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Could huge housing target in Faversham be lowered thanks to Canterbury City Council's ambitions?


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Residents hoping that mammoth housebuilding targets imposed on Swale will be lowered have been told: "Watch this space."

As it stands, it looks highly probable the borough will be forced to add an extra 10,000 properties to its housing target over the next 16 years, with Faversham having to cater for 3,410 of the homes.

Thousands of homes are set to be added to Swale Council's planning blueprint
Thousands of homes are set to be added to Swale Council's planning blueprint

The huge figures have sparked uproar across the town as residents fear for the future of Faversham and the destruction of its countryside.

There have been calls for the "incredibly high" target to be reduced, but with central government calculating the numbers, the borough's fate has seemed set in stone.

Yet, thanks to the ambitions of the neighbouring Canterbury district, there could be a glimmer of hope.

The government recommends 9,000 homes be built across the between 2031 and 2040, but the council’s preferred option would go well beyond this and increase that number to 17,000.

Canterbury's ambition to topple its target - in order to fund the construction of two city bypasses - could potentially pave the way for a reprieve in Swale.

The sites in yellow are those already set for housing. Those in blue are the new locations primed to be added to Swale's Local Plan
The sites in yellow are those already set for housing. Those in blue are the new locations primed to be added to Swale's Local Plan

Speaking at a virtual Faversham Town Council meeting on Thursday, the planning policy manager at Swale - Jill Peet - was asked whether the 10,000 figure could be lowered due to Canterbury's housebuilding goals.

"It's something we're keeping a very close eye on," she said.

"We do meet on a fairly regular basis with all of our neighbours to talk about cross-boundary issues.

"We are looking at emerging evidence to try and get a handle on whether or not we have a justification for a lower number.

"The bar is set incredibly high, watch this space.

Jill Peet, from Swale council
Jill Peet, from Swale council

"We don't have any easy choices here.

"It does counter-intuitive on the one hand to be trying to deal with challenges we're facing with climate change, and then on the other hand be told that we need to deliver rather a lot of additional development.

"We are concerned about our ability to meet the numbers that are required of us and we do watch and monitor what's happening elsewhere in the country, as we're not alone in this."

Also at the meeting, Swale's head of planning James Freeman, said councils are awaiting news from the government regarding a potential change in the way housing targets are calculated.

"They are particularly looking at the north vs the south of England issues and how they may influence that algorithm. We're waiting to from government how that might move forward and could potentially look at reducing housing numbers in the south east.

'The bar is set incredibly high, watch this space...'

Addressing the difficulty in earmarking land for housing, he said: "It's really difficult.

"Wherever you put development in Swale, everything almost trickles down to the A2 and motorway junctions.

"That's the nature of Swale in the way it is structured.

"It is one of the major issues we're going to have to look at seriously and consider.

"We're always looking at the implications, and how much we can really achieve through modal shift, active travel and those type of arrangements.

"Can we direct more travel off the A2 onto the M2, to relieve traffic through Faversham and Ospringe? They are the big issues we are going to have to consider."

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the town council agreed to oppose the proposed Local Plan put forward by Swale.

It says it cannot support the plan due to a number of issues, including the impact on transport, air quality, water and sewage.

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