West Malling nuns 'delighted' nearby housing plans rejected

Mother Mary David at Malling Abbey Image copyright PA Media
Image caption A number of buildings at Malling Abbey are Grade I, Grade II and Grade II* listed

Plans for 65 new homes on land near the home of a secluded community of nuns have been rejected.

Developer Bellway had wanted to build on land opposite Malling Abbey in West Malling, Kent, which is home to an order of up to 15 Benedictine nuns.

A planning inspector has refused an appeal by Bellway after recognising the potential disruption to the abbey.

The abbess, Mother Mary David, said the proposals had presented a "dire" situation for the abbey.

Image copyright PA Media
Image caption Mother Mary David said if the homes had been built the community may have been forced to move

Mother Mary said: "We are delighted with the outcome of the planning inspector.

"We and our guests, who number more than 1,000 a year, are looking forward to continuing our life at the abbey in the God-centred quiet and peace."

She said the community was "grateful and humbled" by the amount of local support it had received.

The planning inspector, Frances Mahoney, said part of the nuns' concerns was that noise from a proposed area of nearby open space within the development could "drift into the quiet areas of the abbey where the contemplative atmosphere, so important to the nuns, would be mutated".

She said the harm to area's heritage outweighed the identified public benefits of the proposed housing.

A spokesman for Bellway previously said there would be a "significant buffer of green space and landscaping" between the homes and the abbey.

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