A new bid to build 4,000 homes to the south of Canterbury has been launched - with developers pledging to create Britain’s first ‘net zero carbon’ community.
The controversial Mountfield Park was thrown into doubt in October when the city council was forced to quash its own planning permission following a High Court legal challenge.
But Corinthian Land, the firm behind the development, has now returned with a fresh application for the ‘garden city’ scheme, which will swallow up more than 550 acres of farmland between Canterbury and Bridge.
The “core components” of the proposal remain the same, including schools, office space, community buildings, sports facilities and a health centre, but plans for a hotel and conference centre have been dropped.
A raft of new measures have also been introduced which may address concerns about drainage, affordable housing and transport.
These include accelerating the provision of affordable homes, prioritising green travel and installing an on-site sewage treatment works, to prevent further pollution of the Stodmarsh Nature Reserve.
All new homes will have EV charging points and electric bikes, while Corinthian says there will be new cycling infrastructure, extensive parkland and tree planting, and an expanded fast bus service into the city with subsidised travel for residents.
The Mountfield Park project has faced huge opposition since it was first unveiled in 2016 and been stalled by numerous legal challenges, the latest of which saw retired paratrooper Tom Lynch demand a judicial review over aspects of the planning permission. After the judge agreed the review could proceed in October, the city council withdrew its planning approval, rather than face the cost of an expensive court challenge.
Mr Lynch, of New Dover Road, brought his legal case with financial backing from numerous supporters. He argued that the council erred in law by failing to comply with its own Local Plan, failed to sufficiently assess damage to the Stodmarsh nature reserve, and did not provide financial viability assessments regarding the delivery of affordable housing.
But undeterred, Corinthian Land has submitted a new application and is hoping to secure permission early next year.
Nick Berman, from Corinthian, said: “Our clear aspiration is to build Britain’s first net zero new community at Mountfield Park, providing sustainable new homes and jobs for the people of Canterbury and east Kent.
“Mountfield Park will provide the first infrastructure that the wider city will need to begin the journey to net zero and the recovery of local nature, as well as the affordable homes that local people need and deserve.
“We promised to proceed with this application before the end of 2021 and we are determined to deliver on the promise Mountfield Park offers to Canterbury for truly sustainable, beautiful new homes.”
He says the company is looking forward to working closely with the city council and local people to help develop their plans during the course of 2022, with on-site infrastructure planned to commence in 2023 and people moving into new homes in 2024.
The city council will now consult on the new plans for 28 days, including with regulatory bodies, after which planning officers will make a new recommendation to the planning committee.