meadow, it is possible that the market price will be around £900,000. The new road from the Windmill Lane public footpath may create overspill parking opportunities for Village Hall users who are no longer allowed to share the Windmill PH car park.

Access to the site is partially over part of Windmill Lane that is owned by EI Group PLC, formerly Enterprise Inns PLC, who own the freeholds of the Sugar Loaves and Windmill Public Houses plus the Village Hall. The lease on the almost 50 year old Village expired in August 2016 and the landlords have declined to grant a new lease until such time as some conclusion is reached regarding development in Windmill Lane. There is some concern for the future of the Village Hall if development is permitted in Windmill Lane which is outside  of the Village Envelope which previously determined the Hollingbourne building limits. The Village Hall is used daily by various local organisations and the loss of the Hall would be a serious blow to the local community. The Village Hall Committee is to meet shortly to consider the matter.

Comments should be sent to Maidstone Borough Council by 21st July at planningcomments@midkent.gov.uk quoting Application

17/503118/FULL which is a resubmission of 16/508436/FULL which was for 12 houses. More information is available via the Maidstone Borough Council Planning Portal at http://pa.midkent.gov.uk/online-applications   where it is necessary to input the Application Reference or from Ms Kathryn Altieri at Maidstone Borough Council on Tel 01622-602636. Ms Altieri can also be contacted at KathrynAltieri@maidstone.gov.uk

UPDATE – The Hollingbourne Parish Council voted at their meeting on 10th July to oppose this development on several grounds including the poor access and concerns about the accuracy of some of the information in the application including worries about the availability of parking in the area of Windmill Lane which has become an issue of late due to the introduction of penalties for use of the Windmill PH car park by non customers and restrictions introduced by the Village Hall Committee. Additionally Kent County Council has indicated that the Section 106 payment for education in the sum of £33,324 should be spent in Harrietsham and not Hollingbourne. Kent County Council Highways Footpaths have indicated that if  Windmill Lane is to be closed during any construction for the installation of services, then alternative access should be provided to the Windmill PH, the Village Hall, and adjoining properties. Owing to the narrowness of Windmill Lane and the lack of alternatives, this could prove a major problem for the developers as the Windmill Lane Public Footpath is the only access to the site. Finally Local MP Mrs Helen Whately has taken up the concerns of local residents with Ms Alison Broom, CEO of Maidstone Borough Council.

A copy of the Site Plan appears below.