There was a good turn out of residents, about 20 in the audience, which was great to see. The councillors voted 11 against the plan (one abstention - Cllr John Wilson I think???) and none for.
Local residents are getting quickly organised to lodge our concerns with the Planning Inspectorate and forming a residents group.
This is the speech that I gave to the committee:
Mr Chairman, members of planning committee, thank you for allowing me to address you in objection to this proposal. Many of you will know me from my political work and while I am representing some of the views the Green Party and presenting our petition, I am primarily here to put forward a mixture of views from many local residents including the recently formed residents association during the one small slot that we are collectively allowed.
There are three key points which I will draw your attention to:
Firstly, we do not believe that the impact of the additional traffic on the immediate area has been assessed properly.
The assessment was made using three short slots of 1 hour, none of which were at peak times.
Buckland Hill and St Peters St are regularly grid locked with queues, especially on Saturdays and during rush hour. They cannot cope with at least 50% more traffic.
The proposed road widenings will be detrimental to other users and residents including:
- The vast number of school children that walk to school in the area (6 major schools including Oakwook Park complex and MGGS / Maplesden)
- The cycle path on North Bridge will be lost and therefore the main cycle route from West Maidstone will disappear.
- Maidstone already has the highest number of pedestrians and cyclists Killed or Seriously Injured anywhere in Kent.
- The railway bridge on Buckland Hill will still act as a significant restriction
- The trees which act as sound and pollution barriers will be lost which will be detrimental to residents and pedestrians
- Reduced access to houses on Buckland hill will increase the risk of accidents
With the estimated 75% of users being from West Maidstone, cars will not exit the supermarket along St Peters St in the main, they will travel up Buckland Hill towards their homes.
They will also travel down Buckland Hill to the supermarket. There are already significant problems with cars turning right into Buckland Hill from the west bound A20. This will increase along with the number of accidents.
These factors mean that we feel the impact on travel has not been properly assessed or understood, yet will be devastating to local people.
Secondly, there are now 7 supermarkets within a one mile radius of this site. Your notes show that council already has a better plan at Maidstone East. The proposed supermarket is not required.
Finally I refer you to 3.2.6 in your briefing papers. “The borough council should only consider permitting the application… if no other viable uses could be identified”.
- This site is perfect for affordable apartments which would be in keeping with the style of housing that surrounds the site and which would not significantly increase traffic levels.
- Alternative uses have been suggested such as a cultural venue.