London Resort theme park makes it to examination stage

You never know, this is what the proposed theme park could look like (pic LRCH)

Plans to build a huge theme park on the Thames estuary have passed their first hurdle.
The Planning Inspectorate has accepted the application for a Development Consent Order to build the London Resort theme park between Greenhithe and Northfleet.
This means the project, submitted by London Resort Company Holdings on New Year’s Eve and received by the Planning Inspectorate on Monday, January 4, can proceed to examination.
The decision to accept the 25,000-page application was announced in a Planning Inspectorate letter dated Thursday, January 28.
The project, targeted for the wildlife-rich Swanscombe peninsula, has been roundly condemned by conservation groups including the RSPB, Kent Wildlife Trust and Buglife.
There is also widespread concern about the scheme being designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), the first ‘business or commercial project’ to be accepted as such by the government under the Planning Act 2008. It is feared such status means it will not be subject to the same scrutiny that would be applied through the regular planning process.
The examination, in which CPRE Kent intends to take part, is expected to begin two to four months from now and must be completed within six months of the start-point.
Although it is too early to comment extensively, it is apparent that plenty of work needs to be done in relation to transport.
The Lower Thames Crossing proposed for nearby does not appear to have been factored into the plans, while the developer will need to show how it can take people to and from the site on the existing transport network.
Once the six-month examination has been completed, the final decision on the project will be made by Robert Jenrick, Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government.

  • For more on this story, click here
  • To learn more about the Save Swanscombe Marshes campaign, see here

Monday, February 1, 2021

CPRE joins coalition in call for a better planning vision

The government should rethink substantial elements of its controversial planning proposals and work with stakeholders to deliver a planning system that puts people, climate and nature at its heart.
The call comes from CPRE, the countryside charity, as part of a broad coalition of 18 environmental, housing, planning, transport, heritage and public-health organisations that have worked together to forge their own alternative ‘Vision for Planning’ in response to the government’s Planning White Paper, published in August last year.
The government is expected to make a further announcement in March about whether and how it will take forward the proposals in the White Paper.
The joint Vision for Planning was launched yesterday (Friday, January 15) at a virtual debate, with speakers including Chris Pincher, Minister of State for Housing.
Commenting on the new joint ‘Vision for planning’, Tom Fyans, deputy chief executive of CPRE, the countryside charity, said: “We are calling on the government to plan back better and work with us to develop a planning system that puts people, and tackling the climate and ecological emergencies, at its heart.
“We all deserve a home we can genuinely afford to live in, and to have a say in shaping the communities around us. And for over 70 years, a toolbox has been in place to make sure that can happen: the planning system. But as things stand, under the government’s current proposals, the opportunity to influence what happens and where in our communities would be halved.
“Before Christmas, the government announced a welcome revision of its housing numbers ‘algorithm’. However, this was only one small part of a range of potentially damaging proposals put forward by the government last year. That’s why we’re calling on ministers to take an equally pragmatic approach to improving policies relating to community voice, affordable homes and access to green spaces. Together, we can develop a planning system fit for the 21st century.”
Julie Hirigoyen, UK Green Building Council chief executive, added: “The government’s proposed planning reforms do not adequately reflect the important role of the planning system as a key strategic vehicle for decarbonising the economy, enhancing climate resilience and reversing biodiversity decline.
“If we are to deliver new development that does not compromise our progress towards net zero, the planning system – as outlined in this vision paper – must ensure all new buildings are net-zero by 2030 at the latest, with new homes to be net-zero as soon as possible.”
Emma Marsh, director of RSPB England, concurred: “Nature is in freefall decline and we have a climate in crisis. Our wildlife is declining at an alarming rate, with much-loved species at risk of extinction if things continue.
“A good planning system is critical not just for providing us with homes with access to nature-rich greenspace and the other services that we need but also for ensuring that our amazing nature is protected and given the space that it needs to recover and thrive again.”
The message was echoed by Shaun Spiers, chief executive of Green Alliance: “For a resilient society, we need environmental and climate priorities to be right at the heart of our planning system, so we hope the government takes careful note of this coalition’s recommendations.
“To cut pollution and climate impacts, reforms to the planning system must ensure that every home has easy access, via public transport, walking and cycling, to amenities, green spaces and local workplaces. Good spatial planning will be integral to the UK meeting its net-zero carbon goal by 2050.”

