The Council is encouraging everyone to have their say through the consultation (Regulation 18), which will run for three weeks and is open until Tuesday 22 December. The review includes preferred approaches towards accommodating future growth in housing, employment, retail, and the preferred locations where these would provide the widest benefits together with the infrastructure necessary to secure them. There are also preferred approaches to other important policy areas, including protection of key environmental assets, climate change and funding of key infrastructure. The public and other stakeholders including parish councils, community groups, residents, businesses and developers can voice their opinion and the Council will review and consider any appropriate alterations to the preferred approaches in light of the feedback received.
Cllr David Burton – Chair of the MBC Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee said:
“The Local Plan Review Preferred Approaches Public Consultation is very important as it gives everyone the chance to voice their opinions. I would urge everyone to engage with this consultation to ensure they have their voice heard.
“This review comes during strange and challenging times, as we battle with a global pandemic, prepare for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and, from a purely spatial planning perspective, await the outcomes from current government consultation around fundamental changes to the English planning system.
“Notwithstanding these wider challenges, there are good reasons why we must continue to progress our Local Plan Review. Not least the need to ensure that we remain in control of where development takes place in our borough and avoid a situation where our planning decisions are taken by Government Inspectors.”
The borough of Maidstone, along with many other local authority areas in the south east, already has very challenging housing requirements imposed by the government. However, these could increase significantly by almost 80% from 883 to 1569 residential units per year proposed under a revision to the formula used by the government to calculate the number of houses that Council’s must plan for.
MBC continues to call for the proposed housing numbers to be reduced and has said that it thinks there are fundamental flaws in the way that the government calculates the target for the borough.
Communications between MBC and the government continue at an official level as well as a political level to make sure there is no doubt about the acute concerns of both the Council and local communities.
Leader of Maidstone Borough Council, Cllr Martin Cox added:
“The government proposed new housing numbers are coming under a lot of scrutiny from many quarters and MBC continues to call for this to be reviewed.
“The Local Plan plays a huge role in determining where new housing, employment, commercial and other development will be located, and, importantly, retains control of this as part of local decision making processes and within a framework that our communities have consulted upon.
“The Council has worked hard to prepare the Local Plan consultation document which, by necessity, includes a lot of information, and I would like to encourage as many people as possible to take this opportunity to have their say.”
To have your say and take part in the Maidstone Local Plan Review Consultation please go to: https://localplan.maidstone.gov.uk/home/local-plan-review