‘Devastating’ and ‘dreadful’: Plans for 1,800-home village between Canterbury and Faversham slammed

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Plans years in the making to build a 1,800-home village to help cope with soaring housing demand have been labelled “devastating” and “dreadful”.

The Winterbourne Fields development between Faversham and Canterbury could see almost 220 acres of “poor-quality” farmland transformed into a village boasting shops, restaurants and a primary school.

A school, shops, sports areas and a retirement home are all included in the plansPic: Shaptor Capital
An impression of the overall masterplan layout for the sitePicture: Shaptor Capital

But news developer Shaptor Capital hopes to break ground next year triggered a strong backlash over the project’s size and environmental effects.

Objecting to Swale Borough Council, Rebecca Croll, of Herne Bay, wrote: “This is a dreadful proposal which will endanger the survival of local wildlife.

“Residents of Kent need these open, wild spaces, not only to preserve our proud heritage of being the ‘garden of England’, but to protect species of flora and fauna for our children and grandchildren.

“Not to mention the acres of beautiful land which would be sacrificed for the greed of the very few who stand to benefit, economically, from this project.

“In approving such developments, the council is showing a material disregard for the environmental and aesthetic appearance of one of Kent’s greatest assets, which once built upon, can never be returned to its natural state.”

Richard Aitkin of Dunkirk also objected, warning the authority: “This large-scale development will have devastating effects on the local area.

“The light, noise and air pollution levels will be appalling and detrimental to the local area. Traffic on the local rural roads will be untenable, they cannot cope now.

The Winterbourne Fields development is between Faversham and CanterburyPicture: Shaptor Capital
How Winterbourne village square could look. Picture: Shaptor Capital

“Please stop this unwanted and detrimental development before we lose even more of the valuable countryside we and the struggling wildlife so desperately need to keep.”

Chris Ennis, of Boughton-under-Blean, added: “This represents more destruction to a place of natural beauty.

“In my experience of these developments, there are innumerable promises of additional services and then once the planning application is accepted all they promised gets removed.

“It’s all well and good promising updated plans for access to the A2 but what it will result in is more traffic coming through Boughton and Dunkirk on roads that are just not suitable for the types of vehicles coming through already.”

However, in papers submitted to Swale Borough Council, Shaptor says it “supports the greenest of living environments imaginable, being shrouded by magnificent ancient woodland”.

“Due to the facilities and environment available, Winterbourne Fields is the chosen destination for families, first-time buyers and retired people to live, work and play,” its plans say.

Positioned south of the A2, the development would boast 1,815 dwellings – between one and four beds – including a 160-bed retirement home and 545 affordable properties.

The development was first proposed in 2020. Picture: Shaptor Capital
There would be a range of one to four-bedroom houses within the new villagePicture: Shaptor Capital

At the heart of the village, a two-form entry primary school and early years centre would be rolled out alongside a convenience store, GP surgery and Winterbourne Park.

Slip roads allowing drivers to enter and exit the estate via both London and coastbound carriageways have been proposed, while the existing Dunkirk slip road would be closed but retained in case of future development.

North of the A2, allotments and an employment park would be introduced alongside roundabouts offering access to the village and Dunkirk.

Sports pitches, a pavilion and gym would be built to the west while cycling routes would be laid down.

A 60-acre plot has been earmarked for green and open space, including a 5km recreation trail.

The developers hope businesses including restaurants, a care home, school and work hubs could create 600 jobs, with 5G broadband available for each home,

An electric vehicle charging hub would be placed in the centre with room for about 36 vehicles, alongside a cafe and sheltered waiting area.

The site is almost 220 acres. Picture: Shaptor Capital
Winterbourne Fields at Dunkirk between Faversham and Canterbury. Picture: Shaptor Capital

The firm is working with bus operators, with the aim to have express services running to Faversham and Canterbury every 15 minutes.

Find out about planning applications that affect you by visiting the Public Notice Portal.

Shaptor’s managing director Marco Nardini previously said: “Our vision for Winterbourne Fields is for a diverse and thriving community and we propose a range of properties for rent and for sale to accommodate residents at all life stages and circumstances.

“We believe this is the right place to offer the chance of sustainable village living to more people in Swale.

“Through the creation of new infrastructure, including new and upgraded transport options and health facilities, our plans will also support village life for our neighbours in Dunkirk and Boughton-under-Blean.

“Our proposals have evolved extensively in response to consultation with the local community, with the County’s Design Review Panel and with officers at Swale Borough Council, Kent County Council and Highways England.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the Council, the local community and its representatives as our application progresses.”

First revealed by the developer in November 2020, the plans show homes would be rolled out in tranches, with spades hitting the earth in the latter half of next year.

The first 270 homes are hoped to be delivered by 2027, then 675 by 2032 and the rest by 2039.

It is hoped the application will be determined by the end of the year.

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