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Council sticking to its 780-homes-a-year plan

Bosses insist figure is correct, despite opposition

DEMAND: Canterbury district is in need of new homes
DEMAND: Canterbury district is in need of new homes

A MINIMUM of 780 houses a year will be built across the Canterbury district to meet demand, council bosses say. The city council wants to press ahead with its major housing development plans despite a petition against them. In February Jim Gascoyne, the Ukip candidate for the Canterbury seat in the General Election, presented a petition to the full council requesting the revision of the number of new homes to be built in the draft Local Plan. The campaign began after Kent County Council published a report in October which revealed the proposed number of new homes needed in the Canterbury district was 592 per year. The petition argues that this number was “significantly fewer” than the figure used by CCC to formulate its Local Plan.

Campaign

PETITION: Jim Gascoyne
PETITION: Jim Gascoyne

Mr Gascoyne requested the council provide a report on how the figure could be reduced in the draft Local Plan and suggested that it should be withdrawn in light of the latest figures. Ian Brown, assistant director of planning and regeneration, said CCC will not withdraw the Local Plan and it will be put before an independent inspector on July 14. He said:

“We have been looking at the new figures and we think the minimum number of houses to be built per annum across the Canterbury district is still 780. We have to make sure we create enough houses to create more jobs locally, therefore we think the 780 houses per annum should be a minimum. This gives a 20-year district requirement until 2031 of 15,600 units. The Housing Needs Review, for the Canterbury District, has been carried out by Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners and it shows that between 744 and 853 dwellings per annum are seen as the appropriate range of assessed needs for housing across the district. This shows that our figure is the correct amount. Also, we have noticed a problem of affordability of local housing and this situation is worsening. The guidance stresses that in areas with affordability problems, an increase in the total housing figures included in the Local Plan should be considered, where it would help deliver the required number of affordable homes. So in addition and on top of the above assessment, affordable housing need has to be calculated and taken into account.”

At the beginning of this year, councillors said the rate of houses being built in Canterbury would increase, after government figures showed that the district had built less than a quarter of the homes needed in 2014. Only 230 homes were built in Canterbury last year and the government target was 913. In CCC’s draft Local Plan, there are around 4,000 homes planned for south Canterbury on land off Nackington Road. Other potential sites include the Barracks site on Littlebourne Road and the current Kent and Canterbury Hospital site (should the hospital move, which is possible as the plan is for up to 2031).

Five things to know about the housing needs review

  1. The household projections show a need for 620 houses to be built across the district per year over the period 201241, and this represents the “starting point”.
  2. Taking into account factors such as an aging population, commuting rates and economic activity, there would be a need to increase local jobs over the “starting point” to support likely employment growth. To support a “preferred scenario of 328 jobs per year, 803 houses would be needed each year.
  3. A 20 per cent uplift to the “starting point” would equate to 744 houses per year and would help to address any negative market signals
    including current levels and historic change in house prices, rents and affordability.
  4. The need for affordable houses (social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing) has been estimated using the calculation set out within the government guidance and totals between 487 and 850 new affordable houses per year over 2012-31.
  5. The analysis suggests a range of housing needs between 744 (based upon the “starting point” plus a 20 per cent uplift for market signals) and 853 houses per year (based upon the economic “preferred scenario”).

Herne Bay Times, April 22nd 2015

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