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Maidstone Borough Council delays Local Plan after Sajid Javid announces planned house building policy

Adoption of Maidstone's Local Plan has been postponed days after a controversial policy which could give the government powers to force councils to build thousands more houses was announced.

But the borough council insists the delay has nothing to do with Sajid Javid's proposals but instead is a result of both MPs serving the area, Helen Whately and Helen Grant, raising concerns.

Under Mr Javid's plans announced last week Maidstone is in line for a 40% increase to its housing need, meaning it would have to build 24,720 instead of 17,660. An increase of 40% is the maximum allowed.

The policy means Maidstone could be in line for 40% more houses that it says are needed
The policy means Maidstone could be in line for 40% more houses that it says are needed

But we reported last week how even the current figure is causing big issues, with MP for Faversham and Mid Kent writing to Mr Javid asking him to look at the draft Local Plan.

The plan, which sets out building policy in the borough up until 2031, was due to be adopted at a full council meeting next Wednesday but after a meeting between MBC's leader, chief executive and Mrs Whately that has been postponed.

In a joint statement, Cllr Wilson and Alison Broom said: “We remain confident that our local plan can and will be adopted. It has already been through a public examination by a Government inspector.

"Yesterday's meeting with Mrs Whately enabled us to discuss her concerns and clarify certain issues such as the investment earmarked for infrastructure and building on AONB land. Our full council meeting is being postponed whilst we wait for a response from the Secretary of State. However we have to be mindful that the government is consulting on a standardised methodology for calculating housing need and if our local plan is not adopted, from April 2018, the housing target for Maidstone will significantly increase.”

A spokesman confirmed if it is adopted by April the current target will be protected until 2021, when it may be increased.

For a full report on house building in the borough pick up tomorrow's Kent Messenger.

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