DM1 DEVELOPMENT ON BROWNFIELD LAND

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM1 Development on brownfield land

Key issues:

1.     Some Unconditional Support

2.     Policy should actively encourage brownfield, this would then comply with the NPPF

3.     Supports preference – policy should be stronger

4.     Proportion of brownfield should be specified

5.     Query text, define ‘high environmental value’

6.     Brownfield first should be applicable to all development types, not just housing

7.     Policy should reference that brownfield resource is available at Detling

8.     Brownfield sites in no identified settlements should be allowed to be developed

Key issue 1: Some unconditional support.

Detail: This policy is supported.  It is consistent with the NPPF and will allow for a sustainable form of development across the Borough.  The aims of this policy are not however currently reflected in the proposed spatial strategy or allocations and should therefore inform the review of Policies SS1, H1 and H3 as referred to above in identifying sites to meet the objectively assessed housing need.

 

Development of Woodford Farm for housing in a manner outlined within the corresponding Call for Sites submission (Appendix A) is consistent with the aims of this policy and supports the allocation of the site.

Officer response: Support is noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Policy should actively encourage brownfield, this would then comply with the NPPF.

Detail: Policy falls short of expressing the core principle of the NPPF relating to the encouraging effective re-use of previously developed land for all types of development.

 

The policy should be encouraging the maximum re-use of previously developed land within urban areas which will provide the highly sustainable regeneration of land and existing buildings and make provision for new development.

Officer response: The council agrees that one of the core principles of the NPPF is to encourage the effective use of land by re-using land that has been previously developed. Previously, a large proportion of brownfield sites in the urban area have been developed at high densities for housing. The council will continue to encourage the redevelopment of previously developed land and this is favoured ahead of greenfield development, because in most cases it is more sustainable.

 

The council agrees that brownfield development is essential for urban regeneration and if done to a high design standard it brings homes, jobs and services closer together; reducing dependency on the car.

Proposed change: No change required – policy DM1 supporting text states that brownfield land is favoured ahead of greenfield development.

Key issue 3: Supports preference – policy should be stronger.

Detail: CPRE Protect Kent supports the use of brownfield land within existing settlements in preference to greenfield land. Whilst we welcome the support that the Policy gives to re-using brownfield land, we are concerned that it supports the development of brownfield land in any location. Consequently an additional criterion is needed to provide locational guidance. We would suggest a criterion along the following lines:

“The site is located within a defined settlement boundary or is otherwise sustainably located in regard to the highway network and public transport services and would accord with Policy SP5.”

Officer response: Partially agree:  NPPF para 111 states that local plan planning policies should encourage the effective use of land by re-using land that has been previously developed, provided that it is not of high environmental value.

 

In addition, National Planning Practice Guidance states that local authorities should regard the construction of new buildings in the green belt as in appropriate, except where limited infilling or the partial or complete redevelopment of previously developed sites (brownfield land), whether redundant or in continuing use (excluding temporary buildings), which would not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and the purpose of including land within it than the existing development is proposed.

 

The council agrees that any site proposed for development should be suitably located in terms of highway access and public transport, but a sites suitability will be assessed using policy DM13 – Sustainable transport.

Proposed change: No change

Key issue 4: Proportion of brownfield should be specified.

Detail: OBJECT - We believe that in accordance with the policy of the NPPF to give priority to brownfield sites (now reinforced in the NPPG) the plan should set out clearly the proportion of housing to be built on brownfield land and the requirement for green field sites.

Officer Response: Partially Agree: NPPF para 111 states that Local planning authorities may

continue to consider the case for setting a locally appropriate target for the use of brownfield land.

 

The council has previously been successful in developing brownfield sites. As outlined in para 11.2 of the Reg18 Local Plan the council will continue to favour brownfield land ahead of Greenfield. There are some brownfield sites in the borough that may still come forward for development, however there is not an unlimited supply of brownfield land.

 

The Council will use the Local Plan to identify, by site, where development will be located and where development will be restrained. Allocations for housing or other uses will where possible continue to be based in favour of brownfield development ahead of Greenfield, in line with guidance set out in the NPPF and National Planning Practice Guidance

Proposed change: No change

Key issue 5: Query text, define ‘high environmental value’.

Detail: DM 1 indicates that proposals for development on previously developed land (brownfield land) will be permitted if the site is not of high environmental value.  The term should be defined.

Officer response: National Guidance: NPPF para 111 states that land should be re-used, provided that it is not of high environmental value. This means that the council will take account of issues such as the biodiversity value which may be present on a brownfield site before decisions are taken.

 

The Council have a duty to consider biodiversity when assessing planning applications. Where there is a reasonable likelihood that a planning proposal might affect important protected species or habitats, the council will require information on the species and habitat likely to be affected, and an assessment of the impacts of the proposals. This information will need to be provided before a planning decision is made and if this information is not provided the council may refuse to register the application.

Proposed change: No change required

Key issue 6: Should be equally applicable to all forms of development, not just housing.

Detail: Support for this policy in principle of reusing land that has been previously developed in advance of Greenfield land should equally applicable to all forms of development.

Officer response: Agree, the council supports the development of brownfield development before Greenfield for all development equally.

Proposed change: No change

Key issue 7: Policy should reference that brownfield resource is available at Detling.

Detail: Object to policy DM1 for failing to recognise the value and resource of the established Brownfield site at Detling Aerodrome. The site at Detling was acquired by the objector in 1950 and has been in existence since before WW2. It continues to be contribute to the local economy by providing business premises with an ideal location for distribution, haulage and other transport reliant services. This site should be considered more appropriate than Greenfield allocations at the periphery of existing settlements and the urban area of Maidstone.

Officer response: Allocations of sites that have potential to be developed is covered in the appendices of the Local Plan and not specifically under policy DM1.

Proposed change: No change

Key issue 8: Brownfield sites in not identified settlements should be allowed to be developed.

Detail: If brownfield sites are preferred over greenfield sites asin policy DM1 then previously developed sites in smaller settlements should be able to be developed. If the land is previously developed and not of high environmental value then effective use should be made provided that the development is in scale with the smaller village or settlement.

Officer response: Partially Agree, the Council will use the Local Plan site allocations to identify, by site, where development will be located and where development will be restrained. Allocations for housing or other uses, will where possible, continue to be based in favour of brownfield development ahead of greenfield, in line with guidance set out in the NPPF and National Planning Practice Guidance.

Proposed change: No change


DM1 DEVELOPMENT ON BROWNFIELD LAND

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 1 – Development on brownfield land

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.1 One of the core principles of the National Planning Policy Framework encourages the effective use of land by re-using land that has been previously developed, provided it is not of high environmental value. This is known as brownfield land and, in Maidstone, a large proportion of brownfield sites in the urban area have been developed at high densities for housing in recent years, particularly in and adjacent to the town centre along the River Medway. Making the best use of previously developed land will continue to be encouraged throughout the lifetime of this plan.

 

11.2 Development of brownfield land is favoured ahead of Greenfield development because in most cases it is more sustainable. It is important to ensure that brownfield land is not underused and that the most is made of vacant and derelict land and buildings in order to reduce the need for greenfield land, which is a finite resource and often of higher quality in terms of landscape and biodiversity.

 

11.3 Brownfield development is essential for urban regeneration and if done to a high design standard it brings homes, jobs and services closer together; reduces dependency on the car; and strengthens communities.

 

POLICY DM1

Development on brownfield land

 

Proposals for development on previously developed land (brownfield land) that make effective and efficient use of land and which meet the following criteria will be permitted:

 

1.     The site is not of high environmental value; and

 

2.     If the proposal is for residential development, the density of new housing proposals reflects the character and appearance of individual localities, and is consistent with policy H2 unless there are justifiable planning reasons for lower density development.


 

DM2 SUSTAINABLE DESIGN STANDARDS

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM2 Sustainable design standards

Key issues:

1.        The Code for Sustainable Homes is being superseded, with elements of it being incorporated into building regulations.

2.        Criterion 4 is too weak/there are too many get out clauses.

3.        Flexibility of policy welcomed.

4.        Code level 5 should be required.

5.        Green wall technology should be included.

6.        An SPD should be produced to be able to react more quickly to newer design standards.

7.        Require PassivHaus standard.

8.        The 10% renewable energy requirement does not add to policy and is difficult to assess.

9.        Policy should reflect move to zero carbon homes.

10.     Needs to incorporate flexibility for viability issues regarding Code level 4.

11.     Policy should allow for higher standards to be imposed at the end of the period, when technology improves.

Key issue 1: The Code for Sustainable Homes is being superseded, with elements of it being incorporated into building regulations.

Detail: The Government has indicated through its housing standards review that it will issue a policy statement in early 2015, which will be informed by the results of its September 2014 consultation. From the point that the policy statement is issued, the Code for Sustainable Homes will be wound down and no new policies should refer to the Code.

Officer response: Accept. The Government has indicated its approach concerning the Code for Sustainable Homes and will not allow policies referring to it from the moment that it issues its policy statement early in 2015. However, until that point it is prudent for the council to continue preparation of this policy, on the chance that events do not unfold as expected.

 

The Government has not indicated that it intends to stop planning policies from referring to BREEAM or from requiring 10% renewable energy (the Merton Rule). The remit of this policy may change slightly as a result of the policy statement early in 2015, but a number of elements will remain relevant.

Proposed change: This policy will likely need to be amended following the Government publishing its policy statement in 2015. However, until that time, the policy should remain the same.

Key issue 2: Criterion 4 is too weak/there are too many get out clauses.

Detail: There is some concern that by including a criterion in the policy that allows for lower standards to be attained on the basis of either viability or feasibility, the policy will make it easier for applicants not to deliver on their obligations.

Officer response: Reject. Paragraph 173 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) states that:

 

“To ensure viability, the costs of any requirements likely to be applied to development, such as requirements for affordable housing, standards, infrastructure contributions or other requirements should, when taking account of the normal cost of development and mitigation, provide competitive returns to a willing land owner and willing developer to enable the development to be deliverable.”

 

While it is accepted that the Local Plan Viability Testing (2013) evidence document provides the justification to set policy requirements, costs will not be the same across all sites. Criterion 4 provides the necessary flexibility to accommodate any unexpected costs.

 

In terms of feasibility, if a policy requirement is not possible, then this should be proven and alternative action taken. It would be unreasonable to pursue a requirement in these circumstances.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Flexibility of policy welcomed.

Detail: Criterion 4 allows for flexibility in the standards delivered, on the grounds of viability or feasibility.

Officer response: Support noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Code for Sustainable Homes level 5 should be required.

Detail: It is suggested that Code for Sustainable Homes level 4 is insufficient in seeking the delivery of sustainable development. Code level 5 would require more efficient and sustainable developments, however, with increasing Code levels comes increasing costs.

Officer response: Reject. Local Plan Viability Testing (2013), page 56 states:

 

“Sustainable design – it is recommended that the policy seeking higher than building

regulation standards in terms of sustainable design is removed from the Plan. It is

unlikely that building regs will be changed to incorporate the Code 5 equivalent

requirements in the short to medium term because of viability issues. The effect of

requiring higher standards through policy effectively wipes out around £600,000 per

hectare from the residual value – this will effectively mean that the council won’t be able

to seek any affordable housing or S106 from greenfield sites in Maidstone.”

 

On this basis, the evidence indicates that requiring Code level 5 would put delivery of the plan at risk. This would in turn put the plan at risk of being found unsound.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 5: Green wall technology should be included.

Detail: The particular threat posed by poor air quality and urban heat traps within the borough means that green wall technology should also be incorporated into this section.

Officer response: Partially accept. The use of green wall technology to mitigate the impact of development, with respect to climate change, is a technically acceptable proposition and would most likely enhance any proposal aesthetically.

 

The extent to which air quality would be improved would need to be proven and would be reliant on the use of the most appropriate plant species, given the specifics of any given proposal.

 

If green walls can be used to help achieve relevant Code for Sustainable Homes or BREEAM standards, this could well be an acceptable suggestion, subject to relevant planning considerations. To specify green walls, however, would take away some flexibility in how the applicant delivers required standards under this policy. Viability must also be considered when specifying standards in policy.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 6: An SPD should be produced to be able to react more quickly to newer design standards.

Detail: Supplementary planning documents (SPD) are not subject to the same preparation requirements as policies in local plans. Accordingly it is suggested, for ease of preparation and being able to react to changes in industry standards, that the most appropriate place to include policy requirements for sustainable construction techniques is in an SPD.

Officer response: Reject. An SPD in this case could act as a signposting document. The council intended to produce a range of SPD from 2006 until 2008, which would have performed this purpose, however, only one was ever adopted (Using Water). This document could not specify standards because the impact of doing so needed to be assessed at examination. Since that time, the Government has more explicitly required viability assessments of local plans and the policies contained within them because of the potential impact on deliverability.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 7: Require PassivHaus standard.

Detail: From the Passivhaus website:

 

“Passivhaus or 'Passive House' is the fastest growing energy performance standard in the world with 30,000 buildings realised to date with the majority of those since the turn of the century. The Passivhaus standards strengths lie in the simplicity of its approach; build a house that has an excellent thermal performance, exceptional airtightness with mechanical ventilation.

 

This robust approach to building design allows the designer to minimise the 'Heating Demand' of the building and in some residential buildings only specify a heated towel rail as means of conventional heating, this heat can then be recovered and circulated by a Mechanical Ventilation and Heat Recovery (MVHR) unit.”

Officer response: Reject. The Government intends to publish a policy statement in early 2015 that would indicate the wind down of the Code for Sustainable Homes. The Government has stated:

 

“From the date of the statement only standards set out in the Building Regulations optional

requirements, the associated Approved Documents and the nationally described space standard should be applied in planning conditions for new housing development.”

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 8: 10% renewable energy requirement does not add to policy and is difficult to assess.

Detail: Quote from comment:

 

“The 10% is very difficult to assess and fails to address the aim of the policy. The policy should focus on efficient energy use and reduced carbon emissions.”

Officer response: Reject. This requirement was adopted into Maidstone planning policy with the South East Plan 2009. The South East Plan has since been abolished, however, this policy was subject to examination and approved.

 

The Merton Rule, as it is known, is a widely adopted approach to reducing energy reliance on fossil fuels. While it may not in itself be measured in terms of carbon emissions or reduced energy use, the policy is written in a way to allow for the 10% renewable energy to contribute to the achievement of given Code for Sustainable Homes levels.

 

The achievement of Code levels may be end up being wound down by Government, however, this is still a valuable policy tool.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: Policy should reflect move to zero carbon homes.

Detail: The Government has indicated that it intends for zero carbon homes to be delivered through changes to Building Regulations, by 2016. Zero carbon homes at one time referred to a energy performance equivalent to that in Code for Sustainable Homes level 6. The Government has since amended this definition to make zero carbon homes equivalent to the energy performance of Code level 5.

Officer response: Reject. The Government has indicated that it intends to deliver zero carbon homes through changes to the Building Regulations.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 10: Needs to incorporate flexibility for viability issues regarding Code level 4.

Detail: Code level 4 is a more stringent standard than is currently required through Building Regulations and is part of the Code for Sustainable Homes.

Officer response: Accept. Maidstone Borough Council has commissioned and published its Local Plan Viability Testing (2013) evidence document relating to viability. This considered the implementation of Code level 4 in new housing developments.

 

Criterion 4 allows for the delivery of a reduced standard if there are sufficient grounds either in terms of viability or feasibility.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 11: Policy should allow for higher standards to be imposed at the end of the period, when technology improves.

Detail: It is quite possible that at the end of the local plan period, in 2031, technology could allow for more efficient homes to be built at equivalent costs to those built now. In that respect, the comment is requesting that a policy is written that allows for such a situation and applies more stringent standards should such a scenario occur.

Officer response: Partially accept. The sentiment of this comment is correct, however, in practice a number of issues mean that the policy will not be amended to reflect the request.

 

1.     The Government is winding down the Code for Sustainable Homes and is being strict about the use of locally described standards in policy. This change would be at odds with the Government position.

2.     The implication of higher standards would in all likelihood, require further viability testing to be undertaken to ensure that this does not adversely affect the delivery of development in the area.

3.     The local plan will be subject to a review process before the end of its period. This would be the most appropriate moment to determine if the standards should be increased. At that point of the future the debate may have changed to the degree that more priority is placed on the delivery of an alternative standard or element of infrastructure.

