Furious Swanley residents claim they have been "let down big time" as government stepped in to controversially approve hundreds of new homes.

The plans, initially lodged by property developer U+I back in 2017, propose to redevelop part of the Swanley Square Shopping Centre and erect three apartment blocks, set to be between 3 to 11 storeys high, containing 210 new homes.

A further four buildings containing 93 homes are also included in U+I's bid.

Sevenoaks District Council initially blocked U+I's proposition in late 2017 as it was criticised for failing to provide any affordable housing or adequate parking spaces.

A four-day inquiry was launched by the Planning Inspectorate on June 4 in which residents were invited to voice their concerns over the proposed housing scheme.

However, the Inspectorate deemed the plans appropriate, overturning the Council's refusal with U+I receiving the green light to begin redevelopment works.

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The highly controversial plans have been the subject of fierce objection from the town's passionate residents after hundreds of objections were lodged against the proposals since they were first published.

Speaking to News Shopper, award-winning author and devote Swanley resident, Elaine Everest has blasted the District Council, claiming residents were "let down big time" as Sevenoaks Council decided not to defend their reasons for refusals, as noted in the Inspectorates report.

"Moving to Swanley 27 years ago to escape the urban decay of what is now south-east London, I found myself in a lovely town with friendly residents and a town centre that was useful and right for the area that lays on the edge of the countryside.

"Over the years we've watched as the town owners did nothing to keep the shops in suitable repair, was this the plan all along in order to 'upgrade' to tower blocks?

"Sevenoaks Council never support the people of Swanley and this time we have been let down big time.

"Their lame excuses are always 'government rules' but just once in a while we would like to be considered and supported," she said.

However, local representatives from Swanley Town Council were in attendance during the appeal, as noted in the PI report. 

The Inspectorate's report noted that although it did consider representations made by residents who referenced Swanley's "strong community spirit", they claimed "decisive action" is needed as they stated the centre's continued decline is "extremely likely".

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Swanley Square. Credit: Google Maps

Swanley Town Council have since released a statement outlining their disappointment towards the appeal decision, with Mayor Lesley Dyball reassuring residents that they will continue to lobby U+I as works continue.

"I know many residents will feel they have not been listened to by the national Planning Inspector, with many residents giving incredibly passionate and well prepared speeches at the public inquiry.

"Swanley Town Council is also disappointed with this outcome, and we thank all those residents, including the Swanley Action Group, who took the time to fight against it.

"As the U & I Development is a phased build it is likely to take many years for the whole development to be completed, so Swanley Town Council will continue to lobby the developers to ensure that promises by them are kept, including the suitable relocation of the Cedars Surgery, and that disruption from the construction is minimalised as far as possible for local residents and businesses."

U+I have been contacted for comment.