Councils in Kent, punished for not hitting their housebuilding targets

Medway, Canterbury, Tonbridge & Malling, Sevenoaks, and Gravesham have all been sanctioned for hitting less than 75% of their housing targets, over the past few years. If you live in these areas, you may want to propose a new housing project, because they’re more likely to be given the go-ahead. Or, the planning inspector will be more generous with their decision, so they can meet the target.  

Housebuilding targets –  

Between 2018 and 2021 Ashford and Maidstone’s councils are at the top of the housebuilding list. They both exceeded the target and build many homes, for example:  

Maidstone – Target: 2,279, Built: 3,878, Percent: 170% 

Ashford – Target: 2,292, Built: 2,715, Percent: 118% 

And the councils at the bottom of the list that was way under the target, and are now facing repercussions are:  

Medway – Target: 4,332, Built: 2,895, Percent: 67% 

Canterbury – Target: 2,323, Built: 1,509, Percent: 65% 

Tonbridge & Malling – Target: 2,189, Built: 1,369, Percent: 63% 

Sevenoaks – Target: 1,828, Built: 1,130, Percent: 62% 

Gravesham – Target: 1,154, Built: 661, Percent: 57% 

What happens when you don’t hit the targets?  

In addition, by not hitting the target, the councils’ local plans, that control the supply of housing are now considered out of date.

Sanctions will remain until the government publishes results showing the councils are back to 75% of its target.  

What is a council local plan? 

Local plans are used to help decide on planning applications and other planning-related decisions. They are the local guide to what can be built where. Shaping infrastructure investments, and determining the future pattern of development.  

How a couple of the councils have reacted –  

Canterbury –  

The canterbury council chief has said, “it cannot be right to punish councils that are working hard to do what the government asks”. He states that the reason they didn’t meet their target is because of the impact of covid-19. 

 There was also an issue with the water quality at Stodmarsh, which prevented the council from granting permission on sites.  

The chief is begging the government not to punish the council for the factors affecting the houses being built at are “out of our control”. 

Gravesham –  

In addition, the government has announced that Gravesham hasn’t met the housing target for the past 3 years. And that they should grant planning permission to new housing unless there is a major reason not to.  

The leader of the Gravesham council has spoken out and said “we find ourselves in an increasingly difficult position, as a result of the government’s housing delivery targets”.  

“While we can grant permission for developments, we do not have the powers to force developers to deliver sites with planning permission. The government figures are based on completed new homes and not on those with planning permission in place”. 

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