Proposed change: No change.


DM2 SUSTAINABLE DESIGN STANDARDS

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 2 – Sustainable design and construction

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.4 Recognition of climate change and its contributing factors will be central to the future of development across the borough. New developments will need to incorporate mitigating measures, while still achieving the high quality designs that make the borough a desirable place to live and work.

 

11.5 The Climate Change Act 2008 sets two legally binding targets, a 34% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, leading to an 80% emissions cut by 2050, both of which are set against a 1990 baseline. Maidstone Borough Council adopted the Kent Environment Strategy in 2011, which itself seeks a 60% cut in greenhouse gas emissions (measured as CO2 equivalent) against 1990 levels by 2030.

 

11.6 It is more energy and cost efficient to design and develop buildings to an appropriate standard, than it is to develop them at a lower standard and retrofit them later in their life. The Code for Sustainable Homes (residential) and the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) (non-residential) are the most appropriate/recognisable assessment methods by which to judge and require increased sustainability standards in new developments.

 

11.7 The Code for Sustainable Homes itself sets out national water efficiency standards with the aim of reducing potable water consumption in residential developments.  Applications for residential developments will need to have regard to these standards and the Maidstone water cycle study.

 

POLICY DM2

Sustainable design standards

 

Development proposals in the borough will:

 

1.     If residential; achieve a minimum of Code for Sustainable Homes (or any future national equivalent) level 4. The council will encourage the achievement of higher Code for Sustainable Homes levels where it is a feasible element of the proposal.

 

2.     If non-residential developments of 1000m2 (gross) and above; achieve BREEAM (or any future national equivalent) Very Good. The council will encourage the achievement of higher BREEAM levels where it is a feasible element of the proposal.

 

3.     If residential developments of 10 units and above, or non-residential of 1000m2 (gross) and above; provide 10% of their energy from decentralised, energy from waste, renewable and/or low-carbon energy sources. Where applicable this requirement will count towards (1) and (2) above.

 

4.     Relating to the criteria above, and with the exception of meeting a minimum water efficiency standard equivalent to Code for Sustainable Homes level 4, development will be permitted to achieve a reduced standard, to be negotiated with the council, only if it can be demonstrated on the grounds of viability or feasibility that the above standards are unattainable, including the option of equivalent carbon emissions reduction near or off site.


 

DM3 RENEWABLE AND LOW CARBON ENERGY SCHEMES

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM3 Renewable and low carbon energy schemes

Key issues:

1.        Should require that land is returned to agricultural use.

2.        Policy should be amended to reflect emerging government guidance from DCLG and DECC.

3.        Policy should be more balanced, currently considered too negative, should promote these uses more.

4.        Policy should promote solar panels on the roofs of industrial and agricultural buildings.

5.        Should include monitoring measures.

6.        Should have specific landscape criteria listed in policy.

7.        Object to loss of greenfield sites/BMV agricultural land.

8.        Cumulative impacts should be considered.

9.        Reference to AONB is welcomed.

10.     Ability to mitigate impacts through site selection and design is not emphasised enough.

Key issue 1: The policy should require that land is returned to agricultural use.

Detail: Where applications for renewable and low carbon energy schemes are approved on agricultural land, it should be specified that the land is returned to agricultural use when operations cease.

Officer response: Accept. This is a particular consideration for ground mounted solar farms. The National Planning Practice Guidance (NPPG) states:

 

“that solar farms are normally temporary structures and planning conditions can be used to ensure that the installations are removed when no longer in use and the land is restored to its previous use;”

 

Where it is relevant, such a condition should apply to all renewable and low carbon energy schemes.

Proposed change: Add after criterion 8:

 

“And

 

9. Make provision for the return of the land to its previous use when the installations have ceased operation.”

Key issue 2: Policy should be amended to reflect emerging government guidance from Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

Detail: In March 2014, the DCLG introduced the National Planning Practice Guidance. In April 2014, DECC released the UK Solar PV Strategy (Part 2). Each of these documents contains guidance relating to the development of renewable and low carbon energy. Of particular interest is the guidance on ground mounted solar farms, including a reference to a speech by Greg Barker MP to the solar PV industry. In this speech it is recognised that solar PV has a central role to play in the delivery of renewable/low carbon energy, however, this is balanced with a recognition that the Government’s subsidy structure needs to be changed to incentivised building mounted panels.

Officer response: Accept. The policy as consulted on reflected the guidance in the document ‘Planning practice for renewable and low carbon energy, released by DCLG in 2013. The NPPG, which supersedes this document, repeats this guidance. The policy is therefore, still in line of national guidance, however, it is nonetheless appropriate to amend the policy to reflect the Government intention to incentivise the development of solar PV panels on commercial premises.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 8 to read:

 

“8. Preference will be given to existing commercial and industrial premises, previously developed land or agricultural land that is not classified as the best and most versatile.”

Key issue 3: Policy should be more balanced, currently considered too negative, should promote these uses more.

Detail: Policy should promote renewable and low carbon energy sources and should be drafted to reflect that position.

Officer response: Reject. The approach taken in the draft local plan was to specify a criteria based policy, as opposed to identifying specific areas of the borough for renewable energy projects through land allocations. In doing so, the policy needs to be balanced and list the criteria which a given proposal would need to meet or, at the least, show have been considered if permission is to be granted.

 

The policy does not specify that a proposal will be granted, should it meet the criteria in the policy, but at the same time it does not specify that a proposal will be refused. In this sense, the proposed policy is balanced.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Policy should promote solar panels on the roofs of industrial and agricultural buildings.

Detail: In April 2014, DECC released the UK Solar PV Strategy (Part 2). In the strategy, the Government has added emphasis to the use of commercial and industrial building roof space for the installation of solar PV panels. This is, however, balanced with the recognition that ground mounted solar arrays still have a role to play. The strategy also quotes the “Solar Farms 10 Commitments” of the Solar Trade Association.

Officer response: Partially accept. The role of this policy is not to promote specific types of renewable or low carbon energy development. However, there is a preference built into the policy seeking the use of previously developed land ahead of greenfield sites. This can be amended to specifically reference commercial and industrial premises.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 8 to read:

 

“8. Preference will be given to existing commercial and industrial premises, previously developed land or agricultural land that is not classified as the best and most versatile.”

Key issue 5: Should include monitoring measures.

Detail: The policy should state what the monitoring parameters are for renewable and low carbon energy developments.

Officer response: Partially accept. The policy is not necessarily the best place to include monitoring measures. However, the two planning policy advice notes adopted in early 2014, which deal with domestic, medium and large scale solar arrays, do reference that the council will keep a list of such schemes proposed in the borough. While this is not specific monitoring as such, it does contain the information required.

 

The annual monitoring report can be amended to include monitoring of renewable and low carbon energy developments, however, knowledge relating to completions might be more difficult to gather outside of undertaking a comprehensive monitoring exercise – such as those for housing and commercial completions.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 6: Should have specific landscape criteria listed in policy.

Detail: The policy currently refers to the landscape and visual impact of proposals in criterion 2, and makes specific reference to the Kent Downs AONB. This comment suggests that further criteria/more detail for criterion 2 are/is required

Officer response: Reject. Adding further criteria to the policy in this respect risks making it inflexible. In its current form, the policy appropriately references the landscape and indicates that this will be a prime consideration in determining any application submitted to the council.

 

The Maidstone Borough Local Plan is designed to be read as a whole document. Further detail is appropriately provided at DM4 – Principles of good design, DM10 – Historic and natural environment, and DM30 – Design principles in the countryside.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 7: Object to loss of greenfield sites/best and most versatile agricultural land.

Detail: Some renewable and low carbon energy developments, such as ground mounted solar arrays, are frequently proposed on greenfield or agricultural land.

Officer response: Partially accept. The principle of this comment is correct in that where possible, developments should be sited on commercial or industrial premises, or previously developed land, prior to considering greenfield land or best and most versatile (BMV) agricultural land.

 

The policy does, however, include a preference that such sites are considered prior to seeking development on greenfield or BMV agricultural land. In conjunction with other considerations such as design and landscape being addressed by other policies in the plan, there is sufficient protection for greenfield sites and BMV agricultural land.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 8: Cumulative impacts should be considered.

Detail: Where a number of schemes are proposed in a relatively confined area, there should be a consideration of cumulative impact i.e. how these schemes impact the environment as a whole when taken together.

Officer response: Accept. The policy refers to cumulative impact in criterion 1.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: Reference to AONB is welcomed.

Detail: Policy refers specifically to the Kent Downs AONB.

Officer response: Noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 10: Ability to mitigate impacts through site selection and design is not emphasised enough.

Detail: Depending on the type of development proposed, impacts can be effectively mitigated through site choice and the design of the scheme.

Officer response: Reject. The proposed policy and proposed amendments do indicate a preference for sites at criterion 8. The preference states that commercial and industrial premises are preferred, along with previously developed land before considering agricultural land or BMV agricultural land.

 

The issue of design is addressed through policies DM4 – Principles of good design, and DM30 – Design principles in the countryside.

Proposed change: No change.


DM3 RENEWABLE AND LOW CARBON ENERGY SCHEMES

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 3 – Renewable and low carbon energy schemes

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.8 In Maidstone Borough, parts of the natural landscape features and resources mean that there is a technical suitability for the construction of renewable and low carbon energy schemes, such as solar farms, wind farms and biomass. In the longer term, opportunities for such developments may also present themselves in urban areas particularly in relation to larger development schemes.

 

11.9 These schemes help to reduce regional and national carbon emissions and the council considers that, in the correct locations, such proposals are a benefit to the borough as a whole. Nevertheless, they need to be appropriately sited and not conflict with landscape character or existing uses. The council is keen that while it contributes to bringing about a low carbon future, the process of doing so should not affect the existing amenity of residents and businesses in a harmful way. Living environments should remain appropriate as such and the operation of businesses should not be impeded.

 

11.10 Where applications are submitted for larger scale renewable or low carbon energy schemes including, but not limited to, solar farms, wind farms and biomass, proposals will be judged on individual merits.

 

11.11 In January 2014, the council adopted planning policy advice notes(7)(8) which provide technical advice to applicants and guidance on decision making, with regard to solar energy proposals. Where solar energy schemes are proposed, the guidance within the planning policy advice notes should be referenced.

 

11.12 Further guidance is available in the National Planning Practice Guidance , under the Renewable and low carbon energy section document Planning practice guidance for renewable and low carbon energy(9).

 

POLICY DM3

Renewable and low carbon energy schemes

 

Applications for larger scale renewable or low carbon energy projects will be required to demonstrate that the following have been taken into account in the design and development of the proposals.

 

1.     The cumulative impact of such proposals in the local area.

 

2.     The landscape and visual impact of development, with particular regard to any impact on, or the setting of, the Kent Downs AONB.

 

3.     The impact on heritage assets and their setting.

 

4.     The impact of proposals on the amenities of local residents, e.g. noise generated and in the case of wind turbines, shadow flicker.

 

5.     The impact on the local transport network.

 

6.     The impact on ecology and biodiversity including the identification of measures to mitigate impact and provide ecological or biodiversity enhancement.

 

7.     In the case of wind turbines, [in addition to 1 to 6 above] the impact on:

             i.          Air traffic and safety;

            ii.          Defence installations and operations;

          iii.          Other radar installations; and

          iv.          Electromagnetic transmissions.

 

8.     Preference will be given to existing commercial and industrial premises, previously developed land or agricultural land that is not classified as the best and most versatile.

 

And

 

9.     Make provision for the return of the land to its previous use when the installations have ceased operation.

 

7. Planning policy advice note: Domestic and medium scale solar PV arrays (up to 50kW) and solar thermal.

8. Planning policy advice note: Large scale (>50kW) solar PV arrays.

9. Department for Communities and Local Government, 2013.


 

DM4 PRINCIPLES OF GOOD DESIGN

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM4 Principles of good design

Key issues:

1.        Should mention Part P of Building Regulations.

2.        Character area assessments should be produced in advance of applications for large scale development.

3.        Policy needs to be enforced.

4.        Incorporate biodiversity.

5.        Development should avoid flood zones 2 and 3.

6.        Relevant parts of Neighbourhood Plans should be incorporated/referenced.

7.        Reference to ‘natural character’ should be clarified.

8.        Policy should ensure that housing development and other sensitive development is separated from wastewater treatment facilities.

9.        SuDS should be incorporated as an element of good design.

10.     There should be a focus on landscape character as a key element of site choice.

11.     Quality of design is often more important than the size of a building.

Key issue 1: Should mention Part P of Building Regulations.

Detail: Part P of the Building Regulations relates to electrical safety.

Officer response: Reject. This policy refers to design principles, primarily in aesthetic terms. Part P of the Building Regulations is dealt with by Building Regulations and therefore there is no need to reference it.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Character area assessments should be produced in advance of applications for large scale development.

Detail: Maidstone Borough Council has produced two character area appraisals – one for London Road and one for Loose Road. These documents help guide the design for new developments in those areas.

Officer response: Partially accept. The principle of the comment is correct, however, the council is not in a position to undertake assessments and produce character area appraisals for the numerous areas that would require them. The approach that the council is following is to draft criteria based policies that guide developers through the application process. Developers will be expected to demonstrate how they have taken account of the requirements in the policy.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Policy needs to be enforced.

Detail: As per comment, the policy needs to be backed up with enforcement.

Officer response: Accept. All policies need to be enforced in some manner, however, there are a number of ways of achieving this. Policy DM4 guides the design process and development management officers can help the applicant with appropriate suggestions if need be. If it is not considered that the applicant has followed the principles as set out in policy, the report can recommend refusal or indeed, the planning committee can refuse the application [if it is presented to the committee].

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Incorporate biodiversity.

Detail: Biodiversity criteria should be incorporated into the policy.

Officer response: Reject. The plan should be read as a whole document. Biodiversity is addressed in policy DM10 – Historic and natural environment.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 5: Development should avoid flood zones 2 and 3.

Detail: Development should not be permitted in areas that are most susceptible to flooding i.e. flood zones 2 and 3.

Officer response: Reject. Criterion xii addresses the risk of flooding and requires that mitigation measures are incorporated in areas that are susceptible. Allocations within the local plan have been proposed that do not occur within flood plains and where flood plains do exist, as indicated by flood zones, they have been retained as areas of non-development. The council has consulted with the Environment Agency in proposing all of its allocations within the local plan. Section 10 of the National Planning Policy Framework outlines the approach to be taken regarding flood risk and provides a stringent test for development in flood zones to pass.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 6: Relevant parts of neighbourhood plans should be incorporated/referenced.

Detail: Neighbourhood plans are defined as being part of the development plan. They must be in general conformity with the strategic policies of the local plan, however, precedent has been made where emerging neighbourhood plans have weight ahead of the local plan.

Officer response: Reject. As part of the development plan, neighbourhood plans already have sufficient weight to influence planning decisions. The local plan should be read as a whole, as should the wider development plan. Neighbourhood plans will be referenced by development management officers when making recommendations on planning applications.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 7: Reference to ‘natural character’ should be clarified.

Detail: Criterion ii of the policy references local, natural or historic character of any given area where a development proposal might be made.

Officer response: Reject. At paragraph 11.16 [of the draft local plan] further guidance is given:

 

“In appropriate locations, local distinctiveness should be reinforced and natural features worthy of retention be sensitively incorporated. It is also important that all new development protects and enhances any on site biodiversity and geodiversity features…”

 

The level of guidance provided is appropriate. Further guidance may risk excluding relevant features relating to natural character because a set definition has been given, giving rise to an ‘in or out’ scenario.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 8: Policy should ensure that housing development and other sensitive development is separated from waste water treatment facilities.

Detail: Waste water treatment facilities are a necessary part of development, however, there is concern relating to health issues and how they affect the amenity of local residents.

Officer response: Reject. This is subject to separate regulations outside of the planning system.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: SuDS should be incorporated as an element of good design.

Detail: Sustainable drainage systems should be sought as part of new developments. Specifically this should be addressed as an element of the design principles policy.

Officer response: Accept. Sustainable drainage systems are an appropriate element of modern developments, which can provide multi-functional benefits. Policy DM10 – Historic and Natural Character, addresses sustainable drainage systems but there is a cross over with DM4 that needs to be made.

