Parish Council Response to 15/509664/OUT Land To East Of St Mary's View 
 
An Extraordinary meeting of Newington Parish Council was held on Friday 11 December to discuss this application.  32 residents attended the meeting; all who spoke expressed disquiet at the proposals.
 
This proposal by Swann Construction is outside the Local Plan, a document thoughtfully prepared by those with local knowledge to identify locations for development that would not increase air pollution, exacerbate traffic problems or reduce ‘greenfield’ land whilst ‘brownfield’ sites remained available.  We do not agree with the presumptions made in 5.2 of the Planning Statement which, whilst acknowledging that the site is outside of the identified build-confines of Newington, then seeks to suggest it may be acceptable as a ‘natural extension’.  The proposed site is not part of either the 2008 or emerging Swale Local Plan.  We note that two previous planning applications for this site have been rejected.
 
The land to the east of St Marys View is not a ‘brownfield’ site.  Instead it is good agricultural land that has been left idle by developers in the hope of future permission for building.  There are several similar sites on the edge of Newington’s built up area and we are fearful that this will open the floodgates for further developments without any planning for the requisite infrastructure improvements.
 
Following the discontinuance of agricultural activity some years ago, the land beyond St Marys View is now an area of wild orchard, with some significant tree genera and wildlife, including endangered species.  The loss of this land with permeable soil will inevitably increase the existing drainage problems, as the site drains to the Iwade Road which already experiences significant flooding in and following periods of wet weather
 
Church Lane is an ancient highway and the only road to the north of the A2.  As such it serves as access and egress for Breach, The Enterprise Centre, Lower Halstow and the much-enlarged Iwade, many of whose residents use it as ‘rat-run’ for the station and towards the Medway Towns.  As well as being narrow, Church Lane offers the only parking for the residents either side of the road and for some of the properties on the A2.  Whilst just manageable at some times of the day, Church Lane often comes to a standstill at the start and end of the school day.  As most of the Village population lives South of the A2, parents choose to drive, often backing-up along the A2 until there is space to enter Church Lane.  Newington CEP School is not, currently, at capacity; problems will only increase as the roll enlarges in line with expected birth-rate demographics.  Residents have organised a traffic census at start and end of the school day during the last week of the Christmas term; the results of this will be available in due course.  The Parish Council notes, with interest, that the traffic census published as part of the Swann Construction application is dated 14 July – the last fortnight of the summer term when many of year 6 pupils were attending Induction days at their new secondary schools and other parents were taking advantage of good weather to walk.
 
Within the past year Planning Permission has been granted for 5 houses in the Vicarage Garden, 14 houses in School Lane and 5 houses on High Oak Hill.  This follows the building of 10 houses to create Vicarage Close, opposite St Marys View, following permission granted in 2011.  The Parish Council is sure that Members will understand the cumulative effect of vehicles from 34 houses, at a time of ever-increasing vehicle usage and associated parking, has a very serious effect on a road with no capacity for widening or relief parking.  The Swann proposal for an additional 26 properties would further add to the problem; giving a total of 60 properties which Newington Parish Council believes in unsustainable.
 
The Swann Construction application proposes 41 parking spaces with 5 for visitors, serving 26 properties.  There seems to be a presumption that smaller properties have fewer vehicles.  The Parish Council believes this is mistaken:  experience of housing developments in Gillingham and Iwade shows that one bedroom ‘starter’ properties often have 3 vehicles (2 cars and 1 van) with more for 2 bedroom properties.  The proposal, as it stands, uses all available road space through dropped-kerbs; the Parish Council therefore suggests this would inevitably produce yet more parking problems in Church Lane.  Any suggestion that most residents would use public transport is questionable:  the rail service has reduced in frequency and capacity and there is no bus service on Sundays, with fifteen buses in each direction on weekdays
 
Air Quality has been a concern in Newington for many years.  The buildings either side of the narrow A2 prevent the speedy dispersal of dangerous fumes, instead funnelling and circulating them.  Air pollution in Newington exceeds EU acceptable levels and, following a Supreme Court ruling, planning authorities have a responsibility to ensure that planning applications work towards compliance with this;  further building in Newington would only make pollution here worse.  Kent Highways have also identified the eastern edge of Medway at Rainham, Key Street roundabout and the Stockbury A249 intersection as severe problems, particularly in morning and evening rush-hour periods.  It is obvious that any further building in the village will make these problems worse. 
 
The response results from the Extraordinary Parish Council Meeting on 11 December:-  Residents are compiling seasonal traffic data (ie during a normal school term);  this will be appended in due course.
 
Addendum submitted can be viewed here