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Medway Council delays publishing local plan by at least six months

By Dean Kilpatrick, local democracy reporter

The publication of Medway Council’s draft local plan has been delayed by at least six months.

Cabinet members say the outcome of the authority’s £170 million Housing Infrastructure Fund (HIF) bid – due in May 2019 – will shape the document, making the hold-up unavoidable.

The draft local plan was originally due to be published this winter, but will now go out for public consultation next June or July.

The local plan sets out where the council is likely to approve housing in the Towns (6143882)
The local plan sets out where the council is likely to approve housing in the Towns (6143882)

Government dictates 1,310 new homes should be built in the Towns every year, but cabinet members say this is unachievable if the HIF bid to improve infrastructure on the Hoo Peninsula is unsuccessful.

Cllr Rodney Chambers (Con) said: “It (the delay) is right because housing numbers that are being used in preparation of the draft plans are predicated on us being successful with the HIF bid.

“But a delay in preparing and accepting the draft plan for consultation has its downsides because we’re open to speculative applications which I would suspect we will see more of.

“So we’re in a catch-22 position.”

Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council (6143872)
Cllr Jane Chitty, Medway Council (6143872)

Medway Council does not have a current local plan or a five-year housing supply, meaning planning applications have to be approved except for when they are deemed to be “unsustainable”.

Cllr Jane Chitty (Con) added: “It’s absolutely right we link the two (local plan and HIF bid) together, but we must continue with this work.

“We cannot afford to let government have the opportunity to fire at us because we’re not doing what we’re expected to do.”

Later in the same meeting held on Tuesday, cabinet agreed proposals to spend a further £445,000 on the HIF business case – although this will need to be signed off by full council.

The work will “take the proposed rail station and highways improvements through detailed design” to ensure the bid is “robust”.

Medway Council has already previously allocated up to £750,000 on the application.

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