Proposed position statement of LPC in respect of the Garden Community
- Lenham Parish Council (LPC) has had no contact with Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) on the subject of the proposed new Garden Community prior to 26th LPC was only made aware of the proposal on the same day as the front page article in the Kent Messenger (Maidstone edition).
- LPC has been working on the Neighbourhood Plan for the last 2 years (which is now with MBC prior to being issued for consultation by MBC to the local neighbourhood).
- The Neighbourhood Plan relates to Phase 1 of the Maidstone Local Plan as issued 2017.
- The Garden Community project is related to Phase 2 of the Maidstone Local Plan which is currently being generated and still very much under discussion.
Phase 1 relates to House Building up to 2031
Phase 2 relates up to 2037 and beyond.
- Central Government (Westminster) has set the Phase 1 and Phase 2 targets for MBC. The numbers are not changeable by Maidstone, who have the unenviable task of deciding where to build within the Borough. Currently in Phase 1 Maidstone has to build approx. 800 houses per annum up to 2031 – under phase 2 this will increase to approx. 1200 houses per annum from 2023 to 2037.
Under current planning legislation, failure to build in line with the targets effectively gives rights to developers over the Borough Council.
- LPC is awaiting the result of the recent “call for sites” which will be publicly available on November 4th.
- It is during the 2 Consultations needed for approval to build on some of the land being offered that there is opportunity to dispute.
- Any dispute will have to be based on technical/ cost arguments, “emotive” points such as “This will spoil my view” – “This will mean our children will have less freedom” are normally discounted as a matter of course.
- LPC politically is very much on its own in respect of the proposed Garden Community, no support will come from other Borough Councillors (other than our own) to stop this project.
As far as the others are concerned this will involve a new town being built on the fringes of the Borough rather than additional building on “their” patch. As such, it is a simpler solution for those concentrating their efforts in Maidstone itself and is perhaps perceived as an easier place to achieve the required targets. However, Town centre schemes are also being discussed which include high-rise flats on the current Aldi site and near Maidstone West station as well as proposals coming forward for development for the former “Rootes” building in Mill Street.
- It is obvious that further into the future with current demands and targets being set, there could well be more expansion with either Lenham or Charing Heath or both being wholly swallowed up to form a single entity. The Lenham Heath site is the Maidstone Borough “preferred” site for a Garden Community but four other sites have been identified by the Borough as possible alternatives.
- No decision as to proceeding with any Garden Community has yet been taken – the costs of providing new infrastructure (hopefully before building commences) are huge and such a scheme might never be an economic proposition. Currently the Lenham developers are struggling to sell 2 houses per week – it will therefore take 50 years to sell 5000 houses at the same rate with little sense in even starting to build until the 1000 already earmarked in Phase 1 for Lenham are sold.
- Lenham Parish Council will seek your views and to represent you, the parishioners, in our approach and response to the possible development.