Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Housing blow for Maidstone

Efforts to alleviate Maidstone’s housing shortfall have been dealt a blow by Greg Clark, Secretary of State for the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Arguing in favour of his Inspector’s report, Greg Clark has refused a 220-home scheme in Maidstone – despite accepting the borough has an “acute” housing supply shortfall – on the grounds of traffic congestion and quality of design.

He believes the proposals put forward by Kent County Council, the Future Schools Trust and BDW Trading (Ward Homes), would have a “severe impact” on the highway network, adding that large parts of the scheme appeared: “cramped, unrelieved and somewhat anonymous”.

The scheme, recovered for determination by the Secretary of State back in December 2014, also included provision of new playing fields for the New Line Learning Academy.

An appeal had been made against Maidstone Borough Council's decision in July 2014 to refuse permission for the scheme on land at Boughton Lane, Maidstone. 

The news will surely be greeted with glee by the 1,500 local residents who opposed the development, but in a borough with a housing land supply of only 2.1 years – far short of the five years plus 20 per cent required by the NPPF – the local authority will probably now be looking at how to make up the shortfall.

When it came to the issue of design, Greg Clark agreed the three affordable housing units “would not be well integrated with the remainder of the development and that this aspect of the scheme would not accord with the NPPF's aims for the creation of mixed and inclusive communities” due to their layout, siting and form.

The Secretary of State concluded the scheme would have a severe impact on the highway network in terms of congestion and inconvenience to road users, as well as resulting in significant danger to pedestrians, cyclists and other road users. He also felt the estimates of traffic generation submitted as part of the application tended towards under estimation and would not be mitigated against. 

This conclusion was in stark contrast to the position originally adopted by KCC, the local highways authority, which made no objection on matters of highways.

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