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Controversial Waterside Park development proposals refused

PUBLISHED: 11:35 30 July 2015 | UPDATED: 11:35 30 July 2015

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Developers wanted to build on green field site

Proposals to create an industrial development off the M20 at Junction 8 have been refused.

An appeal was launched following refusal of the plans by Maidstone Borough Council and a planning inquiry launched in May.

The appeal was made by Gallagher Properties Ltd, Automotive Distributors Ltd and Marden-based firms Scarab Sweepers.

Planning inspector Katie Peerless said in her decision: “The proposed loss of this green field site is clearly controversial.

“It is strongly opposed by all the local Parish Councils, the County Council, the CPRE, the Kent Downs AONB Executive and Natural England as well as the Borough Council.

“Considerable environmental harm would result from the loss of this area of countryside to development through the combined impact on the landscape setting of the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the heritage assets.”

Kent County Council consistently objected to major commercial development at M20 Junction 8 and strongly opposed the proposals for Waterside Park.

The site is not allocated for development and lies in the open countryside where development would be in clear conflict with current and emerging Local Plan policy.

KCC put forward evidence to suggest that there were a number of alternative sites available - and indeed more suitable - for major commercial development in Kent.

KCC contributed significant resources to the appeal alongside paying for the barrister Neil Cameron from Landmark Chambers.

The proposals would also have led to an adverse landscape and visual impact particularly on the setting of the Kent Downs AONB, contrary to both local and national planning policy.

A spokesman for CPRE said: “Common sense has prevailed at last.

“We are really pleased that the inspector has recognised the importance of the visual characteristic of this site and the negative impact any development would have on the AONB and nearby Leeds Castle.”

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