  • To learn more about the joint Vision for Planning, click here
  • For more on the government’s proposed changes to the planning system and our response to them, see here, here, here and here

Friday, January 15, 2021

Distress at plans for Dover border control site but MP points to ‘exciting opportunity’

The site lies to the south of the A2 (pic Google Earth)

A parish council has vowed to challenge plans for a border control site on the edge of Dover.
People in Guston were reportedly less than thrilled to receive a letter on New Year’s Eve from transport minister Rachel Maclean informing them that the substantial greenfield site close to the White Cliffs Business Park had been bought for use as an “inland border facility”.
HGVs entering the UK via Dover will have their details checked there – a process made necessary by Brexit.
Although a DfT spokeswoman said further planning consent was needed and nearby residents would be consulted, diggers have already moved on to the site.
“We understand concerns about resulting disruption, which is why we are working with the relevant authorities and our principal designer to ensure the surrounding roads are not negatively impacted by increased HGV movements,” she said.
However, Guston Parish Council has written to residents, saying it was “actively working to prevent such a development” and taking legal advice.
“There has been no response to requests for detailed proposals from the DfT and our MP Natalie Elphicke has responded to residents’ concerns with a generic letter setting out her support for the proposal,” wrote Tracey Creed, chairwoman of the council.
A report in The Guardian told how Guston residents believed they had been betrayed and trapped by the “lies” of the government over Brexit and were angry at the lack of consultation on the White Cliffs site, which it is feared will effectively be a lorry park rather than a border control site.
However, their MP, Mrs Elphicke, has said: “The proposals to invest in Dover at a new border control point are an exciting and important strategic opportunity for our community.”
The DfT says the site is needed as the port does not have the necessary space for the required checks; it will have spaces for some 670 HGVs and it is expected to be expanded to conduct full border checks from July. There will be structures designed specifically to check on animals, animal products and high-risk foods.
It perhaps should not come as a surprise to many that Kent seems to be taking a disproportionate hit from Brexit arrangements, with border control sites also being developed at Sevington, Waterbrook, Ebbsfleet and Manston, the latter at least cited as only temporary.
CPRE Kent believes the burden should be spread across the country, with HGVs unable to enter the county until it is certain they can leave the UK on schedule.
This could entail lorries not leaving their depots until being given the all-clear and possibly holding sites being used should circumstances, such as bad weather and industrial action at the ports, change.

Monday, January 11, 2021

Giant theme park planning process begins

This is what the theme park might look like… should it be built (pic LRCH)

The developer behind plans to build the country’s largest theme park in north Kent has applied to the government for consent to proceed.
London Resort Company Holdings submitted its application for a Development Consent Order to the Planning Inspectorate on New Year’s Eve (Thursday, January 31, 2020).
The scheme has been designated a Nationally Significant Infrastructure Project (NSIP), the first ‘business or commercial project’ to be accepted as such by the government under the Planning Act 2008.
The theme park is targeted for the Swanscombe peninsula, between Greenhithe and Northfleet, with opening anticipated for 2024 after a 2022 start date.
It would cover more than 1,160 acres and LRCH says it would create “48,000 direct, indirect and induced jobs” by 2038.
The project website states: “Sustainability is at the core of our vision. We are exploring new and innovative ways of integrating sustainable and low-carbon principles into every area of design and operation of the London Resort. Our aim is to create one of the most sustainable theme park destinations in the world.”
It adds: “Our designs will integrate local public rights of way and a green network, with improved access to the river for visitors and local communities. The London Resort will showcase the natural features of the site, seamlessly integrating them into our designs. A large proportion of the peninsula landscape will remain undeveloped and will be enhanced.”
However, there are widespread concerns both for people employed on the peninsula who might see their workplaces lost and for the area’s wildlife.
Buglife has joined with other environmental campaigners to set up the Save Swanscombe Marshes campaign.
To understand why the peninsula is so special, we will indeed turn to Buglife, which states: “The Swanscombe peninsula in north Kent is home to a remarkable mosaic of grasslands, coastal habitats, brownfield features, scrub and intricate wetlands. However, the proposed London Resort theme park threatens the future of this urban wilderness.
“Known as Swanscombe Marshes, this urban wilderness is home to thousands of invertebrate species, including over 250 species of conservation concern. This outstanding assemblage is of national importance, ranking with our best invertebrate brownfield sites.
“It is one of just two places in the UK for the Critically Endangered distinguished jumping spider (Attulus distinguendus), among the host of rare bees, beetles, moths and other invertebrates recorded there… the mixture of natural coastal features and human interference has created a brownfield of the highest quality for wildlife, as well as a valued community space for walking, birdwatching, angling and escaping the hustle and bustle of north Kent.”  
CPRE Kent intends to take part in the examination should it happen. It is too early to comment extensively, but an initial observation relates to the proposed Lower Thames Crossing, which does not appear to have been factored into plans – how would the two dovetail?
The Planning Inspectorate now has until Thursday, January 28, to determine if the application is satisfactory and the project can proceed to examination. Should it get that far, the Secretary of State would then decide whether London Resort should be built.

