Housing protestors in council blockade

Villagers protest against 'secret' council talks with developers.
Villagers protest against 'secret' council talks with developers.
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ANGRY residents blockaded a meeting amid claims councillors were set to hold secret talks with housing developers.

Members of the Staining Against Village Expansion (SAVE) action group gathered outside the village hall where the parish council was gathering.

But representatives from house builder Jones Homes failed to attend the meeting.

Eventually parish councillors were allowed into the building, where they met to fill in consultation questionnaires on future development, while members of SAVE held their own meeting at the church hall on the other side of the village.

Villagers fear Jones Homes, which is currently building 28 homes on land on Chain Lane, is targeting Staining for between 90 and 300 more properties.

Action group co-ordinator Amanda Cousins said the protest had been organised because people were angry talks were being held behind closed doors.

She added: “A secret meeting had been planned and the residents were not consulted about it. We want to be involved in any discussions the parish council has with the developer.

“We are angry a meeting was going to take place without our knowledge.”

Martin and Jackie Smith, of Whitehead Close, Staining, said residents are opposed to any more homes being built in the village.

Mr Smith added: “Staining has got as big as it can. We will have problems with roads, sewage and schools if there is more building.

“We came to Staining because it’s a nice place to live but further development will turn it into a concrete jungle and there will be no green spaces left.”

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Keeley Swinton, whose family has run the Thornfield Holiday Camp in Staining for nearly 60 years, said: “We have got local councillors who are trying to turn a village into a town.”

But parish council chairman Coun Steve Hall said the council had wanted to meet with the developers to find out what their true intentions were.

He added: “The reason we are having a private meeting with Jones Homes is to find out what they intend to do on this site.

“We want to clear up all the Chinese whispers which are going around the village.

“The meeting with Jones Homes has been rearranged for next Thursday and we will invite one member of the action group to sit in and listen so they know everything is above board.”

Coun John Singleton said the councillors were generally opposed to any further housing development in Staining.

He said: “The parish council is very supportive of the residents’ concerns about additional dwellings in Staining.

“We are opposed to further development.”

Jones Homes has confirmed it has carried out a survey of land on the edge of Staining but denied it had plans to seek planning permission for 300 homes.

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