The public consultation was held throughout December 2020 and responses were accepted by MBC until 8 January 2021 to allow for issues experienced by some stakeholders due to the impacts of Covid-19.
The success of the consultation exercise, as evidenced in the number of submissions received, demonstrates the importance of MBC undertaking such processes. The Council is very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to read the draft plan and submitted their response. It recognises the importance of working with its communities and stakeholders and ensuring that every individual, group or agency has an opportunity take part and share their opinion around the future planning of the borough and in how the Local Plan Review helps determine where new housing, employment, commercial and other development will be located.
Cllr David Burton, Chair of the MBC Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee said:
“We are delighted to see the number of responses received as a result of the Local Plan Review Consultation. Although the consultation is voluntary rather than mandatory at this stage in the Local Plan Review, this level of response clearly indicates how important it is for us as a Council to work with our residents and businesses to maximise community, public and stakeholder engagement throughout the process.”
The 3,000 consultation responses are now being processed and analysed by Council officers and a summary will be presented to Members for information at the MBC Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee on 9 March.
MBC is still aiming to meet the June 2021 target for a Regulation 19 consultation, in anticipation of how the rules around the planning system and housing numbers may change in further government guidance due to be issued in the Spring of this year.
Cllr Martin Cox, Leader of MBC added:
“The level of response we have received to the Local Plan Review shows how prominent the issues contained within the plan are in the concerns of local communities. It also evidences the importance of including consultation at this stage in the process despite the uncertainties in the wider planning environment in which we are operating.
“The uncertainty that has been created by proposed government changes to the planning system, and potentially housing numbers due to be released this spring, means that we are not sure what these may or may not bring to Maidstone. It is, therefore, vitally important that as a Council we stick to our agreed timescale and work towards the next stage of the LPR process in June of this year. This will involve a further public consultation exercise on the next iteration of our Local Plan as we prepare to submit it for Examination by a government inspector in the normal manner.”