Otham Parish Neighbourhood Plan

The consultation period for the draft Neighbourhood Plan has now closed.

Thank you to everyone who took the time to read the plan. All comments that have been submitted will be duly considered, prior to the final revision.

Notification of Otham Neighbourhood Plan Pre-Submission (Regulation 14) Consultation

Otham Parish Council and the Neighbourhood Steering Group have been preparing a draft Neighbourhood Plan that sets out a sustainable vision for the neighbourhood area and a series of policies that we are proposing to be used in the determination of planning applications. This draft plan has been based on residents’ views that have been expressed through consultation and also on Maidstone Borough Council’s Local plan.

The Draft Plan has now been published for formal consultation with local residents, statutory bodies, businesses and other interested bodies. The consultation period runs from22 July 2019 until 6 September 2019. Comments or responses received after the closing date will not be considered.

You can view the draft plan by clicking on the link below.

Neighbourhood Plan 8_Web2.pdf

You can also see paper copies of the draft plan at:

Maidstone Link, King Street, Maidstone, ME14 1FW: Monday – Friday 9.00am to 4.30pm (10.00am Wednesday)

Madginford Library, Egremont Rd, Bearsted, Maidstone ME15 8LH: Monday – Wednesday 9am – 6pm, Friday 9am – 6pm, Saturday 9am – 1pm

Village Hall - by appointment only - from 22 July to 22 August. Please contact Teresa the Clerk (details below) to make a booking.

If you would like to make any comments on this draft plan during the consultation period you can either email them to the parish clerk at clerk.othampc@btinternet.com or you can put them in writing and send them to Teresa Irving, 7 Firs Close, Aylesford, Kent, ME20 7LH.

If you have any difficulties in viewing the draft plan or making comments, you may contact our parish clerk, Teresa Irving on 01622 717466.

Comments must be received by 5pm on 6 September 2019

All personal data will be processed in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation. Your information will only be processed for the analysis of consultation responses.

What will happen next?

Following this public consultation, the Draft Neighbourhood Plan will be revised and a final plan will be submitted to Maidstone Borough Council to check that it complies with all the necessary regulations. The final plan will then be published for another public consultation (Regulation 16). Following this, the final plan will be submitted to an Independent Examiner for assessment and, if passed, a referendum will take place on the plan.

The plan consists of 10 main chapters together with supporting information. Six of these chapters contain policy statements towards shaping how Otham develops and below is a brief summary of the policy-containing chapters.

Heritage and Landscape Protection. Otham is an ancient village mentioned in Domesday and which retains its historic significance. Its elevation provides magnificent views in several directions. The aim of the policies within this chapter is to ensure “Quality of Place” through providing walking routes in and around the village and preserving the view of and between historic buildings and of the North Downs Policy statements are directed at preserving the Public Rights of Way (PROW), particularly those associated with the recreational and educational value of several Heritage Trails and ensuring the preservation of views.

Green Space and Biodiversity. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) recommends the designation of Local Green Spaces which are important to the local community because of their beauty, historic significance, recreational value, tranquillity or richness of wildlife. The policies in this chapter aim to identify and protect a number of areas: The allotments, the cricket field, the land used by Bearsted Football Club, the area of grassland between Woolley Road and Church Road and the adjoining Glebe and The Village Green. The policies also aim to protect ancient woodland from encroachment.

Anticoalescence. The Maidstone Borough Local Plan (MBLP) adopted October 2017 includes a policy to ensure that Maidstone and local villages do not join into a larger, single urban mass. The aim of the policies in this chapter is to support this principle and to highlight one area of particular sensitivity. It notes that development should not take place in the large field to the east of Church Road which would result in Maidstone, Downswood and Otham coalescing.

Active and Sustainable Travel. Once again in line with the MBLP, the aims of the policies in this chapter are to protect and build on the current network of PROW to try to establish a network of foot and cycle routes both across the parish and connecting with others. This will help to ensure there is safe and convenient access for both recreational and domestic purposes and to connect with public transport. This would support the MBLP aspiration to minimise car travel.

Managing the Built Environment. The plan notes that the housing allocations within the MBLP will add over 1000 new homes to a village that, prior to 2010, contained just 200. The aims of the policies in this chapter are to ensure the preservation of the rural core and to align with Otham’s aspiration to remain a rural community. The plan defines a selective and sensitive approach to any future developments which excludes any further large-scale development.

Community and Leisure. The current Village Hall is extremely small compared with the future size of the community and has no car parking. A survey of community need is currently underway to establish the necessity of a new Community Centre together with possible locations. The aim of the policies in this chapter is to ensure that, should the need be identified, appropriate criteria are used in its development.