The revelation that Canterbury, Thanet and Dover districts could be saddled with 115,000 extra homes over the next decade prompts one overriding question: Where on earth would they go? With few previously undeveloped brownfield sites left, it is fantasy to suggest that they could go anywhere near to accommodating them. The only sensible answer is the countryside with its farmland, woodland, flood plains, undulating hills and peaceful villages. And as Canterbury City Council leader John Gilbey points out this week, much of it is designated an area of outstanding natural beauty. There are vast expanses of rich arable land between Canterbury and Thanet’s towns. And then extending from Canterbury southwards to Sandwich, Deal and Dover is the magnificent rural heart of east Kent. It is neither right nor proper to impose upon it the levels of new homes talked about for the reason that London cannot manage the numbers of migrants – both domestic and foreign — seeking to live and work there. Leaving aside the visual transformation, 115,000 new homes raise the most profound questions about everything from schools and public transport to care for the elderly and employment. The hard truth, however, is that if London-focused politicians fall to get to grips with population growth, these are issues that we will soon be forced to confront.
Herne Bay Gazette, April 9th 2015