The construction of 135 homes across six hectares of prime Grade 1 agricultural land and orchards would have only a “moderate adverse effect” on the landscape, a planning inspector has determined.
Inspector Patrick Hanna has granted outline planning permission to Gladman Developments Ltd to build on farm land off Swanstree Avenue in Sittingbourne.
Gladman appealed on the grounds of non-determination after Swale council sat on the application since October 2021.
The inspector conceded there would be adverse affects to the views from two public footpaths close by the site, and from existing properties nearby, but he said that the character and appearance of the area was already “transitional” affected by neighbouring urban development.
He did not accept that the traffic from the 135 homes would have a severe adverse effect on the local road network.
A chief factor in his balanced judgement was that Swale council does not have a five-year housing land supply as required by government. The council says it has 4.8 years and a shortfall of just 202 units. Gladman argued that it had only 3.4 years supply and a shortfall of 1,806 homes.
The inspector did not find it was necessary to decide who was right since both agreed a shortfall, which meant other safe-guarding policies must be overruled.
He did however apply a number of conditions to the permission, one of which was that the builder should pay £116,640 towards NHS healthcare provision, and £212,149 towards highways improvements, as well as other contributions to education, libraries and other services that would be calculated on a pro-rata basis based on how many homes were eventually built.
The site will be accessed from Swanstree Avenue and will include 30% affordable homes, but a detailed plan is still to come forward.
The application, which originally attracted 18 letters of objection plus one from Rodmersham Parish Council, can be viewed on Swale’s website here.
Application number 21/505498 refers.