Proposed change: After criterion xiii, insert new criterion xiv:

 

“xiv. Incorporate sustainable drainage systems where feasible.

Key issue 10: There should be a focus on landscape character as a key element of site choice.

Detail: The selection of sites for development should be informed by landscape character information as a key element. This relates to the council’s own LCA document and any landscape works undertaken by the developers themselves.

Officer response: Partially accept. The proposed allocation of sites in the draft Maidstone Borough Local Plan was informed by landscape character as one of a number of factors. The council has since undertaken further work on landscape capacity to further determine the impact of all of the proposed site allocations. Policy DM30 – Design principles in the countryside, makes reference to landscape character and the Maidstone Borough Landscape Character Guidelines SPD (yet to be produced). Developers should undoubtedly consider landscape character in proposing new sites and developments.

Proposed change: Amend final paragraph of DM4 to state:

 

“Account should be taken of Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans, Character Area Assessments, the Maidstone Borough Landscape Character Guidelines SPD, the Kent Design Guide and the Kent Downs Area of Natural Beauty Management Plan.”

Key issue 11: Quality of design is often more important than the size of a building.

Detail: The quality of design is an important element to consider.

Officer response: Noted. A number of factors will determine how well a development is received. Policy DM4 is intended to address and guide these factors. The size of a building is just one element that needs to be considered.

Proposed change: No change.


DM4 PRINCIPLES OF GOOD DESIGN

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 4 – Principles of good design

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.13 Good design is the fundamental principle underpinning good planning.  It has a very important impact upon the quality of the environment and the way in which places function.  The National Planning Policy Framework places great emphasis upon raising the quality of the built, natural and historic environment and the quality of life in all areas. It attaches great importance to the securing of high quality design and seeks to ensure that all development contributes to making places better for all.

 

11.14 The council aspires to achieve high quality design throughout the borough, and policy DM4 seeks to manifest this aim and will be used to assess all development requiring planning permission. In order to achieve high quality design, the council expects that proposals will respect and, where appropriate, enhance the character of their surroundings. It is important that development contributes to its context.

 

11.15 Key aspects of built development will be the scale, height, materials, detailing, mass, bulk and site coverage.  These features should relate well, and respond positively, to the context in which they are seen. Good design should also address the functioning of an area, including accessibility to all, linkages to local services, and issues of crime. New development should integrate well into the built, natural and historic environment and should address the connections between people and places, including vehicle and pedestrian movement.

 

11.16 In establishing the use and designing the layout and site coverage of development, landscape shall be integral to the overall design of a scheme and needs to be considered at the beginning of the design process. In appropriate locations, local distinctiveness should be reinforced and natural features worthy of retention be sensitively incorporated. It is also important that all new development protects and enhances any on site biodiversity and geodiversity features, or provides sufficient mitigation measures, and in areas at risk of flooding, inappropriate development should be avoided.

 

11.17 In assessing the appropriateness of design, the council will have regard to adopted Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans, Character Area Assessments and the Kent Design Guide, which provide specific information about local character and distinctiveness and give guidance on design principles.  Regard will also be given to the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Management Plan.

 

11.18 Proposals which fail to take opportunities to secure high quality design will be resisted.

 

POLICY DM 4

Principles of good design

 

Proposals which would create high quality design and meet the following criteria will be permitted:

  1. Create designs and layouts that are accessible to all, and maintain and maximise opportunities for permeability and linkages to the surrounding area and local services;
  2. Respond positively to and where possible enhance, the local, natural or historic character of the area. Particular regard will be paid to scale, height, materials, detailing, mass, bulk, articulation and site coverage - incorporating a high quality, modern design approach and making use of vernacular materials where appropriate;
  3. A modern design approach incorporating vernacular materials will be sought;
  4. Create high quality public realm and, where opportunities permit, provide improvements, particularly in town centre locations;
  5. Respect the amenities of occupiers of neighbouring properties and uses and provide adequate residential amenities for future occupiers of the development by ensuring that development does not result in excessive noise, vibration, odour, air pollution, activity or vehicular movements, overlooking or visual intrusion, and that the built form would not result in an unacceptable loss of privacy or light enjoyed by the occupiers of nearby properties;
  6. Respect the topography and respond to the location of the site and sensitively incorporate natural features such as trees, hedges and ponds worthy of retention within the site;
  7. Provide a quality of design commensurate with the degree of environmental value;
  8. Orientate development, where possible, in such a way as to maximise the opportunity for sustainable elements to be incorporated and to reduce the reliance upon less sustainable energy sources;
  9. Protect and enhance any on site biodiversity and geodiversity features where appropriate, or provide sufficient mitigation measures;
  10. Safely accommodate the vehicular and pedestrian movement generated by the proposal on the local highway network and through the site access;
  11. Create a safe and secure environment and incorporate adequate security measures and features to deter crime, fear of crime, disorder and anti-social behaviour;
  12. In areas at risk of flooding, provide mitigation measures integral to the design of buildings will be required;
  13. Avoid inappropriate new development within areas at risk from flooding or mitigate any potential impacts of new development within such areas;
  14. Incorporate sustainable drainage systems where feasible;
  15. Incorporate measures for the adequate storage of waste, including provision for increasing recyclable waste;
  16. Provide adequate vehicular and cycle parking to meet adopted council standards; and
  17. Be flexible towards future adaptation in response to changing life needs.

 

Account should be taken of Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans, Character Area Assessments, the Maidstone Borough Landscape Character Guidelines SPD, the Kent Design Guide and the Kent Downs Area of Natural Beauty Management Plan.


 

DM5 RESIDENTIAL GARDEN LAND

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM5 Residential garden land

Key issues:

1.     More precise criteria required.

2.     Policy should reference granny annexes.

3.     Safeguards needed to protect the character of an area.

4.     Construction of dwelling in residential gardens can be achieved without undue determent to neighbouring properties.

5.     Leave gardens alone.

6.     Importance of urban biodiversity.

7.     Need for adequate on site car parking.

8.     Where is there evidence of a settlement character? This policy will not be effective without this information.

9.     New development/redevelopment should always be sympathetic to the existing housing density and design in a given area.

Key issue 1: More precise criteria required.

Detail: This parish council has not changed its view that gardens should be treated as greenfield sites. If development is to be entertained, MBC should state precise criteria for allowing such development along the lines of

‘Development will not be permitted if the ratio of the footprint of the proposed new dwelling to its curtilage exceeds that of the existing dwelling to its new curtilage.’

 Development is in keeping with the character of the current property and the street scene in general.

Officer response: Partially accept, NPPF Para 53 states that: ”Local planning authorities should consider the case for setting out policies to resist inappropriate development of residential gardens, for example where development would cause harm to the local area”.

 

The Council will continue to resist inappropriate development, which typically involves the subdivision of existing residential curtilages, which can appear cramped and damage the existing pattern of development.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Policy should reference granny annexes.

Detail: This representation seeks to draw the attention of Maidstone Borough Council to the benefits of the provsion of Granny Annexes and how the Local Plan should pro-actively support such proposals. The requirement to provide affordable and sustainable accomodation for elderly family members is ever increasing.

Age UK published 'Care in Crisis 2014' which sets out the very clear need for flexible accommodation solutions for the elderly: 

  • The number of people aged 85 and over (the group most likely to need care) has increased by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2014.
  • Between 2005/6 and 2010/11 public funding for older people's social care stagnated.
  • 21% increase of residents in nursing/residential homes since 2005.
  • From 2010/11 to 2013/14 public funding for older people's social care (including transfers from the NHS to councils) decreased by 10 per cent in real terms.
  • Councils have cut back on their funding for social care.
  • In 2011, it was estimated that 2 million older people had care related needs.

The provision of a granny annexe within the residential curtilage creates a long term and sustainable solution to the needs of the aging population. The benefits include;

  • Allows family members to provide the care and support required.
  • Reduces the stress and impact on local services, ie nursing homes, home visits from care professionals etc.
  • Cost effective and affordable solution to supported living.
  • Provides a measure of independance, while still being close to support.

'Annexes' can addtionally provide ancillary living accomodaton for younger members of the family, allowing them to save for deposits for their first home, improve living conditions, provide a measure of independence and allow extended families to stay together.

The provision of granny annexes is supported by central Government in the report ' Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England (2013)'. It states:

"Planning homes and communities that enable older people to remain economically active, involved with their families, friends and community and able to choose where and how they live not only makes financial sense but also results in a better, more inclusive society."

With both an ageing population and young people finding it difficult to get on the housing ladder, the government is removing barriers to extended families that live together.

This is evident with the recent reduction to council tax for granny annexes and the excemption of CIL charges.

We recommend incorporating the following policy in DM5 or DM8:

Ancillary Buildings

Proposals for domestic outbuildings and extensions that provide ancillary residential accommodation within the curtilage of an existing dwelling will be permitted provided that:

  1. Would not have a significant detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area; and
  2. Is not used for any purpose other than ancillary residnetial accommodation to the main dwelling.  

 

It is important that the policy position accepts that granny annexe accommodation is ancillary to the main dwelling and can be controlled through an appropriate planning condition. It should also reinforce that granny annexe accommodation does not constitute a new dwelling and should be considered as such in planning decisions. 

Officer response: The Council recognise the benefit of residential annexes can provide for members of the same family, particularly older family members who may need additional support.

 

A residential annex can be defined as accommodation ancillary to the main dwelling with the residential curtilage, and is a form of extra accommodation in the same way an extension to a dwelling would be. The Council is of the opinion that that annexes should be well related to the main dwelling. 

 

The Council agrees that within defined settlements, annexes are generally an acceptable form of additional accommodation for residents. The design, layout and scale of annexes are crucial factors in determining the impact on the amenity of existing or new residents on the visual form and character of the local area. Ensuring that there remains safe and adequate parking and access is also a key factor in assessing applications. Problems arise when developing annexes separate from the main dwelling, because they may appear to be used as separate dwellings and are intrusive in the landscape in countryside locations.

 

There is currently no national guidance specifically relating to residential annexes so proposals will be assessed against more general policies in the Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.

Proposed change: No change – applications for residential annexes will be assessed against Local Plan policies and the NPPF.

Key issue 3: Safeguards needed to protect the character of an area.

Detail: Not supported without more safeguards to protect the character of an area

Officer response: The NPPF requires local planning authorities to set out policies to resist inappropriate development in residential gardens. The Council will continue to resist inappropriate development within existing residential curtilage. New developments will be assessed against policy DM4 and will only be permitted providing that they do not harm the character and appearance of an area.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Construction of dwelling in residential gardens can be achieved without undue determent to neighbouring properties.

Detail: The development of residential garden land to provide additional dwellings is supported. There are numerous opportunities throughout the Borough where the construction of dwellings within existing gardens can be achieved without undue determent to adjacent properties. The council should therefore look favourably on such proposals when they are submitted.

Officer response: The Council recognises the benefits of development within some residential gardens in helping to meet the councils housing need. The NPPF requires local planning authorities to set out policies to resist inappropriate development in residential gardens. The Council will continue to resist inappropriate development within existing residential curtilage.  and new buildings will allow be permitted providing that they do not harm the character and appearance of an area.

 

The policy sets out when development within a domestic garden is acceptable, subject to the criteria being met.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 5: Leave gardens alone.

Detail: Leave gardens alone

Officer response:  Reject: The Council recognises the benefits of development within some residential gardens. The NPPF requires local planning authorities to set out policies to resist inappropriate development in residential gardens. The Council will continue to resist inappropriate development within existing residential curtilage. New developments will be assessed against policy DM4 and will only be permitted providing that they do not harm the character and appearance of an area.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 6: Importance of urban biodiversity.

Detail: Object, Policy DM5 should make some reference to the value of gardens as stepping stones and corridors in the habitats network, and their importance to urban biodiversity, detailed landscape and visual assessments.

Officer response: The Council recognises the importance of biodiversity with the urban area and the whole Borough of Maidstone. NPPF Para 109 requires local authorities to enhance the natural and local environment by minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible.

Where applications for development do not conform with the NPPF or policy Local Plan policy DM10 permission will be refused.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 7: Need for adequate on site car parking.

Detail: Need for adequate on site car parking

Officer response: Car parking is a major consideration for all residential developments. Policy DM5 requires that development within residential gardens will only be acceptable where suitable access can be proved from the property to the highway and there would be no significant increase in noise or disturbance from traffic gaining access to the development.  The Council does not consider that a uniform standard should be set for the number of spaces that should be provided, but that the number of off street parking spaces and their design should be appropriate to the proposed scheme. The need for a schemes parking requirement will be assessed against more general policies in the Local Plan and against policies in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 8: Where is there evidence of a settlement character? This policy will not be effective without this information.

Detail: SUPPORT, but where is the evidence of the settlement character from which they can appraise planning applications. As it stands there’s no evidence to back up decisions, so this policy simply won’t be able to be applied.

Officer response: Partially agree, NPPF Para 109 requires the planning system to contribute and enhance the natural and local environment by protecting and enhancing valued landscapes.

 

Planning applications, where required, will be required to assess landscape impact from proposals and will only be permitted where they meet the following criteria:

·         The higher density resulting from the development would not result in harm to the character and appearance of the area.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: New development/redevelopment should always be sympathetic to the existing housing density and design in a given area.

Detail: SUPPORT - new development/redevelopment should always be sympathetic to the density and nature of the housing in the surrounding area.

Officer response: Support Noted – Development will only be granted subject to the criteria to being met.

Proposed change: No change.


DM5 RESIDENTIAL GARDEN LAND

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 5 – Residential garden land

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.19 Within the built up areas of the borough's towns and villages, there is significant pressure for the development of residential garden land. Such development, typically involving the subdivision of existing residential curtilages, can often appear cramped and damage the existing pattern of development. The council wishes to resist development where it cannot be absorbed within the existing character, pattern and layout of the built environment without detriment to visual amenity. All new development should respect the amenities of neighbouring occupiers and their quality of life. It should be designed to avoid an unacceptable loss of privacy, light or outlook and also excessive levels of noise from activities, processes and traffic movements.

 

POLICY DM5

Residential garden land

 

Development of domestic garden land to create new buildings which meet

the following criteria will be permitted provided:

 

1.     The higher density resulting from the development would not result in harm to the character and appearance of the area;

2.     There is no significant loss of privacy, light or outlook for adjoining properties and/or their curtilages;

3.     Access of an appropriate standard can be provided to a suitable highway; and

4.     There would be no significant increase in noise or disturbance from traffic gaining access to the development.


 

DM6 EXTERNAL LIGHTING

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM6 External lighting

Key issues:

1.     Lighting strategy should be included in Local Plans.

2.     Account should be taken of other advisory documents.

3.     Needs monitoring measures to be included.

4.     Policy should address uplighting.

5.     Light pollution causes loss of wildlife.

6.     Intrusive lighting is always inappropriate in the AONB.

Key issue 1: Lighting strategy should be included in Local Plans.

Detail: Maidstone Town Centre Regeneration Sub Group- Maidstone Town Team A Lighting Strategy is being developed to visually enhance Maidstone Town Centre and its approaches. Elements being considered include primary gateway locations, key historic buildings and structures, monuments, sculptures and landscape features. The benefits of the strategy will include a reduction in town light pollution, improved safety, security and wayfinding and a more sustainable, energy efficient environment. The aim is to create a series of pleasant, comfortable public realm spaces with the use of sympathetic and unobtrusive feature lighting to key buildings and structures of note. Significant landscapes such as BrenchleyGardens, the Riverside and the Archbishops Palace& All Saints Church environs will also be enhanced to give them additional prominence. The use of modern, efficient colour changing lamps in prominent locations to promote and support a variety of town events such as parades, fairs, festivals and markets is to be implemented. A pilot project to feature light the historic Maidstone Town Hall is planned. The hall is Grade II listed and forms the western perimeter of the new Jubilee Square. The concept is to highlight the Jubilee Square and High Street facade stonework and window forms and the rooftop Cupola. The Maidstone Lighting Strategy requires the inclusion of a policy condition that new planning applications for refurbishments, changes of use, new buildings etc in the Town Centre and its environs are to incorporate the buildings/structures with feature lighting so as to:

  • promote the observation and experience of each building/structure
  • enhance key architectural features,
  • improve the quality of the nocturnal environment
  • reduce light pollution
  • increase safety through both aesthetic and technical approaches.

