West Malling, East Malling & Larkfield Bulletin No 32 - Happy New Year from Trudy, Nick and Yvonne

January 11, 2019 4:33 PM

Dear Neighbour,

Happy New Year, and I hope everyone has managed to get back to pre-Christmas weight by now! It's great to see the snowdrops are out, and the daffs are pushing up already.

We had a great success in 2018 in persuading the Borough Council to extend the Green Belt protection for our area in their Local Plan. We did that by working to get many people to send in letters and sign petitions in support of the campaign, and it made a very big difference. We can do it again this month. Help yourself and others :

*by supporting the continuation of the 58 bus to serve Maidstone Hospital,

*by pinpointing where road repairs are needed, and

*by fighting off cuts in local Library Opening Hours.


THANK YOU,


Trudy Dean
Kent County Councillor for Larkfield, East Malling and West Malling

Fight to save the only Bus link to Maidstone Hospital

A consultation on the future of the number 58 bus will start on 22nd January and run to 19th February. Following early discussions with Parish Councillors, KCC has agreed to offer two options for the route in future. Both options start in Wrotham Heath and travel via Addington, Trottiscliffe, Birling, Ryarsh, Leybourne, West Malling High Street, and East Malling Mill Street to Larkfield. The first option terminates at Martin Square Larkfield. In the second option, the terminus would be at Maidstone Hospital. In both options, passengers wanting to travel to Maidstone town centre would have to transfer to another service at Larkfield opposite the Wealden Hall. Our preferred option is to retain the link with Maidstone Hospital since it is the only public transport link with the Hospital for all these villages, including Aylesford and Ditton. We will publish the consultation document as soon as it comes out.

Government Grant for Pothole Blitz


KCC has just been given £10 million for pothole repair blitz this winter. Make sure we get our roads done by reporting them on the KCC website or by simply replying to this newsletter with details of potholes which need fixing. We need the number of the nearest house and street name, please. If there are several altogether, just tell us that. We will report them all.

One Hour in Five Cut from Library Opening Hours Across Kent

In a bid to save £1 million, KCC is cutting the opening hours of almost all libraries in Kent. Larkfield Library will reduce from 42 to 37 hours a week, and West Malling Library will reduce from 40 hours to 23 a week.

We are opposing these cuts. Libraries remain a major way to improve education levels, job prospects and quality of life. These closures will see several local villages deprived of many hours of access to books and computers for research, job and benefit applications, homework, and enjoyment. At the same time, many people will be robbed of the chance to fight loneliness by getting out of the house to meet and chat with friends.

Increasingly, Government and Council services are now often only available on line. Many people have no home computer and need help or a suitable place to use one. Send in your comments to KCC by 29th January by replying to the questionnaire included in the Consultation Document. WARNING : It's a long document about libraries. To cut to the chase, go the tables on pages 34, and 43 to 45 which explain the cuts in hours. https://consultations.kent.gov.uk/consult.ti/LRAStrategy/consultationHome


Planning Inspector grants London Road Retirement Village on Green Belt

A Government appointed Planning Inspector has overruled the Borough and Parish opposition to the building of a retirement 'village' of 79 apartments and cottages on Green Belt in West Malling. The plot lies to the rear of properties on London Road, between Town Hill and Parkfoot garage.

The Inspector stated that his main reason for refusal was the failure of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council to meet the government rule that all councils must have a five year land 'bank' of property available for house building at all times. TMBC currently has only 3.7 years, representing a shortfall of 900 houses. The Inspector also said that he felt TMBC had underestimated the demand for housing for retired people in the Borough. He was unable to take much notice of the Borough Council's draft Local Plan, since it has still not been submitted to the Secretary of State. (The deadline for submission is 24th January to avoid a penalty of a further 23% increase in house building targets). He did, however, suggest that the Borough had undermined its own case by proposing the site for market housing in the Draft Plan.

This site is screened from view from all sides except the railway, and has been abandoned farmland for over 30 years. I hope, therefore, that it will not set a precedent for decisions on other Green Belt sites. However, the decision is very bad news indeed for sites where appeals are submitted before the Local Plan is approved, as it may well lead to Inspectors granting further permissions to meet the five year land bank shortfall on sites not designated within the Local Plan. It is also shameful that housing for the elderly does not carry a requirement to build any affordable housing, so that this large Green Belt site is essentially being lost to luxury retirement provision which developers have admitted will be marketed at above normal West Malling house prices. There will be no community gain from the development, and also rules out the Parish Council's wish to see parking for workers in the town.

