In a letter to the Local Planning Authority, the Government appointed Inspector, Mr David Spencer, confirmed that he thinks the overall spatial strategy, which forms the basis of the plan and was very much the focus of the stage one hearings, is sound, subject to modifications and that the examination can now proceed to stage two later in the year.
Councillor David Burton, Leader of MBC said:
“This is great news for Maidstone and is a big step forward in making sure the Council remains in control of where development takes place in the borough over the next 15 years and beyond.
“Our ambition has always been to make sure we provide housing, jobs and other infrastructure in a way which delivers the boroughs growth in a coherent manner. Whilst also maximising social and economic benefits and managing the impacts on existing communities properly. Sadly, we have seen too many plans from other local authorities hit the buffers at this stage, which demonstrates the level of scrutiny that these proposals undergo. So the fact that the Inspector is confident in the strategy we have worked so hard to develop could not be more welcome.”
“We are grateful that the Inspector has offered us the opportunity to undertake further work on the Leeds Langley corridor, which we know is a proposition that enjoys considerable support across the borough. But we are equally reluctant to cause any further delay to the examination timetable. Therefore, we will seek to build on the very positive work that has been started with a number of key landowners in the area and look forward to the next plan, and how we can continue to establish development options for the area within the guiding principle of strategic infrastructure being the key to growth.”
Councillor Paul Cooper, Cabinet Member for Planning and Infrastructure at MBC added:
“We embarked on a strategy that was designed to make sure the significant growth we were required to accommodate by government could be delivered in a manner which brought significant new strategic infrastructure that would benefit our residents and our borough for many years to come.”
“This was a bold strategy, a fact which the Inspector has acknowledged in his letter. However we were convinced it was the correct approach and I am delighted that even though we still have a great deal of work to do in stage two of the process, the Inspector is of the view that our approach to spatial growth is sound.”
As is standard practice in the examination process, the Inspector’s interim letter highlights some specific areas within the strategy, which will need further work to ensure they are made more robust between now and the second stage of the process. The Local Planning Authority will be working with site promoters to make sure these are addressed and will now work with the Inspector to agree a date for the examination to be reconvened.
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