The Maidstone Lighting Strategy requires buildings/structures are illuminated in accordance with CIBSE requirements and installed to current British Standards. The Maidstone Lighting Strategy requires that all lighting can be linked to controls so that themed evenings, Christmas and other festivals, or celebrated occasions can be programmed through light. A Maidstone Lighting Strategy checklist would include the following

  • Does the entire building need to be lit?
  • Are there features to be highlighted?
  • Where can external light fitments be placed, and wired to?
  • Is there light spill / pollution from adjacent buildings?
  • What environmental considerations are there?

What levels of illumination are required?

Officer response: The Council recognises that carefully designed external lighting can enhance the night-time economy and have benefits for security and viability. In additional, the council recognises that lighting can be an important factor of good design. Appropriate types and levels of lighting can contribute positively towards a sense of place, whilst poorly designed lighting schemes can damage local amenity and biodiversity.

 

Proposals for external lighting which meet the criteria set out in Policy DM6 will be permitted.  

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Account should be taken of other advisory documents.

Detail: - Supported but amended to include that account should be taken of Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans, Character Area Assessments, the Kent Design Guide and the Kent Downs Area of Natural Beauty Management Plan.

Officer response: Supported is noted – NPPF para 125 requires planning policies to limit the impact from light pollution. Policy DM6 sets out the external light pollution will only be permitted where the proposal is not visually detrimental to its immediate or wider setting.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Needs monitoring measures to be included.

Detail: Support – Needs monitoring measures to be included

Officer response: Support noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Policy should address up-lighting.

Detail: Object - No reference is made to up-lighting within this policy, which is now becoming an issue in urban and rural areas and spreading light pollution to previously dark environments - with requisite negative impact upon amenity and biodiversity. Permitted development rights to introduce up-lighting should be revoked and a requirement for thorough scrutiny of any proposals enshrined in local policy.

Officer response: Partially accept: The Council recognises that excessive amounts external artificial light where poorly designed, excessive and badly located can be a problem. However, the council also recognises the benefits of external artificial light can bring to safety, extension of sporting and leisure activities advertising and enhancing amenity value. The council seeks to balance the need for any such proposal against the implications it may have on the environment in terms of obstructive lights.

 

The NPPF requires local authorities to limit light pollution in locations which are particularly sensitive to light, such as intrinsically dark landscapes. The council will seek to ensure well-designed lighting schemes, which are suitable for their environments. Where the criteria for external lighting, set out in policy DM6 is not met, proposals will not be permitted.

Proposed change: No change as policy already sets out schemes that are acceptable.

Key issue 5: Light pollution causes loss of wildlife.

Detail: The policy itself must incorporate explicit reference to the negative impact of external lighting upon wildlife. Invertebrates, in particular, depend on the natural rhythms of day-night and seasonal and lunar changes to light levels. As a result artificial lighting has several negative impacts on a wide range of invertebrates including disrupting their feeding, breeding and movement which may reduce and fragment populations. Indeed, specific reference should be made in the policy narrative to the very significant harm that artificial lighting has on invertebrate populations - which are locally in steep decline, with serious implications for Kent's ecology and economy (especially through the loss of pollination services).

Officer response: NPPF para 109 requires local planning authorities to minimise impacts on biodiversity where possible, contributing to the Government’s commitments to halt the overall decline in biodiversity. The council recognises that lighting proposals that neighbour or are near enough to significantly affect areas of nature conservation importance, e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves and County Wildlife Sites will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances. External artificial lighting can have severe implications for the natural diurnal rhythms in a range of animals and plants and therefore sites, which are deemed important in terms of their provision of wildlife, should not be in anyway affected.

Proposed change: Supporting text to be amended.

Subsection to be added to policy to state “lighting proposals that neighbour or are near enough to significantly affect areas of nature conservation importance, e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves and County Wildlife Sites will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances”.

Key issue 6: Intrusive lighting is always inappropriate in the AONB.

Detail: Comment -

The conservation of dark night skies is supported by the NPPF. If intrusive lighting is seen as essential for a development within the KDAONB then this should be seen as an inappropriate development for the AONB and be a reason for refusal, the policy should indicate the more stringent restrictions in tranquil areas and the AONB.

Officer response: Partially Agree – The council recognises that the NPPF seeks to limit light pollution in locations which are particular sensitive to light, such as intrinsically dark landscapes, such as areas of the Kent Downs AONB.

 

Proposals will only be permitted where the scheme would not be visually detrimental to its immediate or wider setting.

Proposed change: No change.


DM6 EXTERNAL LIGHTING

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 6 – External lighting

·                     Addition and amendments

·                     Deletions

 

 

11.20 Lighting can be an important factor of good design. Appropriate types and levels of lighting can contribute positively towards a sense of place, whilst poorly designed lighting schemes can damage local amenity and biodiversity interests. The National Planning Policy Framework seeks to limit light pollution in locations which are particularly sensitive to light, such as intrinsically dark landscapes.

 

11.21 The council recognises that carefully designed external lighting can enhance the night-time economy and have benefits for security and the viability of recreational facilities. However, inappropriate and excessive external lighting can not only be both visually obtrusive and inefficient in energy terms, but can also damage rural character in areas containing little built development, and can have highway safety implications for drivers. Protected species, such as bats, tend to avoid well-lit areas and lighting schemes should ensure that ecological issues are fully considered in their design.

 

11.22 The council will seek to secure well-designed lighting schemes, which are suitable for their environments. External lighting should play its role in achieving sustainable development by meeting relevant codes. Where appropriate the recommendations within the Institute of Lighting Engineers Technical Report Number 5 will be considered as a guide to maximum levels of luminance. Low level bollard lighting will be supported where appropriate. The council will also encourage the use of PIR motion sensor lighting for business development and public buildings, in order to provide energy efficiency savings.

 

POLICY DM6

External lighting

 

1.     Proposals for external lighting which meet the following criteria will be permitted:

 

i.       It is demonstrated that the minimum amount of lighting necessary to achieve its purpose is proposed;

ii.      The design and specification of the lighting would minimise glare and light spillage and would not dazzle or distract drivers or pedestrians using nearby highways;

iii.    The relevant standards as set out in the Code for Sustainable Homes and BREEAM are met; and

iv.    The lighting scheme would not be visually detrimental to its immediate or wider setting.

 

2.     Lighting proposals that neighbour or are near enough to significantly affect areas of nature conservation importance, e.g. Sites of Special Scientific Interest, National Nature Reserves and County Wildlife Sites will only be permitted in exceptional circumstances.


 

DM7 SIGNAGE AND SHOP FRONTS

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM7  Signage and shop fronts

Key issues:

1. To let/for sale signs should require planning permissions

2. There should be an emphasis on traditional shop fronts

Key issue 1: To let/for sale signs should require planning permission.

Detail: I write to request that policy DM7 and/or other relevant policies are expanded to make planning permission necessary before ;for sale' and 'to let' signs can be erected in gardens. Such an approach is supported by the NPPF and has been successfully implemented by a number of local authorities including Hastings Council, Newcastle City Council and Westminster LBC.

 

The preponderance of for sale and to let signs provide an opportunity for free marketing at the expense of the aesthetics of local street scene, and often remain in situ for periods wellin excess of the14 day limit enshrined within the relevant code of practice,and eventually fall or are pulled over to detriment of local residential or commercial character.

 

Within residential areas with significant numbers of flats, bedsits and houses in multiple occupation, such as parts of North, High Street, Fant, Bridgeand East Ward, the preponderance of 'for sale' and 'to let' signs seriously detract from the quality of the street scene, and lend an unfortunate and often unwarrantedair of transience and evendecline. Some of our most attractive residential areas, including conservation areas and picturesque villages and hamlets,are also blighted by untidy and oftenmultiple signs.

 

By ensuring that planning permission is required and that a high bar is set to better regulate and reduce the extent of this largely unregulated and untidy form of free advertising the quality of Maidstone Borough's residential and commercial districts could, I believe, be enhanced significantly.

Officer response: The Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements)(England) Regulations 2007 is the principal statutory instrument that controls the display of advertisements in England. The majority of outdoor advertisements put up by estate agents and auctioneers benefit from "deemed consent" under the Town and Country Planning (Control of Advertisements)(England) Regulations 2007, meaning that they do not require express consent providing that the criteria in the regulations is followed.

 

In cases where boards displayed with Deemed Consent are detracting seriously from the character or appearance of buildings or streets or cause serious injury to the general amenity of an area, the Secretary of State can issue a Direction (under Regulation 7 of the 2007 Regulations) cancelling Deemed Consent rights in the area(s) specified in the Direction. Therefore the display of all ‘To Let’, ‘For Sale’ and similar boards needs Express Consent from the Local Planning Authority.

 

The Council believe that as there is already adequate mechanisms in place (as outlined above) to protect an areas character and appearance there is no need for further specific policies to limit the amount of to let/for sale signs in the borough.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Emphasis should be placed on traditional shop frontages.

Detail: Illuminated shop signage should be avoided (rejected) in Conservation Areas. Emphasis on traditional shop fronts should be maintained.

Officer response: Local Plan proposed policy DM4 sets out the development should create high quality design and meet the following criteria:

·         Respond positively to and where possible enhance, the local, natural or historic character of the area. Particular regard will be paid to scale, height materials detailing, mass, bulk, articulation and site coverage;

·         Create high quality public realm.

 

In terms of national planning guidance the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) sets out the need to secure high quality design and promote the vitality of our main urban areas. Policies relevant to this topic include:

·         Para 56 outlines the importance of design in the built environment as it is seen as being a key aspect of sustainable development, indivisible from good planning, and should contribute positively to making paces better for people.

·         Para 58 states that planning policies and decisions should aim to ensure that developments:

o   function well and add to the overall quality of the area, not just for the short term but over the lifetime of the development;

o   establish a strong sense of place, using streetscapes and buildings to create attractive and comfortable places to live, work and visit;

o   respond to local character and history, and reflect the identity of local surroundings and materials, while not preventing or discouraging appropriate innovation;

o   create safe and accessible environments where crime and disorder, and the fear of crime, do not undermine quality of life or community cohesion

 

The council believe that as there is already a substantial amount of guidance within both national policy and the proposed Local Plan there is no need for additional criteria to be included within policy DM7.

Proposed change: No change.


DM7 SIGNAGE AND SHOP FRONTS

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 7         Signage and shop fronts

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.23 Signage and shop fronts have a significant impact upon the attractiveness and vitality of shopping and other commercial areas. The National Planning Policy Framework requires that new development integrates well into the built environment. Advertisements which are poorly placed can result in visual clutter which both detracts from the quality of the built environment and leads to a more confused and less coherent visual presentation. Unsympathetic shop windows and signs can also damage the character of their locality, especially in conservation areas.

 

11.24 The council wishes to support commercial and retail frontage and signage schemes which are in sympathy with, and contribute positively towards, the visual amenity of their locality. The scale, design and detailing of such schemes should respect and visually complement their surroundings, being appropriately designed for their context.

 

11.25 Solid external shutters which completely cover a shop or other commercial front are visually unattractive and generally detract from the vitality of commercial areas. In order to preserve the quality of the built environment, the council will seek alternative security solutions such as internal lattice grilles, security systems or use of laminated glass. In some cases, external roller shutters having an open grille design which let light on to the street may be acceptable, subject to the housing being unobtrusive and unlikely to harm the character of the building or street scene. Solid external roller shutters will only be approved where an overriding security need can be demonstrated. Such evidence is likely to include details of break-ins and information from Kent police confirming that roller shutters are necessary and the only viable security solution.

 

POLICY DM7

Signage and shop fronts

 

Proposals for new signage and for shop (A1) or other commercial (A2-A5) fronts which meet the following criteria will be permitted:

 

1.     The size, design, positioning, materials, colour and method of illumination of signage would not be detrimental to the character and appearance of the building or the surrounding area;

2.     The proposal would not result in the loss of a traditional shop front or features and details of architectural or historic interest;

3.     The proposal would be in sympathy with the architectural style, materials and form of the building(s) of which it would form part and the character of the neighbouring properties; and

4.     Where a fascia is to be applied, it would be of an appropriate height which would be in scale with the overall height of the shop front and other elements of the building.


 

DM8 RESIDENTIAL EXTENSIONS, CONVERSIONS AND REDEVELOPMENTS

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM8 Residential extensions, conversions and redevelopment

Key issues:

1.        Some unconditional support.

2.        Policy should reference need for granny annexes

3.        Sufficient parking should be provided

4.        Take account of any relevant adopted neighbourhood plan

Key issue 1: Some unconditional support.

Detail:  Support – Long overdue

Officer response: Support noted

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Policy should reference need for granny annexes.

Detail: This representation seeks to draw the attention of Maidstone Borough Council to the benefits of the provision of Granny Annexes and how the Local Plan should pro-actively support such proposals. The requirement to provide affordable and sustainable accommodation for elderly family members is ever increasing.

Age UK published 'Care in Crisis 2014' which sets out the very clear need for flexible accommodation solutions for the elderly: 

  • The number of people aged 85 and over (the group most likely to need care) has increased by 30 per cent between 2005 and 2014.
  • Between 2005/6 and 2010/11 public funding for older people's social care stagnated.
  • 21% increase of residents in nursing/residential homes since 2005.
  • From 2010/11 to 2013/14 public funding for older people's social care (including transfers from the NHS to councils) decreased by 10 per cent in real terms.
  • Councils have cut back on their funding for social care.
  • In 2011, it was estimated that 2 million older people had care related needs.

The provision of a granny annexe within the residential curtilage creates a long term and sustainable solution to the needs of the aging population. The benefits include;

  • Allows family members to provide the care and support required.
  • Reduces the stress and impact on local services, ie nursing homes, home visits from care professionals etc.
  • Cost effective and affordable solution to supported living.
  • Provides a measure of independance, while still being close to support.

'Annexes' can addtionally provide ancillary living accomodaton for younger members of the family, allowing them to save for deposits for their first home, improve living conditions, provide a measure of independence and allow extended families to stay together.

The provision of granny annexes is supported by central Government in the report ' Laying the Foundations: A Housing Strategy for England (2013)'. It states:

"Planning homes and communities that enable older people to remain economically active, involved with their families, friends and community and able to choose where and how they live not only makes financial sense but also results in a better, more inclusive society."

With both an ageing population and young people finding it difficult to get on the housing ladder, the government is removing barriers to extended families that live together.

This is evident with the recent reduction to council tax for granny annexes and the exemption of CIL charges.

We recommend incorporating the following policy in DM5 or DM8:

Ancillary Buildings

Proposals for domestic outbuildings and extensions that provide ancillary residential accommodation within the curtilage of an existing dwelling will be permitted provided that:

  1. Would not have a significant detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the surrounding area; and
  2. Is not used for any purpose other than ancillary residnetial accommodation to the main dwelling.  

 

It is important that the policy position accepts that granny annexe accommodation is ancillary to the main dwelling and can be controlled through an appropriate planning condition. It should also reinforce that granny annexe accommodation does not constitute a new dwelling and should be considered as such in planning decisions. 

Officer response: The Council recognise the benefit of residential annexes can provide for members of the same family, particularly older family members who may need additional support.

 

A residential annex can be defined as accommodation ancillary to the main dwelling with the residential curtilage, and is a form of extra accommodation in the same way an extension to a dwelling would be. The Council is of the opinion that that annexes should be well related to the main dwelling. 

 

The Council agrees that within defined settlements, annexes are generally an acceptable form of additional accommodation for residents. The design, layout and scale of annexes are crucial factors in determining the impact on the amenity of existing or new residents on the visual form and character of the local area. Ensuring that there remains safe and adequate parking and access is also a key factor in assessing applications. Problems arise when developing annexes separate from the main dwelling, because they may appear to be used as separate dwellings and are intrusive in the landscape in countryside locations.

 

There is currently no national guidance specifically relating to residential annexes so proposals will be assessed against more general policies in the Local Plan and the National Planning Policy Framework.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Sufficient parking should be provided.

Detail: Section 1. iv. Sufficient parking should be provided and retained and permitted development rights removed to ensure retention.

Section 2 - is the change of use from A3 to A4 now permitted development?

