Local Plan Watch: Kent plan threatened with Whitehall intervention found sound

Thanet District Council's local plan has been found sound by inspectors pending an early review, two years after the authority was threatened with central government intervention for taking too long in preparing the strategy.

Thanet: troubled local plan found sound (pic: Reading Tom, Flickr)
Thanet: troubled local plan found sound (pic: Reading Tom, Flickr)

Thanet Council in Kent was one of three authorities into which former housing secretary Sajid Javid in 2018 sent in Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) teams to assess whether intervention was needed, having warned them over their slow preparation of their local plans.

In November 2018, Thanet said it believed it was off the Whitehall "hitlist" for possible local plan intervention after submitting its draft local plan for examination.

Javid's successor James Brokenshire announced in a February 2019 letter that he had stopped short of taking over production of Thanet's local plan.

Late last month, inspectors Matthew Birkinshaw and Victoria Lucas found the Thanet Local Plan sound on the basis that a series of main modifications are made and the local authority conducts an early review of the plan within six months.

The inspectors said the review would be necessary to consider issues including the outcome of a development consent order application to reopen Manston Airport, which has been a long-running source of local contention.

Early iterations of the local plan sought to allocate the airport site for mixed-use development. However, site owner Stone Hill Park lodged an application with the Planning Inspectorate in August 2018 seeking to bring the airport back into use.

The Thanet Local Plan includes a housing requirement of 17,140 units and identifies sites with the potential to deliver 18,457 homes over the plan period.

Despite this surplus, the inspectors noted that "delivering the required number of new homes in Thanet is going to require a demonstrable step-change in delivery" and said the plan "would not provide much of a buffer" to ensure targets were met during the first five years of its duration.

A main modification will see a change to the proposed stepped trajectory of housing delivery in the district, reducing the number of homes expected to be delivered in the first five years of the plan from 4,500 to 3,000 but increasing expected delivery in later years.

"This is a plan which will require an early review," the inspectors added. "As a result, there would be very little merit in delaying adoption of the plan to find more housing sites to increase the five-year housing land supply buffer."

Until a review can be conducted, the plan will also be modified to include a policy safeguarding the Manston Airport site for airport-related uses. Further modifications include the addition of a 550-home strategic site allocation at Shottendale Road.

The modified plan will also specify the need for seven permanent and five transit Gypsy and Traveller pitches over the plan period and state that the council will "take proactive steps to accommodate all emerging needs of Gypsy and Travelling communities".

LOCAL PLAN UPDATES

CONSULTATION NEWS:

Derbyshire: Erewash Borough Council has extended a public consultation on its 2020 Core Strategy Review until further notice.

Essex: Harlow Council has extended a public consultation on main modifications to its local plan by one month to 31 May.

EXAMINATION NEWS

Hampshire: The Local Plan Review for New Forest District Council was found sound by an inspector on 25 March.

Nottinghamshire: Mansfield District Council's local plan was found sound by an inspector on 31 March.

SUBMISSION NEWS

North Yorkshire: Hambleton District Council submitted a draft local plan to the secretary of state on 31 March.


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