Chase Meadow - we want our views heard

Bryan Houston, chairman of Chase Meadow Residents' Association
Bryan Houston, chairman of Chase Meadow Residents' Association

Aggrieved residents of Chase Meadow have called an urgent meeting to discuss proposals for a Gypsy and traveller site over the road from their estate.

Final amendments to the Local Plan have identified a plot among the 40 acres of land close to the Severn Trent Sewage works off Stratford Road.

The site has been earmarked for a combination of employment land and a travellers’ site for up to 15 permanent pitches which could hold 30 or more caravans.

Public consultation on the late additions to the Local Plan is due to end on December 12.

Local MP Chris White has already agreed to attend the meeting called by the Chase Meadow Residents’ Association and arranged for 7.30pm next Thursday (Dec 4) at Aylesford School.

But district council chief executive Chris Elliott says he must “respectfully decline” the group’s invitation because the format for consultations has changed since the last public meetings were held.

Mr Elliott says: “Such meetings rarely offer most of those who attend the opportunity for specific matters to be addressed and so do to not aid the consultation process.”

Nor can those voicing their specific opinions be taken into account because these are not given in writing. Instead drop-in sessions had been offered at 2.30pm and 6.30pm over the past two weeks.

Bryan Houston, chairman of the residents’ group, said the council’s drop-in’ hours had been unsuitable for working people and it was felt these had led to a lot of misinformation.

For his part, MP Chris White said: “It’s important residents of Chase Meadow and Stratford Road hear from the local authority and more importantly, for the decision-makers on the local authority to hear the very genuine concerns of local residents.

“This will be a good forum to do so. Previous consultations have not given the information residents’ need and this will be a good opportunity to right that - I did write to urge that the council leader and relevent officers attend and it will be very disappointing if nobody is able to do so.”

Aylesford School was the location for an angry meeting some time ago when potential sites for Gypsies and travellers were first announced, one of which was on Hampton Road, and since dropped.

At that time the huge Stratford Road site, over the road from the estate and roadside homes, was not available or included on any shortlist. Council leader Andrew Mobbs says he will also not be available.