Permission sought to consult on radical draft Local Plan

Canterbury Cathedral pictured from hillside above

It will be the turn of the public to have its say on the draft Canterbury District Local Plan To 2045 if Canterbury City Council’s Cabinet gives permission for an extensive consultation exercise to begin later this month.

The draft plan, which considers the feedback from two previous consultations, is contained in a report to Cabinet published today (Tuesday 11 October).

The Cabinet will make its decision on whether to carry out the 12-week consultation during a special meeting at 7pm on Wednesday 19 October at the Guildhall in St Peter’s Place, Canterbury.

Cllr Ben Fitter-Harding, Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member responsible for the Local Plan, said: “I am excited that we’ve been able to build on the previous consultation exercises and come up with a more detailed draft Local Plan that is visionary and radical, tackles headlong the long-term issues that are holding the district back and ensures Canterbury, Herne Bay, Whitstable and the villages are fit for a fantastic and very promising future.

“We want and need to hear people’s views which is why the Cabinet is being asked to approve a 12-week consultation so everyone can get their teeth into the details and get under the hood of the plan.

“When they do, I hope they will agree with me that this plan is designed to deliver much needed high-quality housing, a thriving economy that creates highly-paid jobs, cuts the congestion and pollution in Canterbury, boosts public transport and encourages active travel, protects the city’s World Heritage Sites, delivers land and transport links for a new or dramatically-improved hospital, sees the creation of two six-form secondary schools on the coast along with six primaries for the district and a special educational needs school and tackles the district’s desire to solve the problem of waste water.

“We also hope people will agree this is the greenest and most climate-friendly Local Plan ever drafted for the district with a commitment to kickstart the process of protecting valued open space for the long term, deliver two new country parks including a new reservoir, obliging developers to deliver net-zero homes, a minimum 20% biodiversity net gain and 20% tree cover on sites of more than 300 homes while building at relatively low densities and delivering massive amounts of new public open space, aiming to protect it in perpetuity.

“Finally, the draft plan also focuses on the delivery of sports facilities as well as the highest-quality digital infrastructure and dovetails with our exciting £20m bid for Canterbury and £13m bid for Herne Bay to the government’s Levelling Up Fund (LUF).”

Cabinet will also be asked for permission to consult on the council’s Open Spaces Strategy, Tree Strategy and Local Cycling and Walking Implementation Plan which form key parts of the overall draft Canterbury District Local Plan To 2045 document.

If permission to consult under Regulation 18 of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 is granted by the Cabinet, the draft Local Plan will be discussed by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee as part of the consultation process on Thursday 10 November 2022.

When the consultation closes, it will take some time to analyse the results and adapt the draft where it is considered necessary.

Further work on phasing and timing is also needed, such as exploring options for forward funding of key infrastructure.

It is anticipated the revised plan will be presented for consideration by the Cabinet in autumn 2023 before Council is asked to adopt it in summer 2024, following its public examination by the Secretary of State-appointed Planning Inspector.

Local planning authorities like Canterbury City Council are required by the government to provide a long-term Local Plan that sets how it will meet the district’s needs into the future.

The government dictates that Local Plans need to be reviewed every five years and has set a deadline for the end of 2023 for the district’s next plan to be in place.

The report to Cabinet says: “Not having a Local Plan does not mean development cannot take place.

“In fact, without a plan, our planners and councillors on the Planning Committee will find they are unable to resist unacceptable developments – in the wrong locations or without important infrastructure – or, if they refuse them, that their decisions will be overturned on appeal by a Planning Inspector.

“Failure to adopt a Local Plan could mean central government steps in to write one for the council including the policies for where growth happens. They will dictate the quality of new development.

“A number of complex factors have to be taken into account when formulating a Local Plan including the need to demonstrate that it will deliver the number of homes the government decides the district needs using a calculation known as the standard methodology.

“The number of houses the government requires to be built in the district each year has grown by more than 50% in recent years.

“When pulling together a Local Plan, officers must ensure the process follows the appropriate legislation, there is the expert evidence to justify a particular decision, the views of key and statutory stakeholders such as Kent County Council, as the lead authority on issues such as transport and education, and the views of the public have been taken into consideration.”

Published: 11 October 2022

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