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Local Plan: Target of 3,000 homes is “over-ambitious”

Almost 3,000 homes, two new
schools and a sports hub have been earmarked for Herne Bay in a controversial
council document.

The huge developments on four
sites in the town were included in the draft Local Plan. It means applications
for massive housing estates in Herne, Hillborough, Greenhill and on the former
golf club site are almost certain to get the go-ahead.

The document’s release has
sparked fears too many homes are being built in Herne Bay, with the town
earmarked for half of the district’s eight major development sites before 2031.

Environmental groups say the
focus is too much on meeting economic targets, rather than considering the
environment and people’s wellbeing.

MP Sir Roger Gale says he
would oppose plans if they were for “little boxes” rather than homes
with gardens. He said:

“My overriding concern
would be in terms of density of the development, the number of houses being
proposed and the transport infrastructure. This is not a local MP saying ‘over
my dead body’. It is a question of saying this has got to be right and done in
the right order.

I would have been surprised if Herne Bay was not chosen as a
large site to meet the district’s housing needs. There is a need for housing
and, over the last 15 years or so, far too few homes have been built
nationally. But I don’t want to see the totality of Herne Bay’s environment
demolished to accommodate the city district’s housing needs. The pain has gotta
be shared”

Under the plans, 1,000 homes
would be built at Hillborough, 300 at Strode Farm, 600 at Greenhill, 400 at
Herne Bay Golf Club and 190 on land at Bullockstone Road.

Planning permission for 50
homes on the site at Greenbill has already been submitted by Hollamby Estates,
which is also behind plans for Strode Farm. Sir Roger added:

“There is a vast
difference between 50 and 600 homes. We need to talk about that and gather
soundings of local opinion to reach an acceptable compromise. We need the right
kind of housing and that means family homes with gardens. Given the figures
before us, I am concerned about the density. The demand is for three to
five-bedroom housing. It is a question of making the right kind of provision.
It sounds to me like there will be lots of little boxes and if that is so then
I would have to oppose it.”

Director of the Kent branch
of the Campaign to Protect Rural England Dr Hilary Newport added:

“The infra-structure
constraints are always a concern. We are concerned about the level of housing
growth across the board. It is based on over-ambitious growth targets. It does
not take into account proper sustainability. This is too much to do with the
growth of the economy, rather than the environment and people’s
well-being.”

Canterbury City Council
leader John Gilbey has rejected suggestions the authority could opt for fewer
homes. He said:

“We have no choice. If
we put in for 500 homes a year, it will not get past the first stage of the
planning inspection and will be bounced straight back, just wasting money. We
need a plan, otherwise it will be a free-for-all for developers and we will
lose appeals.”

HB Gazette 9th May
2013

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