Published: 21:42, 09 June 2020
| Updated: 21:54, 09 June 2020
Sites where possible new communities could be built in the borough of Maidstone have been further whittled down, it was revealed during a committee hearing.
In 2019, nine sites were offered by landowners to Maidstone Council for locations of new garden communities, where thousands of homes could be built, but following evaluations by consultants, the number now stands at four. However, the seal of approval by councillors is a long way off.
The local authority's current local plan was agreed in 2017, with 883 homes planned to be built a year until 2031.
However, by 2022 its annual housing target will rise to 1,236 and as part of its Local Plan Review, the council is looking for suitable places to put the homes.
During a Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee tonight Philip Coyne, interim director for the Local Plan Review, gave councillors an update on its progress.
He said that during a call for sites, it received nine proposals for garden communities, that were quickly reduced to seven.
These seven were: Lidsing, which is north of the M2, Binbury Park, a group of sites north of Staplehurst, the Heathlands, a site north of Marden, Pagehurst Farm and a group of sites around the Leeds-Langley corridor.
After examining whether the locations could deliver the numbers required and access to transport and infrastructure, independent consultants were left with the following options: Lidsing, Heathlands, north of Marden and the Leeds-Langley corridor.
These are now being looked at in a second examination stage, with issues such as the costs of development, building and infrastructure at the forefront.
Doubt however was cast on the Leeds-Langley site, as discussions are on going about whether the plans can be bought forward "within the plan period".
"This work will come together at the end of July," Mr Coyne said.
He stressed that all of the original sites are still part of the Local Plan process and will remain so until it is determined that there are sufficient site options to recommend a cohesive and sustainable spatial strategy.
This strategy will then need to be agreed by councillors, subjected to public consultation and ultimately, put to a planning inspector.
A second public consultation for the Local Plan Review is due to be held in October, with a further round in February.