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Not in my back constituency, says MP Hugh

By Alan Smith

Maidstone council’s draft Local Plan has come in for another tongue-lashing; this time from Faversham and Mid Kent MP Hugh Robertson.

The plan has already been criticised by KCC and all the borough’s parish councils.

Mr Robertson, whose constituency includes a large part of Maidstone, has written to the council’s chief executive, Alison Broom, criticising the borough’s basic premise - that it needs to build another 19,600 homes in the planning period.

Mr Robertson said: “This target number is too high.

“If Maidstone builds 19,600 extra homes, which contain the traditional national average of two adults and two children, you will have attracted sufficient people to establish another new town 80% of the current size of Maidstone.”

Hugh Roberston: Plan will create a new town
Hugh Roberston: Plan will create a new town

Mr Robertson said: “A number of my local councillors have suggested to me that the 19,600 figure is driven by the council’s desire to secure additional funding from central government (via the New Homes Bonus).”

He said: “Due to my fundamental disagreement with the projected housing numbers, I cannot support Maidstone’s Local Plan as currently drafted.”

However, Mr Robertson did support the plan’s focus on redeveloping the town centre. He said: “I want this work to be prioritised and the Local Plan to concentrate on the regeneration of the town as a modern, family friendly place to live.

“The obverse side of this is that I want extra protections placed on the rural areas to create a clear divide between urban and rural space.”

Mr Robertson said: “I fear that the Local Plan spreads the housing around too widely and risks creating a creeping suburb around the county town with insufficient green lungs and open space.“

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