The independent planning inspector assessing Canterbury City Council’s draft Local Plan has confirmed that, with some modifications, it can now be adopted by the council.
The Local Plan is the council’s blueprint for how the district will develop up to 2031, setting out sites for new housing and employment that will provide a strong economy and a prosperous future for the people who want to work and live here.
Inspector Mike Moore has been assessing it since it was submitted by the council for examination in November 2014. It has been through several public consultations and a rigorous public inquiry.
Now, he has given the council his final report, which includes a number of modifications to the plan, and says that if these are accepted, it can be considered as legally ‘sound’ and can come into force as the document under which the council decides planning applications in the future.
Among the modifications are:
- An increase in the number of homes needed per year from 780 to 800 up to 2031 (16,000 in total)
- The introduction of new housing sites at Thanington in Canterbury and Grasmere Pasture in Whitstable. The council is currently dealing with planning applications for these
- The deletion of the Local Green Space designation at West Beach, Whitstable
- The deletion of the Green Gap allocation between Canterbury and the University of Kent
Mr Moore also requires the council to carry out and publish an assessment of current evidence on demographic change, how it relates to assumptions around the student population and any impact on the overall housing need, within one year from adoption, to see if an early partial review of the plan is needed.
The council will now report Mr Moore’s findings to Full Council on Thursday 13 July. If Full Council adopts the plan, it comes into force with immediate effect.
As well as adopting the Local Plan, the council would also be adopting the plan’s supporting strategies. This includes the Transport Strategy, and in Mr Moore’s final report, he states that during the examination, the city and county councils provided evidence of “sustained joint working” and the duty to cooperate has “clearly been achieved”.
Council Leader, Cllr Simon Cook, said: “This is the culmination of 11 years of hard work, going back to 2006 when we launched the ‘Canterbury Futures Study’ looking at different scenarios for how we wanted the district to develop in the years ahead. Since then we have consulted widely on numerous occasions and had the plan thoroughly examined at a very testing inquiry.
“This process has got us to the position where we now have a Local Plan that emphasises that Canterbury district has a strong economic future and is a place where businesses want to invest. It provides the land needed for jobs and the housing that goes with them, complete with the necessary infrastructure such as roads, schools and medical facilities. It is a comprehensive plan for a vibrant, successful district.
“An increase in the number of new homes also forms our response to the acknowledged housing shortage in the country that the government is trying to tackle nationally.
“We are committed to ensuring we have a Local Plan that reflects what the area needs, and if the plan is adopted at Full Council, we will begin work straight away on reviewing our requirements for the future.”