  • For more on this story, see here
  • To learn more about the Save Swanscombe Marshes campaign, see here

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Canterbury City Council backs 4,000-unit housing development on farmland

This is apparently what Mountfield Park will look like… seemingly it is what the cathedral city deserves (pic Corinthian Land)

Some 550 acres of farmland south of Canterbury are to be lost to a giant housing scheme.
Canterbury City Council has approved the 4,000-unit Mountfield Park “garden city”, which developer Corinthian Land says it will begin building next year and finish within 15 years.
Access will be primarily through New Dover Road, with Nackington Road and Pilgrims Way providing alternative routes. There will also be a 1,000-space park-and-ride site and a new junction on the A2, together with shops, office space, sports pitches and two primary schools.
The scheme had first been backed by the city council in December 2016, but legal challenges delayed matters until Tuesday’s (December 22) 7-5 vote to approve by the council’s planning committee.
Corinthian now has detailed permission for 140 homes and outline approval for another 3,860. The developer says 30 per cent of the development will comprise affordable homes.

  • For more on Mountfield Park, see here and here

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Environmental mitigation, impact on traffic and approach to consultation among Lower Thames Crossing DCO issues

Lower Thames Crossing… the saga rumbles on

We reported last week that Highways England had withdrawn its application for a Development Consent Order to build the Lower Thames Crossing.
Now we have been updated by HE on the issues relating to the Planning Inspectorate and the likely way forward.
A message to  stakeholders said: “… we’ve now had further dialogue with the Planning Inspectorate about their expectations around our application.
“The fundamentals of the Lower Thames Crossing, including its objectives and location, will remain the same but we will further develop some technical information related to some elements of the scheme before we resubmit our application next year.
“The feedback from the Planning Inspectorate includes requests for:
“Further information on the impact of the project on traffic during the construction phase. We recognise that stakeholders are keen to find out more information about our construction traffic appraisals and will be engaging with them on these issues.
“Further assessments about how an existing jetty on the River Thames near the northern tunnel entrance construction site could potentially be used during the construction phase. The operation of the jetty could, if used, impact river traffic. We will be developing Navigational Impact Assessment and engaging with stakeholders on this topic.
“More details on our approach for managing materials and waste, including how the different contractors will coordinate the reusing, recycling or disposal of waste.  
“An enhanced Habitats Regulations Assessment to provide a more detailed explanation of our approach to assessment of potential effects on European designated sites where we have indicated there would be no likely significant effects as a result of the construction and operation of the new road alone, or in combination with other projects.
“More detail on our approach to the long-term management of the project’s proposed environmental mitigation.
“The Planning Inspectorate has also shared some feedback from Local Authorities on our approach to consultation. We will consider this feedback carefully as we refine key areas of our submission ahead of resubmitting our application for a Development Consent Order.
“For a project of the size and complexity of the Lower Thames Crossing, it is reasonable for the Planning Inspectorate to ask for further information, and we are doing everything we can to resubmit our application at the earliest opportunity.”

Friday, November 27, 2020

Lower Thames Crossing: bid for planning consent delayed

Plans to build the Lower Thames Crossing have been delayed with Highways England’s withdrawal of its application for a Development Consent Order.
“We’ve withdrawn the Development Consent Order application for the Lower Thames Crossing based on early feedback we’ve had from the Planning Inspectorate,” said a spokesman for HE.
“We will take time to collate the information required for the specific points raised and will be resubmitting the application early in the new year.”
Alex Hills, Gravesham chairman of CPRE Kent, said: “We would be happier if the application was completely withdrawn as it is an ill-thought-out scheme that will be massively damaging for Kent without solving the problems at the Dartford Crossing.”
For the scheme to progress, HE needs to be granted a DCO by the Planning Inspectorate, government’s planning agency.