The decision can only be challenged on legal grounds, and TMBC have already decided there are no grounds on which to challenge the decision.


Public Meeting about Public Safety in and Around Martin Square, Larkfield

A public meeting has been arranged by the Larkfield Community Group at Church Farm, New Hythe Lane, Larkfield at 7.30pm on Thursday 31st January to discuss concerns about public safety in and around Martin Square, Larkfield. It follows a number of incidents where young cyclists have zig zagged between moving vehicles, vandalism has occurred in the square, and residents report being intimidated. In the worst incident, an assault on an elderly gentleman took place in the pathway between Morrisons and Martin Square. I am arranging to meet separately with residents of Lawson House, the Abbeyfield development for older people and veterans, who are unable to attend the meeting.

Jackie Hirsch and I asked TMBC to consider the position and as a result they have agreed to put up a CCTV camera in the next few days in Martin Square. It will be on a lamp post which previously held a CCTV camera, and will be for an initial period of three months.

If you are not able to attend the meeting , please let me have your views, or details of any experiences or any incidents of harassment or vandalism, so that I can make sure they are recorded. Trudy.dean@kent.gov.uk

Temporary traffic lights will be operating at the London Rd/New Rd junction for eight weeks to allow the upgrading of the traffic lights. Michelle and I have both asked for priority to be given to the clearing of the drains. David Thornewell has been able to trace the route of older drains which now require jetting to unblock them. The work will be carried out in the early hours of the morning to avoid disrupting traffic. KCC are also looking at whether they can install a yellow box junction on the northern Morrisons side of the junction as part of the project to upgrade the signals.

The lights on Chapman Way, East Malling have been out for over two months due to a fault in the cable. Only UK Power Networks can carry out work on the main supply cable,due to a monopoly contract handed to them by government. UKPN started on the repair yesterday. I have taken up this issue with KCC officers, as the monopoly arrangement is continuing to lead to long and dangerous delays in street lighting failures. Chapman Way serves the Primary School, Community Centre and Childrens' Centre and should be given priority when such repairs are needed.

Residents favour New Rd, Beech Rd and Mill Street for traffic calming

Following an pedestrian injury on New Road, East Malling last year, Michelle, Roger and I have been surveying local East Malling residents about the roads on they would most like to see a cut in traffic speeds. After around 500 homes have been surveyed, the most popular suggestions are New Road, Beech Road and Mill Street. We will be meeting with Highways officers to discuss what measures would be most appropriate in these roads. We will be taking special account of the views of pupils at The Malling School who have been campaigning for speed restrictions in the Village.

EMRS application for up to 110 New Road houses at 'Parkside'

An application has been received from the Trustees of East Malling Research Station for a development of 108 houses on New Road between the entrances to EMRS and Bradbourne House. The site is included in the TMBC Local Plan for 200 houses. However, the applicant met Parish Councillors and has listened to their concerns and those of other residents. As a result the number of houses has been reduced to up to 110 houses.

The plans retain the mature trees inside the ragstone wall, and the stream which flows at its foot within the site. However, 80 feet of the wall is proposed to be removed or lowered to clear site lines for the new entrance between Chapman Way and the King and Queen. We shall be trying to reduce this length, to retain as much of the protected wall as possible. The site also contains an attractive sports pavilion and cricket pitch which the Parish Council is keen to protect. The application can be viewed on the THBC website using the planning application reference TM/18/03008, or at the Parish Council Offices, Church Farm, New Hythe Lane.

Hermitage Lane Hold Up in Road Improvements to tackle Congestion

KCC has reported that intended improvements to the A26 Fountain Lane junction of Hermitage Lane are to be abandoned for now. Officers have decided that the chosen scheme is not 'cost effective'. The money will be spent instead on improving the Hall Road junction at Preston Hall, until alternative options, which are more controversial, can be agreed. This is bad news for the daily congestion on Hermitage Lane, and raises questions about the new housing proposed on both sides of Hermitage Lane. At the same time, KCC are proposing to double the size of the A20 Coldharbour roundabout and remove all traffic lights to improve traffic flows.

Amazon White Vans

I have provided further information to Amazon on the level of parking of unmarked white delivery vans in Larkfield residential streets. There is also a concern about the identity and qualifications of drivers. Amazon have assured me of their concern about community disruption and say they will contact the depot concerned to address the issue. However, they have asked for proof that the vehicles involved are concerned with Amazon deliveries. I have told Amazon that the drivers tell us they work for Amazon, and that Amazon paperwork is left in the vans. If any resident can provide pics of the vans in question, please send them to me to help get some action on the issue.