Officer response: Car parking is a major consideration when a Residential extension, conversions and redevelopment scheme is proposed. The Council does not consider that a uniform standard should be set for the number of spaces that should be provided, but that the number of off street parking spaces and their design should be appropriate to the proposed scheme. The need for a schemes parking requirement will be assessed against more general policies in the Local Plan and against policies in the National Planning Policy Framework.

 

From 30 May 2013 buildings with A1 shop, A2 Financial and professional services, A3 Restaurants and cafés, A4 Drinking establishments, A5 Hot food takeaways, B1 Business, D1 Non-residential institutions and D2 Assembly and leisure uses will be permitted to change use for a period of up two years to A1 shop, A2 Financial and professional services, A3 Restaurants and cafés and B1 Business uses. The floor area changed can be no more than 150 square metres of floor space in the building, has not previously been used for a temporary period under Class D and must not form part of a listed building or a scheduled monument. The changes do not allow for change of use from A3 to A4.

 

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Take account of any relevant adopted neighbourhood plan

Detail: There is little or no mention of Neighbourhood Plans in the Local Plan which is a serious omission.  As these are being developed in parallel with the Local Plan - and will have some weight in the planning process - some reference should be included in the appropriate policies to their relevance.  Wording such as:-

‘Regard will be given to any relevant adopted Neighbourhood Plan’ should be incorporated into the following policies:-

            DM2, DM4, DM8, DM10-13, DM18, DM20, DM24-25, DM30, DM32-33, DM37-38.

Officer response: The Council is fully supportive of communities who wish to pursue the development of a Neighbourhood Plan. A neighbourhood plan can assist a community to create a vision for their area, establishing general planning policies for the development and use of land. This could be where new homes should be built and what types of materials should be used, or where public open space should be located and how it will be maintained. The Neighbourhood Plan must conform to the local planning authority's relevant planning policies.

Proposed change: No change.


DM8 RESIDENTIAL EXTENSIONS, CONVERSIONS AND REDEVELOPMENTS

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 8 Residential extensions, conversions and redevelopment

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.26 The conversion of larger residential properties to self-contained flats and houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) aids the provision of accommodation for smaller households and contributes towards a mix and choice of homes, advocated by the National Planning Policy Framework. HMOs differ from self contained flats as bedrooms/bed sitting rooms are private but other facilities, such as bathrooms and kitchens, are shared. The National Planning Policy Framework also places emphasis upon the quality of new residential development and requires a good standard of amenity to be provided for all existing and future occupants of land and buildings.

 

11.27 The council wishes to ensure that new residential units are attractive, high quality places to live, which respond positively to the local area. Good quality development should be of a scale and layout which provides attractive and comfortable places to live. The intensified use of dwellings to create smaller households can cause problems for nearby residents, for example noise and disturbance from increased traffic movements and requirements for parking. Policy DM8 seeks to control the potential problems arising from such proposals.

 

11.28 Residential extensions generally benefit the community by increasing the amount and quality of accommodation in the borough. However, careful design is necessary, in order to prevent a reduction in the quality of living conditions for adjoining residents and the built environment in general. The adopted Residential Extensions Supplementary Planning Document (May 2009) will be used to guide the assessment of proposals for residential extensions.

 

POLICY DM8

Residential extensions, conversions and redevelopment

 

1. Within the defined boundaries of the urban area, rural service centres and larger villages, proposals for the extension, conversion or redevelopment of a residential property which meet the following criteria

will be permitted:

 

     i.        The scale, height, form, appearance and siting of the proposal would fit unobtrusively with the existing building where retained and the character of the street scene and/or its context;

    ii.        The traditional boundary treatment of an area would be retained and, where feasible, reinforced;

   iii.        The privacy, daylight, sunlight and maintenance of a pleasant outlook of adjoining residents would be safeguarded; and

  iv.        Sufficient parking would be provided within the curtilage of the dwelling without diminishing the character of the street scene.

 

2. Within the defined boundaries of the urban area, rural service centres and larger villages, proposals for the conversion or redevelopment of a dwelling to self-contained flats or the use of a building as a house in multiple occupation which also meet the following criterion will be permitted:

 

     i.        The intensified use of the building and its curtilage would not significantly harm the appearance of the building or the character and amenity of the surrounding area.


 

DM9 NON-CONFORMING USES

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM9 Non-conforming uses

Key issues:

1.     Some unconditional support.

2.     Need to cross reference SP5.

3.     Need to consider removal of non-conforming uses where there is a material harm to local communities.

4.     Policy not needed as these topics are covered elsewhere in the plan – duplication.

Key issue 1: Some unconditional support.

Detail: Some unconditional support.

Officer response: Noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Need to cross reference SP5.

Detail: Policy SP5 is the strategic policy for the countryside.

Officer response: Reject. The local plan should be read as a whole. This policy therefore already cross-references SP5 and all other relevant policies.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Need to consider removal of non-conforming uses where there is a material harm to local communities.

Detail: Where local communities are subject to material harm from non-conforming uses the plan should go a step further and facilitate the removal of those uses.

Officer response: Partially accept. In terms of local communities potentially being subject to non-conforming uses that are causing ongoing harm, then clearly there is an issue that needs to be addressed. However, there are likely to be a number of factors that need to be considered, including what use was present first, how the uses came to be in conflict and whether there is a need of some form for the ‘non-conforming use’ to continue operations.

 

For planning, if there is a breach of control then this can be addressed through enforcement action, but if there is not a breach of control then removing the use might be more difficult and could involve financial considerations. Where there has been a use that has ceased, the site will then be considered previously developed land, which will make a change of use, in planning terms at least, an achievable prospect.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Policy not needed as these topics are covered elsewhere in the plan – duplication.

Detail: The local plan should be read as a whole, which could lead to the purpose of DM9 being questioned.

Officer response: Partially accept. There are elements of this policy that are covered by policies elsewhere in the plan, however, this policy was requested by development management officers.

Proposed change: No change.


DM9 NON-CONFORMING USES

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 9 – Non-conforming uses

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.29 Some uses may be detrimental to the quality of the environment and a nuisance to neighbouring land uses. The Borough Council therefore seeks to ensure that new development is appropriately sited and mitigated so that it does not cause a nuisance through noise or other disturbance to users in the local area.

 

11.30 It is recognised that certain uses may be more appropriate at rural sites, because there may be a lower number of sensitive users nearby, or due to land requirements, such as catteries and kennels, waste or recycling uses (which are normally a matter for determination by the County Council), as well as recreation uses including shooting and motor sports.

 

11.31 Policy DM4 ensures that development respects the amenities of occupiers of neighbouring properties and uses and should be read in conjunction with this policy.

 

POLICY DM 9

Non-conforming uses

 

Proposals for development which could create, intensify or expand noisy or noxious uses or which would generate volumes or types of traffic unsuited to the local area, will only be permitted if they meet such other exceptions as indicated by policies elsewhere in this plan.


 

DM10 HISTORIC AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM10 Historic and natural environment

Key issues:

1.        Supports protection of ancient woodland.

2.        Landscaping should make use of indigenous plants.

3.        Landscapes of highest value need to be referenced in glossary.

4.        Policy needs to be separated for built, natural and historic environments, green and blue areas – policy is not clear in current form.

5.        Questions validity of wildlife evidence used in applications.

6.        Requirements are not adequate for habitat compensation and new habitat creation.

7.        Hypogean fauna should be referenced.

8.        Account should be taken of any relevant adopted neighbourhood plan.

9.        Need to improve historic core along river and improve public access.

10.     Policy needs to make allowances for essential utility development.

11.     Policy should reference Kent Downs AONB management plan.

12.     Concern that landscape character guidelines will not be completed until after the plan is adopted.

Key issue 1: Supports protection of ancient woodland.

Detail: The policy reference to protecting ancient woodland is supported.

Officer response: Noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Landscaping should make use of indigenous plants.

Detail: The policy should require that in landscaping schemes, indigenous plant species are specified.

Officer response: Partially accept. Landscaping schemes are developed with consideration to the site in question and will assess appropriate plant species to be included as part of the proposal. In some cases, the use of indigenous species may not be feasible for the location or purpose required. However, exploring the use of indigenous species should be an automatic consideration and be requested more explicitly in the policy.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 3(i) to read:

 

“i. An ecological evaluation of development sites and any additional land put forward for mitigation purposes to take full account of the biodiversity present, including the potential for the retention and provision of native plant species;”

Key issue 3: Landscapes of highest value need to be referenced in glossary.

Detail: Landscapes of highest value should be defined in the glossary.

Officer response: Accept. These landscape are accurately defined as ‘landscapes of local value’ and are depicted in the reasoned justification to policy SP5 – Countryside. Policy DM30 – Design principles in the countryside, references these landscapes.

Proposed change: Add ‘Landscapes of local value’ to the glossary. Amend DM30 – Design principles in the countryside, to use the accurate terminology.

Key issue 4: Policy needs to be separated for built, natural and historic environments, green and blue areas – policy is not clear in current form.

Detail: The policy should be split into component elements of built, natural and historic environments because it is currently unclear.

Officer response: Partially accept. In the 2011 Core Strategy consultation, the forerunner to this policy was termed ‘Natural assets’ and addressed only the natural environment. This policy was amended following consultation and reported to Cabinet in March 2013 as Historic and Natural Environment.

 

The expansion of this policy’s remit is intended to address the historic and natural environment as a single entity, illustrating a joined up consideration.

 

Where a case could possibly be made for splitting the historic and natural aspects of this policy, the built environment beyond that which is historic is addressed more aptly through the broad range of policies included in the plan as a whole.

 

Ultimately, there is an element of preference about how this is addressed and the council considers that it is appropriate for the historic and natural environment to be taken together.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 5: Questions validity of wildlife evidence used in applications.

Detail: The comment questions what ‘real’ surveys of wildlife have been undertaken.

Officer response: Reject. The council uses a combination of existing evidence as assessed by the ecology team at KCC and at the Kent Wildlife Trust, and new evidence provided by surveys in association with new development proposals. The council also checks the validity of the developers’ ecological evidence with KCC Ecology, the Kent Wildlife Trust and Natural England – all experts in their field.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 6: Requirements are not adequate for habitat compensation and new habitat creation.

Detail: The policy needs a prescriptive framework to quantify the size of compensatory habitat where translocation is specified. Maidstone Borough is a biodiversity hotspot.

Officer response: Reject. The council adequately addresses ecological requirements in consultation with KCC Ecology, the Kent Wildlife Trust, Natural England and ecological consultants employed by developers. Applying the council’s own framework could be considered rigid, and hamper the ability of the council and developers to find workable solutions.

 

While the council has not added further prescriptive detail to the policy, it will still be effective in directing developers to undertake the necessary work in dealing with existing and replacement habitats.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 7: Hypogean fauna should be referenced.

Detail: Hypogean fauna live in areas of groundwater and can be invertebrates, amphibians or fish.

Officer response: Reject. The policy refers to groundwater and the ecological status of groundwater. Referring to hypogean fauna would add too much detail about specific species. This also begs the question about which species to refer to and which to not refer to.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 8: Account should be taken of any relevant adopted neighbourhood plan.

Detail: Neighbourhood plans are part of the development plan, along with the local plan. The comment seeks for these to be recognised in this policy.

Officer response: Partially accept. Neighbourhood plans contain development policies and therefore are considered as part of any relevant planning application. The status of these plans as reflective of their community’s wishes is important. However, they do not need to be referenced as part of the policy because any adopted plan will automatically be considered by development management officers in their deliberations.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: Need to improve historic core along river and improve public access.

Detail: Need to improve historic core along river and improve public access.

Officer response: Accept. This is dealt with in policy SP1 – Maidstone Town Centre.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 10: Policy needs to make allowances for essential utility development.

Detail: Policy text should recognise that essential utility development will be  permitted in the protected areas provided certain criteria are met, therefore amendment to policy text proposed:

 

“Proposals for development of essential utility infrastructure will be supported where the benefit of the development outweighs any harm.”

Officer response: Partially accept. Utilities are essential to support new development, however, policy DM10 is not the correct policy to address this. Policy ID1 – Infrastructure delivery, more appropriately deals with utilities and accordingly any amendment should be made there.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 11: Policy should reference Kent Downs AONB management plan.

Detail: Maidstone Borough Council has adopted the Kent Downs AONB management plan as supplementary guidance to the local plan.

Officer response: Accept.

Proposed change: Amend final paragraph of policy text as follows:

 

“Account should be taken of the Landscape Character Guidelines SPD, the Green and Blue Infrastructure SPD and the most recent revision of the Kent Downs AONB Management Plan.”

Key issue 12: Concern that landscape character guidelines will not be completed until after the plan is adopted.

Detail: Concern expressed that the Landscape Character Guidelines SPD will not be adopted until 2017.

Officer response: Noted. The focus of the council is to adopt the local plan, which means that  other policy/supplementary work will follow subsequently. In the meantime, the council has retained section 9 of the Landscape Character Assessment and Landscape Guidelines from 2000. All evidence based work that has been completed relating to landscape has been used to inform the preparation of the local plan.

Proposed change: No change.


DM10 HISTORIC AND NATURAL ENVIRONMENT

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 10 – Historic and natural environment

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.32 Maidstone’s historic and natural environment is a fundamental part of the borough’s economic wealth and social well being, the benefits of which are far-reaching. It is essential to ensure these historic and natural asset bases remain robust and viable.

 

Historic environment

11.33 Maidstone has been shaped and influenced by a long past history, the legacy of which is a strong and rich cultural heritage. The Archbishop’s Palace and Leeds Castle are two high profile heritage assets but the borough also abounds with many other historical buildings. These heritage assets contribute to the strong sense of place which exists across the borough. However, this rich historical resource is very vulnerable to damage and loss. The local plan allows some flexibility for the re-use and conversion of historic assets but care must be taken to ensure this does not lead to unacceptable adverse impacts. Small scale changes over time, especially the standardisation of building materials and practices can erode the special character and appearance of places, and the setting of historic features such as listed buildings and scheduled monuments, which can be crucial in maintaining historic integrity.

 

11.34 The local plan will ensure the qualities and local distinctiveness of the historic environment are recognised and protected. This will be achieved in part through the protection of Scheduled Ancient Monuments, Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas from inappropriate development. The local plan will seek to encourage a greater understanding of designated and non-designated heritage assets and their values through partnership working with communities, developers and asset managers. The council will encourage mutually beneficial and sustainable proposals to conserve and enhance heritage assets for future generations whilst acknowledging the social and economic challenges faced by land owners and managers.

 

11.35 All development proposals will be expected to be accompanied by  an initial survey to establish what on-site assets there are. Sufficient information to assess the direct and indirect effects of development on past or present heritage assets together with any proposed prevention, mitigation or compensation measures will also be required. Without this there will be a presumption against granting permission.

 

Green and blue infrastructure

11.36 Green and blue infrastructure (GBI) is a network of natural components of open space and water which lie within and between the borough’s towns and villages and which provide multiple social, economic and environmental benefits. Maidstone borough contains a wide range of green open spaces together with a number of rivers and streams. Key assets include the Kent Downs AONB, the River Medway and its tributaries, Mote Park, and the distinctive green corridors which help shape Maidstone town. Amongst other things, these green spaces and blue corridors provide reservoirs for biodiversity and recreation; act as corridors for the movement of animals, plants and people; and provide opportunities for the protection and enhancement of the local landscape and historic assets; water management, green education, and the mitigation of climate change impacts.

 

11.37 Green and blue infrastructure has the capacity to deliver a wide range of positive outcomes in line with the objectives of the Sustainable community strategy including:

 

·           Helping to attract and retain higher paying employers;

·           Helping in the creation of an efficient, sustainable, integrated transport system;

·           Helping to tackle climate change; and

·           Creating healthier communities.

 

11.38 The green and blue infrastructure is considered to be of such importance that a Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy (GBIS) is being produced. The strategy will look to encourage the creation of links and stepping stones to help in the movement of people and wildlife across the built up urban area. In the rural areas the focus will be more on land management, and creating and enhancing landscape and habitat networks. The strategy will also seek to identify those areas of the borough where deficiencies exist and look to provide guidance on how these can be overcome. The council will promote a partnership approach with developers, land owners and neighbouring local authorities, including Kent County Council, to help achieve the objectives of the GBIS.

