LENHAM NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN
MID-JULY 2018 UPDATE
1.1 The Regulation 14 Consultation Draft Lenham Neighbourhood Plan (LNP 2017) was published in September 2017. Under the planning Regulations, LNP 2017 has to reflect the content of the Maidstone Borough Local Plan which was adopted in October 2017 (MBLP 2017).
1.2 The LNP 2017 therefore shows a possible distribution of 1000 dwellings on seven new sites proposed for housing development. These sites are shown on the Lenham Local Policies Map within LNP 2017. Sites to the west and south of the village are shown linked by a ‘possible new road’ running from the A20 Ashford Road to the north-west over Smokey Bridge to link with the Headcorn Road to the south-east.
1.3 The route of the ‘possible new road’ runs through two sites controlled by Jones Homes and the Russell family respectively which were allowed for housing development on appeal in 2015 and 2016. There are alternative routes for the ‘possible new road’ but it makes sense for LNPG to engage with the owners of those two sites to seek to deliver a new road through existing committed development sites. The new road would effectively allow some through traffic to bypass Lenham Square by providing an alternative route from the A20 near Marley to the Headcorn Road near Inkstand Meadow Farm.
2.0 Land Ownership
2.1 There are eight principle land owning interests relating to sites released for development in LNP. These are:
North-East of Lenham
- Dean Lewis Estates/Barr
South-West of Lenham
North-West of Lenham
- Lenham Parish Council
- Wealden Homes
- Jones Homes (Southern Limited)
2.2 All of these ownerships have appointed professional advisers and have agreed, to a greater/lesser extent, to cooperate in the production of LNP.
2.3 We understand there is a legal dispute between the freehold owners of site 8 and Jones Homes (Southern) Limited. Lenham Parish Council has released certain publicly available papers in relation to this dispute following a formal Freedom of Information (FOI) request by one of the parties.
2.4 The eight principal landowning interests have agreed to form an Infrastructure Delivery Group (IDG) to support LNP. This Group has met some six times over the last year. The deliberations of the IDG are not confidential and the minutes are posted on the Lenham Parish Council website. The next meeting of the IDG is to be held on Thursday 2ndAugust 2018. All those with relevant landowning interests are invited to attend. The advisers to one of the landowning interests have kindly agreed to host the meeting of IDG and the meetings are held at the offices of DHA in Maidstone.
3.1 The IDG has agreed to cooperate to produce a Joint Drainage Strategy. Four of the members agreed to fund the Joint Drainage Strategy. Icosa Water Limited was commissioned to produce the Joint Drainage Strategy and their proposal was issued to the Group on 6thJune 2018. The Icosa proposal demonstrates that the sites proposed for development can all be satisfactorily served by an adoptable foul drainage and water supply network, conveniently divided into three separate ‘packages’ to reflect the geographical location of the individual sites.
3.2 It appears to LPC, that through the mechanism of cooperating in the production of a Joint Drainage Strategy, the landowning interests may achieve significant cost savings over the situation which would have occurred otherwise.
3.3 It will be up to Southern Water Services (SWS) to make the necessary arrangements at Lenham Wastewater Treatment works to accommodate the foul water flows arising from committed development at Lenham (some 1364 additional dwellings as of September 2017). SWS has been advised by LPC and individual landowners of the likely programme for the development to 2031. SWS will continue to be a major technical consultee to LNP.
4.1 LNP is being produced in close cooperation with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) partly because the need to provide 1000 additional dwellings at Lenham arises directly and solely from MBLP (2017) which is produced by the Borough Council. In order to comply with the planning regulations, LNP needs to be underpinned by an appropriate evidence base. Work with KCC and MBC has revealed that LNP should therefore be underpinned by a comprehensive Transportation Assessment.
4.2 Such as Assessment would:
- Investigate ‘the possible new road’ and demonstrate how it could work in terms of its width and alignment;
- Show what sort of junctions would be needed and at what locations in order to accommodate future traffic flows;
- Identify what opportunities arise to improve facilities for walking and cycling within the Parish, both associated with the new development sites and otherwise;
- Identify a scheme for the environmental improvement of Lenham Square associated with better management of through traffic and parking.
4.3 At a meeting held in November 2017 to discuss LNP, Officers of MBC made an offer in principle to Lenham Parish Council to fund the production of a Transportation Assessment. That offer was taken forward by MBC in mid-March 2018 by the production of a Grant Agreement which has now been concluded.
4.4 On 23rdApril 2018 LPC commissioned Peter Brett Associates (PBA) to undertake the Lenham Transportation Assessment (LTA) in accordance with the PBA free proposal of 19thApril 2018. The deadline for the completion of the Assessment is 31stAugust 2018. This work will be 100% funded by a grant from MBC.
