An update report on the Local Plan Review was considered by MBC’s Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee on 9 June 2020, which you can read here.
Here are some of the key highlights from the meeting and our response:
- The council confirmed that it still plans to go ahead with public consultation in October this year on the ‘main components of future growth associated with the Local Plan Review, including growth in housing, employment and retail and where this would occur.’ This will be our first real opportunity to formally respond to the council on how unsuitable Lenham is as a strategic location for significant housing growth.
- The council received nine garden community submissions as part of its ‘call for sites’ process undertaken last summer. One of those is the council-led proposed Heathlands garden community at Lenham Heath, with the other eight proposals submitted by private developers. As part of the garden community assessment, two of the sites had been grouped together to create larger sites which have reduced the total to seven. Stantec, formerly Peter Brett Associates, has been appointed to undertake an assessment of the suitability of these sites. The seven sites include Lidsing (north of the M2), Binbury Park, Detling, a group of sites north of Staplehurst, Heathlands at Lenham Heath (MBC as a master developer), a site north of Marden, Pagehurst Farm and a group of sites around the Leeds-Langley corridor.
- Stantec recommended that just four sites be progressed to the ‘stage 2 assessment’, but Officers shortlisted just three of the sites to go through to the stage 2 assessment, as it was questionable whether the Leeds/Langley corridor would come forward in time within the updated Local Plan’s extended period to 2037. The report is due to be completed by the end of June / early July.
It is unbelievable that the council formally signalled to proceed with three preferred garden community sites, despite the report being presented for noting and not decision making. Where is the evidence behind what was a very important decision? Why were the councillors not involved in this decision and where is the public scrutiny. This is just another example of MBC officers carrying on regardless without any transparency and accountability.
SOHL has been quick off the mark to request sight of these consultant assessments but doesn’t expect the council to be quick to respond.
The secrecy of Maidstone’s garden community proposals continues.