Published: 13:09, 22 February 2021
| Updated: 16:53, 22 February 2021
More homes have been built in Maidstone than were required, new figures have revealed.
As the borough works towards its Local Plan Review, which will increase its housing targets from 2020, comes the news that more homes have been completed in the town over the last three years than were called for under the terms of the existing Local Plan.
Each year the government publishes statistics for what it calls the Housing Delivery Test.
It compares the number of new homes created over a rolling three-year period with the number of new homes required by an authority's planning policies and expresses that as a percentage.
Any authority that falls below 100%- ie has built fewer homes than expected - can look forward to receiving some kind of sanction from the Government, such as a requirement to make more land available for building.
Tonbridge and Malling (91%), Tunbridge Wells (85%), Swale (89%) and Sevenoaks (60%) have all fallen below par in the figures for the three years to 2020, which have just been released.
Maidstone on the other hand scored 146% having built 3,787 homes in that period, when it only needed to build 2,592.
A council spokesman said: “We are pleased to be performing so well in terms of housing delivery, this level of building reflects the ongoing confidence that the development industry has in Maidstone as a location for investment.
“However, these figures can be misleading as they carry with them an element of historic under-delivery as the Government's baseline year for calculating housing delivery is still 2011.
"Therefore they include a period of very low housing completions which were a factor of the economic downturn during that time.
“What may now appear as over-delivery, is in part, this lag being rectified through the build out of existing consents; the development of sites allocated in the 2017 Local Plan in order to make up for previous under-delivery; conversions of office stock in the town centre under permitted development rights and more recently some accelerated completions taking advantage of the stamp duty holiday.
“The number the council is planning for in our current Local Plan Review will be the prescribed number as per current Government guidance.
“The increase in our target number from 883 per annum to circa 1,214pa makes it very unlikely that we will exceed the target in future years.”
"Our timeline for this review has been accelerated in order to try to ensure that any increase which comes as part of emerging Government guidance is staved off until our next Local Plan and can be catered for properly at that time."
The spokesman added: “The increase in our target number from 883 per annum to circa 1,214pa makes it very unlikely that we will exceed the target in future years.”
The Government's Housing Delivery Test examined the results of 326 planning authorities nationwide.
Of those, 93 achieved a percentage even higher than Maidstone's with Richmondshire topping the table having delivered a whopping 2,113% of its target. It built 665 homes, though it was only required to build 32.
At the other end of the table, Eastbourne was the poorest performer, achieving only 29% of its target. It should have built 1,517 homes and managed only 457.
All the results can be viewed here.