Woodcut Farm News from our local MBC Councillor plus a May Newsletter.

Local MBC Councillor Patrik Garten has sent the following update on the Woodcut Farm development scheme for a 500,000square foot warehousing complex at Junction 8 of the M20. It has been strongly opposed by local Parish Councils, CPRE, Leeds Castle and many others. The update reads as follows:

The matter has been further deferred by the Planning Inspectorate at the request of all parties. A further review of the position is scheduled for 18 May 2018, when the applicant / appellant will be able to make an informed decision about its next steps regards the appeal.

Councillor Garten’s May newsletter appear below:

Dear Residents

Recently, Parish AGM season started. I really enjoy going to those meetings because it gives me a unique opportunity to meet and touch base with the people, who I am tasked to represent.

Unlike most AGMs, Bicknor’s was called for a specific problem: the proposed building of cold-storage and additions at Swanton Farm.

I outlined my concerns at the meeting, namely light and noise pollution and particularly the location within the AONB.

I also take on board the applicant’s view that the maintenance of the orchards are essential to the functioning of a viable working AONB. The point was made that in order to stay competitive, farming methods need to be updated. Indeed, I was surprised to learn that future development is not a mere increase of a few percentage points above the status quo but a possible multiplication of output. This will have an effect across the whole North Downs, far beyond Bicknor.

Like it or not, cold-storage may become part of the solution to alleviate the shortcomings of our local and national transport infrastructure.

Bicknor appears to be far up the hill, but Hollingbourne will be affected by this development through the HGV traffic it generates. In a best case scenario, as per the applicant’s own transport statement, the 20+ daily HGV journeys through the village during harvest time, will be spread over the whole year at 3 journeys per week.

I will keep you posted on the progress of this application, watch this space.

Did I not say at the AGM that local government works by statistics?

Great uproar sounded through the village of Stockbury a few weeks ago because some very unauthorised development happened in Plum Tree Lane.

My point was proven when more than a dozen complaints were lodged on the council’s website. Before the week was out, an enforcement officer slapped a temporary stop notice on the culprit. Unlike planning breaches, contraventions against a stop notice are a criminal offence. –And, to put it mildly, Stop Orders are rarely used by MBC.

Going back to my last point: Like all government departments, the police works by statistics too !

Please report ALL incidents to police, however minor. Suspicious behaviour should be reported to 101 or 01622 690690. 101 costs £0.15 per call and experience shows that the local number sometimes gets answered faster.

Obviously, crime in progress must be reported on 999.

Theft and other crime which is not urgent can be reported online

If you do not report crime we will slip down in the force’s list of priority areas, as their statistics show no crime. In other words, if you shout loudest, you’ll get the best service.

And while I am in my ranting mode, about statistics:

The same goes for fly-tipping. Please report ALL fly-tipping and littering to Maidstone:

Recently the IT department made improvements to the map. You must mark a point on the road, not next to it. If necessary, please zoom in.

Any problems with the software or reported tips not being removed within 3 days please contact me, preferably also email me the report’s reference number.

The online reporting will be automatically transferred to the operators’ vans. Even if you would report it by phone, the call-handler will only use the same online system like you. Therefore, it might be best if you use the online reporting facility yourself – if possible.

If there are several tips in the vicinity, please file a report for each one individually! As I said, Local Government works by numbers. Plus, your report will also be forwarded to the Environment Agency for national statistics !

By now, I probably bored you stiff about online reporting and statistics,
but just two more things:

There is a neat little app for your mobile phone, called “Country Eye”. This allows you to report all of the above and more (like potholes!) -all at a touch of a button, provided that you have mobile coverage – but that’s another story…..

Lastly, I mentioned in March that the Kent Downs Management Plan is currently being reviewed. This will affect all of us. If you haven’t done so already, please get involved and feed into the revision of the plan – it is only a 10min survey. https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/RCJVRDC

There is so much more I wanted to say but for now I, once again, ran out of page space. I hope that you are, like me, looking forward to the next edition of my Newsletter.


MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward, including Hollingbourne PatrikGarten@Maidstone.gov.uk