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Maidstone Local Plan

October 14, 2017 11:13 PM
By Cllr Brian Clark (South Ward)

South Ward and Loose Ward Councillors

Cllrs Paul Wilby, Brian Clark, Sue Grigg and Derek Mortimer

Maidstone Local Plan

(framework for development to 2031)

Town Hall Vote 25th October 2017

Dear Fellow Residents

You may be aware that there has been much debate in the local press recently about the Local Plan and the level of housing proposed. Unfortunately, a process imposed by Whitehall determines this level and, going forward, councils without an adopted Local Plan will likely see significantly increased housing numbers (based on a government housing consultation announced in September). In light of this, we did not agree with the recent attempt to "call-in" our Local Plan to the secretary of state for reconsideration, and are pleased that the home secretary has decided not to intervene.

Derek Mortimer, Paul Wilby, Ian Chittenden and I chose to support the plan during consultations even though we knew we had much more work to do to make it acceptable for our area. While some were critical, council approval gave us a five-year housing supply, a statutory requirement giving us a much stronger position to fight for concessions.

Working with the NLRA, Tovil and Loose Parish Councils and local residents we jointly reviewed areas of the plan that would be most harmful locally, and considered opportunities for improvement. We have appeared as expert witnesses at the hearings, lobbied at countless committees, raised and supported petitions and have worked hard to reflect the public view at both Maidstone Borough and at Kent County Council. This, along with a tremendous community effort has led to a considerably improved plan for our area.

The government inspector listened to our evidence and agreed that two major South Ward sites should be removed from the plan, endorsing our concerns on local traffic and congestion in his report. Furthermore, we successfully campaigned for these sites to be included in the Landscape of Local Value register along with large tracts of previously unlisted green open space within the Loose Valley, from Loose Village to Tovil.

In light of these and other safeguards achieved, we are mindful to vote in support of the Local Plan at the Town Hall on 25th October. Without an adopted local plan, the five year housing supply could be at risk, which in turn could lead to a tidal wave of new speculative development (freed from substantial planning constraints in the absence of this statutory requirement for housing supply). We understand how controversial any large housing plan can be, and that choosing to oppose the plan may seem an easy choice that could play out well in some quarters, but we are also mindful of the great risk in not having an adopted plan.

Maidstone Borough Councillors (South Ward and Loose)

Cllr. Derek Mortimer Cllr. Paul Wilby Cllr. Brian Clark Cllr. Sue Grigg