I have two wishes for Canterbury for 2015. The first is that the universities continue with their ambitious programmes of building student accommodation. This is long overdue and should release buy-to-let homes in the city for young families. This will reduce the need for them to be ‘forced out’ to neighbouring villages. This would also reduce congestion and pollution as school runs and journeys to work would be less necessary. The return of young families to the city would revitalise local neighbourhoods, recreating community associations, play groups and other voluntary activities. My second is ‘pie in the sky’. This is that the proposal to build 15,000 new homes in the district is dramatically reduced. It is typical of UK bad planning policies.
Instead of national government creating a number of new cities around London, as it is doing on a small scale in Ebbsfleet, it is imposing unrealistic targets on Canterbury and other small local authorities. This can only increase traffic congestion. water shortages, air pollution and extra strains on health, education and welfare services. But as I say, this is ‘pie in the sky’. There may be a token reduction in the proposed increase in houses but not much. After all, the council does get extra money per house as a ‘bribe’ through the government’s New Homes Bonus scheme, and of course through future council tax revenues.
Prof Richard Scase St Stephens Hill, Canterbury
Herne Bay Gazette, December 25th 2014