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News | Local plan

Housing sites earmarked on dra local plan

have been selected as potentially suitable for building, as the council strives to meet an estimated need for 19,600 new homes by 2031. The North ward receives the biggest hit, with plans for almost 3,000 new homes. Almost 1,000 homes could be built at Springfield, on the site of the old Whatman Paper Mill and at the former Lush- ington Estate, with its historic Grade II listed Park House, which was last used as KCC offices. Invicta Park Barracks, on Royal Engineers Road, could accommo- date 1,300 homes – although build- ing here is unlikely to take place before 2026 and would be depend-

RURAL service centres are consid- ered the most important settle- ments outside the urban area, capable of being self-sustaining and supporting their communities. Accessibility of the villages, their potential to accommodate growth and the role each village plays as a service centre for its surrounding area are also taken into account. Based on these factors, officers

have earmarked Coxheath and Yalding as RSCs alongside Harriet- sham, Headcorn, Lenham, Marden and Staplehurst. Both Coxheath and Yalding

parish councils have expressed their opposition to the “upgrade”. The draft local plan recommends Boughton Monchelsea, Sutton Va- lence and Eyhorne Street (Holling- bourne) for designation as “larger settlements”.

ent on the MoD’s requirements. The 41-hectare site, occupied by the 36 Engineer Regiment, could support housing and shops, as well as health facilities and a school. Other proposals include 35

homes on landwest of Eclipse Park, with access from Bearsted Road, while Bridge Nursery in Allington is a site for 165 houses, with access from London Road. While the council’s Lib Dem op- position has voiced its concerns, even some of the Conservative faithful are outraged at the propos- als. KCC leader Paul Carter has vowed to contest the county town’s claim it needs so many houses. In total, the draft proposes about

Invicta Barracks could eventually make room for 1,300 homes SITES for new developments – many of them on controversial greenfield land – have been un-

veiled by officers in Maidstone Council’s draft local plan. Some 54 sites across the borough

13,000 houses, which includes 3,000 built post-2026 in Invicta Barracks, at Lenham and various town centre redevelopment sites. About 4,100 homes have already been built since 2011 or have been granted planning permission on sites that have not yet been completed. Council leader Chris Garland be-

lieves the borough’s infrastructure can only support about 17,000 new homes. He said: “We have to pro- vide new housing in the next 20 years, whetherwe like it or not. “The local plan is just the starting

point.Without it, we are open to a potential planning free-for-all.” But acting Lib Dem leader Tony Harwood said: “Even taking all of

these development sites into ac- count Maidstone Council is still well short of its huge housing tar- get – so even more sensitive areas will be threatened next.” Among the sites previously guarded for their landscape value are Fant Farm, earmarked for 335 houses, and Oakapple Lane in Barming, identified for 240 houses. In Bearsted, parish and borough councillors are outraged that Lilk Meadow at Roundwell – renowned for flooding – has been earmarked for 50 houses. More than 100 resi- dents attended a meeting of the parish council where a planning application for 35 houses on the landwas discussed.

Village growth ‘Targets not accurate forecasts’

A FORMER management consult- ant with experience of population demographics claims the 19,600 homes target is too high.


(left) assessed the council’s strate- gic housing mar- ket assessment (SHMA) – the foundation stone of Maidstone’s local plan. He said: “A

more accurate figure [for the period 2011 to 2031] would be in the re- gion of 14,400 to 16,000 homes – and when we have a better under- standing of the factors behind Maidstone’s population growth those figures could be lower.” Mr Wadey, who is chairman of

the Upper Fant CommunityGroup, questions the assumption that in- ward migration – from other parts of the UK as well as from overseas – will increase from 70% today to as much as 86% by 2031. According to the Office for Na-

tional Statistics, migration is the most difficult component of popu- lation change to estimate. Mr Wadey said: “The ONS pro- jections are modelled on recent trends; they are not forecasts.With- out a specific study of the factors behind inward migration to Maid- stone we cannot confidently fore- cast the borough’s housing need for the next 20 years.” Looking at past evidence, hous-

ing demand was at the levels now proposed when there was a pre- crash splash of mortgage finance.

But Mr Wadey said: “There will

never be a return to the housing market of the mid-2000s. A better guide to housing need is what the SHMAdescribes as a rate of strong housing completions – 720 addi- tional homes per annum.” He says theSHMAprovokes two important questions:  Is it sensible to make firm deci- sions about Maidstone’s housing whenwe have only a limited un- derstanding of the likely size and pattern of population growth?  Is it really likely that, for each and every year in the next 20, Maidstone will need the same level of housing that was pro- duced in the pre-crash boom?” Mr Wadey’s analysis can be

found in full in the local news sec- tion of

Lenham facing expansion Town centre retail boost

LENHAM stands to see the great- est impact of change, with a num- ber of sites proposed for housing and commercial use, effectively turning the village into a small town. The draft local plan describes it

as “a compact settlement” that “benefits from a good range of in- frastructure and facilities”. These include a primary school, secondary school, railway station, village hall, shops and a medical centre. Although fewer than 300 houses are planned in the near fu- ture, the village has been ear-

30 Maidstone Town March 2014

marked as one of three prime spots for long-term development (post 2026) – with a possible 1,500 more houses in the pipeline. One of the key things in its favour, unlike some of the villages to the south, is its resilience to flooding. The report adds: “Impacts on

the setting of the AONB will need careful assessment. Land is available to the east and west of the village … recognising the need to avoid the merger of the village with neighbouring Harri- etsham.”

OFFICERS say the priority for new retail development will be the site at Maidstone East station and the former Royal Mail sorting office. This would create a further “an-

chor” shopping location in the town centre alongside Fremlin Walk and TheMall. The report says The Mall is outdated and may de- cline without intervention. The site of the old King Street car

park and the adjacent formerAMF bowling site has been earmarked for housing and shops, with em- ployment provision and housing at Coxheath (Clockhouse Farm) and

Yalding (the old Syngenta site). An application has already been submitted for the redevelopment of Newnham Court, to include a su- permarket and department store, as well as new shopping units and an improved garden centre. Together with the neighbouring

new KIMS hospital, this is seen as a prime site to boost the town’s economy. Officers say the regeneration of

the town centre is a priority and the shops should not be in conflictwith those that already exist in Maid- stone.

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