Your Councillors


Agenda item

Question and Answer Session for Members of the Public

Minutes:

There were nine questions from members of the public.

 

Question from Ms Kate Hammond to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

The recent Stantec report highlights many of the difficulties and challenges that remain unknown with regards to the 'Heathlands' proposal. With particular regards to controlling the planning process and the risks to local finances, could this committee confirm that it would not submit a scheme into the consultation process that was patently uneconomic and full of as yet unknown outcomes?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Question from Gail Duff to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

The stage 2 Stantec report for the Heathland's proposal critically appraises the travel to work patterns and assumptions that have been adopted. It states in this regard that 'we have concerns with this approach, and consider that it gives a misleading ‘picture’ of travel to work patterns in the immediate Heathlands area.' Given the complexity of the scheme, the number of unknowns and the many instances where Stantec report that they have not received any information, can this committee be certain that it has the full picture, that nothing is being held back, and it be confident that it is able to make a fully informed and balanced decision?'

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Question from Ms Claudine Russell to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

‘Having waded through the evidence pack for this meeting I would just like to highlight a glaring omission in the "factual evidence".  Within the Marden garden community proposal, a WW2 gas pipeline PLUTO is mentioned.  This is an old oil pipeline and was decommissioned after the war.  There is however no mention anywhere of the high pressure 4ft diameter Transco gas pipeline that runs through the site, other than on page 51 of our Marden Planning Opposition Groups Technical Report from May 2019.  The route is not the same and the Transco pipeline is high pressure and a storage pipeline and would seem to cut across one of the areas marked as housing.  As this pipeline will have an impact on the proposed area for housing, why has this not been highlighted or even mentioned in the evidence pack by Stantec?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

Question from Ms Theresa Gibson to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

The Chairman read out the question on behalf of Ms Gibson.

 

‘I notice that on the Map of Marden in the Settlement Hierarchy Audit 2018 within your evidence pack, the housing development known as Highwood Green is again not shown.  This seems to be a feature with the "factual evidence" that emanates from Maidstone Borough Council.  I know that it exists as I live there, along with some nearly 300 other residents.  I moved in in Aug 2016. Why does it never feature on your maps or within your numbers, as surely without it you are not looking at the true current factual picture of Marden village and its recent developments?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Question from Mr Peter Coulling to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

‘If the revised Housing Needs methodology comes into force before March next year, the proposed LDS will fail to forestall imposition of a much higher housing number; that is, the effort to forestall higher housing numbers will have failed. Especially as, perhaps surprisingly, it is reported in papers for this meeting that all documents required for the Evidence Base are already available (no doubt subject to refinement for as long as time permits) and while recognising attendant risks, would it not be prudent for this Committee to require Officers to be even more aggressive so as to establish an LDS with Regulation 19 consultation in March or April, rather than June?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Mr Coulling asked the following supplementary question:

 

‘May we ask you to encourage your Committee to reflect on last week’s choice of Option Two, which is the worst of all worlds, it’s accelerating but not enough. Please stress to the Committee that if they want to avoid the higher number, they need a further truncation of the plan, recognising those risks and holding open the opportunity of subsequently revising the Local Development Scheme if regulations permit?’.

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Question from John Hughes to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

‘In view of the need for an earlier Regulation 19, but also the need for a proper long-term effective land use and transport/infrastructure strategy rather than a continuation of piecemeal allocations with mitigation, will this Committee request Political Group Leaders to agree interim decision processes, if necessary during purdah, rather than causing delay and risking the imposition of even higher housing numbers?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Mr Hughes asked the following supplementary question:

 

‘Is it not the case, given that response, that the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee now need to ask officers, in co-operation with infrastructure providers to quickly work out practical, long-term land and infrastructure strategies, based on the extensive and recently updated Local Plan Review Evidence based for consideration by Members?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Question from Mr Peter Titchener to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

‘The proposed response to Government consultation to be presented at Item 14 of the agenda is not very robust and compelling when commenting on the proposed new algorithm to calculate a mandated Housing Needs figure. Given the deadline of 1st October for response, will you ask this Committee to agree that Officers should be instructed urgently to place more effort and creativity into robust answers to, at least, Questions 1 to 5 and to offer those to SPI members for urgent comment?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Mr Titchener asked the following supplementary question:

 

‘Can we be confident that officers will push hard to get government proposals amended for the benefit of residents, including working with KALC, Kent MP’s and particularly Parish Councils, about the validity of existing and proposed neighbourhood plans, which now seem completely out of date?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Question from Ms Geraldine Brown to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

The sites submitted as a result of the Call for Sites have been segmented into Green and Red, excluding candidate Garden Communities. What is the total housing potential across all Green sites?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Ms Brown asked the following supplementary question:

 

‘I was led to believe by officers that the figure was in the region of 11,529 and if that is the case, that would seem to be substantially more than is needed for the housing needs figure. There are still a number of sites that can be discarded for very serious reasons. Can you please tell me when those sites will be looked at again to see if they are able to be taken forward?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

Question from Mr John Horne to the Chairman of the Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee

 

The Democratic and Electoral Services Manager read out the question on behalf of Mr Horne.

 

This evening’s proposal has taken six months out of the LDS timeline, but it still looks somewhat leisurely. Regulations require 6 weeks consultation, not 3. Taking steps to mitigate recognised risks, is there no other way to shorten the timeline and, in fact, shorten it even further, while being prepared, if the threatened new algorithm is not confirmed or is delayed, to once again extend the LDS timeline and even its consultation processes?’

 

The Chairman responded to the question.

 

The full responses were recorded on the webcast and were made available to view on the Maidstone Borough Council Website.

 

To access the webcast recording, please use the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JM5iEFy_tM