Estuary growth commission points to a very crowded north Kent… and beyond

The landscape of the North Kent Marshes – this is Faversham Creek – will never be the same if the growth commission has its way

If you thought development pressure on Kent could not get any worse, there is some sobering reading from the Thames Estuary Growth Commission.
This advisory body to the government is urging “joint spatial plans” to be created in both Kent and Essex to support the building of more than a million homes.
The two counties should take more of London’s housing need, says a commission report.
The formation of the commission was revealed in the 2016 Budget and tasked by the government to “develop an ambitious vision and delivery plan for north Kent, south Essex and east London up to 2050”.
Its 2050 Vision report, published in June, says “a minimum” of one million homes will be needed to support economic growth in the Thames estuary by 2050; this equates to 31,250 homes a year.
However, it says that “between 2012/2013 and 2014/2015, on average, fewer than 10,000 homes were built per annum against Local Plan targets of 19,495 per annum”.
It continues: “Low land values, challenging site conditions and a limited number of house builders are all contributing to the delivery gap.”
The report says that, using the government’s methodology for calculating housing need, “around two thirds of these [one million] homes should be delivered in east London”.
However, the commission “believes that solely focusing on homes in London is unsustainable and that more of these homes should be provided in Kent and Essex”.
It claims there is “scope for the Thames estuary to be even more ambitious in responding to London’s ever growing housing need”.
This should be enabled by greater strategic planning across the area, according to the commission, which supports work already being carried out by local authorities in the ‘South Essex Foreshore’ area, which covers the Basildon, Castle Point, Southend-on-Sea and Rochford council areas.
Those local authorities “should continue to work with other authorities within the housing market area/neighbouring areas, Essex County Council and Opportunity South Essex to produce an integrated strategy for delivering and funding high-quality homes, employment, transport and other infrastructure”.
The report backs the same approach for the ‘North Kent Foreshore’, which stretches the definition of Thames estuary to the limit in covering the Medway, Swale, Canterbury and Thanet local authority areas.
It seems the sky’s the limit for the commission, which says the joint plan “should also be ambitious – going above the minimum housing numbers set by government – to attract substantial infrastructure investment from government”.
2050 Vision warms to its task in saying that, if joint plans “demonstrate sufficient growth ambition – going above the minimum threshold set out by government for local housing need; and being given statutory status – government should reward this ambition with substantial infrastructure investment and freedoms and flexibilities”.
There is also backing for new development corporations “with planning, and compulsory purchase powers to drive the delivery of homes and jobs aligned to major infrastructure investment”.
You have been warned.

To read the 2050 Vision report, click here

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Comments are closed.