An article in Faversham News this week reports on the county-wide "Save Kent's Green Spaces" action day last Sunday. Around 30 protest groups gathered across Kent to demonstrate their anger at the loss of precious green spaces as a result of excessive housebuilding.
Around 50 residents of Lynsted (a parish of just 478 households) turned out on Sunday 28 November in support of the Save Kent’s Green Spaces action day. Thirty groups across Kent gathered on the same day to protest against development on prime agricultural land in the county.
The event organisers have identified in excess of 12,000 acres of green space in Kent that are under threat - although the figure is believed to be far higher as county-wide data is not collated.
The Lynsted protestors met on the ancient ‘Coffin Path’ that leads from the London Road to Lynsted church.
“Development on Grade 1 agricultural land in this area would sound the death knell for North Kent’s famous Fruit Belt - hence the wicker coffin stuffed with local fruit and vegetables,” commented Julien Speed, chairman of Lynsted with Kingsdown Parish Council.
The group then marched along the Coffin Path and up the London Road to join another protest in Teynham.
Lynsted is threatened with a housing uplift of 60% and a bypass that, in a survey conducted by the Parish Council, 95% of residents oppose.
A group of concerned residents in Lynsted and Teynham has launched a new website drawing attention to the Swale Local Plan. It contains helpful advice on how to respond to the Regulation 18 consultation and highlights some of the points you might wish to consider.
The November issue of our newsletter has been published and is being delivered to every household in the Parish. It is devoted to the new "issues and preferred options" Regulation 18 consultation which was launched by Swale Borough Council at the end of October.
The newsletter explains the current status of the Swale Local Plan and gives advice on how to make your views known, as well as highlighting the areas that most affect Lynsted with Kingsdown Parish.
We have responded to the Swale Borough Local Plan Regulation 18 consultation. The 20-page letter expresses our concerns surrounding the process being followed and the five options being presented, including the 'preferred option'.
Residents have until 29 November to submit their own comments.
We encourage everyone to do so, because the Local Plan - once adopted - will determine development in Swale to 2038.
Lynsted with Kingsdown Parish Council has submitted a letter of objection to two planning applications that would see 8,000 new houses built in Highsted Park plus a further 1,250 houses on land to the West of Teynham.
Swale Borough Council has decided not to submit the Local Plan Review to the Government Planning Inspector.
Instead, they will go back a stage and launch a new Regulation 18 consultation which allows residents more say over the contents of the Local Plan.
The draft document that will now be scrapped contained proposals to build around 1,400 houses in Lynsted and Teynham - plus a bypass south of the London Road in Lynsted Parish.
These plans attracted major opposition from local residents and Parish Councils. There were a total of 734 individual comments on the Teynham Area of Opportunity (TAO) - of which 93% were clearly opposed.
The summary of issues raised in the consultation, prepared by the Council’s officers, noted the perceived lack of compliance with SBC’s Statement of Community Involvement and the absence of evidence such as air quality and transport modelling to support the Lynsted bypass.
Other concerns included insufficient infrastructure plans, harm to the natural and built environment, and lack of clarity with no defined sites or boundaries.
A high number of residents were angry at the amount of development proposed on greenfield sites, particularly agricultural land.
Kent County Council had also noted that critical highway evidence was either missing or inaccurate, and that there had been limited opportunity for residents to influence the type and scale of growth in Teynham.
"Lynsted residents are highly relieved that the weight of argument against the Local Plan has been acknowledged. By going back to a Regulation 18 document, the community can properly debate the issues and options, instead of only being allowed to comment on technicalities such as soundness and legal compliance,” comments Julien Speed, Chairman of Lynsted with Kingsdown Parish Council.
"We will have to wait and see what the new plan contains. We fervently hope Swale Council has now recognised that the TAO is undeliverable and that it will be removed from the next iteration of the plan.
“SBC rejected garden villages in the earlier draft plan on the grounds of residents' objections, but the numbers arguing against the TAO were far greater. To exclude the TAO from the new plan would carry no shame. On the contrary, it would be democracy at work”.
The new timetable is for the Issues and Options (Reg 18) consultation to take place in October and November, with a revised draft Local Plan (Reg 19) to be published in February of next year.
Julien Speed adds: “Swale Council can legitimately argue for lower housing targets based on need and deliverability. We would like to see them challenge the Government and make the case for fewer new houses”.