Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, as part of its efforts to reduce overall spending, has been looking at the future management arrangements for the country park which despite its name is mostly in Larkfield with the rest in Snodland parish.
The park currently costs about £120,000 net to run. The borough also holds around £700,000 from the funds deposited by the former developers Berkley Homes towards a possible visitor centre, education room and cafe. These funds have been held since the park opened in 2003.
TMBC has obtained reports on the possible provision of a visitor centre and also on the possible business potential of the park, including the income potential of such a centre. Ideally, the Borough would like to eliminate the cost of running the site but recognises its status as a country park.
Just before Christmas parish councillors Pam Ayrton and David Thornewell met borough representatives to discuss the position. They have stressed they would like to see a well-designed cafe and visitor centre to replace the current cabins by the Ocean Lake and mobile snack bar. Such a facility if well run could reduce the overall costs. But they also stressed they would not wish to see the commercialisation of the site and that its wildlife and quiet recreational use should be kept. This includes the fishing lakes. They would oppose for example power boats on the lake. The borough promised further consultations with the parish.
Environmental Champion “Love Where You Live” awards, sponsored by Veolia, were awarded by the Mayor at a Tonbridge Castle ceremony.
Anita Oakley’s work organising (and feeding) Larkfield Litter Pickers, and East Malling volunteer Linda Bailey’s work in East Malling litter clearing group were recognised with awards.
Michelle Tatton also received an award for her work organising Clare Lake volunteers.
Michelle made a short presentation to the audience of photographs illustrating the transformation of the lake over the last few years.
COUNTY Councillor Trudy Dean has decided to use her increased allowance to pay for advertising in Downs Mail.
Mrs Dean has been given a 15% increase in her allowance, which she opposed, and she has decided to use that money to advertise community events in her county division of East and West Malling and Larkfield.
She said: “I opposed the increase in Councillors allowances but do not want to see residents I represent disadvantaged. So I have decided to use it instead of advertising of main local community events.
“Social events like East Malling ‘Picnic in the Park’, West Malling Music@malling Festival and Larkfield Martin Square lighting up event bring people together, enrich our lives and often provide an opportunity for local voluntary groups to fundraise for their activities.
“I have chosen Downs Mail as it circulates my entire area free of charge, making sure everyone is able to get involved in supporting local community life.”
The public can now report crimes and incidents as well as non-injury road traffic collisions ONLINE directly through their website (www.kent.police.uk). The user will receive a unique reference number and a return email confirming receipt. This is a test run, and you can provide feedback on how user-friendly you found it. The long waits to report non-urgent crime by phone on 111 should mean this an attractive alternative.
The West Malling GP High Street Surgery is being sold. Doctors say the property is no longer fit for purpose, and NHS cuts mean they must reduce costs. They intend to “retain a presence” in West Malling, possibly using part of the existing building, but this depends on the wishes of the buyer. Patients will need to travel increasingly to Kings Hill and cuts in local bus services are making this difficult for those without a car.
Trudy Dean as Chairman of the Parish Council said “ We are keen to work with the practice to help ensure doctor appointments continue to be available in West Malling and Leybourne. However, we are dismayed about the lack of communication with residents. This surgery has existed for over 70 years, and people can combine medical appointments with shopping or visits to the Library, Post Office and other services. We have a high number of retired people and feel it is vital to retain a surgery for the elderly, people with mobility problems, and young families.”
Fresh off of our fantastic November, with no less than SEVEN council by-election gains, we've had a great final week of by-elections for the year - holding both of the seats we were defending and gaining another seat in Waveney from nowhere!
Those fantastic results mean that at the end of 2017, we're the ONLY major political party to make net gains in Council by-elections - racking up a tally of +15!
The Liberal Democrats, under Vince Cable, are winning seats up and down the country and against all opposition parties.
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Our local campaigning is second to none, and the hard work of Lib Dem councillors and activists is being recognised in surges of support in by-elections across the country. So, without any further ado, onto the results!
💪 A stunning win from nowhere
📈 Holding AND increasing our vote
🌠 A brilliant hold
Work has begun at ‘The Old Printworks’ on part of the former Kent Messenger site in Sheldon Way Larkfield. Larkfield Borough Councillors Anita Oakley and Tim Bishop, and Chairman of the Parish Council David Thornewell, attended the site recently, along with the Leader of TMBC, to see the site for themselves and speak first hand with Quinn Estates, the site's developers.
