Tenterden Town Council and local residents’ groups united on Monday 28 June to unanimously reject plans for a major housing development on Limes Land.
The proposals, from builders Wates, are for 145 homes to be built on the land, between Woodchurch Road and Appledore Road, with play areas, orchards, sports pitches and a country park. An earlier application for 250 homes was rejected by both Tenterden Town Council and Ashford Borough Council (ABC) last year.
Planning committee chairman Cllr John Crawford said the revised scheme would place unacceptable pressures on the town, in particular Ivy Court Surgery; would result in traffic gridlocks, particularly with parking outside schools; and quoted housing minister Robert Jenrick stating that house-building should not come at the expense of green spaces.
He added that the Limes Land proposals were not in adherence to ABC planning policies and would not contribute to economic development or social sustainability. In short, he said, the plans would result in “urban sprawl”, adding “there is simply no justification for them”.
Planning committee Vice-Chair Cllr Kate Walder, who chaired discussions on the application, recognised that the Section 106 money, which developers pay to the locality where they build houses, might appeal to local voluntary groups which had recently been starved of funds.
But, she added, “as the diggers roll in, these groups might ask themselves: “Is it worth it?”
She also asked that when the Town Council’s decision is handed over to ABC, it should include a response from the Tenterden Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group on the application.
The Mayor, Cllr Lisa Lovelidge, said that the idea that the development could contain a country park was “laughable”, and thanked local groups for the amount of work they had undertaken in combatting the scheme.
Ashford Borough Councillor Callum Knowles queried the provision of sports pitches, when the land could already be used for football and cricket, and listed a series of breaches of national planning protocols.
Cllr Russel Parkin warned that the land was subject to flooding, while non-Planning committee member Cllr Sue Ferguson said there would be severe disruption to the army cadet force, which had been based on the site for a century.
Siggi Nepp, representing Tenterden and District Residents Association, said the proposed development was “completely unsustainable”; that Tenterden Schools Trust, which owns part of the land, did not have permission from the Department of Education to sell it; and spoke of the potential contamination to the site’s eco-system.
A letter from the Limes Land Protection Group said that if the development went ahead, it would mean that within ten years, and taking into consideration other planned developments, more than 120 acres of the town would have been built on, “which is not sustainable for the town”.
Victoria Bance, on behalf of the Tilden Gill and Limes Land Development Group, said there was no proven need for the application, and that in a town with an ageing population, no appropriate accommodation such as bungalows were included in the plan.
At the end of the debate, the Town Council rejected the proposals, which will now go to ABC for determination.