The Parish Council sent the following objection on 22 February 2016:
Newington Parish Council objects to this application.
Many of the objections to Gladman’s earlier application (15/500671/OUT, to which Newington Parish Council responded on 26 March 2015) remain. Comments made to the Planning Inspectorate in September 2015 are also pertinent.
The draft Local Plan states: ‘(4.3.20) Newington: Despite its role and level of services, development opportunities are very limited due to the valued and important heritage, landscapes and habitats to the north of the village, poor pedestrian connections between north and south of the village, a restricted internal road network, poor air quality and surrounding high quality agricultural land’.
The proposed development would obliterate working agricultural land comprising ‘best and most versatile soil’ which is ‘mineral-rich’; there are alternative ‘brownfield’ sites available in the Borough. The site is outside both the current and the emerging Local Plans for Swale. Pond Farm has never been considered suitable for development. Indeed the planning application is contrary to policies E1 and H2. Under the terms of the National Planning Policy Framework the site is not sustainable and the application is contrary to the Development Plan and the NPPF
Newington Parish Council recognises that this revised application does not include Listed Building Consent for the demolition of redundant farm outbuildings (application 15/500694/LBC). However the current application destroys the setting for these buildings; they would be the front of a new housing estate rather than of the agricultural land which they were built to serve.
A development of 140 dwellings, presumably occupied by 140 families, would be located outside the Village centre. It is difficult to envisage any responsible parent allowing their child to cross the busy A2 and walk along the narrow pavement hemmed by HGVs and other traffic to reach the Newington Primary School or bus stops serving the Sittingbourne secondary schools. Inevitably such a development would result in an increase in car traffic.
The proposed development would directly access London Road – a ‘B’ quality road which struggles, and fails, to meet its ‘A’ designation. Newington was designated by Kent county Council as a priority for a by-pass, but the plan was dropped twenty years ago due to costs at a time of budget cuts. Increased traffic in this period means the A2 has long traffic queues, two miles west at Rainham and two miles east at the Key Street A249 junction, each morning and evening. The designation of the A249 as part of ‘operation stack’ will result in greater gridlock whenever the scheme is in operation.
Newington village is 400 yards to the east, well-known as the narrowest part of the whole A2, where it is not possible for lorries to pass at the same time as vehicles from the opposite direction (a frequent problem due to a large cold store two miles to the west). Traffic collisions as this point have necessitated the replacement of the pedestrian-safety railings on three occasions in the past year.
The Newington Village centre is monitored for air pollution where levels of NO2 pollutant consistently exceed EEC safety limits. The factors the applicant describes as causing this (canyon effect and congestion) are constant factors due to narrowness of the road and proximity of unbroken buildings; the Pond Farm development could only increase congestion and so cause greater harmful air pollution to pedestrians and village-centre residents. Newington Parish Council notes that the Air Quality Assessment submitted by Gladman Developments Limited is dated October 2014, using 2013 data; presumably this was commissioned for their previous planning application.
Local infrastructure cannot support a development of this scale. Newington Primary School is close to capacity, local bus and rail services are poor and Medway Hospital is in special measures. Whilst we note that the outline plans include land allocated for a doctor’s surgery, this is for future provision by a third party and not part of the building proposed by Gladman.
Newington Parish Council formally request that, should officers recommend the acceptance of this application, it should be called-in for full discussion and a decision by Swale Borough Council Planning Committee.