Cllr Anita Oakley, Larkfield South and Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council says “The start of work on this site is great news for our local community. Quinn Estates deserve great credit for their consultation with both the borough and parish councils – taking on board what Councillors said about the parking in particular and, more importantly, promising to deliver on that in the final scheme.”
Cllr Tim Bishop says “This spade in the ground event has been a good opportunity to hear about Quinn Estates’ plans to transform this brownfield site. Evidently, it will not only provide homes to a number of people but also benefit the local community by regenerating a brownfield plot into something that will ultimately invest money back into the community. There are already plans to build an outdoors adult gym area over the road, which Quinn Estates have funded. We are looking forward to seeing people using the equipment and the development being complete.”
The development will comprise 4 terraced houses and 8 apartments.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council published the first draft of its Local Plan in autumn 2016. The council received around 1,000 responses from the public, and published its reply to the points raised in July.
Councillors have been told they will be briefed on the council's final draft during this September and October, with publication of the document for consultation during autumn. The council expects to agree its final document, which will go to a government inspector for approval, in February 2018.
So far there has been no indication of what TMBC thinks about the support for extending the Green Belt, and the many objections to the development of land in East Malling and Ditton, in the area of land bounded by the A20, the Maidstone- Borough Green railway line, Kiln Barn Lane and Hermitage Lane, where several thousand houses are proposed.
Meanwhile several developers have submitted planning applications for large scale building on Hermitage Lane, in Aylesford Quarry, and London Road, West Malling. This gives the local authority a problem. The council could refuse these applications until its Local Plan is agreed. But if it does so, the applicants can appeal and a government inspector would then decide whether or not planning permission should be given. Concerns have been raised that an inspector may not, as TMBC would do, include conditions to ensure such things as adequate road access, public transport, and local amenities are provided by the developers. Cllr Trudy Dean said; “These kinds of binding agreements are critical to the Malling area where the main spine road of the A20 is already over capacity, and traffic congestion and pollution are major public issues.”
MEMBERS of East Malling and Larkfield Parish Council have met representatives of the agents for the former Aylesford Newsprint site to be updated on the latest position concerning the proposed redevelopment of the site. They are also going to meet other affected parish councils.
Work has started on demolishing the buildings and a record of those on site is being made so it can be deposited at Kent Archives. The applicants have lodged various reports with Tonbridge and Malling Council in answer to questions and issues raised and a revised statement in support of their application. These include more documents concerning highway impacts as required by the Highway Agency and KCC. Two more documents are due and then TMBC will re-consult including with affected parish councils.
The revised documents show two possible layouts with one showing a site for a new school if required by KCC. The proposals for the strip of land between the railway and the river have been amended to show a Riverside Park with play areas with the riverside path retained and improved. One of the bridges under the railway would be used as a pedestrian link. Housing would be confined to the Mill Hall end of the site.
The plans show as before an access out to Station Road from the housing site but this would not be for HGVs from the commercial site and would be designed accordingly.
A site is shown to make use of existing boreholes to serve the general water supply to the whole wider area by SE Water.
The site for community facilities such as a GP surgery/medical centre and a small shop are retained and a proposed bus service would serve the site including a link to New Hythe Station.
The old mill pond next to the motorway would be retained as a feature, including the Ditton stream running through the site, linked to a series of green spaces and footpaths. There would be a green area separating the houses from the employment area which continues to be the biggest part of the site and which would create more jobs than the former Newsprint site.
A PLAN to increase wildflower areas on roadside verges and corners of land in and around West Malling is being considered.
Parish Councillors Richard Byatt and Trudy Dean met with KCC and Kent Wildlife Trust representatives to discuss how these areas can be managed to increase wildflower numbers. The major change is to ensure mowing only takes place after flowers have seeded.
KCC will cut the grass but volunteers are needed to rake the longer grass to the back of the verge to allow the flower seeds to germinate. Parish Councillor Richard Selkirk is coordinating a team of gardeners who hopefully will help with this process.
Parish council chairman Trudy Dean said: " KCC already has some protected wildflower verges but they are few and far between and none in this area. The ox-eye daisies on the A228 are widely admired. We hope that volunteers will enable us to significantly increase these beautiful areas we all enjoy, and raking the long grass is good for reptiles as well.”
If you are interested in taking part in this project please contact parish clerk Claire Christmas on firstname.lastname@example.org.