Swale Lib Dems speak out against planning changes

Local Liberal Democrat Councillors are horrified at the Conservative government’s proposals to increase their demands for more houses to be built in Faversham and Sittingbourne, and the failure of Helen Whately MP to condemn these crazy building plans.

The changes, detailed in the Conservative Government’s “Planning for the future” white paper and “Changes to the Current Planning System” document include moving to a zonal planning system, broadening the definition of what is consider a ‘small development’ and a new method for calculating local area housing targets.

Currently the government’s target for house building in Swale is 774 homes per year, very soon to increase to 1000 homes per year. This new Conservative proposal would increase the house building target even further to 1483 houses per year.


Swale Lib Dem Group Leader, Cllr Ben J Martin (Watling Ward) said “the Conservative's proposed new method for calculating housing targets is completely unacceptable. There is no way Swale can cope with such high numbers of new houses. If the proposal goes through, Swale would be forced to include every site put forward, in the local plan. The Zonal planning proposal would cut local input to the local planning system, as once an area is allocated, developers wouldn’t need to apply for detailed planning permission. That would give them free reign to build whatever they want, with no opportunity for local people to have their say. This is completely undemocratic. People should be able to have their say on planning matters, with decisions taken locally and not by unelected bureaucrats."

Since being elected as MP for Faversham and Mid Kent in 2015 Helen Whately has consistently supported changes that have increased the housing targets in our area, from just 558 houses a year in 2015, up to 1000 houses currently and if she supports these proposals all the way up to 1483 new houses a year. I’m calling on Helen Whately to do the right thing and exert pressure on government to drop these ludicrous proposals.”

Cllr Ben J Martin (Watling Ward) continued “Under the proposals housing developments of 50 homes or less would not have to set aside provision for affordable housing, which is in great need across the borough. These proposals are an attack on local communities. They undermine local democracy, put more power in the hands of developers, increase housing targets and will reduce affordable housing provision.”

Public consultation on the content of the Changes to the Current Planning System document end on October 1st 2020 https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/changes-to-the-current-planning-system

Consultation on the Planning for the Future white paper is open until October 29th 2020 and is available on https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/planning-for-the-future

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