Thursday, 22 February 2018

Kent's villages could see more homes being built


In something new for Kentcentric, we're going to be asking leading experts in the Kent planning, property and development sector to give us their views on key questions.


Will our villages have to take a greater share of the new homes needed?

Steve Davies, senior planning consultant at Hobbs Parker Property Consultants, the Ashford-based practice shares his thoughts:

A decision taken in Oxfordshire means a greater number of new homes will be built in and around Kent's villages over the next few years.

A planning inspector granted outline permission at appeal for 36 houses in a small Oxfordshire village. With just 325 homes in the countryside location it was ruled that a housing benefit outweighed the development plan as a whole.

District councils are wrestling with the number of new homes already allocated, and the Government is determined to increase the quantity being delivered, meaning many villages will inevitably have to accept some of the new development alongside the towns.

In the Oxfordshire case, the inspector found on balance nothing to outweigh the benefit of the 36 new homes, including 40 per cent affordable, in contributing towards addressing the significant shortfall in housing numbers in the district, so they allowed the appeal.

Increasingly, national planning policy will come up against the challenge of local delivery. Government policy now explicitly demands the presumption in favour of sustainable development in both plan making and decision taking.

In this case, the council wasn't able to show it had enough housing space to accommodate five years of growth, and with no Local Plan it couldn't resist the proposals.

The inspector also decided there would be only limited harm to the village's rural character, that there was scope for retaining views of an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) in the final layout, and only minor harm to the setting of listed buildings and a conservation area.

The housebuilder had also addressed visibility concerns in relation to the AONB through its Section 106 agreement, by making provision for highways works.

With many Kent districts in a similar planning situation to those in Oxfordshire - in terms of housing supply and being situated close to AONBs - it is possible to see this decision being used to secure planning permission for more homes in Kent villages.

And the situations is set to be exacerbated by the forthcoming revised National Planning Policy Framework and demand for 20% of the five year housing pipeline to be built on sites smaller than a hectare.

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