The main part of the examination stage for Maidstone Borough Council’s (MBC) Local Plan Review (LPR) has now finished and the independent Government Inspector has written to the Council recommending some changes that are necessary to allow the plan to be adopted. These are known as ‘Main Modifications.’
Cllr Paul Cooper, Cabinet Member for Planning, Infrastructure and Economic Development and Deputy Leader of MBC said:
The draft LPR aims to deliver the housing and employment growth the borough needs in ways which also provide key infrastructure, including supporting healthy communities and lower carbon emissions.
The LPR also seeks to enhance the prosperity of the borough. It provides a framework for major investment not just in housebuilding and the provision of over 3,000 affordable new homes, but also in new jobs and training opportunities, retail and commercial space, highway improvements and a range of other community infrastructure. All the ‘duly made’ responses to the Main Modifications will be provided to the Inspector for consideration.
The Local Plan sets out an overall strategy to accommodate and locate required growth in the borough, referred to as 'spatial strategy'. The spatial strategy seeks co-ordinated development in Maidstone, including in and around the town centre and provides for two new Garden Communities at Lidsing and Heathlands. In selecting Garden Communities, MBC was aware that a new approach to deliver and provide for the required future growth, whilst maximising strategic infrastructure, was necessary. The approach directs growth away from areas that are more sensitive to development and towards those that have greater potential.
In addition to the opportunity to deliver affordable homes at a scale which is unprecedented in Maidstone, the proposed Garden Communities would provide new infrastructure including a new railway station, between Lenham and Charing, with Heathlands and a new connection to Junction 4 of the M2 motorway at Lidsing. There would be two country parks, a secondary school and four primary schools along with local centres split between both developments and they would create up to 7,000 employment and training opportunities.
The Main Modifications consultation is the next stage of the Local Plan Review process and standard procedure in the latter stages of Local Plan preparation. Anyone who wishes to respond to the consultation on the proposed Main Modifications, may do so using the Council’s website: https://localplan.maidstone.gov.uk/home/local-plan-review-examination
Once the Inspector has considered the representations to the Main Modifications Consultation, it is hoped they will then provide the Council with the Final Report, setting out the changes required in order for the LPR to be ‘sound’. Following receipt of the Inspector’s Final Report the Local Plan will be presented to Maidstone’s Full Council with a view to adoption early in 2024.
More information about the Maidstone Local Plan Review is available on the Council website: www.maidstone.gov.uk