Last night the the Maidstone Borough Council Planning Referrals Committee met for the first time since 2008 to review the decision of the Maidstone Planning Committee meeting of 26th April when that Committee voted against the advice of Council Officers to continue the fight against the appeal by Roxhill PLC against the Borough Council’s refusal to grant planning permission for 550,000 square foot warehousing and distribution complex on Woodcut Farm at Junction 8 of the M20. The site lies within the Parish of Hollingbourne and previous attempts to develop on the site and on neighbouring sites have been successfully opposed by Kent County Council, Maidstone Borough Council, and local Parish Councils and others over the last 25 years. The three members of the Planning Referrals Committee voted 2-1 to continue the fight against the appeal for Roxhill PLC who earlier this month submitted a separate outline planning application for the site.
Councillor Janetta Sams (Independent) and Councillor Wendy Hinder (Conservative) voted to support the decision to fight the appeal by Roxhill PLC which is expected to start in October while Councillor Derek Mortimer (Liberal Democrat) voted to accept the advice of the Council officers.
The meeting in the Town Hall last just under two hours and was well attended with strong speeches against the development from new elected local KCC Councillor for Maidstone Rural East Shellina Prendergast, local MBC Councillor Patrik Garten, and Hollingbourne Parish Councillor Alan Bennett. Among those speaking in support of the fight against Roxhill PLC was Councillor John Perry who is the Chairman of the Maidstone Planning Committee.
Supporters of the fight against development at Junction 8 over the years have included in addition to local Councils Leeds Castle, CPRE, Natural England, local MP’s, and thousands of local residents. Key issues are traffic at a location where there are already traffic jams, spoiling the countryside as the site adjoins an AONB with tourism being a major local employer, problems with the water supply, and many others. Over £3 million of public money has been spent by KCC and MBC in fighting previous schemes.
Prior to the meeting the Kent Association of Local Councils circulated an open letter to Ms Alison Broom, CEO of Maidstone Borough Council in which a number of serious questions were asked about the Council’s handling of the possible development at Junction 8 of the M20 in spite of widespread opposition to any development. The letter can be downloaded at Letter-to-Alison-Broom-of-MBC-re-Junction-8-010517-re-PRC.pdf (28 downloads)
Details of the new planning application for the site that was submitted and validated earlier this month are at Woodcut-Farm-Planning-Application-May-2017.pdf (22 downloads)
Pictured below is Mr Charles Blake, CEO of Roxhill PLC, giving a presentation on the proposed development in the Cardwell Pavilion at a public meeting in 2015.