Kent backs stronger strategic planning for infrastructure delivery

There is a £2 billion funding gap in Kent and Medway between secured and expected funds and the infrastructure required to support the delivery of new homes between now and 2031, Kent County Council has warned as it published a new strategic framework to identify and prioritise investment in infrastructure.

Infrastructure: document warns of Kent funding shortfall
Infrastructure: document warns of Kent funding shortfall

Last week, Kent County Council published its new Growth and Infrastructure Framework (GIF). The document was prepared by consultancy AECOM for the council in partnership with Medway Council and Kent’s 12 district and borough councils.

According to the council, the document "provides a snapshot of planned growth and its required supporting infrastructure across Kent between now and 2031."

It also recommends actions to the council to work towards solutions to the likely £2 billion infrastructure funding gap.

Alongside warning about the funding gap, the GIF says that current approaches for delivering growth, such as the local plan system and community infrastructure levy, can limit the ability of councils to take a strategic approach.

As part of its solution to this, the document says that the council will "open a conversation with South East Strategic Leaders and the County Councils in the South East on strategic issues and priorities, in particular transport, including linkages to London and radial routes to better connect the wider South East."

It also says the council will "work collaboratively to find ‘new innovative ways’ of closing the funding gap. (Tax Increment Funding (TIF), Institutional Investment, better application of CIL etc) - recognising that this is a problem that is not unique to Kent, but for which Kent could provide an opportunity and willing partner for innovation."

Tom Venables, director – design, planning & economics, at AECOM, said: "The South East is facing multiple challenges that have the potential to limit economic growth in the region. Capitalising on the region’s unique relationship with London could help it become an influential economic powerhouse in its own right.

"For this to be achieved, the region must facilitate growth through new, joined-up approaches that connect housing provision with infrastructure investment. As a responsible, progressive council, Kent has recognised the scale of the challenge. Publication of the GIF is an important first step towards realising the county’s growth and economic potential."

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