Published: 12:43, 14 May 2019
| Updated: 12:43, 14 May 2019
Londoners being moved into Kent are "damaging our towns" according to a councillor, as health experts warn about the dangers of commuter communities.
Cllr Dan Daley (Lib Dem) said the government is creating dormitory towns in the county by moving people from the capital into the county for social housing.
His concerns come as a report by a health expert suggests commuter towns are contributing to a health crisis in Kent.
Sir Michael Marmot, professor of public health at University College London, suggests reducing the amount of dormitory towns after a study by Kent County Council shows some men can expect to live nine years longer than others depending on where they live in the county.
Following his research on national health inequalities, he recommends building sustainable places and communities.
Avoiding creating dormitory towns would reduce overcrowding and improve access to green spaces, he added.
Residents of these "dormitory towns" work elsewhere but return home to sleep in the evenings.
Cllr Daley discussed the report at the health reform and public health cabinet committee on Friday.
He claims this problem is worsening as Londoners are being moved to the county for social housing.
He said: "On the one hand you've got this aspiration but on the other, you've got no means of doing it.
"As a local planning authority, we have no means of stopping it and we should stop it because it's damaging our towns.
"It's getting far, far worse and it's just off-loading.
"It's unfair for government to impose this on us and create these so-called dormitory towns, which were never planned and are not in our local plan and not even in our vision."
"As a local planning authority, we have no means of stopping it and we should stop it because it's damaging our towns..." - Cllr Dan Daley
Andrew Scott-Clark, the director of public health at Kent County Council, told councillors how a "concerted effort" is needed to close the health inequality gap.
He said: "This is a wicked issue and it is going to take us years to turn this around.
"The thing that is really important around planning new communities is you can plan health in just as well as you can plan crime out.
"We know life expectancy for all sectors of our population is going up but it has slowed for our more poorer areas and for the people in those poorer areas.
"We can and should be doing more about that but it does take a concerted effort."
A spokesman for the ministry of housing, communities and local government said: "We are clear local authorities should, as far as possible, avoid placing households out of their borough and this should be seen as a last resort only.
“We are investing £4.8bn to build thousands more affordable properties in London and have abolished the Housing Revenue Account cap – giving councils further financial freedom to build.”