The proposed development site is owned by Taylor Wimpey and comprises a strip of land fronting North Street in Barming. The site covers an area of approximately 1.06 hectares which comprises two sections of land either side of existing properties at 35-43 North Street.
Maidstone Borough Council is currently producing a new Local Plan, which will include a number of housing allocations. The proposed development site is one such allocation within the draft Local Plan, which was recently subject to public consultation.
Whilst the site is designated as ‘open countryside’ in the Maidstone Borough Wide Local Plan (2000), it should be noted that this document was adopted 14 years ago and it is not wholly consistent with the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework, which provides a national framework for the delivery of new homes.
The site is included within the draft Local Plan for a total of 35 homes and our proposals seek to meet this emerging policy. The homes would be designed responding positively to the character and appearance of the local area, and would take into account listed buildings nearby. They would also meet level 4 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and provide 30% as affordable housing (these will be a mix of rental and shared ownership properties).
In addition to complying with the existing policy, the council does not have a five-year supply of housing, which is required by the National Planning Policy Framework. We therefore see this site coming forward as both meeting an immediate need for housing, but also the longer-term strategic need.
Taylor Wimpey also owns land at Bell Farm to the West of the proposed development site. However, there are no plans to bring forward a planning application to develop this site at present. Should any proposals come forward at a later date, these would be subject to the same form of consultation.
Before we start designing a new scheme, we complete an assessment of the site and the surrounding area as they are at the moment. We record those features we will need to take into account in our design. All of the relevant considerations, whether they fix the way our scheme will have to be designed or give us a real opportunity to make the most of a particular feature, are shown here.
This plan shows how our proposed development considers the key features of the site and its surroundings.
Flood risk and drainage
The proposed development site is located in Flood Zone 1, which means it is at a low risk of flooding from rivers and other watercourses. Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) will be used. This will include the use of private soakaways for domestic drainage with permeable paving for private drives. Public highways will be drained by adopted soakaways. These will ensure that surface water run-off from the development will be no greater than current greenfield (undeveloped land) rates and will not increase the risk of flooding on site or elsewhere.
The site consists of the eastern ends of two fields of commercial arable land separated by closely trimmed Italian and grey alder shelterbelts, with narrow field margins. Overall, it is considered to be of low ecological value with no significant existing habitat. Protected species surveys were undertaken for birds, bats and the hedges and trees have been carefully assessed.
Creation and enhancement of the habitats through additional native hedgerow planting and wildflower meadow pockets on the edges of the proposed development would increase the wildlife opportunities, benefiting widespread animal species such as small mammals, including hedgehogs, reptiles and birds. New trees will be incorporated where appropriate and where mature trees exist, they will be retained for their ecological and landscape value.
Landscape and Visual Appraisal
The site is closely related to the existing housing area along North Street and comprises a narrow strip of land alongside the existing edge of the settlement. In landscape terms it is extremely well contained in views from the wider countryside, by a combination of the vegetation at the site boundaries and the numerous shelter belts which are a feature of the adjoining landscape.
There are a number of established hedgerow features which extend alongside the frontage with North Road. Where possible these can be retained within the layout, however there is an opportunity to remove some of these features to achieve an active frontage along the western side of the street. In the event that sections of hedgerow are lost, these can be replaced with new native hedgerows to provide an attractive and appropriate frontage.
The proposed access to our development.
Vehicle, cycle and pedestrian access to the development is proposed to be taken from North Street at a number of locations. The exact design of these access points are being explored with Kent County Council, as highway authority. However, in general these will take the form of simple priority junctions which will provide sufficient capacity for the proposed development. The two parcels of land to the north and south will be separately accessed.
Options are being considered which would enhance the existing street by introducing more effective traffic calming and improve the pedestrian environment. The introduction of a shared space carriageway in the vicinity of Apple Tree Close and Bell Farm Gardens is being considered. All access points will go through a highway safety audit.
The development will provide sufficient car parking to accommodate the demand anticipated to arise and to ensure that car parking will not ‘overspill’ on to surrounding streets. Garages are also proposed on a majority of the homes. Given the location and Kent County Council’s guidance on car parking, smaller houses (1 and 2 beds) will have a minimum of one space each,
with larger houses generally having two spaces each. Additional parking will be designed to accommodate visitor demand, generally through formalised on-street provision.
The traffic impact of the proposed development is being assessed using industry standard methodology. A development of around 35 homes is expected to generate around 20 to 22 two way vehicle trips during the peak hours of 8am to 9am, and again between 5pm and 6pm on weekdays.
A Transport Assessment is being prepared to evaluate the impact of the development on the local transport network and will be submitted as part of the planning application. The scope of assessment has been agreed with Kent County Council and is to include capacity analysis and modelling of the junctions between North Street and Tonbridge Road and Heath Road.
The proposed development site is in an accessible location, with good access to local schools and facilities, including local shops. Barming Primary School is less than a 750m-walk from the site, while secondary schools are located within 2km. Local convenience shopping is available both to the south in Tonbridge Road and to the east in Beverley Road.
A bus service currently operates in North Street, providing sustainable access to destinations further afield. However, key high-frequency services can be accessed to the south, in Tonbridge Road.