Protest march over Kent Science Park expansion plan

26 Feb 2011
Campaigners have taken part in a protest march against plans to expand the Kent Science Park in Sittingbourne by more than 100 acres (40 hectares).

The Swale Borough Council proposals include an option to build more than 5,000 homes and a motorway link road on a greenfield site.

On Saturday members of the Five Parishes Opposition Group marched in Sittingbourne against the plans.

The authority said it was consulting residents over four different options.

Other options include limiting the growth of the science park and focusing on expansion in other parts of the borough.

The proposals for employment and housing for Swale over the next 20 years were unveiled in the council's Pick Your Own consultation.

'High deprivation levels'

Andy Hudson, from the Five Parishes Opposition Group, said: "The expansion plans would affect five villages and they're all in absolutely beautiful countryside going towards the Kent North Downs.

"We're not opposed to expansion and job creation itself, within the confines of the security fence, what we are opposed to is their rather ambitious plans to expand the park by 500%.

"To facilitate that they need the motorway junction and A2/M2 link road and 5,000 houses and that is obviously going to have a rather drastic affect on the beautiful countryside on this side of town."

Conservative council leader Andrew Bowles said: "This is a consultation period. We're giving the residents of Swale the maximum number of options in front of them.

"We do have very high levels of deprivation in Swale, the second highest in Kent.

"We have to at least give the people of Swale the option to try to support business expansion to create employment, to create regeneration, to bring more money into Swale to deal with that deprivation."

"He added: "We need to build in excess of 9,000 houses in the next 20 years just to deal with the increase of our own population.

"That is assuming that nobody living outside Swale in London or whatever chooses to purchase houses in Swale."

BBC Radio Kent