CPRE Kent disputed the housing target and strategic sites identified in the Canterbury Local Plan at Stage 1 of the Examination in July.
We had already warned that Canterbury City Council should have carried out further consultations on the plan when it greatly increased its housing target to 15,600 homes.
In January 2010, the council consulted on a Local Plan with a target of 10,200 new homes by 2026 (510 per year). In 2012, this target was revised to 15,600 new homes by 2031 (780 per year). However, despite the significant increase, the council relied on its earlier environmental assessments of where new development should be located.
“Despite our warnings, the City Council is pressing ahead with its flawed plan,” said CPRE Kent Senior Planner Brian Lloyd. “The council has seemingly, from the outset, cast in stone the sites it wants to see developed, and despite high levels of public opposition it has not been prepared to consider alternatives. We still believe that the plan is unsound.”
Mr Lloyd gave the example of the South Canterbury site where the council failed to consider any alternative to 4,000 in the number of homes proposed. He also pointed out a major change to the plan at the last minute when it was proposed to relocate the Kent and Canterbury Hospital to the South Canterbury site. Even then, there was no change to the site assessment despite the inevitable sustainability issues a major regional hospital would create.
A top planning barrister last year judged that the draft Local Plan was not legally compliant because when Canterbury City Council greatly raised its housing target, it should have re-assessed the impact on habitats and the environment, and whether or not the proposed distribution of housing remained appropriate and sustainable. This it failed to do.
The inspector has now postponed the Stage 2 hearings. They seem likely to be held in the new year.
August 12th 2015