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KCC gets tough over Government's homes plan

DEEPLY CONCERNED: Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart
DEEPLY CONCERNED: Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart

COUNCIL leaders in Kent are to demand cast iron guarantees from the Government that it will pay for the schools, hospitals, roads and other facilities needed as tens of thousands of new homes are built across the county.

Kent County Council’s Conservative leaders have ordered officers to draw up a detailed list and say the burden of paying for them must not fall on council taxpayers.

Councillors warned they would only support the housing plans if the Government meets their requirements. The costs of the infra-structure which will be necessary is likely to run into hundreds of millions of pounds.

Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott unveiled the Government’s development blueprint – the Sustainable Communities Plan - last week. Ashford, which could see as many as 30,000 new homes built in the next ten to 15 years, has been earmarked as an area for significant growth. So, too, have parts of north Kent within the Thames Gateway.

County council Conservative leader Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart said: “We are deeply concerned about the imposition of 80,000 new homes – equal to a town the size of Swindon or Reading - on the county and the impact this could have on the Garden of England.”

“We want the Government to be absolutely clear that before any of the new housing can start, the county council will need cast iron guarantees of substantial new infrastructure funding across Kent.

"This must include commitments across Government departments, backed by the Treasury, for all the funding for new schools, roads, public transport, health, sports, leisure and community facilities of the very highest quality.”

The council chief also warned that dramatic improvements would be needed in the county’s road and rail services. He stressed: “We are adamant that there is no way that Kent can take new housing until Kent’s existing road and rail services are dramatically improved.”

KCC has abandoned its plans to mount a legal challenge over the Government’s housing figures for the south east. Although the council had wanted to challenge the figures via a Judicial Review, councillors were advised that it would not now be allowed.

KCC is expected to unveil what it believes will be needed in April.

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