Taking Mr Bull by the horns
01 Nov 2006SO, MR Bull from LaSalle Investment Management feels that, "on balance, people could cope" with the Kent Science Park expansion plans and the related road and housing.
Quite clearly he attended a very different meeting to the one I did. My view from the comments made by those attending was that, while they support the regeneration of Swale, this should be appropriate and in the right areas, with minimal disruption to existing homes, green belt and conservation areas, with strict control over increased traffic.
The proposals from LaSalle in no way meet these criteria. Those at the meeting made several suggestions as to how benefit could still be gained from the, park, such as moving to a more appropriate site that already has good road access and gradually introducing houses in suitable places, without building another "super estate" like Sonora Fields. All of the suggestions were met with "not possible" responses, with little evidence to back them up. La Salle has yet to provide detailed plans of its proposals.
The models provided at the meeting were misleading, showing the park and proposed houses in the middle of a huge green expanse, omitting all of the buildings that already exist and suggesting that more green space will be left than is really the case.
The plans provided had no road names, so those living in the area could not really see what the effect on their homes would be.
There are no confirmed parties interested in moving to the new park.
To quote Mr Bull, they have been "persuading possibly interested parties" — hardly the definitive number of jobs we were promised would be brought to the area.
Mr Bull also spoke of the opportunity to make "a good first impression" for those visiting the area.
As one member of the audience pointed out, what better impression of that area could there be than the one currently in place — beautiful countryside?
The sketch of the impression from the proposed junction was of industrial warehouses hidden by shrubs.
Again, as pointed out by a gentleman in the audience, any landscaping to be completed would be damage limitation, not improvement.
We were blinded with many statistics which sought to demonstrate that Sittingbourne would effectively shut down without this investment.
Hidden among them was that we should expect the number of households in the town to increase by 300 per year. Who then moves into the 4,500 houses to be built all at once?
There was an acceptance by those attending that investment in our town was necessary. However, the sacrifice involved in the Kent Science Park proposals is far too great.
Let us focus on plans to improve the area, not ones that rip our green belt apart.