21-09-17 – New Housing Consultation

Readers will surely be aware of the ongoing spat over Maidstone's emerging local plan, driving both local MPs to seek intervention by the Secretary of State. It was widely broadcast last week, including on the front page of this venerable publication.

I echo my neighbour's concerns over the effect of development on Leeds Castle as a national heritage site. In turn, she supports my own deep worries over the threat to public health by ever-increasing vehicle emissions.

The common factor for both of our constituencies is huge planned housing developments but without any clear mitigation for the effects of significantly increased road traffic. Thus, independently, we both wrote to the Secretary of State at DCLG, Sajid Javid, in the hope of some respite for the Borough of Maidstone.

Just three days later, on Thursday last week, Mr Javid issued details of a new consultation on housing numbers that potentially changes the entire picture.

I do understand his rationale; to give all local authorities the same simple and transparent starting point for assessing household growth when preparing their local plans. The horrifying news, however, is these proposals threaten a hike in projected housing numbers by a further 40% in our Borough. That's an increase of 353 new houses each year, from the currently proposed 883 per annum to 1,236, until at least 2026.

Yes, our country needs new housing but I struggle with how the Borough of Maidstone can possibly absorb yet another layer of housing development, whilst also seriously addressing the public health, traffic congestion and amenity threats that remain unresolved under the existing emerging local plan.

We are bursting at the seams here and I am completely fed up with our area being an easy target for concreting over. Together with my equally infuriated neighbouring MP Tracey Crouch, and others, we will be writing a robust letter to the Prime Minister. Readers can access the consultation by clicking here.

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Helen's column is published weekly in the Kent Messenger. Please note the print version may differ from the content here.


Local MP Helen Grant meets Rocky Hill residents

Following an electrical fire that occurred at Rocky Hill Terrace in London Road, Maidstone, on May 24th Fire Officers have recommended safety improvements to the building. This will require all 38 residents in 36 flats to be relocated. The residents are a group of older people some of whom have additional mobility and health issues.

Helen Grant MP was contacted by Simon Clark, Group Director – Housing, Sanctuary Group, which owns the property, to make her aware of the situation.

Helen said 'The safety of these residents is paramount and it does seem that the improvements needed to the structural compartmentation of the building will require the property to be vacated. I am very mindful of the distress experienced by so many being relocated following the fall-out of the Grenfell Tower disaster; my immediate concerns were therefore about how the need for relocation would be explained and then carried out. Clearly this will be a very sensitive time for the people affected and many have lived there for a long period of time'.

'I visited residents on Friday with Mr Clarke to speak with them myself, to ensure they received substantive answers to their questions and to act on their behalf in holding the landlords to account.

Initially I did share residents' suspicions that the works may be a convenient excuse to gain vacant possession of the building prior to redevelopment into more valuable units.

Having had the meeting I feel more reassured that there isn't an underlying ulterior motive like that and that the reasons for relocation are genuine.

I am also satisfied that Sanctuary are managing this process in a caring and sensitive manner. Sensibly they have not put an immediate timescale on the process as they do not want to add that kind of pressure to the residents. Their focus is upon moving each and every individual to a home that suits them and one that they are happy with'.

Simon Clark said 'We have been talking to residents and their families in one to one meetings throughout this week. We have a dedicated a team of senior and experienced housing staff taking them through the process sensitively and carefully.

'In addition to providing the residents with an on-site Liaison Officer, we are speaking to relevant statutory agencies and appropriate local charities about whether there is further support that can be given'.

'All residents will have a choice about their accommodation. The alternative properties identified so far are of good quality, desirable and nearby their existing homes. However, if any of the residents would like to view other homes we will, of course, oblige.'

Mrs Grant will continuing monitoring the issue until all residents are re-housed appropriately.


21 SEP 2017

Helen in exciting new role!

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18 SEP 2017

MP signs resident's petition

Standing up for Staplehurst Helen on a recent visit to Staplehurst with residents and local councillors Maidstone and the Weald MP Helen Grant has signed a petition created by Staplehurst residents, opposing the inclusion of Henhurst Farm in Maidstone Borough Council's emerging local plan. This...


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Yalding Garden Society's Autumn show

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HELEN GRANT MP

Helen's column

21 SEP 2017

New Housing Consultation

Kent Messenger Column - 21-09-17  Readers will surely be aware of the ongoing spat over Maidstone's emerging local plan, driving both local MPs to seek intervention by the Secretary of State. It...


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EU (Withdrawal) Bill/Myanmar

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07 SEP 2017

Anyone for Fundraising?

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