As a result, development can be difficult, especially for housebuilders, as many local communities fail to recognise the need to increase the demand of the growing population.
The Government, which is publicly committed to delivering a million new homes by 2020, is now applying pressure to local councils to finalise their Local Plans for formal adoption.
Maidstone’s draft Local Plan is the subject of an Examination in Public, with a target of 18,560 new homes by 2031 being debated. Evidence is currently being presented to the Planning Inspector.
After putting out a Call for Sites, Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council shortlisted a number of potential locations. It has calculated, based on the Government’s prescribed approach, it needs 13,920 new homes over the 20 year Local Plan period – equivalent to 696 a year. However, once existing planning permissions and known sites were taken into consideration, the need was reduced to approximately 6,000 additional homes – equivalent to two Kings Hills.
The Tonbridge & Malling evidence shows it also needs to find up to a further 33 hectares of employment land to 2031 – that’s about 20 football pitches.
The consultations on the new Local Plan for Tonbridge & Malling close on 25th November.
Tunbridge Wells has recently concluded its Call for Sites and will be undertaking the same selection process recently completed by TMBC, before it goes out for consultation next year.
Shepway District Council has recognised it needs to make significant progress with housebuilding. It has applied to develop a Garden Town, with 12,000 homes at a development called Otterpool Park. A Government decision is expected shortly.
In an interesting Kent twist, the councils of Thanet, Canterbury, Ashford, Dover and Shepway are currently discussing closer collaboration to create a ‘super council’ to improve efficiencies. What impact this will have on Local Plans is yet to be fully understood.