Clark approves 500 Kent homes despite ancient woodland loss

Communities secretary Greg Clark has passed plans for a mixed development on the edge of Maidstone, Kent, after an inspector dismissed concerns over possible loss of a patch of ancient woodland on the site.

Ancient woodland: preferred access into the site would lead to the loss of a parcel of ancient woodland (picture by Peter O'Connor, Flickr)
Ancient woodland: preferred access into the site would lead to the loss of a parcel of ancient woodland (picture by Peter O'Connor, Flickr)

The proposals, promoted by developer Croudace Strategic, include 500 homes, 30 per cent of which would be affordable, along with education and community facilities, open space and associated infrastructure on land straddling the boundary between Maidstone and Tonbridge and Malling Borough Councils’ areas.  

Following an inquiry this June, inspector Paul Clark recommended approval of the scheme, noting that Maidstone Council could not show a five-year housing land supply.

The inspector found that the developer’s preferred access into the site would lead to the loss of a parcel of ancient woodland protected for its local ecological value. However, he noted that less ecologically damaging alternative access routes might emerge during the reserved matters stage.

Even if the preferred access route was retained, he added, it would only lead to the loss of 1.8 per cent of the designated ancient woodland.

The secretary of state agreed that although this would technically infringe an adopted local plan policy, the ecological effects would be acceptable. He concluded that overall, the benefits of the proposal "would not be outweighed at all, let alone significantly or demonstrably, by the limited adverse impacts".




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