Tuesday, 27 October 2015

Have your say on county town's future

There’s less than a week to go to give your views on Maidstone Borough Council’s Local Plan as part of a Regulation 18 consultation.

Why is it important to respond? In essence the council is looking to create 14,400 jobs in the borough between now and 2031, yet it’s looking to build 16,800 new homes in the same period.

The disparity between house numbers and jobs growth has serious implications for the sustainability of Maidstone’s local economy. If the figures became reality, the result would be either a further 2,400 households commuting to jobs outside the borough, displace existing workers or worse still no job at all.

Given the borough can lay claim to arguably four motorway junctions on the M20, the country’s most important road to the Channel Ports and Eurotunnel, surely it can be a lot more ambitious.

On a positive note the council has recognised that Junction 8 of the M20 offers the potential as an employment site that can’t be met by existing allocations in the draft plan.

Maidstone’s close neighbour Ashford Borough Council is going all out to ensure the town has what it needs to offer business and residents, whether it’s the International Station and adjacent commercial space; the new Ashford College; or extended Outlet Shopping Centre, the list goes on.

In contrast, Maidstone Borough Council recognises that average earnings for local residents have been in decline since 2010, and are now below the national average – and the third lowest in Kent. 

It’s clear that with the Maidstone population expected to grow from 158,000 to 189,575 by 2031, the borough will need more houses, but equally important is the need to provide jobs for residents.

If you feel compelled to give your views simply click here and select the ‘Have Your Say’ button or email ldf@maidstone.gov.uk.

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