Industry In by the back door

16 Aug 2006

YOUR headline "Wanton destruction" (East Kent Gazette, August 2) and the many letters objecting to the proposed plans for the science park prompt me to write.

I have lived in Sittingbourne all my life. I was born in Park Drive and in 1958 I moved with my parents to Sterling Road. In 1964, I married and moved to Fulston Manor.

I have always enjoyed the countryside and have spent many happy times as a child in Minching Wood, Cromers Wood and the surrounding countryside. The site of the enterprise centre used to provide scouts with weekend camping, but that went many years ago. We still enjoy this area and in 1990 we moved to our present house in Highsted Valley. We love it here. We have been fortunate to be able to buy a wild parcel of land at the back of our house and this gives us views over the valley and beyond. A little piece of tranquillity that we hold dear and will fight to keep.

When I recall my childhood years, the farm at Shell was known as Woodstock Farm and then Shell took it over as a research centre for chemicals and agriculture in general. This was fine to start with, but then the expansion started. First it was a new Atcost barn, then a new brick laboratory, then an office complex and so on.

As I understood it, the planning permission for all this expansion was allowed on agricultural grounds, which was OK because it the site was confined between two hills and was relatively unobtrusive. Now we have industry occupying the units and buildings. How was this change of use achieved?

Industry belongs to industrial parks, of which Sittingbourne has its share. It is unfair, unnecessary and totally irresponsible to destroy this beautiful area with industry and its associated housing and services. I call this "back-door planning permission" which should never be allowed.

It seems to me that rules and laws surrounding greenbelt areas, agricultural use and other well-used descriptions of land mean nothing when exploited for the gain of people who do not have a feel for it or an interest in what matters to the community.

The created jobs are not for local people, they are for the influx that would be attracted by the chance to move into what was countryside, but with all the trappings of town life — because that is what our valley will be transformed into.

We in Highsted and surrounding areas live here because we like it how it is. The expansion is not for local people, they do not need the extra services.

We do not need a country park, we have a natural park which has been here for many years. We do not need a major link road to the M2 a few hundred yards away from our front door. This isn't about what the community needs, it's about what will be required to service the expansion and development of an essentially rural area by profit-driven developers who, when they have destroyed our valley, move on to create disillusionment, anger and misery next to someone else's back garden.

Finally, there is just the small point of water. Where we do find enough to service all these new houses, with their two toilets, showers and new gardens to water, let alone industry's requirements?

I do not agree with this development. It is monumental intrusion into a landscape that has been enjoyed for generations and, if allowed to proceed, will destroy yet more of our cherished way of life in this rural area.

Your headline "Wanton destruction" is very fitting and sums up my feelings admirably.

Howard Carey,
Highsted Valley. Rodmersham.