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£7billion tax bill for new homes in Kent

THE prospect of hundreds of thousands more homes in Kent could cost the taxpayer a massive £7.4billion over the next two decades – the equivalent of £65,000 for each new house built.

The full impact of the plans is set out in a shock report by county planners which graphically spells out how parts of Kent are likely to change beyond recognition as a result of the scale of development the Government envisages for the county.

The KCC report puts the costs of developing the Government’s two key growth areas of Ashford and north Kent at £1.2billion and just over £3billion respectively.

That is money needed for extra schools, hospitals and community facilities as well as for more roads and to pay for more investment in other key services and utilities.

However, for the entire county, the eventual cost of coping with 116,000 more homes between now and 2021 – the equivalent of a town the size of Nottingham – is estimated at more than £7billion.

KCC warns that meeting the costs of the vital infrastructure – including 100 new primary schools costing £400million and 60 secondary schools costing £300million - will be only part of the problem.

The report on the impact of the Government’s Sustainable Communities Plan, due to be presented to KCC’s ruling Conservative cabinet next week (Monday April 7), highlights other repercussions.

These include the prospect of one million more vehicle movements in the county each day and the need to get rid of 147,000 more tonnes of waste each year.

In addition, tens of thousands of new households will generate a demand for an extra 18 million litres of water supply each day – requiring a new reservoir.

County councillors will be told that while some of the money for new schools and other facilities will come from the private sector “the majority will need to be funded by the public purse in one way or another.”

KCC will say it is only prepared to accept the growth if the Government agrees to pay for the extra schools, roads and health services.

The report states: “The lessons of the recent history in parts of the county where infrastructure improvements have not kept pace with growth in housing must not be repeated in years to come.”

“The worst thing for Kent would be to meekly accept the housing growth, leading to incremental change without ensuring we capture and capitalise on the benefits such growth could bring.”

County planners suggest Kent will need to consider a range of major “catalytic” projects to stimulate the local economy if the county is to avoid creating a series of dormitory towns.

These include an international convention centre at Ashford and high quality waterfront developments along the Thames from Dartford to Sheppey.

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