In June 2016 Ashford Borough Council published its draft Local Plan for the borough. The plan set out the land that needs to be provided in the borough to accommodate new homes and jobs up to 2030. It also includes the policies that will be used to help decide planning applications.
Since then the Government has published new household projections which increase the quantity of housing the new Local Plan needs to provide for and the Housing White Paper which signals a number of changes to national planning policies for housing.
To respond to these significant changes, a series of proposed revisions to the draft Local Plan have been proposed which include the allocation of further land to meet the increased housing requirement (including the achievement of a deliverable five year housing land supply). It also responds to the consultation responses from last year’s public consultation and reflects national planning policy changes that have occurred recently.
Last night (Thursday 15th June) Ashford Borough Council’s Cabinet agreed to publish the proposed revisions and the additional new policies for public consultation and also approved the proposed responses to the 2,866 representations made in last year’s consultation.
The key changes from the previous draft Local Plan include 1,250 additional homes needing to be provided as a result of the review of the Strategic Housing Market Assessment, which is proposed to be met by a combination of additional capacity on existing proposed allocations, a series of new allocations, and increased assumptions about housing delivered from windfall schemes*.
In addition the affordable housing policy has been reconsidered in light of the Government’s Housing White Paper by amending the mix of home ownership products being included, although the overall percentage requirements remain the same, and the deletion of the Park and Ride site at the Warren, as is this is not likely to come forward in the foreseeable future.
Public consultation on the proposed revisions and additions to the draft Local Plan will take place from early July until the end of August. (Exact timing will be confirmed in due course). The aim is to then agree a final version for approval by Full Council by the end of the year and then for this to be submitted for independent examination in public by the Planning Inspectorate.
Cllr Paul Clokie, portfolio holder for planning and development, said: “The Local Plan is an important document and I am delighted it has reached this stage. An enormous amount of work has gone into this process so far to provide a robust evidence base for the sites and policies proposed.
“In making the proposed changes to the draft Local Plan, the council is not just responding to the changing context for Plan-making set out at a national level but also seeking, where possible, to address concerns raised in the consultation responses.
“Many difficult choices have had to be made to provide the levels of growth needed in the borough and for the Council to present a sound Local Plan for examination at the end of the process.”