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Local Plan: extra NHS funds needed for population boom

A top doctor says extra NHS funding will be needed for local health services to cope with an influx of more than 15,000 new homes in the district.

Dr Mark Jones, the clinical chairman for NHS Canterbury and Coastal Clinical Commissioning Group, says it would need extra government cash to deal with an estimated population increase of 40,000.

He was speaking after the release of the city council’s draft Local Plan, which has earmarked land in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable for 15,600 new homes before 2031. He said:

“We are aware of the development of the Canterbury Local Plan and will work closely with the council to address the opportunities and challenges the proposals present to the health needs of the population. The new health and social care structure enables the CCG to work closely with the council, and other partners, through the local Health and Wellbeing Board. NHS budgets are based on population size so we anticipate an increasing population will be supported by increased levels of NHS funding.”

Dr Jones’ comments came before a first public debate about the controversial draft plan. East Kent Hospital Trust spokesman Gemma Shillito said:

“The trust has had some early dialogue with Canterbury City Council. We recognise the need to provide additional facilities and housing in the city and now that the plans have been published, we will be looking in more detail to see what impact the plans may have on clinical services delivered at Kent and Canterbury Hospital.”

A dozen speakers voiced their fears at a council meeting on Monday, complaining about a lack of consultation and the scale and location of the future developments. The Guildhall was packed for the meeting of the city council’s overview committee, where residents spoke against numerous elements of the plan. The document recommends homes are built at a rate of 780 a year, including 4,000 in a “garden city” in south Canterbury.

But a proposal to send the plan back to the council working group to get more input from the community and a reduced rate of house building was rejected. The motion was put forward by Liberal Democrat opposition leader Cllr Alex Perkins, who branded the draft document a “developer-led plan” which local people had not been consulted on. He said building a vast housing estate in south Canterbury was only being proposed to pay for new roads. He said:

“The working group should work with local residents and associations for their vision of what they want in the district.”

Cllr Nick Eden-Green, who was a member of the working committee, said he believed the huge scale of housing planned in south Canterbury was “undeliverable”. He argued far fewer houses – about 550 a year – was appropriate and they should be built where there was most economic need, like Herne Bay and Hersden.

The city council’s head of regeneration, Ian Brown, insisted the council wanted to create communities, not housing estates. He believed the sites in Herne Bay would launch regeneration in the town and fund relief roads at Herne and the Sturry crossing by-pass.

HB Gazette 16th May 2013

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