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Council leader vows to cut housing figure

KCC LEADER Paul Carter has said he will prove Maidstone Council wrong over its assessment that the borough needs 19,600 new homes by 2031. He has authorised an investiga-

tion into the methodology behind this figure, which was reached by independent planning consultant GL Hearn. Cllr Carter, who lives in Langley

and represents Maidstone Rural North, hopes to use the findings of the probe – due to be concluded this month – to convince the coun- cil to go for a much lower figure. He insists the now-abolished

South East Plan, which was pub- lished by the Government in 2009 and set a target of 11,080 homes in the borough by 2026, should be used as the benchmark. Cllr Carter (pictured) cites Grave-

sham as a borough that has per- suaded a planning inspector that it should have fewer homes than al- located in the South East Plan and believes Maidstone could go for a figure between 12,000 and 14,000.

He said: “Most local plans up

and down the country are being en- dorsed by the Government. The ev- idence is that most are about 10%-15% up on the regional plan. “Gravesham submitted a much lower figure [4,600 homes until 2031] and the inspector came back and said he would accept a number midway be- tween their fig- ure and the

South East Plan figure [9,300 until 2026], which is a substantial reduc- tion.

“19,000 is an extraordinary in- crease. It can’t be right or correct. Any local plan that suggests an in- crease from the South East Plan of more than 15% needs to be seri- ously questioned.” KCC has rejected Maidstone Council’s latest integrated transport strategy proposal, which includes a new 1,000-car park and ride facility


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in Linton, widening part of Sutton Road, hike in long-stay parking charges, reduction in the number of long-stay spaces and improve- ments to Medway towpaths. Cllr Carter, who did not explain

the reason for this rejection, insists KCC and Maidstone Council need to agree housing targets and loca- tions before dealing with infra- structure and transport issues. “We need to come up with a sen-

sible figure at sensible locations. I am surewe can find a solution.” Maidstone Council has unveiled

54 sites in its draft local plan to help meet the need for new housing. Cllr Chris Garland, the borough council leader, said:“We haven’t set a housing target yet and we don’t have sites for more than 17,100 dwellings but the council will have to prove before a Government in- spector that it has done everything possible to meet the objectively as- sessed housing need for the bor- ough. Ifwe do not our plan will be rejected and we will lose control over development in the borough.”

Local plan | News

Manager to retire early

PAULAlcock has confirmed he is to retire as general manager of The Mall at the end of March. Mr Alcock (60) has agreed to

an early retirement package from bosses at Capital & Re- gional, in ad- vance of its proposal to redevelop the shopping centre. Mr Alcock

has been a well- known figure both

in the town, being a big oppo- nent of moving the town’s CCTV to Medway, and on the football pitch, where his 20- year career in officiating peaked with a five-year spell as a Premier League referee be- tween 1995 and 2000. Mr Alcock has been an active trustee and member of the Town Centre Management and volunteer with the Urban Blue Bus, both of which he plans to remain involved with after his retirement. He said: “I intend to remain

very busy – and very much in- volved with Maidstone.”




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