 

11.39 The growth proposed in the borough provides a chance to increase the value of accessible green spaces and blue corridors. New development will be expected to contribute towards the goal of a linked network which extends across the borough and beyond. Development schemes will be expected to contribute towards improved connectivity through the provision of footpaths and cycle routes that are part of a strategic network; space for nature that contributes to the larger landscape-scale pattern of connected habitat; and the provision of imaginative recreational facilities that give educational and physical health benefits to local people. The council will liaise with neighbouring local authorities, including Kent County Council, to ensure potential linkages at all scales and across administrative boundaries are recognised in the development of specific proposals. Developers will also be expected to provide details of how the green and blue infrastructure elements of their proposal, including publicly accessible open spaces, sites managed for their biodiversity, geodiversity or heritage interest, will be managed and maintained over the long-term. The council will provide further advice on this in the green and blue infrastructure supplementary planning document.

 

11.40 Publicly accessible open space, recreation and tourism are essential elements of sustainable communities, contributing towards health, quality of life, sense of place and overall well-being. Spaces and facilities form a part of the overall green and blue infrastructure network and within built up areas can provide local linkage between the town centre, urban neighbourhoods and the surrounding countryside. The needs and deficiencies in publicly accessible open spaces and facilities, and the open space standards, are identified in the open space development plan document and will be updated in the green and blue infrastructure supplementary planning document.

 

Climate change

11.41 Climate change is resulting in ever more variable weather patterns, the outcomes of which include flooding and drought. Natural systems are able to adapt to these consequences. However, adverse changes to the natural systems can result in increases in damage to property and compensation costs, and a decrease in water resource resilience. A green and blue infrastructure approach represents a means to positively tackle these issues. It can offer alternative flood mitigation strategies, such as Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) and the creation of water meadows. It is able to provide the means to capture and store rainwater, as well as help improve water quality. Development proposals will be expected to take full account of climate change and mitigate for any anticipated climate change impacts.

 

Water Framework Directive

11.42 The Water Framework Directive (WFD) looks to improve the local water environment for people and wildlife, and promote the sustainable use of water. The Directive applies to all surface water bodies, including lakes, streams and rivers as well as groundwater. The overall aim of the WFD is for all water bodies to reach good status by 2027. In Maidstone this would mean improving their physical state, preventing deterioration in water quality and ecology, and improving the ecological status of water bodies. The WDF introduced the concept of integrated river basin management and such plans should influence development plans. Maidstone lies within the Thames River Basin District and in December 2009 the Environment Agency published the Thames River Basin Management (RBMP).

 

11.43 The council will continue to work in partnership with the Environment Agency and other bodies to help achieve the goals of the WFD and actions of the Thames RBMP. The council will also actively encourage development proposals to include measures to mitigate against the deterioration of water bodies and adverse impacts on Groundwater Source Protection Zones, and/or incorporate measures to improve the ecological status of water bodies as appropriate.

 

Biodiversity

11.44 Maidstone is a biodiverse district endowed with a variety of habitats including heathlands and chalk downlands, orchards and ancient woodland, river valleys and ponds, wildflower meadows and parklands. All of these are underpinned by an equally diverse array of soils. Soils are a fundamental element of the ecosystems found within these habitats but one which is highly susceptible to damage. The council will work in partnership with land owners, land managers and developers to encourage better soil handling practices to avoid the degradation of soil and ensure soil functions are maintained as appropriate.

 

11.45 The broad range of habitats forms an extensive network across rural and urban areas, including previously developed land. Many sites are important for their nature conservation and geological interest, and are designated for their protection. In Maidstone, these include a site of international importance, namely the North Downs Woodlands Special Area of Conservation (SAC), nationally important Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), locally important Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) and Local Nature Reserves (LNR). Current designated nature conservation sites will be noted on the policies map.

 

11.46 As a result of increasing development pressures in the past many of the borough’s biodiversity assets have been lost, damaged or fragmented. In response to this decline the council has acted in partnership with other bodies to undertake surveys of the borough’s habitats and ancient woodlands. It has also adopted the Maidstone Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP), a key element of which is the establishment of a connecting network of sites and corridors on a landscape scale. By reconnecting fragments of habitats to form a mosaic, the natural environment is provided with the means to become self-sustaining as well as being better able to respond to and adapt to climate change.

 

11.47 Development proposals will be expected to be supported by an initial survey of on-site assets. Surveys must be undertaken at the appropriate time of year for the relevant habitats, species, flora and fauna. Where harm to protected species or habitats is unavoidable, developers must ensure suitable mitigation measures are implemented to enhance or recreate the features, either on or off-site, and bring sites into positive conservation management. Sufficient information to assess the direct and indirect effects of development on protected sites, species, biodiversity or geology, and any proposed prevention, mitigation or compensation measures must be provided. Proposals should particularly seek to avoid damaging and fragmenting existing habitats. Opportunities to contribute towards the UK priority habitats and species in Maidstone and any additional Maidstone LBAP habitats and species should be maximised. 

 

11.48 Development likely to have an adverse effect on the integrity and conservation objectives of internationally important nature conservation sites is unlikely to meet the requirements of the Habitats Directive. Such development will not be considered favourably.  Damage must be minimised in those exceptional cases where the strategic benefits of a development clearly outweigh the importance of a local nature conservation site, species, habitat or geological feature. Any remaining impacts must be fully mitigated and a mitigation strategy accompany the planning application. Compensation will only be acceptable in exceptional circumstances.

 

Landscape

11.49 The visual character of Maidstone’s landscape is highly valued by those living, working and visiting here. A significant proportion of the borough benefits from high quality landscapes. A large area of the borough lies within the Kent Downs AONB, a nationally important landscape designation and a strong level of protection will be given to this designation and its setting, set out in policy SP5. However, all of the landscapes play an important role in contributing to the borough’s environmental, economic and social values. Therefore all landscapes, rather than just those that are designated, will be viewed as a natural asset. This is in line with the European Landscape Convention.

 

11.50 The National Planning Policy Framework encourages the protection of valued landscapes. Whilst the Maidstone Landscape Character Assessment 2012 identifies the various landscape types and characters. For Maidstone, these landscapes are identified as the Greensand Ridge, Medway River Valley and Loose River Valley, which are afforded protection in policy SP5.

 

11.51 Landscape Character Assessment is part of the evidence base and should be used to inform development and land management proposals. It is a descriptive tool which identifies and describes variation of landscape character, distinguishing the features that give a locality its 'sense of place' and pinpointing what makes it distinctive, setting out information on landscape character, condition and sensitivity in a comprehensive and objective way. It identifies the positive attributes of a landscape which need protecting or enhancing as well as the negative aspects, which can be restored or otherwise improved upon. In cases where development is proposed on sensitive sites more detailed landscape and visual assessments will be required.

 

POLICY DM 10

Historic and natural environment

 

1.     To enable Maidstone borough to retain a high quality of living and to be able to respond to the effects of climate change, developers will ensure that new development protects and enhances the historic and natural environment, where appropriate, by incorporating measures to:

 

             i.          Protect positive historic and landscape character, heritage assets and their settings, areas of Ancient Woodland, veteran trees, trees with significant amenity value, important hedgerows, features of biological or geological interest, and the existing public rights of way network from inappropriate development and ensure that these assets do not suffer any adverse impacts as a result of development;

            ii.          Avoid damage to and inappropriate development within or adjacent to:

a.     Cultural heritage assets protected by international, national or local designation and other non-designated heritage assets recognised for their archaeological, architectural or historic significance, or their settings;

b.     Internationally, nationally and locally designated sites of importance for biodiversity; and

c.     Local Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats.

          iii.          Control pollution to protect ground and surface waters where necessary and mitigate against the deterioration of water bodies and adverse impacts on Groundwater Source Protection Zones, and/or incorporate measures to improve the ecological status of water bodies as appropriate;

          iv.          Enhance, extend and connect designated sites of importance for biodiversity, priority habitats and fragmented Ancient Woodland; support opportunities for the creation of new Biodiversity Action Plan priority habitats; create, enhance, restore and connect other habitats, including links to habitats outside Maidstone Borough, where opportunities arise;

           v.          Provide for the long term maintenance and management of all heritage and natural assets, including landscape character, associated with the development;

          vi.          Mitigate for and adapt to the effects of climate change; and

         vii.          Positively contribute to the improvement of accessibility of natural green space within walking distance of housing, employment, health and education facilities and to the creation of a wider network of new links between green and blue spaces including links to the Public Rights of Way network.

 

2.     The character, distinctiveness, diversity and quality of Maidstone's landscape and townscape will be protected and enhanced by the careful, sensitive management and design of development.

 

3.     Where appropriate, development proposals will be expected to appraise the value of the borough’s historic and natural environment through the provision of the following:

             i.          An ecological evaluation of development sites and any additional land put forward for mitigation purposes to take full account of the biodiversity present, including the potential for the retention and provision of native plant species;

            ii.          Heritage and arboricultural assessments to take full account of any past or present heritage and natural assets connected with the development and associated sites; and

          iii.          A landscape and visual impact assessment to take full account of the significance of, and potential effects of change on, the landscape as an environmental resource together with views and visual amenity.

 

4.     Publicly accessible open space should be designed as part of the overall green and blue infrastructure and layout of a site, taking advantage of the potential for multiple benefits including enhanced play, wildlife, sustainable urban drainage, tree planting and landscape provision. The form and function of green infrastructure will reflect a site's characteristics, nature, location and existing or future deficits.

 

5.     Development proposals will not be permitted where they lead to adverse impacts on natural and heritage assets for which mitigation measures appropriate to the scale and nature of the impacts cannot be achieved.

 

Account should be taken of the Landscape Character Guidelines SPD, the Green and Blue Infrastructure SPD and the most recent revision of the Kent Downs AONB Management Plan.


 

DM11 PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM11 Publicly accessible open space and recreation

Key issues:

1.        Concern that MBC will not take responsibility to maintain new open spaces.

2.        Community should be able to decide if an alternative provision is of equivalent benefit.

3.        Some unconditional support.

4.        Plan does not take proper account of Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy.

5.        More detail relating to green and blue corridor in Otham.

6.        There should be a specific mention of RSCs.

7.        Amendments suggested to open space types.

8.        Where areas are used for open space provision the housing density should be lower than 30 dwellings per hectare.

9.        Where appropriate, policy should allow for contributions to maintaining footpaths, boundaries and provision of GBI in Kent Downs AONB.

10.     New green space should also seek to reinforce landscape character.

Key issue 1: Concern that MBC will not take responsibility to maintain new open spaces.

Detail: This comment relates to the budget that Parks and Open Spaces team has to be able to maintain open spaces. Some open spaces are taken on by communities and some are set up with management plans. There is concern that the council will not be able itself to take on any more spaces.

Officer response: Partially accept. The council accepts that funding the provision and ongoing maintenance of open spaces is an important issue. However, this does not necessarily mean that the council should be the automatic choice to take on this responsibility. Where other solutions are possibilities, these should be explored. In the longer term, there is the potential for CIL receipts to play a role in the ongoing maintenance of open spaces, however, this will need to be explored as part of a prioritisation exercise.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Community should be able to decide if an alternative provision is of equivalent benefit.

Detail: The policy states that where there is a net loss of open space, one of the justifications for the net loss could be the provision of an alternative open space with equivalent community benefit. This comment queries who should decide whether the alternative provision is of an equivalent benefit.

Officer response: Partially accept. Any alternative provision should be judged by the community and professional officers at the council i.e. those in the Planning Department and those in the Parks and Open Spaces team. This collaboration would take advantage of local knowledge and professional skills.

 

Alternatively, where there is a neighbourhood plan adopted, if a relevant open space policy is present, then this would be used to help make a decision.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 3(ii) as follows:

 

“ii. An alternative provision, determined to be of an equivalent community benefit by officers at the council and community representatives, can be provided to replace the loss.

Key issue 3: Some unconditional support.

Detail: Some unconditional support.

Officer response: Noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Plan does not take proper account of Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy.

Detail: Concern is raised that the plan is doing nothing to address the fragmentation of the public rights of way network and that the lack of open space provision in the south of the borough is not being accounted for.

Officer response: Reject. The plan allows for the comments raised in the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy stakeholder consultation, which was held in December 2013 and January 2014. The provision of new open space is provided for policy DM11, and will be further supplemented by the completion of the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy and the Green and Blue Infrastructure SPD.

 

The public rights of way network will be one thing that the GBI strategy seeks to address, but in reality this is a multi-agency issue that will require coordination. Where there is an opportunity to improve the network by way of developer contributions then it is reasonable for the council to require this, but the three tests for planning obligations set out in the Community Infrastructure Levy Regulations, regulation 122, are a strict test to pass.

 

In the future there may be the possibility for CIL receipts to part fund improvements to the public rights of way network.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 5: More detail relating to green and blue corridor in Otham.

Detail: The key diagram identifies a green and blue corridor in and around the Otham area.

Officer response: Reject. The appropriate location for information on the green and blue corridor in and around the Otham area is in the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy itself. The key diagram is an illustration of the strategic direction in which the borough is moving. Beyond identifying open space typologies, policy DM11 is not about specific components of green and blue infrastructure.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 6: There should be a specific mention of RSCs.

Detail: Criterion 4 references “the urban area and village settlements.”

Officer response: Accept.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 4 to read:

 

“In dealing with applications to develop existing open areas within the urban area, rural service centres, larger villages and other locations, the borough council will have regard to the impact of the loss of the contribution that the existing site makes to the character, amenity and biodiversity of the area.”

Key issue 7: Amendments suggested to open space types.

Detail: Amendments suggested as follows:

 

·           Point 1 ii - Amenity Green Space Add: including cemeteries and churchyards

·           Point 1 v - Allotments Add: Community Gardens (e.g. Community Orchards)

·           Point 1 Add - vi Accessible Countryside and Nature Reserves (e.g. Marden Meadow)

Officer response: Partially accept.

 

·           Point 1 ii - Amenity Green Space Add: including cemeteries and churchyards. Agree.

·           Point 1 v - Allotments Add: Community Gardens (e.g. Community Orchards). Agree.

·           Point 1 Add - vi Accessible Countryside and Nature Reserves (e.g. Marden Meadow). Reject, this is covered by natural and semi-natural open space.

Proposed change: Amend as per agreed proposals:

 

“ii. Amenity green space, including cemeteries and churchyards.”

 

“v. Allotments and community gardens.”

Key issue 8: Where areas are used for open space provision the housing density should be lower than 30 dwellings per hectare.

Detail: Policy H3 seeks a minimum density of 30 dwellings per hectare in the rural service centres and larger villages. The comment suggests that where open space and community facilities are provided, the density should be lower than 30 dwellings per hectare.

Officer response: Reject. The logic of the comment is correct in the first instance but that assumes a uniform build pattern where densities of 30 dwellings per hectare would have to be reduced as a result of providing open space. The council is confident that in relation to the provision of open space and community facilities alone, the density of 30 dwellings per hectare could be maintained by adopting alternative design layouts to accommodate on site provision.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: Where appropriate, policy should allow for contributions to maintaining footpaths, boundaries and provision of GBI in Kent Downs AONB.

Detail: The policy currently deals with the provision of open space under the five typologies identified. This comment is seeking an expansion of those typologies and is also seeking contributions to the maintenance of existing footpaths and boundaries, as well as GBI specifically in the Kent Downs AONB.

Officer response: Partially accept. The open space audit that is being conducted in the borough considers the quality of open spaces as well as the quantity. In that sense, it is possible to identify where contributions could better be used to reinforce and maintain the quality of existing provision, perhaps instead of seeking new provision.

 

Where footpaths and boundaries are included in audited open space sites then it is perfectly feasible to maintain these, as is the case for GBI in the Kent Downs AONB. Where there is more of an issue is in relation to areas that do not coincide with known open space. These areas can be addressed more accurately through the GBI action plan and longer term funding initiatives, potentially such as the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL).

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 10: New green space should also seek to reinforce landscape character.

Detail: New green space should also seek to reinforce landscape character.

Officer response: Accept. Where possible and relevant, this should be a stated aim of the policy.

Proposed change: Add new criterion 2:

 

“2. Proposals for, and including, new publicly accessible open space and recreation will, where feasible, seek to reinforce existing landscape character, as defined in the Maidstone Landscape Character Assessment.”


