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Bid to extend deadline on Maidstone's Local Plan Review consultation fails


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The public consultation on Maidstone council's Local Plan review will close as planned on Sunday.

An impassioned plea this week to give residents more time to consider the proposals failed.

Cllr Janetta Sams proposed an extension
Cllr Janetta Sams proposed an extension

The public had been allowed six weeks to comment on the document that will determine development in the County Town until 2037, before the plan is submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for approval.

At Wednesday's full council meeting, held unusually at County Hall to allow more social distancing, many councillors argued that six weeks was not enough, but a motion to extend the period until January 4 was defeated.

Cllr Janetta Sams (Ind) who proposed the motion said there was so much information for the public to absorb and it was written in a way that "was like a foreign language to many people" that six weeks was not enough. She pointed out that council had given the public longer to respond to a simple policy on dog fouling.

She was supported by Cllr Bob Hinder (Con) who said that short period disadvantaged those not online. He said: "Those who have to post in their responses, with the Christmas mail, actually have less time to respond."

But Cllr Paul Cooper (Con) said that if the deadline were extended, it would put the whole process at risk.

Cllr Paul Cooper: Talked of risk
Cllr Paul Cooper: Talked of risk
The council's chief executive officer Alison Broom
The council's chief executive officer Alison Broom

He said: "There is a risk that we will not be able to show we have a five-year land supply that would push us into planning by appeal."

He said that if the council had not completed its part of the process before the start of the next municipal year, it would have to find another 1,200 homes to add to the total.

The chief executive of the council, Alison Broom, warned: "We are on an incredibly tight timetable."

But some councillors doubted that delaying over the Christmas period would actually make much difference to the council's timetable, since may officers would be on leave in any case, but nevertheless the motion to extend was defeated by 22 votes to 28.

The council has so far received around 700 responses to the consultation, but a last minute rush of submissions is expected before the midnight deadline this Sunday.

Cllr Bob Hinder (Con): Unfair to those not online
Cllr Bob Hinder (Con): Unfair to those not online

Details about the Local Plan Review can be found here.

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