Further submission to the Planning Inspectorate in regard to Maidstone Borough
Council (LPA) planning application 14/502973/FULL – Appeal Reference APP/U2235/W/3131945
It would be greatly appreciated for the Inspectorate to consider the following points, some of which repeat arguments already submitted and which should have been presented in the pack supplied by the LPA.
- The original application to the LPA was displayed on their planning portal web site on 1 Oct 2014
- Whilst under consideration by the LPA, the Local Authority (LA) Scrutiny Committee decided in the early part of 2014 to recommend (after some 40 hours of consideration of this and other matters) to the LA Cabinet that this site in question should be removed from the LA emerging Local Plan.
- The LA Cabinet accepted the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee and on the 4th February 2015 the site was removed from the emerging Local Plan on the basis of “the unacceptably adverse impact on the AONB and on the character of the village because it is peripheral to the settlement and beyond the open space occupied by Swadelands School playing field.”
- On 26th February 2015, the application was heard by the LA Planning committee who, after careful consideration, refused permission for the development of 82 homes at Ham Lane Lenham on the basis of
- “The development proposed would not constitute good design by reason of its layout (including inadequate space for structural landscaping) and scale. It would therefore be harmful to the character and appearance of the open countryside, including the setting of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The application is therefore contrary to the National Planning Policy Framework, in particular paragraphs 56, 57,58 and 109; and ‘saved’ PoliciesENV28 and ENV33 of the Maidstone Borough-wide Local Plan 2000”
- On 16th July 2015, the LA published the Maidstone Landscape Capacity Study conducted by Jacobs on the sensitivity of landscape to possible development. In relation to Lenham, this recent study concluded:
- “….partly situated within the Kent AONB…which offers a high level of development mitigation”.
- Landscape Character Sensitivity: Moderate/High and Visual Sensitivity: High
- The area is sensitive to change. Development should be restricted to infill within the village boundaries.
- Consider the impact of development on views from the setting of the Kent AONB.
- Conserve the undeveloped foreground and the rural setting of the Kent Downs AONB.
- Conserve the crisp boundary between Lenham’s compact settlement and the surrounding rural area.
- Development of this site on the corner of the A20 and Ham Lane would be in total disregard to these recommendations and would cause coalescence to the West with Harrietsham. Furthermore it would prevent the widening of the landscape when travelling from the West along the A20 and approaching Lenham.
- On 23rd July 2015, the LA Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee (replacing Scrutiny and Cabinet from the previous year) had presented to it by their Planning Department a recommendation to reinstate this Ham Lane site back to the emerging Local Plan. The unanimous decision of that Committee found against this recommendation on the grounds of:
- Ham Lane, Lenham not be approved for inclusion in the draft local plan on the grounds of an unacceptable adverse impact on the AONB.
- This site is also in contradiction to those being considered within Lenham’s emerging Neighbourhood Plan that is in an advanced stage of development with aspirations for it to go for Regulation 16 Consultation by the Spring of 2016.
- It is further submitted, in view of the LA emerging Local Plan and that of Lenham’s emerging Neighbourhood Plan, consideration of this appeal should give considerable weight to NPPF 216 which states:
- From the day of publication, decision-takers may also give weight to relevant policies in emerging plans according to:
- the stage of preparation of the emerging plan (the more advanced the preparation, the greater the weight that may be given);
- the extent to which there are unresolved objections to relevant policies (the less significant the unresolved objections, the greater the weight that may be given); and
- the degree of consistency of the relevant policies in the emerging plan to the policies in this Framework (the closer the policies in the emerging plan to the policies in the Framework, the greater the weight that may be given).
- On 8th September, 2015 the LA’s Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee stated the Committee’s commitment to a SP5 policy that contains landscapes of local value be noted and it was agreed that amendments to draft Policy SP5 should be amended to read:
- Paragraph 5.72 first sentence to read “ The foreground of the AONB and the wider setting is taken to include the land which sits at and beyond the foot of the scarp slope of the North Downs and the wider views thereof
- Criterion 5 sentence to read: “The distinctive character of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and its setting… Will be rigorously protected, maintained …..
- This site falls within such setting of the AONB.
It is hoped that the Planning Inspectorate may find the above concise history, with additional references supporting refusal for development, of assistance in determining this appeal and further trust that the decision made by the LA will be upheld thus conserving the setting of the nearby AONB.
Sent on behalf of Lenham Parish Council
Also sent by email on 25th October 2015