News| Local Plan Green light for 24,000 homes

THE Maidstone Local Plan, which will see tens of thousands of new homes in the borough, has been adopted by a large majority at a special meeting.

Maidstone Borough Council's

housing strategy for 17,660 houses is likely now to be supplemented by around 7,000 extra homes under new methodology imposed by the Secretary of State for Communities, Sajid Javid. Although the extra houses are

under consultation, it isunlikely that Maidstonewill escape. Cllr David Burton, chairman of

strategic planning at MBC, con- firmed that the borough will now have to absorb nearly all the extra houses above the original total. Hewas asked

by the chairman of


Parish Council, G e r a l d i n e Brown


tured), if “our boroughwill be expectedto take about


more homes than the 17,660 in the Local Plan”. Cllr Burton said it would, should

the Department for Communities and Local Government's methodol- ogy go through. He said that a lot of “time, energy

andeffort” hadgone intodiscussing the “negative part of the process” when more detailed discussions should have taken place about how the borough's infrastructure will cope. Forty councillors voted in favour

of the Local Plan, nine against and therewas one abstention. Members gave themselves a round of applause when the vote

was taken and counted. There were smiles and jokes fromthe borough’s senior officerswho have fought hard to have the plan adopted. The scheme goes aheaddespite an

intervention byMPsHelenWhately andHelenGrant toMr Javid to “call in” the Local Plan and reviewit. Mrs Whately had expressed re-

peatedconcerns about the effect that theWoodcut Farmindustrial devel- opment near theM20 J8will have on attractions such as Leeds Castle and the impact housing numbers and trafficwillput on local communities. Maidstone council's planning

chiefs hope to mitigate against a huge increase in traffic volumes by road impovements and persuading residents to take buses, ride bicycles orwalk. The popularity of the Local Plan –

which has been in discussion for 12 years – will be put to the test when thenext tranche of borough elections (for 18 seats) takes place nextMay. While one council insider said the

Tories are staring at an electoral open goal, another asked: “Do we want it?We could let the Lib Dems carry it through the difficult next phases and let them take the dam- age.” The rulingLiberalDemocratshave

been under pressure from the Gov- ernment to take a large chunk of the housing needs in Kent and would have facedlosing planning control if they had defied the orders. But they were accused by ConservativeMatt Boughton of ”u-turning” on calls to divert developer contributions (sec- tion 106 money) into traffic mitiga-

tion schemes such as the Leeds-Lan- gley relief road. He said the Local Plan was first

discussed 12 years agowhen hewas 12 years old. Cllr Boughton added: “The idea

we had no chance to have a consul- tation about this is, I’m afraid, ab- solute nonsense. It is time to make themost of this opportunity to pro- vide certainty to taxpayers in the borough.The time fordebate is over. The government inspector found our plan to be sound and the argu- ment over specific sites has been won and lost years ago." CllrMartinRound, theTorymem-

ber forHeadcornwho voted for the Local Plan, said afterwards: “It is what it is andnowwe have to get on with it." Councillorswho votedagainst the

LocalPlanwereConservatives (who were allowed a free vote) Louise Brice, Mike Cuming, John Perry, Shellina

Prendergast, Denis

Spooner, Paulina Stockell and Nick de Wiggondene. UKIP's Gordon Newton and Eddie Powell also re- belledand LibDemBrianMortimer abstained. Relief road rally, pages 18-19

Local Plan: Council’s official statement

MAIDSTONE Borough Coun- cil has formally adopted its Local Plan following a full councilmeeting onWednesday, 25 October. The decisionmeans the bor-

ough now has an agreed frame- work for development until 2031 and the policies within the plan will be used tomake deci- sions on planning applications. The plan will be subject to re- view in order that it still re- mains relevant for the changing needs ofMaidstone and its resi- dents. In a statement, leader Cllr

FranWilson said: “I’mpleased the Local Plan has been adopted.We haveworked tire- lessly with key stakeholders and the public to ensure our


plan is right forMaidstone and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to this key document. By adopting the plan, we are ensuring that any developments planned for the borough will create new com- munities that provide sufficient homes for our growing popula- tion needs, that we can support new job creation whilst also en- suringwe protect our landscape and wildlife areas.” The chairman of the Strategic

Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee, Cllr David Burton, commented: “I believe our Local Plan gives the best chance of certainty up until at least 2021 and will give our planning committee the best set of tools to refuse unwanted op-

Maidstone Weald December 2017

portunistic applications. “Most importantly, it contains

the opportunity for improve- ment and revision of policies and allocations through the re- view process for a plan post 2021. This includes giving con- sideration for a Leeds-Langley relief road and other alternative options plus looking at the need for further sustainable transport measures aimed at encouraging modal shift to reduce conges- tion and air pollution on our roads. “It is now vital that we all

work together to get the next re- vision set to address asmany of the concerns that have been ex- pressed as possible whilst en- joying the overall protection of a current Local Plan.”

What do you think of the Local Plan?

OUR online coverage of the Local Plan’s adoption prompted a wel- ter of social media reaction. This is a flavour of

comment left on our Facebook page.

Marion Bush So sad, this area is unrecognisable, the villages are merging into one big ugly concrete jungle. I'm assuming that the id- iots who give this continued devel- opment the go-ahead don't actually live round here. If they had to wait for doctors’ appoint- ments, battle their way over the Linton crossroads and slowly lose their will to live whilst sitting in queues on the Loose Road /Sutton Road they might actually think, hmmm...probably enough people now.  Brigitte Jell I don’t expect for one minute the road infrastructure will be improved, new schools built, more doctors surgeries etc – the south east is at breaking point.  Paul Stewart How many of them will take an: unreliable bus, an unsafe bike or an unrealistic stroll to bloody work? Let's all get a grip – real life is not a councillor’s view of modern Kent. It's a mess and getting worse.  Mike Willington They hope to persuade these new occupiers to use public transport, walk or cycle! Are these grown-up, elected adults with more than two brain cells?  David Owen Early morning buses are already full and end up sitting in the very same traffic jams as everyone else. When will the madness end?  Michele Weedon Unfortu- nately, money talks and normal working people have no real say in what matters to their daily lives; most of the new homes built are unaffordable for first-time buyers... we really need more homes for the elderly, but no one seems to care.

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