Thanet council leader Ash Ashbee is to ask government to allow the district to pospone a review which proposes an additional 4,000-4,500 homes be created in the area by 2040. The new homes would be additional to the 17,140 already required by 2031.
She would also like to ask to get the current ‘housing need’ target for Thanet reduced.
The Thanet local plan– a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure on the isle – has housing need calculated using the Government’s “standard method” resulting in a figure of 21,700 dwellings by 2040. The local plan up to 2031 – with 17,140 homes required – was adopted in July 2020 but at the end of last year a review began to extend the plan to 2040.
Cllr Ashbee , who looks a little like Pru Leith from the Great British Bakr Off has now said she will be asking for the review to be pushed back by 14 months, saying “I do not think we are (currently) in a position to make a decision regarding an extra 4,500 homes. I’m asking for an extension to push it back by 14 months. That will give us time to raise more arguments regarding extra housing. There is a lot of work to push back the housing requirement numbers.”
The Thanet Green Party have called for a halt to the Local Plan review saying the Office of National Statistics data being used to calculate housing need is incorrect – something also stated by witnesses at the recent Shottendane development public enquiry, which included North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale.
During the enquiry Sir Roger said the requirement for 17,500 houses was based on old ONS data and Thanet actually needs just half that amount, which could be accommodated on brownfield sites. He said both he and South Thanet MP Craig Mackinlay have called for a moratorium on housebuilding in Thanet until under pressure sewage systems are upgraded.
Thanet Green Party leader Cllr Mike Garner said the council also needed to ask for Thanet’s housing targets to be reset by central government to a level more consistent with the isle’s environmental and infrastructure constraints.
The call was backed by Independent district councillor Pauline Farrance who said Thanet’s green spaces needed to be preserved and existing schools, roads and GP surgeries would not cope with the increased population.
A number of campaign groups, including Westgate and Garlinge Action Group and Minster Action Group, have also been campaigning against new builds on agricultural land, raising issues including the loss of farming capacity, strain on services including Southern Water infrastructure, and flood risks.
The Local Plan sets out the strategy for future development and runs to the period up to 2031
However, Thanet Labour Party leader Rick Everitt says the reason for halting the review is because government still have not made a decision on a Development Consent Order application for the Manston airport site – and that decision is needed to complete the Local Plan review.
He said “The main reason the local plan review has to be delayed is the fact that we still haven’t had a revised decision on the Manston Airport DCO from the Conservative Secretary of State. The review was always intended to accommodate that decision one way or the other, but apparently that matter is of no urgency to the government. It appears they still can’t find a lawful way to justify overturning the inspectors’ recommendation for refusal. Thanet Tories and their allies previously moved 1,500 proposed homes off the airport and on to green field sites so they are as much to blame as the government for the current plans to build on our countryside.”
Cllr Ashbee is now pushing ahead with the bid to have the review halted and Thanet’s housing numbers re-examined. The proposal will first be discussed at a Thanet council Cabinet meeting in June.