DM11 PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE OPEN SPACE AND RECREATION

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 11 – Publicly accessible open space and recreation

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.52 High quality, publicly accessible open space can bring about opportunities for promoting social interaction and inclusion in communities. Sports and recreation areas and facilities can contribute positively to the well being and quality of those communities. Open space can also have a positive impact upon the quality of the built environment and can be of ecological value. The National Planning Policy Framework encourages the provision and retention of high quality open spaces, a stance that the council supports.

 

11.53 The council will seek to secure publicly accessible open space provision for new housing and mixed use development sites, in accordance with standards[to be defined] in the green and blue infrastructure supplementary planning document.

 

11.54 It is important to ensure that any new publicly accessible open space and sports provision preserves the quality of life for existing residents, as well as the visual amenity of the locality. Intense sports uses, such as multi use games areas, can generate significant amounts of noise; while sports and other recreation uses may include lighting, such as floodlighting. This can be harmful to the living environment of nearby occupiers and to the visual amenity of the countryside where levels of artificial lighting are generally very limited. The council will seek to ensure that new publicly accessible open space and recreation areas are appropriate to their setting in these regards.

 

11.55 The loss of existing open space, sport and recreation facilities will be resisted, unless there is a proven overriding need for the development and there would be no resulting deficiency, or net loss, of such space/facilities in the locality. In considering the impact of the loss of open space, the council will have regard to the visual amenity and biodiversity value of the land in question.

 

POLICY DM 11

Publicly accessible open space and recreation

 

1.     For new housing or mixed use development sites, the council will seek to deliver the following categories of publicly accessible open space provision in accordance with the standards [to be defined] in the green and blue infrastructure SPD:

             i.          Natural and semi natural areas of open space;

            ii.          Amenity green space, including cemeteries and church yards;

          iii.          Provision for children and young people's equipped play areas;

          iv.          Public [and private(10)] outdoor sports facilities; and

           v.          Allotments and community gardens.

 

2.     Proposals for, and including, new publicly accessible open space and recreation will, where feasible, seek to reinforce existing landscape character, as defined in the Maidstone Landscape Character Assessment.

 

3.     Proposals for, and including, new publicly accessible open space and recreation provision shall respect the amenities of neighbouring occupiers, by ensuring that development does not result in excessive levels of noise or light pollution. New lighting relating to such development will also preserve the character and visual amenity of the countryside.

 

4.     Proposals for new development which would result in the net loss of open space or sport and recreation facilities will not be permitted unless there is a proven overriding need for the development. In addition, the development will only be permitted if:

 

             i.          There is no resulting deficiency in open space or recreation facilities in the locality; or

            ii.          An alternative provision, determined to be of an equivalent community benefit by officers at the council and community representatives, can be provided to replace the loss.

 

5.     In dealing with applications to develop existing open areas within the urban area, rural service centres, larger villages and other locations, the borough council will have regard to the impact of the loss of the contribution that the existing site makes to the character, amenity and biodiversity of the area.

 

Further details on the provision of green and blue infrastructure, including publicly accessible open space, will be provided in a Green and blue infrastructure supplementary planning document.


 

DM12 COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM12 Community facilities

Key issues:

1.     Inclusion of buildings for community use

2.     Inclusion of places of worship

3.     Lack of cultural aspirations e.g. theatre

Key issue 1: Policy DM 12 Community facilities. Supported.

Detail: Policy DM 12 Community facilities. Supported.

Officer response:

The council considers that community facilities add value and support to community participation and development. In order to deal with the many needs of a local population, it is prudent to secure community facilities that have a combined or multi-functional role. The council will ensure that the continuing needs of Maidstone borough’s community are considered through existing and new community facilities, which support community participation and where necessary, development will be protected, or their loss mitigated where appropriate.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2:– Community should decide whether a proposed alternative is of equivalent benefit.

Detail: Community should decide whether a proposed alternative is of equivalent benefit.

Officer response:

The council considers that community facilities add value and support to community participation and development. In order to deal with the many needs of a local population, it is prudent to secure community facilities that have a combined or multi-functional role. The council will ensure that the continuing needs of Maidstone borough’s community are considered through existing and new community facilities, which support community participation and where necessary, development will be protected, or their loss mitigated where appropriate.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Community involvement - OBSERVATION.

Detail: Community involvement - OBSERVATION.

Officer response:

The council considers that community facilities add value and support to community participation and development. In order to deal with the many needs of a local population, it is prudent to secure community facilities that have a combined or multi-functional role. The council will ensure that the continuing needs of Maidstone borough’s community are considered through existing and new community facilities, which support community participation and where necessary, development will be protected, or their loss mitigated where appropriate.

Proposed change: No change.


DM12 COMMUNITY FACILITIES

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 12 – Community facilities

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.56 In order to build well functioning, sustainable communities, it is essential that adequate community facilities are provided. The National Planning Policy Framework emphasises the importance of creating healthy, inclusive communities, with appropriate facilities, to create attractive residential environments. The Infrastructure Delivery Plan lists the key social infrastructure needed to support the level of development planned for the borough. Community facilities encompass educational, cultural and recreational facilities, including schools, libraries, places of worship, meeting places, cultural buildings (such as museums and theatres) and sports venues.

 

11.57 The council seeks to resist the net loss of viable community facilities, as this runs contrary to the aim of achieving sustainable, inclusive communities.

 

11.58 School premises are generally only in operation during particular hours. These sites offer opportunities to provide additional community uses outside of school hours. Such dual uses can increase the range of community facilities and can help to maximise land usage in a suitable manner. The council will therefore encourage dual usage of educational premises in appropriate circumstances.

 

POLICY DM 12

Community facilities

 

The adequate provision of community facilities, including social, education and other facilities, is an essential component of new residential development.

 

1.     Residential development which would generate a need for new community facilities or for which spare capacity in such facilities does not exist, will not be permitted unless the provision of new, extended or improved facilities (or a contribution towards such provision) is secured by planning conditions or through legal agreements unless the specific facilities are identified for delivery through the Community Infrastructure Levy.

 

2.     Proposals which would lead to a loss of community facilities will not be permitted unless demand within the locality no longer exists or a replacement facility acceptable to the council is provided.

 

3.     The council will seek to ensure, where appropriate, that providers of education facilities make provision for dual use of facilities in the design of new schools, and will encourage the dual use of education facilities (new and existing) for recreation and other purposes.


 

DM13 SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM13 Sustainable transport

Key issues:

1.        Maidstone needs High Speed railway station.

2.        Roads at capacity, Leeds/Langley bypass needed.

3.        General disagreement with approach.

4.        Better bus service in rural areas/to and from Weald required.

5.        Policy is too aspirational.

6.        Travel through Maidstone town centre if travelling north-south and vice-versa is a big problem.

7.        Targets for modal split and journey times should be included.

8.        Integrated Transport Strategy not supported by KCC.

9.        Impact of development on A26 should be referenced.

10.     Policy is unclear.

11.     Rapid transit system required e.g. monorail.

12.     Bus lanes/bus priority measures take road space from other modes.

13.     Support SPD on parking standards, particularly for RSCs. Currently provision standards too low – need to be realistic.

14.     Use of Willington Street needs to be reduced, where are the measures for this?

15.     Plan is not yet based on the transport evidence.

16.     B2163 should be upgraded into a southern bypass.

17.     More cycle routes required.

18.     Linton Crossroads inappropriate location for park and ride – traffic, junction issues, landscape character, effect on Coxheath, Linton communities.

19.     Bus frequency should be referenced in policy.

20.     More car parking required in town centre.

21.     Infrastructure should be provided before development.

22.     Policy contrary to NPPF – with reference to residual development impacts being severe. Currently not worded this way. Air quality impacts need to be addressed proportionately, not as de facto requirement of all developments.

23.     Transport infrastructure improvements required on A249 at Detling Aerodrome.

24.     Policy parts 1 and 2 need to be reworded as these do not provide appropriate guidance for developers.

25.     Employment strategy is at odds with transport strategy because it will require HGV movements through town centre – should make use of motorway junctions, specifically junction 8.

Key issue 1: Maidstone needs High Speed railway station.

Detail: The high speed railway line (HS1) runs through Maidstone Borough but does not have a station within the borough. Connections to London from Ashford on HS1 take 38 minutes throughout the day. The quickest connection to London from Maidstone takes 50 minutes at peak times from Maidstone West.

Officer response: Partially accept. In practice it is difficult for Maidstone to construct a station on the high speed line because of its route across and adjacent to the Kent Downs AONB. The Maidstone West peak hour service connects to the high speed line at Ebbsfleet, having travelled along the Medway Valley line and then the north Kent line through Strood and Gravesend. This offers the quickest service to London. Thameslink is due to be extended to Maidstone, which means that although speeds to London may not increase, the service options will.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Roads at capacity, Leeds/Langley bypass needed.

Detail: The Leeds/Langley bypass is an adopted scheme in the Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000. There have been a number of iterations of this scheme, whether adopted or not, in including a proposed South East Maidstone Strategic Link (SEMSL), but none have ever gained funding. It is contended that this road, if built, would take traffic away from the town centre.

Officer response: Partially accept. The Leeds/Langley bypass is being modelled as part of the transport modelling exercise required to mitigate transport issues in association with development proposed in the draft local plan. The modelling will indicate if this is an appropriate solution.

 

The capacity of roads in the borough is another question to be addressed through transport modelling, which may include such schemes as expanded park and ride, for which the Borough Council has been successful in part funding.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: General disagreement with approach.

Detail: General disagreement with approach.

Officer response: Noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Better bus service in rural areas/to and from Weald required.

Detail: The issue of bus provision in rural areas continues to be difficult. Bus services are limited and do not run late into the night.

Officer response: Accept. This is an important issue that needs to be addressed. The Borough Council is limited in its options, however, when possibilities arise, it will look to exploit them.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 2(vi) to read:

 

“Develop the strategic and public transport links to and from Maidstone, including increased bus service frequency;”

 

Add new criterion 2(vii):

 

“Work with service providers to improve bus links to the rural service centres and larger villages, including route options and frequency;”

Key issue 5: Policy is too aspirational.

Detail: Policy is considered too aspirational i.e. the comment doubts that improvements to the level proposed can be achieved.

Officer response: Reject. Some aspects of the policy undoubtedly are aspirational, however, this indicates the way that the Borough Council is thinking and without aspirations set out in policy, it is difficult to envisage any changes being achieved.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 6: Travel through Maidstone town centre if travelling north-south and vice-versa is a big problem.

Detail: Travel to and through the town centre is very difficult because a lot of the traffic converges on the Bridges Gyratory. This includes the A20 east and west, the A229 north and south, the A26 and the A249.

Officer response: Accept: The council, in conjunction with Kent County Council, has won funding from the Local Growth Fund to improve some of the movements via the Bridges Gyratory. There will now be an option for traffic coming from the south on the A229 to bypass the Bridges Gyratory and travel north without having to twice cross the River Medway. This means in effect that as well as traffic movements south to north being improved, there will be more space on the gyratory itself, easing other movements i.e. east-west and vice-versa.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 7: Targets for modal split and journey times should be included.

Detail: Modal split is an issue that many highways authorities are dealing with. Influencing people to travel by means other than private transport helps to reduce congestion and carbon emissions.

Officer response: Partially accept. Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council will prepare an integrated transport strategy, for consultation alongside the regulation 19 draft of the local plan. It is not until then that the two councils will be able to say with certainty what are realistic targets to aim for in achieving modal split. However, adopting a target will be an important aspect of the policy.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 8: Integrated Transport Strategy not supported by KCC.

Detail: The previous draft of the integrated transport strategy was rejected by members of the Joint Transportation Board (JTB), which includes Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council members.

Officer response: Accept. The integrated transport strategy, in its previous incarnation, was rejected by members sitting on the JTB. Members from both councils are now working together, including through transport modelling, to seek joint solutions for the transport issues in Maidstone Borough.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: Impact of development on A26 should be referenced.

Detail: The A26 will be subject to a number of transport impacts resulting from the development proposed in the local plan. The north west area of Maidstone, in particular at Hermitage Lane, has been identified as a strategic housing location in the plan.

Officer response: Partially accept. Transport impacts will result from a number of proposed developments in the local plan, including along the primary transport corridors into and out of town – the A26, the A229, the A249, the A20 and the A274. However, this wider picture will be considered as part of the joint work being undertaken to develop the integrated transport strategy. The policy in its current form does not specify particular transport corridors, therefore at this moment in time, and until at least the transport modelling and integrated transport strategy have been completed, no further detail in this respect should be added.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 10: Policy is unclear.

Detail: Comment considers policy unclear.

Officer response: Noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 11: Rapid transit system required e.g. monorail.

Detail: Rapid transit systems are found in major cities around the world and in larger cities across England. In Sheffield, Nottingham, Manchester and Edinburgh there are tram systems. In Newcastle and Glasgow there are metro systems and in London there is the Underground. Many tram systems used to exist across the country but were replaced when cars became more popular and affordable.

Officer response: Reject. Rapid transit systems can move large numbers of people in relative ease. In the 1990s the Government indicated that it was willing to fund the reinstatement of a number of light rail (tram) systems. The Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000 included a policy for the establishment of a light rail service between Maidstone and Strood, using the Medway Valley railway line. A re-evaluation of re-establishing tram services meant, however, that Government funding was restricted and since then the business cases for such schemes are scrutinised more stringently. In Maidstone it would be difficult to seek the establishment of a rapid transit system – tram or monorail, because the population does not exist in the urban area to make it viable. It is difficult to establish priority measures for buses and a tram system would require much more of these.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 12: Bus lanes/bus priority measures take road space from other modes.

Detail: Concern regarding the implementation of any bus priority measures, including a bus lane.

Officer response: Reject. Depending on the measure sought, bus priority schemes can take road space from other road users. The benefit of any bus priority measures that are proposed will be evidenced by transport modelling. This will ensure that the costs and benefits of any proposal are weighed up adequately.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 13: Support SPD on parking standards, particularly for RSCs. Currently provision standards too low – need to be realistic.

Detail: Considers that parking standards are currently too low. This is particularly the case in RSCs where alternative transport modes to the car are not as comprehensive as in the urban area.

Officer response: Accept. Parking standards are an issue that will be addressed through an SPD. Any proposals contained in the parking standards will be based on evidence and take into account the wider transport context of any particular location.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 14: Use of Willington Street needs to be reduced, where are the measures for this?

Detail: Willington Street provides an effective bypass to the east of Maidstone town centre, linking the A274 to the A20.

Officer response: Accept. Transport modelling is underway to assess the options for mitigating the impact of transport measures proposed in the draft local plan. One of the schemes that will be modelled is the Leeds/Langley bypass, which if eventually constructed would ease the use of Willington Street.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 15: Plan is not yet based on the transport evidence.

Detail: Comment considers that no evidence has been produced to support the transport measures proposed in the local plan.

Officer response: Reject. A number of rounds of transport modelling have been undertaken to support the development of the local plan. The most recent was in support of the 2012 Core Strategy Strategic Site Allocations document. A large part of this work remains valid.

 

The site allocations proposed in the draft Maidstone Borough Local Plan mean that more transport modelling is required and as a result, further transport modelling is currently being undertaken.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 16: B2163 should be upgraded into a southern bypass.

Detail: The B2163 runs from Leeds near to junction 8 of the M20, through Boughton Monchelsea and Coxheath, to Teston on the A26. This is a minor road, although people do use what of it they can as an effective southern bypass around Maidstone.

Officer response: Reject. This has been proposed in past years, however, a mixture of issues has meant that it has never been delivered i.e. agreement whether this an appropriate solution and funding.

 

Even if funding were available, it would have to be born in mind that upgrading the B2163 into a southern bypass would irreversibly alter the rural character of the areas that it runs through.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 17: More cycle routes required.

Detail: As part of the aim to encourage modal shift, including to bicycles, more cycle routes will be required.

Officer response: Accept. A large amount of work has already been undertaken on this subject and a cycle strategy will be developed as part of the integrated transport strategy and this will be published alongside the Maidstone Borough Local Plan regulation 19 draft in July 2015. This will include options for the future of cycling in Maidstone, including the potential for creating more cycle routes.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 18: Linton Crossroads inappropriate location for park and ride – traffic, junction issues, landscape character, effect on Coxheath, Linton communities.

