Woodcut Farm development application to be considered by MBC on 30th November.

Roxhill PLC’s latest plans for a 490,000 square foot development at Woodcut Farm at Junction 8 of the M20 in Hollingbourne are to be considered by the Maidstone Borough Council Planning Committee on 30th November. A number of previous schemes on this site have been successfully opposed by MBC, KCC, CPRE, Natural England, Leeds Castle, MP’s, Hollingbourne and other Parish Councils, plus thousands of local residents over the last 25 years. Some £3 million of public money has been spent at Public Inquiries fighting development. However Mr Sajid Javid, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government has decided to ignore local concerns and has approved the site for development. The site which adjoins an AONB is now in the Maidstone Local Plan.

The Bearsted and Thurnham Society have written to Maidstone Borough Council with their objections which include the following:-

The case against development at Woodcut Farm is well established and has been supported by
the Society since first made. Those arguments remain just as powerful against the current
application which is little altered from its predecessor. They include that:

Woodcut Farm is a green field site in a totally unsustainable and isolated countryside
location at considerable distance from the built up area of Maidstone and far from local
services

The absence of effective public transport will mean the workforce would be heavily
reliant on private cars which would add substantially to congestion on local roads and
add to pollution which is already unacceptably high in many parts of the borough.

 The scale and nature of this proposal will seriously erode the unspoilt character of the
attractive and open countryside between Bearsted and Leeds Castle and harm the
setting of the Kent Downs AONB, Leeds Castle, Woodcut farmhouse and other heritage
assets.

The application like those that preceded it, is wholly speculative. No case has been made sut
that, if permission were allowed, the site would attract the kind of development the applicants
propose or the Council believe is needed. Nor that there is an immediate demand for such
development or that it would provide jobs for Maidstone residents rather than drawing in people
from surrounding authorities.

lf there were such demand it would surely have materialised by now at Eclipse Park. Instead
vacant sites have been filled by retail development: first NEXT, then by proposals from Waitrose,
now Marks & Spencer.

The full text of the letter from the Bearsted and Thurnham Society to Maidstone Borough Council is at :  BTS-ltr-031117.pdf-Junction-8-development..pdf (96 downloads)

Pictured below is Junction 8 from the air with the Woodcut Farm on the left. The MBC Application Number is 17/502331 and more information and comments is on the MBC planning website at http://www.maidstone.gov.uk/residents/planning/planning-application-search

Junction of the M20 in Hollingbourne.

Junction 8 is also the point at which the M20 coast bound is closed when Operation Stack is activated to park lorries on the motorway because of delays at the Channel ports. After Brexit it is expected that the introduction of Customs Controls will cause major delays at the ports with the result that operation Stack could become a regular event with traffic jams around motorway junctions and elsewhere. At the request of Hollingbourne Parish Council, Kent County Council has written to Mr Chris Grayling MP, Secretary of State for Transport, for an assurance that freight will move freely through  the ports and the Channel Tunnel. At the time of writing no assurance has been given and a concern is that the traffic problems caused by the introduction of Customs Controls and development at Junction 8 will lead to more traffic problems in the Hollingbourne area.