08 MAR 2018

Addressing the Housing Crisis

Kent Messenger Column- 08-03-18

As regular readers will know, I continue to have concerns about Maidstone's Local Plan, which was approved late last year.

I am particularly worried about the impact the increased housing will have upon our road network which, as we all know, is already bursting at the seams. Now that the plan has been approved however, I am committed to ensuring that Maidstone gets the road infrastructure (and other infrastructure such as school places and doctors surgeries) it needs to account for future development.

With our own needs in mind, I was pleased to hear the Prime Minister announce, this week, her plan for ensuring that infrastructure requirements are considered more fully within the planning process. She also announced a series of other sensible measures which will help ensure new homes are built in the right numbers and in the right places such as; an end to land banking and continued protection for our green belt. Furthermore, local councils could face losing their planning powers altogether if they fail to deliver the number of homes required.

However, addressing the housing crisis is also about affordability. As a Mum of two boys in their twenties, I understand how difficult it can be for our young people to get a foot on the housing ladder. This isn't just about putting a roof over their heads, but also about providing a whole generation with a stake in our communities. The Prime Minister is seeking to balance this side of the equation as well by requiring 10% of homes on major developments to be made affordable and by asking builders to be more transparent about their commitment to affordable housing.

The Government is right to grasp this nettle and to revolutionise the planning system in order to build the homes we need, however the infrastructure requirements of existing communities must be at the forefront of their minds as they do so.

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