Gladman proposal for Clare Lane / Stickens Lane

Gladman has submitted an outline application for up to 150 houses on land south of Clare Lane/ west of Stickens Lane. All matters are "reserved" except for access. The borough council is being asked to consider the principle of having housing on the site though there is an "illustrative masterplan" showing what development could look like if development is approved.

Access to the site is proposed from Clare Lane, roughly opposite the very large cedar tree where a number of trees would have to be removed. It does not seem that any secondary or emergency access is proposed, even though this is normally a requirement of the County Council on a development of this size.

The developer has submitted an estimate of 60-70 vehicle movements per hour relating to the development at the morning peak. They suggest that most of the traffic would head west on Clare Lane with fewer than 10 vehicles per hour driving towards Mill Street.

Acknowledging issues with speed on Clare Lane, the developer proposes traffic calming measures inclueding a raised table at the site entrance, speed humps on either side, a speed indicating device near Blacklands and a 'Welcome to East Malling' sign east of Clare Wood Drive. Street lighting from Blacklands to Clare Wood Drive would be provided. In Mill Street the developer is willing to fund a 20mph restriction if KCC require it.

The access road would continue into the site and cross public footpath MR117 that leads from Mill Street to Broadwater Road. This path is know locally as 'The Ash Path'. There are views from this path across the southern part of the of the site, particularly from Broadwater Road, over to the Oasts at Darcy Court and Weir Mill in the distance, giving a sense of the farming and milling history of East Malling. The Oast is a non-designated heritage asset. A drainage basin, designed to capture water and prevent flooding, and a play area are proposed but the variety of views would nevertheless be restricted by the development. Cobbs Hall is a listed building which historically was connected with land included in the site.

The land affected is mostly high quality Grade 2 agricultural land, but the Parish Council does not expect Natural England to comment as the site is less than 7 hectares and they only usually only intervene if the threatened loss of agricultural land is greater than 20 hectares.

Developers must show that their proposals will result in a 10% biodiversity net gain. There is an opportunity here for residents to offer information from their knowledge of wildlife that would be affected by the proposals,

Public transport. In reality the 58 and 70 buses are infrequent and offer only a shoppers service and are not practical for getting to school or work. Trains are more frequent from West Malling than East Malling and connection on foot from around Clare Lane to West Malling station is problematic, involving walking on the road. Footpath MR117 runs through the site but becomes overgrown in summer and muddy in winter. Gladman propose that a 170m stretch of this path from Mill Street into the site would be paved and widened to 2 metres and lit to make it more accessible to pedestrians, mobility scooters and cycles. But as a footpath it is not meant for cycles. The parish council feel that any widening and hard surfacing would be urbanising and out of keeping in a rural location. We left with an unsatisfactory situation concerning how people would get to West Malling station. Clearly, if everyone drives that will add to the traffic. Apart from the footpath proposal the developer has no plans designed to address this.

KCC has already accepted in pre-application advice to Gladman that any increase in traffic on Mill Street is likely to have an adverse effect on road safety. 

Road safety is particularly important at the bottom of Clare Lane, the lowest point locally. Cars have left the road and hit walls. Drainage from the site may make this worse if water collects.

In responding, residents might take into account the above issues. Be aware of what are relevant factors (material considerations that the Borough Council must take into account).

The following are not relevant factors for the borough council's decision

Concerns around access to medical services, school places and water supplies are addressed in the planning system by requirements for financial contributions from the developer and would not be a reason to refuse planning permission.