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Maidstone & Malling’s No 1 - over 83,000 copies - 4 editions Maidstone South Edition August 2013 No.196 Fears over homes shortfall

MAIDSTONE Council faces an uphill task to prevent new homes being built in the coun- tryside, after it emerged it has not fulfilled the Government’s order to provide a five-year land supply for new homes. With the council’s emerging

core strategy not due to be adopted until summer 2014 at the earliest, planners have so far relied on the borough’s existing development plan, dating back to 2000, to determine where housing is and isn’t permitted. But the Government’s Na-

tional Planning Policy Frame- work (NPPF) demands that authorities without a core strat- egy should have in place a five- year land supply – and

WHAT a difference a year makes! Two of the borough’s largest an- nual events – the Kent Show and Leeds Castle concert – took place below cloudless skies on the hottestweekend of the year. This was in marked contrast to

12months earlierwhenheavy rain andcool temperaturesputadamp- ener on both events. Therewere no such problems at

Leeds Castle this year as a record 14,000 picnickers stretched across the grounds as far as the eyecould see, in glorious sunshine. In Detling, 75,000 people visited

the Kent County Showground over three days, just a year after heavy rain transformed the parking area

into a mudbath and led to thou- sands of visitors being turned away. Kevin Attwood, chairman of Kent County Agricultural Society, which organises the event, said:

CONCERN is mounting over proposed changes to Kent’s children’s centres, which could see closures at Loose, Marden, Larkfield and East Peckham. Children’s centres provide information and ac-

cess to services for families with children under five years old. Each centre offers a variety of serv- ices, including childcare provision, support for parents thinking about training or finding a new job, antenatal classes and baby clinics, services for children with special needs and disabilities, links with voluntary agencies and links with schools. There are nine children’s centres in Maidstone serving a population of almost 10,000 babies and pre-school children. KCC Cllr Jenny Whittle, cabinet member for specialist children’s services, said: “Public fund- ing for children’s centres is reducing and we need to ensure the available money can be focused more on actual services for children and their families and less on running buildings and other overhead costs.

“Whilst we are unable to control the weather, the sunshine cer- tainly encourages significantly more visitors to attend.”  Kent County ShowP12

Children’s centres facing closure “We need to change the waywework sowe can

meet the needs of our children and their families, particularly those who need our support most.” KCC’s plan aims to save at least £1.5mwhile de- livering the same – or better – services to families. As well as the closure of some centres, the council wants to link others to reduce manage- ment and administrative costs. Nurseries and pre-schools that share children’s

centre buildings are excluded from the shake-up. KCC has put out a consultation document, Shaping the Future of Children’s Centres in Kent, inviting public response before October 4. Jasper Gerard, LibDem spokesman for Maid-

stone and the Weald, said he would like KCC to consult those who stood to be most affected by the closures and to seek alternative ways forward. He said: “I would urge them to look at compro- mises: for instance, the centre in Marden is large – might it not be possible to sell that and buy a smaller one?”

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Maidstone has a shortfall, which has now been picked up by a planning inspector in a po- tentially landmark decision. Using an interim figure of 11,080 new dwellings between 2006 and 2026 – as stated in the South East plan – officers have calculated that 2,508 new homes are required from April this year until April 2018. The council has land supply for 2,135, meaning there is a short- fall of 370 (14.8%). The resulting difficulties

came to the fore when a plan- ning inspector decided that a single detached dwelling in East Farleigh should be given permission for this reason. Francis Burniston appealed

over non-determination for his proposal for Eastleigh, Work- house Lane. Planning inspector John Papworth wrote: “The site is outside settlement bound- aries and within the country- side where policies of restraint apply.

“However, in the light of the apparent failure to identify a five year supply of housing land and the lack of real harm caused by the development…it is con- sidered that the benefits of the scheme outweigh the policy presumption against develop- ment.”

Following this landmark deci-

sion,Maidstone Council had no grounds to refuse Redrow Homes’ proposal to buildP18

Sun shines on county celebrations

Council may have lost £1m

in Next deal MAIDSTONE Council may have missed out on a £1m chimney pot tax receipt on the Next development, due to not having a policy containing a community infrastructure levy. In June, the council’s plan-

ning committee marginally voted to give the retailer plan- ning permission to build a 5,748sqm Next Home super- store at Eclipse Park, near M20 Junction 7. The council agreed that the developer should pay £100,000 in Section 106 money towards improving the town centre and the vicinity of the superstore to mitigate its negative effects. However, Wycombe District Council has secured £1.34m from Next for an almost identi- cal out-of-town superstore be- cause it has a community infrastructure levy policy (CIL) in its local plan. ACIL isachargeleviedon developers to pay for infra- structure, local services and en- vironmental enhancements. Maidstone Council leader Chris Garland said the borough might not have a CIL in place until 2015. He said: “HighWycombe had Section 106 agreements and also a CIL, which is a chimney pot tax where you can set tax for residential and commercial developments. “We are working to get a CIL

in place, but until then, the only tool we have is Section 106 to mitigate the impact on particular developments.” The CIL was established as

part of the Government’s Na- tional Planning Policy Frame- work. “The reason we have not got

CIL in place is because of a lack of staff resources.We are trying to get a local planning policy in place, which is our priority. Staff are working on that and are dealing with incoming planning applications. “There is an argument that

we could have made CIL P4

Council has to make £5.5m budget cut


Village weight limit could be ‘undone’P6

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