One of the big issues concerning residents of Maidstone and The Weald over the last few years has been the spectre of substantial new housing developments underscored by a lack of commitment to necessary supporting infrastructure. Rural villages are especially sensitive to this and Hunton is no exception. Tackling this challenge is one of my key priorities as your local MP and the effort continues.
I am very firmly of the view that the targets for housing development in Maidstone Borough are already too high and the forthcoming 40% increase, to 28,000 by 2037, is unthinkable. That is why I have taken the step of joining with the leaders of all political parties on Maidstone Borough Council to ask the Government to reconsider these housing targets for our part of Kent. I also plan to meet with the Housing Secretary to discuss this matter, alongside representatives from Maidstone Borough Council, in the coming weeks.
It is vital however that where new house building does take place it is supported by the infrastructure required. I am therefore greatly encouraged that Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council are now engaging regularly, at the Maidstone Strategic Infrastructure Working Group, over issues including housing development, road infrastructure, schools and health provision. This improved co-operation can only lead to better infrastructure planning and long may it continue.
In Hunton, for example, many people use the A229 to get to Maidstone for school, work and leisure but the Loose Road can be so congested, especially at peak times. I am therefore delighted that KCC are bringing forward plans for a series of highway improvements across our County town to help keep Maidstone moving. Changes will include the segue between the Loose Road and the one-way system, plus welcome radical improvements to the Wheatsheaf junction.
On a separate campaign, errant HGVs can be a real blight on rural roads in areas like Hunton, East Farleigh and Linton. I have been working on this with KCC and Kent Association of Local Councils for some months, and I am so pleased to report that a new scheme has been developed. In simple terms it restricts HGVs from using rural roads unless they are genuinely accessing a rural destination. Rat runs and erroneous sat nav guidance will not be tolerated and I look forward to the specific plans being published very shortly.
In the meantime, I look forward to seeing you around and about in Maidstone and The Weald. If I can be of help to you, please get in touch.