4.5 Work on the Transportation Assessment is progressing well and an up-dating meeting was held jointly with LPC/MBC/KCC on 2ndJuly 2018 to report progress and identify issues.
4.6 A fee proposal dated 11thJuly 2018 for additional work to provide a more detailed study of parking in Lenham has been received by LPC and will be considered in the very near future.
4.7 The preliminary findings of LTA are that the principle infrastructure provisions of LNP are acceptable in principle. More work is being undertaken to understand in more detail how the provisions can be delivered.
5.1 The adopted Maidstone Borough Local Plan (MBLP 2017) states at Policy SP8 that Masterplanning of the Lenham broad location for growth will be essential to achieve a high-quality design and layout.
5.2 The landowning interests have taken this requirement on board and Masterplans have been produced for the three general development areas as follows:
North-East of Lenham (Site 1)
South-West of Lenham (Sites 2,3 and 4)
North-West of Lenham (Sites 5,6,7 and 8)
5.3 These Masterplans are the subject of ongoing consultation with LPC and it is intended that agreed Masterplans (at an appropriate level of detail) will be appended to LNP at Regulation 14 and Regulation 16 Consultation draft stages.
6.1 The Lenham School has spare capacity to accommodate the proposed growth, assuming that capacity is used in conjunction with the possibility of secondary aged students travelling to other schools in the vicinity at Maidstone and Ashford, for example.
6.2 The adopted Maidstone Borough Local Plan (MBLP, 2017) [Policy SPE(4)(ii)] includes provision for an additional one form of entry expansion either at Lenham or Harrietsham primary school. That provision is being made at Harrietsham which will provide for all existing permitted and allocated sites, outwith the 1000 additional dwellings proposed at Lenham as a broad location for growth and identified in LNP.
6.3 At current child product levels the 1000 dwellings does not generate sufficient need to justify a second new primary school site at Lenham. LPC would regard the provision of a second new primary school as both unnecessary and as socially divisive. The LNP will therefore propose that additional primary school provision be made within the existing Lenham Primary School site and provided for by Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding.
6.4 LPC also propose that LNP will identify a suitable site for the provision of nursery education.
6.5 The best arrangements for the provision of education are the subject of continuing discussion between LPC and KCC.
7.0 Public Open Space
7.1 One of the basic conditions of any Neighbourhood Plan is that it should be:
“in general conformity with the strategic policies contained in the development plan.”
7.2 In Maidstone Borough Local Plan (MBLP, 2017) the main policy dealing with publicly accessible open space and recreation is Policy DM 19. MBC has confirmed that Policy DM 19 is not a strategic policy.
7.3 It seems to LPC that it is very important to the LNP to understand how MBC will interpret and apply Policy DM19 in practice.
7.4 Although this issue has been raised in relation to one particular site allocated in MBLP 2017, it remains of general concern. Further clarification of the mechanism for implementation is being sought through discussion with MBC.
8.0 Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)
8.1 Lenham Parish Council sought clarification from MBC in June as to what level of funding might be available for Lenham under the new CIL arrangements. MBC gave a very full and helpful reply on 26thJune 2018.
8.2 MBC has confirmed that the Parish will receive the ‘neighbourhood portion’ of CIL which is 25% if a ‘made’ Neighbourhood Plan exists at the time that a planning permission is granted. This is the amount of CIL intended to be spent locally to provide infrastructure to the local community.
8.3 A key task for LNP will therefore be to estimate, with MBC, how much the neighbourhood portion of CIL is likely to be and to provide a priority list of broadly costed projects on which to seek to invest those funds.
8.4 The ‘strategic portion’ of CIL will be pooled and the strategic CIL pool can be spent across the Borough at the discretion of MBC. That means that Lenham could receive above a ‘pro-rata’ allocation of strategic CIL.
9.0 Strategic Environmental Assessment
9.1 AECOM has been commissioned to undertake a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) of the LNP. This work will be 100% funded by a grant secured from central government.
9.2 A preliminary draft report has been produced for comment and another report will be produced for publication following publication of the Regulation 14 LNP in September 2018.
10.0 Work Programme
10.1 The Lenham Transportation Assessment (LTA) will report at the end of August.
10.2 It is proposed to produce a Regulation 14 Lenham Neighbourhood Plan, based closely on the September 2017 pre-Regulation 14 LNP, during August for publicity and consultation with the LTA in mid-September 2018. Consultation will run for six weeks to the end of October 2018.
10.3 Subject to the responses received and the complexity of the issues raised, it is proposed to publish a Regulation 16 LNP before the end of 2018.
10.4 We should therefore be considering a public examination in the Spring of 2019 and is it too ambitious to consider a Referendum being held in April 2019 to coincide with any other elections which may be held at this time?
Paul McCreery FRTPI
Neighbourhood Plan Advisor to LPC