At the public meeting of the Swale Local Board at Sittingbourne Community College last night, Councillor Keith Ferrin announced to a large audience of local residents that his position had now changed with regard to the Kent Science Park’s proposals. ‘I no longer see a balance in the proposals that I did before’, he said.
Previously supportive of the KSP’s proposals, Councillor Ferrin, County Councillor for Swale West, said that following recent separate meetings with the developers and the Five Parishes’ Opposition Group, he no longer felt able to support the plans. ‘Having discussed the matter in more detail, I realise this is a gigantic scheme that is built on a lot of assumptions. I am certain now it is not about a science park, it is not about expansion, but is simply about building houses to make money’.
Having met the developers in mid-December, the large audience heard how the Science Park’s operators had confirmed the existing site would be at total capacity in two years, which had caused Councillor Ferrin to question why it had to become any larger. He said his discussions with KSP had left him suggesting to KSP that Kent County Council pay for an A2/M2 link road, so as to remove the need for any new housing. KSP operators later rejected this proposal.
Referring to Councillor Alex King’s letter published in the East Kent Gazette that day, publicly backing the scheme and comparing it with the King’s Hill development, Councillor Ferrin confirmed he had spoken to Councillor King to say he would do all he could to stop the proposals going ahead. ‘I don’t think these houses are needed, or desirable, and I don’t think developers should be allowed to present their plans in the way that they have been’, he added.
Recommending the Swale Local Board advise KCC to object to all aspects of the KSP’s proposals, the other County Councillors present, including Councillor Jean Newman (who will become responsible for Dully) and Councillor Peter Morgan, agreed that public feeling was so strongly against the proposals, they had to act for the people they represented. Councillor Tom Gates left the room during this part of the meeting due to his position on the Planning Committee.
Summing up, Councillor Ferrin said his concerns also included the fact that KSP could obtain planning consent for commercial development. This would mean land was no longer ‘green belt’ but ‘brown’ and that developers could still would apply later to build houses. ‘With developers, we all know how one door opening can just lead on straight into another’, he said. ‘We have to be very careful’.
A meeting note will be available from the Swale Local Board, by contacting Bill Ronan on 01622 696889 or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org