Planning Inspectorate ‘feedback’ has resulted in the DCO application being withdrawn

Monday, November 23, 2020

Judicial review of inspector’s Sevenoaks Local Plan verdict fails

Sevenoaks District Council has failed in its legal challenge against a planning inspector’s refusal to approve its Local Plan.
The local authority had brought a judicial review of inspector Karen Baker’s conclusion that it had failed to comply with the required duty to cooperate when preparing its Plan, as detailed in section 33A of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004.
Sevenoaks challenged the finding on four grounds:

  • The inspector erred in law in failing to apply a margin of appreciation when considering the test under section 33A of the 2004 Act
  • The inspector failed to correctly interpret and apply the duty to cooperate, and in reality conflated that duty with the requirement that a Plan be sound
  • The inspector failed to have regard to material considerations and in particular to consider the material evidence that was placed before her
  • The inspector’s reasons were inadequate

However, in the Planning Court, Mr Justice Dove rejected the council’s challenge. The key point appears to be that the council engaged fully with neighbouring local authorities when it became clear at the Reg 18 stage that housing need could not be met, rather than as part of the whole process.
Nigel Britten, CPRE’s Sevenoaks chairman, expressed his disappointment with the outcome: “We are very concerned that the judgement will only achieve new threats to the countryside.
“It’s likely that the council will have to repeat a whole round of consultation – including the duty to cooperate – and finish up with much the same result as before.
“But in the meantime, developers will sense an opportunity and put in applications for sizeable developments in the Green Belt and AONB, claiming that the Local Plan is not up to date.
“The council says it is, but pressures from the so-called housing-need algorithm will test it to the limit.”
Peter Fleming, leader of Sevenoaks District  Council, said: “We are clearly disappointed and somewhat bemused by the ruling from the Honourable Mr Justice Dove, especially as the duty to cooperate, the reason given by the planning inspector to reject our plan, is set to be abolished in the government’s own proposed planning reforms.
“In our opinion, the removal of the duty to cooperate is an open admission that it is neither effective nor workable in the Local Plan-making process. “However, despite this, we believe we both met and exceeded the requirement. The government’s own Planning Advisory Service and a number of former senior planning inspectors also supported this position.
“Court action is never something we would enter into lightly. But our Plan reflects our communities’ priorities of protecting the rural nature of the district and the Green Belt whilst providing much-needed new homes and improved local infrastructure. We will always stand up for the communities we serve.
“We are reviewing the judgement in detail and considering our options.”
The council’s website statement added: “The existing Local Plan, with all its current protections, will continue to be used to help decide planning applications until a new Plan is agreed.”

  • For more on this story, click here

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Proposed changes to the country’s planning system: CPRE Kent chairman’s statement

John Wotton, CPRE Kent chairman, has given a statement regarding the government’s proposed – and highly contentious – changes to the country’s planning system.  
Mr Wotton said: “The policies in the Planning for the Future White Paper published in August, combined with the measures in a separate consultation paper, Changes to the Current Planning System, are wide-ranging and, in my view, potentially disastrous for the countryside, especially in Kent and other parts of the South East, where the pressure for unsustainable development is already intense.
“Increased housing targets will be set by central government, under a complex formula, with a view to building at least 300,000 homes per year and will be binding on local planning authorities, whose ability to review and refuse planning will be reduced.
“A new system of zoning will designate all land as either growth, renewal or so-called ‘protected’ zones. The opportunities for the public to participate in the plan-making and place-making processes will be curtailed.
“I believe that opposing these changes is a fundamental necessity for protecting the Kent countryside, which we all love.”

Monday, November 2, 2020

CPRE Kent AGM 2020

We hope that you are keeping well through these strange times and that you have been able to get out to enjoy the countryside near to you during the lockdown.

