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Have your say on garden villages at Lidsing and Lenham Heath and other proposals in Maidstone council's Local Plan Review

Today is the start of the official public consultation on Maidstone council's Local Plan Review.

The review sets out the council's proposals for shaping the growth of the borough until 2037 and will ultimately determine where new homes will be built, new offices and factories created, new shops permitted and new travellers sites allowed.

Land at Lenham Heath is set to take a garden village
Land at Lenham Heath is set to take a garden village

The public has until Tuesday, December 22, to give its views: responses received beyond that date will be disallowed.

Included in the review are controversial proposals for two garden villages: one of 5,000 homes at Lenham Heath and one of 2,000 homes at Lidsing, as well as numerous other sites.

Those who are happy that some potential sites - such as a garden village at Marden for example - have been left out, might nevertheless still like to respond accordingly, because the review is also an opportunity for landowners and developers to argue again for development proposals that the council has so far not included in the review.

The council said: "This review sets out our preferred approaches towards accommodating future growth in housing, employment, retail, and the preferred locations where these would provide the widest benefits together with the infrastructure necessary to secure them.

"There are also preferred approaches to other important policy areas, including protection of key environmental assets, climate change and funding of key infrastructure."

The proposed Lidsing Garden Villlage
The proposed Lidsing Garden Villlage

"The public and other stakeholders, including parish councils, community groups, businesses and developers can now voice their opinion and the council will review their remarks and consider any appropriate alterations to the preferred approaches in light of the feedback received."

Cllr David Burton, the chairman of the borough's strategic planning and infrastructure committee, said: “The Local Plan Review Preferred Approaches Public Consultation is very important as it gives everyone the chance to voice their opinions.

"I would urge everyone to engage with this consultation to ensure they have their voice heard.

“This review comes during strange and challenging times, as we battle with a global pandemic, prepare for the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union and, from a purely spatial planning perspective, await the outcomes from current government consultation around fundamental changes to the English planning system.

“Notwithstanding these wider challenges, there are good reasons why we must continue to progress our Local Plan Review. Not least the need to ensure that we remain in control of where development takes place in our borough and avoid a situation where our planning decisions are taken by Government inspectors.”

Cllr Martin Cox: Please give us your views
Cllr Martin Cox: Please give us your views

Maidstone, along with many other local authority areas in the south east, has seen its housing targets significantly increased by the Government to 1,214 homes per year, and is hurrying to get the Local Plan Review complete and adopted before they are increased still further.

The council leader Cllr Martin Cox said: “The government proposed new housing numbers are coming under a lot of scrutiny from many quarters and we continue to call for the figures to be reviewed.

"In the meantime, I would like to encourage as many people as possible to take this opportunity to have their say.”

To take part in the consultation visit here.

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