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Medway Council told it needs to build 25,000 new homes following expert analysis of population growth

By Clare Freeman

A thousand new homes need to be built in Medway every year over the next generation to cope with the growing population, experts have told the council.

An independent assessment of the Towns’ housing needs estimated that by 2035 the number of people living in Medway could have increased by up to 60,000.

The assessment, carried out by Opinion Research Services, calculated population projections based on several different migration scenarios.

Hands on: Cllr Jane Chitty at the controls of a digger

High migration could see the population increase by 59,700 and a low trend would see an increase of 25,900. Based on these calculations, they recommended that Medway Council should plan for a mid-trend scenario, where the population could grow by 42,800 people.

This means 25,100 new homes would need to be built by 2035 - 1000 every year up from a previous target of 815 new homes a year. At the Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the council approved the new housing needs target which will be incorporated into a new Local Plan.

Cllr Jane Chitty, Portfolio Holder for Strategic Development and Economic Growth, said: “Putting together a Local Plan is always very time consuming but also very contentious.

We do not have a choice, we do not have the ability to adjust it.”

By law, Medway Council have to produce plans that control and regulate development in the area, and call for sites to be brought forward for potential development.

Medway Council leader Rodney Chambers

Council leader, Cllr Rodney Chambers, said he did not want the public to get the “wrong idea that we are willingly calling for these sites to come forward, we are required to do so.”

He added: “We have said that any developments should take place on previously used land.”

The basis of the council’s planning strategy is for sustainable development that provides for the needs of the community and secures the areas natural and historic environments.

Cllr Alan Jarrett, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Finance, said it was important to protect the mixture of housing and environments in Medway. He said: “We have the right balance of built and green environments, it contributes to the wellbeing of the people.”

The parish council's main issue was the absence of plans for neighbouring Corn Hall

Two sites that have been put forward are Lodge Hill, Chattenden and Capstone Valley.

After Natural England designated Lodge Hill a Site of Special Scientific Interest last year the council scrapped their housing strategy to avoid it being declared unsound by a planning inspector. This was after six years of work at a cost of £2 million to the council.

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