The Five Parishes Group campaign
Fighting against Kent Science Park Expansion Proposals the Five Parishes Group will put a stop to:
- 11,250 houses over hundreds of acres of Swale countryside
- A new A2/M2 link road over prime agricultural land
- Expansion beyond Kent Science Park’s existing site and planning permission already granted in 2010 for a sizeable expansion. New plans to provide 120,00 sqm of industrial and commercial space are unrealistic and unachievable whilst preserving that status of a science park
What are we campaigning against?
A devastating development proposal put forward by Kent Science Park (“KSP”) to destroy 1,500 acres of rural countryside south of Sittingbourne, in Kent.
- KSP has varied its plans over the last 3 years, scaling back the housing from 10,000 houses to 5,000 and most recently to 4,500 houses. This could add c12,000+ people to a rural area that currently has less than c3,000 residents and only c1,300 houses.
- The plans for an M2/A2 link road weaving through prime Kent countryside to maximise the development opportunity to KSP, and causing significant damage to the villages and rural communities enroute.
- The need for such a road is completely unproven, most significantly the northern relief road linking the A2 to the A249 north of Sittingbourne has not been fully planned, remains unfunded and is unlikely to be built until 2011at the very earliest. The Swantree Avenue link road, in south Sittingbourne has yet to be built. How can one even consider building a new link road when 2 other major road routes have no got off the drawing board? How can any sensible traffic anylsis be done when part of the road infrastructure is not yet built.
- 1-2 million square feet of commercial development including industrial space, forming a so-called new entrance to Sittingbourne destroying precious countryside. There are no definitive end users for the commercial space and so the aspiration to create 4,000 jobs is just that- an aspiration. The fact that this number of new jobs would not be sufficient to support the c12,000 new residents, doesn’t stack up, they would in effect create a job shortfall. The existing site has very little “science” and the significant majority of the employment is from a call centre and other non science based companies.
- Town centre employers have diminished over the last 2 years most recently Sittingbourne Paper Mill (owned by M Real) closed with the loss of over 400 jobs. Employment should be created on brownfield sites in the town centre rather than building on our precious countryside.
Why say no to these proposals?
- In the words of Campaign to Protect Rural England they described the proposals as “Wanton Destruction”
- The proposals would tear up our valuable countryside, leading to the destruction of huge swathes of agricultural land for urban sprawl whilst our town centre has become neglected and run down
- It is important to keep psychological space between the villages, it gives a sense of well being to community, sense of belonging – ‘green’ surroundings healthy for the mind, sense of rest.
- The existing infrastructure can’t support its community and at best is stretched, these proposals would create difficulty for residents to access scarce resources including education (schools and colleges), health (doctors dentists, hospitals) and welfare services and put a severe strain on utilities including water, roads, sewerage, drainage, etc. Village schools are already over subscribed, so children cannot get a place in their own village school.
- Loss of amenity, the countryside around the south of Sittingbourne is popular with locals for a variety of outdoor pursuits including walking, cycling, jogging, etc
- Important to preserve uniqueness and history of area, especially as Kent known as ‘Garden of England’ Take our visual references; Oast houses, flint cottages, hops, orchards of pears, apples and cherries, footpaths, fields of sheep, ancient churches and woodlands.
- Residents living on the route of the proposed road have effectively been blighted and some are having difficulty selling their homes.
- We have very strong evidence from new local estates that they don’t work (e.g. Sonora Fields, and parts of Iwade etc) where vandalism and youth problems have create havoc for the residents and can’t be effectively managed by the community or the police.
- No need to make a ‘country park’ out of original countryside. “Oh let them be left, wildness and wet/ Long live the weeds in the wilderness yet” (Victorian poet, G.M. Hopkins) - important to have some natural countryside that isn’t ‘managed’.
- Noise and light pollution
- More rubbish/litter, its bad enough at present without adding more, especially
fly tippingin the country lanes
- A new motorway link will not mean less traffic through the roads, it will only bring more traffic in from a 2-lane motorway. New road proposal only single lane, queues will build up for and off motorway at peak times, traffic will still try and divert through country roads to ‘get somewhere quicker’. These “rat runs in the villages and suburbs directly neighbouring the scheme and congestion hot spots elsewhere including short cuts from A20, through Hollingbourne, M2 linking to A249, Teynham etc would make traffic worse not better
- 4,500 houses all with a least one car will just mean more cars burning fossil fuels etc, think of the size of the carbon footprint for the whole development proposal. The KSP developers have said that more people would take public transport – we don’t currently have bus services to all the villages and we and the Highways authority don’t believe their estimates for “model” shift (taking alternative means of transport) would ever work.
- Sittingbourne town in poor state at present (last department store closed in Feb 2007). Investment needs to be made in town centre and immediate areas. A new housing estate on outskirts will not mean a town centre improved.