John Wotton, CPRE Kent chairman

Our 2020 AGM will be held on Friday, November 13, at 10.30am. We are delighted that our guest speaker will be the new national chair of CPRE, Simon Murray. Simon took on this role after retiring from the National Trust, where he was chief operating officer and senior director.
Although we had hoped to be able to host a socially-distanced physical meeting, it is now clear that it will be necessary to hold the meeting in virtual form, using Zoom technology. This decision is consistent with advice from CPRE National Office and the Charity Commission. We expect the meeting to last approximately one hour.
While we recognise that not everyone has easy access to the internet and associated technology, we believe that this is the best way to proceed safely in the current circumstances. If you do not have access to the internet at home, perhaps you have a friend who would allow you to attend the meeting using their internet access. If you are unable to attend the AGM, you may vote by proxy.
To participate in the AGM, you will need to pre-register. To do this, please send an email to info@cprekent.org.uk or call the office on 01233 714540 stating that you wish to attend the AGM. It will be helpful if you can quote your CPRE membership number when you do. (If you are planning to attend using a friend’s internet access, it would be best to pre-register using the friend’s email.)
Registration will close 48 hours before the start of the meeting, ie on Wednesday, November 11. Those who have pre-registered will be sent a Zoom invitation and instructions to help them attend the meeting.
We hope to ‘see’ you virtually at the 2020 CPRE Kent AGM!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Coastal bungalows scheme thrown out

The setting of Pegwell Bay has been spared the unpopular proposal for six bungalows on a greenfield site

Plans for a bungalow estate on the edge of Pegwell village have been refused.
The application for the six properties failed to make the Thanet District Council’s planning committee following a critical officer’s report.
CPRE Thanet had made a strong objection to the scheme, as did Pegwell and District Association – a member of CPRE Kent.
The officer’s report included the following observations as reasons for refusal:
“The site is located within the countryside, outside of the village confines, and within a Landscape Character Area, which is characterised by its openness and views of Pegwell Bay and the former Wantsum Channel.
“The erection of six dwellings within this prominent location, which would be visible in long views and in wider views across the open countryside opposite, is considered to cause severe harm to the intrinsic character and beauty of the countryside, and the valued Landscape Character Area, and harm the character and appearance of the adjacent Conservation Area, contrary to Policies SP24, SP26, HE02 and QD02 of the Draft Thanet Local Plan, and paragraph 170 of the NPPF.
“Furthermore, insufficient information has been submitted to address highway and ecology concerns.
“The environmental harm caused through the development is considered to significantly outweigh the extremely modest economic and social benefits provided, and is therefore not considered to be sustainable development.
“The application has also failed to provide an acceptable form of mitigation to relieve the pressure on the SPA, contrary to paragraph 177 of the NPPF and the Habitats Directive.
“It is therefore recommended that the application is refused.”
David Morrish, Thanet CPRE chairman, said: “These commentaries, I am glad to record, very much mirror the objections that we submitted.”

  • To read more on this story, click here

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Lenham Heath new town faces water-quality hurdle after Natural England advice

Lenham Heath residents were not happy with plans for the new town, or ‘garden village’ as it was dubbed

Proposals by the council to build a new town at Lenham Heath have been stalled by advice from Natural England regarding water quality.
The government body has said “an appropriate assessment” must be carried out before the council agrees any new development likely to have “a significant adverse impact on water quality” in the River Stour catchment. The assessment must include any necessary mitigation measures.
With the source of the river system of the Stour Valley catchment being in Lenham, and part of the upper section of the Great Stour lying in Maidstone borough, the council says there will be “an immediate impact” on planning applications for new homes in and around both Lenham and part of Boughton Malherbe parishes.
The advice aims to ensure new residential development does not cause further deterioration of water quality at Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve in terms of nitrate and phosphate discharges.
Maidstone council says it is “investigating possible solutions” and has “identified a way forward for larger housing sites”. It is, though, “taking a precautionary approach and will require appropriate assessments for any planning applications including those not yet determined”.
The Lenham Heath development had originally been set at 5,000 dwellings but since cut to 4,000. Nothing has yet been passed by any committee.

  • Similar concerns led to revised plans for the 4,000-home Mountfield Park development at Canterbury being pulled from the city council planning committee’s agenda in October. Planning permission for the huge scheme had already lapsed after legal challenges, meaning it will need to be decided upon again.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Canterbury council revokes its own permission for Wincheap park & ride extension

The beautiful River Stour glides past the Wincheap meadows

Canterbury City Council has announced its intention to revoke its permission to extend the Wincheap park & ride over an area of valued water meadow. This follows CPRE Kent’s legal challenge to the permission on three grounds:
• Failure to carry out an Environmental Impact Assessment
• Legal errors in the Habitats Regulation Assessment
• Misleading claims that the site had been ‘allocated’ in the Local Plan and that it would not have a harmful effect on the landscape
The council’s decision follows an announcement from Highways England that it could not sign off the planned slip-road from the nearby A2 funded by the nearby Cockering Farm development, thereby rendering the proposed changes to the park & ride redundant.

