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Green belt development sites identified by Gravesham council as part of suggested Local Plan

More than 100 green belt sites have been assessed for their development potential under the Gravesham Local Plan, with some now put forward in a document now out for public scrutiny.

Consultation on Gravesham council's "local plan core strategy partial review" has begun this morning, giving people the chance to comment on Gravesham council's approach to development in the borough for the next 16 years.

The impact of developing Green Belt sites has been assessed by Gravesham council planners
The impact of developing Green Belt sites has been assessed by Gravesham council planners

The review document addresses the council's approach to Green Belt development and notes housing development has consistently fallen short of the "annual need", and that "there continues to be a shortfall against the cumulative."

It adds: "It's been established that the borough’s development needs cannot be met from the existing urban area and settlements inset from the Green Belt. The borough council is progressing duty to cooperate discussions with relevant authorities such as Sevenoaks District Council, Dartford Borough Council and Medway Council, and considering the exceptional circumstances case that exists for altering the current extent of the Green Belt in Gravesham."

The document goes on to state that a Green Belt Study had to assess 122 parcels of land, rating the potential harm their development might cause to "Green Belt purposes."

Of those 122, a few have been put forward for inclusion in the Local Plan. They are part of a total of 39 draft Development Allocation sites – a mix of both urban and rural areas – which are proposed.

The review document also states officers have consulted over how existing settlement boundaries could be reconsidered to allow for additional development, but adding: "The overwhelming response received was that settlement boundaries should remain as they are and that no changes should be considered.

"However, as set out earlier, there is a need to accommodate additional growth in-line with government policy and there is also a need to clearly establish if and how such development can be sustainably accommodated within the borough."

The review states sites identified in the rural area that can contribute have the capacity to deliver around 3,800 homes.

It adds: "The approach taken thus far is in keeping with the NPPF and directing development towards the most sustainable settlements.

"In doing so, the approach has been informed by continuing with the fundamental aim of ensuring most settlements do not merge whilst allowing for the character of existing settlements to evolve and be enhanced.

To read the Local Plan Partial Review documents, visit localplan.gravesham.gov.uk/consult.ti/REG18S2/consultationHome

Speaking earlier this week , Cllr Brian Sangha, Gravesham's cabinet member for strategic environment, urged people to make comment on the plan. He said: “Our most recent review of our Local Plan Core Strategy has identified that while the bulk of it is still relevant, particular elements of a number of policies, such as those that relate to the amount of development needed in the borough, have become out of date.

“Because of this, we are required by government to update the strategy as soon as possible. This is not an option, it is a legal requirement.

“Every local authority is set targets by government for the numbers of new homes it has to build in a set period of time, and the Local Plan has to show that we have identified sufficient suitable sites to meet our target.

“We cannot hide away from this. If we fail to meet the targets set there are penalties we could face, including having those targets increased and ultimately having planning decisions taken away from us and given to government inspectors to make.

“I don’t want our residents to lose their ability to have their views heard and taken into account when planning decisions are being made.

“The potential development sites identified in the consultation are not set in stone and may change. The identification of a potential site at this stage does not mean that development will happen there in the immediate future – or even at all.”

Read more: all the latest news from Gravesham .

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