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 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 clicking here.

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