  • For more on this story, see here

Monday, October 12, 2020

CPRE responds to planning consultation that could spell destruction for our countryside

How much more of this can Kent take?

We have already referred to the government’s Changes to the Current Planning System consultation (click here) and the drastic effect it could have on Kent, with almost all the county’s district authorities facing annual housebuilding hikes of up to 125 per cent.
If the consultation figures, based on what has already been described as “another rogue algorithm”, are accepted as part of planning policy, Kent will need to build an extra 2,835 homes a year on top of current targets, which are already eye-wateringly high.
Now CPRE has produced its response to the consultation and you can read it here.
At almost 9,700 words, you might not want to tackle it in one sitting, but it is an important document and one we hope will cause the government to reconsider what are potentially highly damaging proposals to our countryside and indeed our way of life.

Thursday, October 8, 2020 

CPRE Kent supports county MPs in attack on ‘inherently unreasonable’ new housing targets

CPRE Kent, the countryside charity, is backing a group of the county’s MPs who have written to government powerfully expressing their concerns over increased housing targets.
Kent fares particularly badly in the revised totals proposed in the Changes to the Current Planning System consultation, with almost all its district authorities facing annual housebuilding hikes of up to 125 per cent.
If the figures, based on what has already been described as “another rogue algorithm” and following analysis by Lichfields and Savills development consultancies, are accepted as part of planning policy, Kent will need to build an extra 2,835 homes a year on top of current targets, which are already eye-wateringly high.
In total, the county would be required to build 14,908 homes a year – up from the current figure of 12,045. And even the latter figure is critically flawed as it is based on outdated household-projection statistics from the Office for National Statistics.
The 2014 ONS figures used by the government have been superseded by two further forecasts, in 2016 and 2018, each forecasting a much-reduced figure for necessary new homes.
The MPs’ letter, addressed to Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government and Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick, has been headed by Helen Grant (Maidstone and The Weald) and signed by 10 other Members.
The burden on Kent does seem particularly unacceptable given that it has already delivered so much housing in recent years.
As the letter, which pulls no punches, says: “The proposals also appear inherently unreasonable, particularly to those local authorities in Kent who have already successfully worked with the Government to build the homes we need. One has to question the propriety of constantly increasing targets with completely unrealistic timescales…”
A report from the UK Centre of Ecology & Hydrology released in July this year showed Kent had already lost more land to urbanisation than any other county between 1990 and 2015.
The report revealed a net increase in urban areas in the county of 33,606 acres, substantially ahead of anywhere else – Essex (27,923 acres), West Yorkshire (27,182) and Surrey (24,711) came the closest.
Mrs Grant’s letter to Mr Jenrick has been signed by Rehman Chisti (Gillingham and Rainham), Greg Clark (Tunbridge Wells), Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford), Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet), Damian Green (Ashford), Gordon Henderson (Sittingbourne and Sheppey), Gareth Johnson (Dartford), Craig Mackinlay (South Thanet) and Tom Tugendhat (Tonbridge and Malling).
Dover faces the greatest increase of all – a scarcely credible 125 per cent hike on its current target. It could be told to build 1,279 homes a year, almost three times the number to have gone up over the past three years.
Other substantial increases would be imposed on Dartford (85 per cent on top of current target), Tonbridge and Malling (71 per cent), Swale (43 per cent) and Folkestone and Hythe (38 per cent). 
The current situation has echoes of a government consultation three years ago into changing the planning system in a bid to boost the amount of homes being built, notably in the South East.
The proposed change in methodology, laid out in the document Planning for The Right Homes In The Right Places: Consultation Proposals, detailed a total of 3,400 extra dwellings a year – a rise of 8 per cent – on targets across the region.
Staggeringly, two-thirds of these were earmarked for Kent, a county already having to accommodate some of the highest levels of housebuilding in the country.
It appears the inequitable focus on Kent has not disappeared.
The consultation closes at 11.45pm on Thursday, October 1.   

Sunday, September 13, 2020