Mackerels Plain is situated in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, approximately 1 mile from the picturesque village of Ide Hill near Sevenoaks. On this 3.5 hectare (9 acre) field there is a Planning Application to create a new intensive “industrial style” Farm Centre incorporating large grain store, woodchip and timber processing unit, cattle suckler rearing complex, farm machinery and chemical/ fertiliser store, large attenuation pond and farmworker accommodation. This will be a 24/7 operation with security lighting and access roads. The new facility requires road widening of Back Lane and the redesign of the B2042/ Nightingale Lane junction, destroying woodland and ecology . Over 400 movements of 44 tonne grain and woodchip lorries are expected per annum in this quiet narrow lane, along with an increase in farm supply vehicle traffic on local roads and other narrow lanes. The major objections to the proposal are:-
- The excessive scale, stark geometry and overall intrusiveness of the Farm Centre complex in the rural AONB/ Green Belt landscape; this proposal will destroy forever a 9 acre field and the surrounding hedgerows, tracks and footpaths.
- The impact of increased heavy vehicle traffic, generated by the Farm Centre, on the accident prone B2042 and on narrow lanes in the immediate and surrounding area; the destruction of ancient woodland and habitats from the creation of the new junction and the widening of Back Lane.
- The environmental impact from increased noise, dust, smell and light pollution generated by the Farm Centre complex; the visual impact from local landmarks especially in the winter months.
- The loss of amenity for walkers, cyclists, horse riders and other groups in an undisturbed and picturesque area within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty; the dangers to non-motorised road users from influx of HGV’s onto narrow lanes close to the proposed Centre.
- The proximity to three residential properties bordering the proposed site and the impact on others bordering local lanes.
- If granted, the plan potentially creates a precedent for other new developments in West Kent as it is against AONB planning practice.
There is no information about the intentions for the other farms which would largely be made redundant if this new Farm Centre is approved . In summary, there is no justifiable planning or economic case for destroying a 9 acre field in the AONB /Green Belt when there is an existing farm centre , which can be redeveloped. Whether you are a walker, cyclist, horse-rider, runner, local resident or visitor to the area, you can help to protect the West Kent countryside by opposing this proposal.
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