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Home   Maidstone   News   Article

Maidstone does not need 19,600 new homes in Maidstone Borough Council's draft Local Plan, says expert

19 March 2014
by Alan Smith

Maidstone does not need 19,600 new homes.

That is the contention of former KCC consultant Richard Wadey.

Mr Wadey has analysed the figures behind Maidstone’s Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA), submitted by the planning consultancy GL Hearn, and has come up with a different figure from that adopted by the council.

Coming your way - 19,600 new homes

Coming your way - 19,600 new homes

Maidstone Borough Council has recently launched its third “call for sites” appealling to landowners and developers to come forward with yet more building plots, because it is so far falling almost 2,000 short of its housing target.

But of course, if the housing assessment is wrong, there might be no need for extra sites at all.

Mr Wadey, of Upper Fant Road, Maidstone, said: “I’ve carried out a critical appraisal of the SHMA and concluded that on the basis of existing evidence a more accurate figure would be in the region of 14,400 to 16,000 new homes.

Richard Wadey

Richard Wadey

“But, beyond that, the peculiar nature of Maidstone’s demographics means that we cannot yet forecast its future population with confidence.

“The evidence base for predictions needs to be strengthened, and if it were, it might reveal that even the figures of 14,400 to 16,000 could be significantly lower.”

The council’s SHMA had made the core mistake of using projections of population growth based on past figures, but had not used forecasts, which would have also taken into account the contextual factors that would effect growth, he said.

The Maidstone assessment relies on figures from the Department of Communities and Local Government, but that department’s own advice is the figures should be the starting point – not the end point – for assessing need.

Mr Wadey said: “The firmness with which the 19,600 figure is stated does not recognise the difficulties of forecasting housing need over the long-term.

“It relies too heavily on projection data without fully taking into account the distinction between a projection and a forecast.

“It does not give enough recognition to the peculiar characteristics of population growth in Maidstone, which make prediction of future need exceptionally difficult.”

Do you think Maidstone needs 19,600 new homes?

For example, Mr Wadey said: “The council’s SHMA does not sufficiently acknowledge the level of housing demand that is essentially an ‘overspill’ from other areas and which could alternatively be met by other local authorities.”

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