Windmill Lane planning closing date deferred as concerns mount over the future of the Village Hall.

The closing date for comments on the planning application for 10 houses on the land to the west of Windmill Lane has been deferred from 21st July to 7th August. A previous application for 12 houses on the site was withdrawn earlier this year following objections from the Hollingbourne Parish Council, the Village Hall Committee, Kent County Council, and many local residents. The principal concerns related to the narrow access,  infrastructure issues including additional traffic, and the lack of places at Hollingbourne County Primary School. Local MP Mrs Helen Whately has written to Maidstone Borough Council with her concerns about the proposed development.

The site is approached by a 3 metre wide public footpath (PROW KH199) that is partly owned by EI Group PLC, formerly Enterprises Inns PLC, who have been the landlords of the Village Hall since the Village Hall Committee for the present Village Hall was formed in 1967. A previous Village Hall near to the church had burnt down and a new site was sought.

The last twenty year lease expired in August 2016 and EI Group PLC have so far declined to renew the lease pending a decision on development alongside Windmill Lane which is outside of the previously acknowledged Village Envelope. The worry is that development in Windmill Lane will set a precedent which allow more building in the Lane with the possible end of the Village Hall which is used daily by various local organisations. EI Group PLC are the landlords of not just the Village Hall but also the Windmill. Sugar Loaves, and Dirty Habit public houses.

There are no public services under the Lane and the installation of a sewer and other connections would mean closing the Lane which could affect access to the Windmill PH, the Village Hall, and local properties for an unspecified time. Connection to the main services under Eyhorne Street could also close the B2163/C603 which is a main thoroughfare between the the North Downs and the A20 and M20.

This morning the Village Hall Committee met to consider the matter and and further professional  advice is being sought. A meeting is also to be arranged with the Parish Council who are the original lease holders of the Hall.

Any comments should be sent to Maidstone Borough Council by 7th August 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

Pictured below is the Village Hall in Windmill Lane. On the right is the site for the 10 houses and a passing place for vehicles is included in the plans close to the gate. On the left is the Windmill Inn with the Windmill Car Park in front of the Village Hall. Just out of the picture to the left is the section of the Lane that is owned by EI Group PLC while the section on the right towards the Hall was subject to an easement from Leeds Castle when the Hall was originally built in 1968.  Non customers of the Windmill PH face an £85 penalty which has created parking problems in the Eyhorne Street Conservation Area where Eyhorne Street has limited on street parking.