Ashford Borough Council has welcomed news that Gladman Developments Ltd has withdrawn three appeals seeking planning permission for nearly 500 new homes in the borough’s villages.
The developer had submitted plans for 125 houses in Brabourne Lees, 245 homes in Charing and 110 houses in Biddenden, which were all rejected by the council.
Gladman subsequently went to appeal on all three cases, challenging the council’s available land supply. In response, Ashford Borough Council’s strong leadership felt that these appeals should be strongly defended and utilised its full planning resources to do so.
Earlier this year planning inspectors held detailed public inquiries into two of Gladman’s appeals (with the third scheduled for October) as well as hearings into the council’s new Local Plan. Council officers and representatives from the parish councils involved, along with the CPRE (Campaign to Protect Rural England) worked together to challenge these appeals.
Following the hearings into the new Local Plan, inspectors issued an advice note confirming that Ashford Borough Council does have an adequate five year housing land supply.
With the Brabourne Lees inquiry (which had been scheduled to re-open this week, but is now cancelled) and the Charing inquiry already closed, last week Gladman withdrew their appeals on those sites, having already withdrawn the appeal on the Biddenden site.
Mike Hickmott, Chairman of Brabourne Parish Council said: “Brabourne Parish Council is highly delighted with Gladman’s withdrawal from the appeal, removing as it does the threat to Hospital Field.
“It was a magnificent team effort and we would like to take this opportunity to thank the community for its support: for those who spoke at the appeal, for the numbers who came along each day to listen to the inquiry (a point noted by the inspector), and those who worked tirelessly behind the scenes.
“We must also thank Ashford Borough Council and CPRE for their efforts on our behalf fighting the application.”
Jill Leyland, Charing Parish Council said: “The site Gladman wanted to develop off Pluckley Road was completely unsuitable in many ways. In particular it would have added additional traffic to, and seen many additional pedestrians walking along, an already over used road where two wide vehicles cannot pass without one mounting the pavement and where pavements are so narrow that two pedestrians cannot pass without one stepping into the road.
“It is a real relief to know that the threat has been lifted. ABC, CPRE Kent and a number of individuals worked extremely hard on this case, as did Charing Parish Council, and we are truly grateful for all their efforts.
“We just hope that Gladman and other developers like them now realise how much opposition they will meet if they try to develop unsuitable sites in this part of the country.”
Dr Hilary Newport, Director of the Kent Branch of CPRE said: “It’s been a privilege to work alongside dedicated and committed parish councils and to help them put across their concerns about a proposal that ought never to have got this far.
“The local communities can be rightfully proud of the defence that they put up against land speculators like Gladman Developments Ltd”.
Cllr Paul Clokie, portfolio holder for Planning said: “Our planning and legal teams, along with our colleagues in Brabourne and Charing parish councils and CPRE, have worked tirelessly to prevent three separate developments that would have been a blight on these rural areas. Understandably we are very pleased with the result.
“The council cannot prevent applications being made on sites that are not allocated for development in its Local Plan, and any applications that may, are considered on merit at that time.
“However the council will continue to take a Local Plan led approach, including consultation with local residents, to meet the development needs of the borough and we will strongly resist any inappropriate or unjustified development.”