Christmas Lights Display, West Malling

A technical fault developed on one of the strings of Christmas Lights in the West Malling display and the organisers, West Malling Christmas Lights Company, made the decision to turn them off for this year. The motifs were however isolated from the strings, so that they could remain lit. A meeting is being arranged with the WMCLC and the Parish Council, who supply some of the funding, to see what needs to be done to ensure the town can get lit up again next year.

Ultra Low Congestion Charge is Pretty High!

Should you be brave or reckless enough to want to drive in central London, be prepared for a double whammy on the congestyion charge from April. The £12.50 ultra-low emission zone (Ulez) fee will apply at all times in central London and will be payable in addition to the £11.50 congestion charge.

Southeastern trains have published their plans to cope with severe weather

According to the timetable, trains running from Ashford to Swanley will call ONLY at Bearsted, Maidstone East, West Malling, Borough Green and Otford. There will be no Medway Valley line service between Paddock Wood and Strood.

And finally....Varoshe Bespoke Jewellery in West St, West Malling created a stir last year by painting a large stone which protects the outside corner of the property from scrapes, a distinctive gold colour. The "Golden Nugget" quickly became a local talking point, dividing opinion between 'tacky' to 'distinctive' and 'fun'. However, it attracted the attention of planners who decided that, as the building was listed and in a Conservation Area, the change of colour required planning consent. The stone is now repainted white again.

ROAD CLOSURES

7th January Norman Road West Malling closed for 5 days for gas main work.
7th January Larkfield, A20 London Road: Temporary traffic lights for 8 weeks at the New Road junction for traffic signals upgrade works: http://moorl.uk/?gcu62p

7th January East Malling, Chapel Street & Wateringbury Road: Road closure for 5 days (08:00-16:00) for BT Openreach tree surgery and overhead cable installation http://moorl.uk/?pt6v3x

7th January M2 J1-J3 Both directions: Various road, lane and slip road closures from 7th January to 12th March for Highways England M2 bridge joints replacement works: http://moorl.uk/?bo47aw

9TH January M2 J7-J5 Westbound: Overnight road closures from 9th January for 5 nights (20:00-06:00) for Highways England resurfacing works: http://moorl.uk/?ey3v6v

14th to 31st January. A249 Detling Hill (Southbound only) Overnight Closures as follows. Resurfacing will be carried out in three phases. Diversion route is onto M20 at junction 6 Maidstone. Expect delays.
PHASE 1: Closed 14th January for 4 weekday nights (20:00-06:00) between the Stockbury (M2 J5) roundabout and the M20 J7 roundabout, http://moorl.uk/?iyxvsq
PHASE 2: Closed 21st January for 3 nights (20:00-06:00) between the Stockbury (M2 J5) and M20 J7 roundabouts, : http://moorl.uk/?aechc6
PHASE 3: Closed 28th January for 4 weekday nights (20:00-06:00) between the Stockbury (M2 J5) and M20 J7 roundabouts: http://moorl.uk/?swy1xf

20th January High Street Aylesford High Street for one Day between Friars and Rochester Road to enable carriageway repairs..

EVENTS

Saturday 19th January Larkfield Litter Pick. Anita and Tim are organising another litter pick from Church Farm, New Hythe Lane Larkfield at 10.30am. Tabards, gloves, bags and litter picking sticks are all supplied. Home made hot soup and sandwiches served at Church Farm Hall after an hour and a half of picking.
Thursday 24th January. Silver Lunch Club, East Malling Community Centre Chapman Way East Malling. 12.30pm. Free transport provided if required. Freshly cooked food. Two or three courses for less than £7. Join us for a friendly chat and good food. Ring 01732 846314 to book.
Thursday 31st January Public Meeting on Public Safety Concerns in Martin Square, Church Farm, New Hythe Lane, Larkfield 7.30pm.
Tuesday 5th February . Hi Kent Hearing Aid Maintenance Clinic Malling Memorial Institute, 9 High St West Malling ME196QH 10.30 - 11.30am Call in to have your NHS hearing aids cleaned and collect new batteries. Find out how to make the best of your hearing aid. All free of charge. No appointment necessary.
Every Friday 11am Healthy Walks with Michelle Tatton from East Malling Community Centre Chapman Way East Malling. Length of walk around 1 hr. Free.