An update from the Society

Bearsted Road schools - update 30th January 2019

Whilst this site is in Boxley Parish, many of the effects will be felt by residents of Bearsted and Thurnham as they attempt to go about their daily business in an already heavily congested area.

A member of your committee was amongst the very large number of people (others were left outside due to fire regulations) who attended Boxley Parish Council's Environment Committee meeting held at the Grove Green Community Hall last Thursday 24th January where the planning application for the two schools on Pope's Field was discussed. The meeting was adjourned to enable as many members of the public who wished to speak on the issue to do so. Priority was given to Boxley residents. Helen Whately MP spoke briefly to say that she had supported and pressed for a new primary and SEN secondary school somewhere in the north/east of Maidstone due to the shortage of places, although she recognised the problems of access along the Bearsted Road. She went on to say she had just received an email from Alex Hicken, of DHA Planning, stating that since the application's submission his project team had undertaken to revisit another option for access. This had apparently resulted in an "Agreement in Principle" to access the schools via the Kent Medical Centre site, and a revised application showing this would be submitted in a few days' time.

In the meantime, although this possible revision might go some way to mitigating the access difficulties, the sheer volume of increased traffic would remain, and it would not address the issue of the dangers of young children walking to school. It is also not clear whether or not pedestrian access to and from Grove Green would remain.

Please be aware that unless and until a revised application is submitted and the current application 18/506656 withdrawn then this current proposal remains on the table for consideration by MBC's Planning Committee.

It is not dissimilar from the tactics used to get other applications, such as Woodcut Farm, through the planning process ie. submit an outrageous application which draws a massive negative response from the public, then follow it up with a slightly less outrageous application, both of which go to Appeal. Residents quite understandably get frustrated feeling they must respond repeatedly to similar applications, and developers hope residents will just give up.

At least 24 members of the public spoke with passion on issues such as:-

• Dangerous access
• Increased volume of traffic, resulting in severe congestion and therefore pollution
• Need for schools in this particular location
• Site not in the adopted Local Plan
• Removal of nature reserve and therefore wildlife corridor

Boxley ward councillor, Wendy Hinder, made the excellent point that MBC must listen to residents and take their views on board.

Members of Bearsted Parish Council will discuss the application, form a view and vote to decide on the issues of concern to the parish at the meeting on Tuesday 5th February at 7.30 p.m. in King George Vth Memorial Hall. Written comments may then be submitted by BPC to MBC. The application is agenda item 9b) but members of the public may offer comments on any issues of concern to the parish during a fifteen minute slot at the beginning of the meeting. (Each person is limited to three minutes).