Detail: Linton crossroads should not be identified as a park and ride site.

Officer response: Reject. This comment is more appropriately related to policy DM15 – Park and ride. However, the basis for the park and ride site being proposed at Linton Crossroads is that transport modelling undertaken in support of the 2012 Core Strategy Strategic Site Allocations document showed the A229 corridor from the south of Maidstone to have the strongest demand.

Proposed change: No change

Key issue 19: Bus frequency should be referenced in policy.

Detail: Bus frequency is an issue when trying to encourage people to use public transport instead of private transport. One of the benefits of private transport is the ability to travel when required i.e. ‘turn up and go’, rather than having to wait for a service. In places like London, the high frequency of public transport means that as an option it rates very highly in comparison.

Officer response: Accept. Modal shift requires an element of carrot and stick. If the incentives for people to travel on public transport do not exist then restrictive measures will not work effectively and the council could actually be portrayed in a bad light.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 2(vi) to read:

 

“Develop the strategic and public transport links to and from Maidstone, including increased bus service frequency.”

Key issue 20: More car parking required in town centre.

Detail: More car parking is required in the town centre.

Officer response: Reject. Maidstone town centre benefits from a number of car parks, which are operated by different organisations, among them The Mall, Fremlin Walk and Maidstone Borough Council. There is a debate about the future of car parking in Maidstone, especially in relation to the traffic travelling into the town centre, however, it is difficult to say that the town centre is under-catered for.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 21: Infrastructure should be provided before development.

Detail: Often infrastructure can be delivered in line with development, or lagging behind development. This can cause issues when residents move into houses but essential services are not up to standard. In relation to transport, this might be where bus services are delivered to a development an amount time after it has been occupied and when the new residents’ behaviour has become normalised driving their cars.

Officer response: Accept. Where possible infrastructure should be provided in advance of residents occupying new homes.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 3(i) to read:

 

“i. Demonstrate that the impacts of trips generated to and from the development are remedied or mitigated, including where feasible an exploration of delivering mitigation measures ahead of the development being occupied;”

Key issue 22: Policy contrary to NPPF – with reference to residual development impacts being severe. Currently not worded this way. Air quality impacts need to be addressed proportionately, not as de facto requirement of all developments.

Detail: The impact on air quality is a key consideration in allocating land for new developments and in determining planning applications. The concern raised by this comment is how that impact is dealt with and who is liable for it.

Officer response: Reject. Policy DM13 does not specify the extent to which air quality impacts are addressed. Policy DM16 – Air quality, more comprehensively addresses the topic and should be referred to in the first instance.

Proposed change: Amend criterion 3(iii) to read:

 

“Demonstrate that development in, or likely to adversely affect, Air Quality Management Areas incorporates mitigation measures to reduce impact to an acceptable level, in line with the borough’s air quality action plan.”

Key issue 23: Transport infrastructure improvements required on A249 at Detling Aerodrome.

Detail: Transport infrastructure i.e. a roundabout, should be included on the A249 at Detling Aerodrome, in conjunction with redevelopment and expansion of the existing business park.

Officer response: Reject. Detling Aerodrome was not included in the allocations policy for further development. As long as this is the case, no transport improvements would be required in relation to the aerodrome.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 24: Policy parts 1 and 2 need to be reworded as these do not provide appropriate guidance for developers.

Detail: The strategic aspect of this policy needs to be reworded as this is not true development management guidance.

Officer response: Partially accept. The structure of the local plan has been developed as such to be less topic based and more about place shaping. Therefore a number of topics have been included under the umbrella of ‘development management’, which is opposed to the structure of the Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000. Inevitably this does not deal neatly with all aspects of policy and is the reason why policy DM13 includes strategy as well as more specific development management requirements [at criterion 3].

 

The structure of the plan is such that this is a necessary compromise.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 25: Employment strategy is at odds with transport strategy because it will require HGV movements through town centre – should make use of motorway junctions, specifically junction 8.

Detail: By allocating land at the motorway junctions, the council could restrict traffic movements through the town centre.

Officer response: Partially accept. While not accepting that this in itself means land should be allocated at motorway junctions for employment uses, there is a point to take regarding transport issues in the town centre not necessarily indicating that dispersed employment allocations are the best solution.

 

It is worthwhile noting that in Maidstone Borough and at the motorway junctions specifically, there are already a number of employment uses/approval for employment uses. At junction 6 the Audi dealership has been built and there is approval for distribution development at Brooklyn Yard. At junction 7 the Eclipse business park is still developing, including a local planning agent, a law firm, an insurance firm, a retail use and an approval for a new hotel. On the opposite side of the A249 the KIMS hospital has been built and the wider Maidstone Medical Campus has approval to expand on this. There is also an allocation to redevelop the Newnham Court shopping village with limited expansion. It is only at junction 8 where further land could feasibly be allocated in line with the comments expressed. It could be argued therefore that the council has already taken heed of such arguments regarding the use of motorway junctions.

 

The transport modelling currently being undertaken is considering the possibility of a Leeds/Langley bypass and this, if eventually delivered, could take some commercial traffic away from the town centre.

Proposed change: No change.


DM13 SUSTAINABLE TRANSPORT

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 13 – Sustainable transport

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

Transport

11.59 Working in partnership with Kent County Council (the local transport authority), the Highways Agency, infrastructure providers and public transport operators, the council will facilitate the delivery of transport improvements to support the growth proposed by the local plan.  An Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS), prepared by the council and its partners, will have the aim of facilitating economic prosperity and improving accessibility across the borough and to the town centre, in order to promote Maidstone as a regionally important transport hub. The ITS needs to address a number of transport challenges as set out below.

 

Highway network

11.60 Maidstone borough has an extensive highway network which provides direct links both within the borough and to neighbouring areas including Ashford, Tonbridge and Malling, the Medway Towns, Tunbridge Wells and London. Four north-south and east-west primary routes pass through the town centre and numerous secondary routes run in concentric rings around the town, providing local links to the rural parts of the borough. Maidstone also enjoys good connections to the motorway network, including direct access to four junctions of the M20.

 

11.61 The principal constraint on the borough’s urban road network is the single crossing point of the River Medway at the town centre bridges gyratory, where the A20, A26 and A229 meet. From this point, congestion spreads along the main radial approaches to Maidstone during the morning and evening peaks, leading drivers to seek alternative routes for longer journeys around the periphery of the town.

 

11.62 Modelling conducted in 2012 indicates that by 2026, a combination of background traffic growth and planned housing and employment development will increase the number of person trips in Maidstone during the morning peak hour by 42%. Significantly however, background growth associated with increased economic activity and greater car ownership is expected to have over one-and-a-half times the impact on trip generation of new housing and employment, demonstrating that robust solutions to Maidstone’s transport challenges are required regardless of the development proposed in the local plan.

 

11.63 Maidstone has an average vehicle occupancy of approximately 1.23 persons per car, which is significantly lower than the UK average of 1.6 persons per car . This represents an inefficient use of road space and contributes to greater traffic congestion and air pollution. Whilst it is recognised that the private car will continue to provide the primary means of access in areas where alternative travel choices are not viable, the traffic data suggests that the ITS should focus on demand management measures that enable a higher people-moving capacity over the existing road network. Specifically, the strategy should aim for a reduction in the number of single-occupancy car trips into Maidstone town centre by long-stay commuters – particularly during peak periods – which can be achieved through interventions such as enhanced Park and Ride and walking and cycling infrastructure. This approach, combined with targeted capacity improvements to strategic junctions such as the bridges gyratory, would improve the reliability and hence attractiveness of public transport, as well as providing businesses and freight operators with greater journey time reliability .

 

Car Parking

11.64 The provision of an adequate supply of well-located and reasonably priced car parking is essential to support the borough’s retail economy, to facilitate access to areas where alternative travel modes are limited or unavailable, and to ensure that mobility impaired persons are able to access key education, employment and leisure opportunities. However, the supply of car parking also drives demand for limited road space and can therefore contribute to traffic congestion and poor air quality, as well as making more sustainable modes of travel less attractive. Therefore it is crucial that MBC and its partners avoid an overprovision of parking, particularly in and around Maidstone town centre.

 

11.65 The ITS will seek address parking issues by producing a refreshed Town Centre Parking Strategy, prioritising shoppers and visitors; giving consideration to a reduction in town centre long-stay parking supply; utilising town centre parking tariffs to encourage a shift to sustainable modes of transport such as Park and Ride and reviewing the Residents’ Parking Zones to ensure they are fair, simple and meet the needs of all road users.

 

Park and Ride

11.66 MBC has been operating Park and Ride services in Maidstone since the early 1980s and was one of the first local authorities in the UK to introduce the concept. The service aims to address the growing peak time congestion in the town centre and has met with varying levels of success to date. Three sites are currently in operation at London Road, Sittingbourne Road, and Willington Street, which in total comprise some 1,450 parking spaces.

 

11.67 During the 2012/13 financial year some 400,000 transactions were recorded on Park and Ride bus services, which equates to a fall of 7% from the previous year . The Park and Ride services are also available for use by concessionary pass holders, and indeed approximately half of the trips recorded in 2012/13 were made by this group.

 

11.68 The reduction in patronage can be partially explained by the recession and suppressed economic activity in the town centre. Usage of the Park and Ride service should also be considered in the context of the supply of town centre car parking (both public and private) and the associated parking tariffs. The Park and Ride service is used by both commuters and shoppers; however it accounts for just 2% of all person trips into the town centre during peak periods (excluding walking and cycling), compared to 12% for bus and 77% for private car . The service currently requires a significant annual subsidy and therefore the ITS is seeking to take a targeted approach to address this situation.

 

11.69 The ITS is targeting the provision of an enhanced Park and Ride service, with an improved site on Old Sittingbourne Road in the vicinity of M20 Junction 7 and on the A229 corridor at Linton Crossroads to the south of the town, aimed at long-stay commuters into the town centre. Bus priority measures will also be provided on Park and Ride routes in tandem with the enhanced service.

 

Bus services

11.70 Maidstone borough has a well established bus network provided principally by Arriva, together with a number of smaller independent operators. The network is centred on Maidstone town centre and combines high frequency routes serving the suburban areas with longer distance services providing connections to many of the outlying villages and neighbouring towns, including Ashford, Sittingbourne, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and the Medway Towns.

 

11.71 Although KCC and the council do not directly influence the provision of commercial bus services, both authorities work closely with the operators to improve the quality of services and to ensure that the highway network is planned and managed in a way that facilitates the efficient operation of buses. This relationship has been formalised through the signing of a voluntary Quality Bus Partnership (QBP) agreement, which includes commitments by Arriva, KCC and MBC to work collectively to improve all aspects of bus travel and to increase passenger numbers.

 

11.72 A number of services cannot be provided commercially and are classed as socially necessary services that require subsidy from KCC. These primarily consist of school, rural, evening and weekend services, which provide access to education, employment, healthcare, or essential food shopping. KCC also completed the countywide roll out of the Kent Freedom Pass during 2009. The County Council now provides free travel on almost all public bus services in Kent for an annual fee of £100 for young people living in the county and in academic years 7 to 11. The County Council also assumed responsibility from MBC for the administration and funding of the statutory Kent and Medway Concessionary Travel Scheme for disabled people, their companions and those aged over 60, in April 2011. As the Local Education Authority, KCC also provides free or subsidised home-to-school transport to children who meet the criteria.

 

11.73 Through the ITS bus service frequencies will look to be increased (to at least every 7 minutes) on radial routes serving Maidstone town centre. Bus priority measures will be provided in order to encourage the use of public transport and services will continue to be made more accessible to all users.

 

Rail services

11.74 Three railway lines cross Maidstone borough, serving a total of 14 stations. The operator of the vast majority of rail services in the area is the south east franchise holder, Southeastern.

 

11.75 The principal rail route serving Maidstone town is the London Victoria to Ashford International line (also referred to as the Maidstone East Line), which includes stations at Maidstone East, Bearsted, Hollingbourne, Harrietsham and Lenham.  The average journey time between Maidstone East and London Victoria is an hour and runs half-hourly. The London Charing Cross / Cannon Street to Dover Priory / Ramsgate line passes through the south of the borough, with stations at Marden, Staplehurst and Headcorn. Charing Cross and Cannon Street stations are located in close proximity to the City of London and hence services on this line are heavily used by commuters, which places pressure on the limited station car park capacity in these villages.

 

11.76 The Medway Valley Line, connecting Strood and Paddock Wood, runs from north to south across the borough, with stations at Maidstone Barracks, Maidstone West, East Farleigh, Wateringbury, Yalding and Beltring. The line operates as part of the Kent Community Rail Partnership, which has delivered improvements to the stations and promoted the service widely. In May 2011, Southeastern commenced the operation of direct peak-time services between London St Pancras and Maidstone West via Strood and High Speed 1 on a trial basis. This has reduced rail journey times between Maidstone and London to 48 minutes and provided commuters from the town with the option of travelling to an alternative London terminus closer to the City. Collectively, these enhancements have contributed to a 25% increase in passenger numbers on the Medway Valley Line since 2007 , putting it in the top 10 lines nationally for ridership growth according to the Association of Train Operating Companies.

 

11.77 KCC published its Rail Action Plan for Kent in 2011, which sets out the County Council’s objectives for the new South Eastern Franchise. The reinstatement of services between Maidstone and the City of London is the plan’s top priority. It also recognises the need for the level of rail fares charged in Kent to offer better value for money and for the roll out of Smartcard ticketing offering combined bus and rail travel, similar to Transport for London’s Oyster card .

 

Air quality

11.78 Vehicle emissions are a major contributor to poor air quality at both the local level and on a wider global scale.  Indeed the entire Maidstone Urban Area has been declared an Air Quality Management Area, primarily due to the level of traffic congestion at peak times. The ITS will therefore support the delivery of the measures identified in the Maidstone Air Quality Action Plan to deliver an improvement in the air quality of the urban area and to reduce pollutant levels below the Air Quality Objective Levels set out by European legislation.

 

11.79 Development in or affecting Air Quality Management Areas should where necessary incorporate mitigation measures which are locationally specific and proportionate to the likely impact. Examples of mitigation measures include:

 

·           Using green infrastructure to absorb dust and other pollutants;

·           Promoting infrastructure to encourage the use of modes of transport with low impact on air quality; and

·           Contributing funding to measures, including those identified in the air quality action plans and low emissions strategies, designed to offset the impact on air quality arising from new development.

 

Influencing travel behaviour

11.80 Through the ITS the council, together with KCC, will seek to promote and support a range of initiatives to influence travel behaviour in the borough.  This can be achieved through the use of Travel Plans, behaviour change programmes and introducing improvements to encourage greater levels of walking and cycling and the use of transport, car sharing and car clubs.

 

11.81 The council, together with KCC, will continue to promote and support the use of Travel Plans as a way of influencing travel behaviour away from journeys by private car to more sustainable modes.  Maidstone Borough Council and Kent County Council will continue to implement and monitor their own corporate Travel Plans as well as securing Travel Plans for new development as part of the planning process.  Workplace and School Travel Plans will also continue to be developed, implemented and monitored through partnership working across the borough where appropriate.

 

Cycling and walking

11.82 Both KCC and MBC are therefore committed to the provision of a comprehensive cycle network for residents and visitors to Maidstone.

 

11.83 The borough currently has a number of cycle routes that link the town centre to the suburban areas; however connections within the town and further afield are limited and there is a lack of cycle parking at key destinations. Consequently, cycle use in Maidstone is very low, the 2011 Census travel to work data indicated that 1% of work trips were undertaken by bike. However 12% of journeys to work were made on foot.

 

11.84 The provision of attractive and safe walking and cycling routes with adequate cycle parking will be incorporated within the ITS. The borough’s walking environment, its walking routes and its public realm will be developed and improved through local plan policies, the ITS, the IDP, and through the Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy.  The Maidstone Cycling Strategy will be developed through the ITS.  These strategies and documents will have the aim of increasing the proportion of trips made by walking and cycling in the borough by 2031.

 

Assessing the transport needs of development

11.85 New developments have the potential to generate a considerable number of vehicular and pedestrian trips which in turn has both a direct and cumulative impact on the transport network. Improvements to public transport, walking, cycling and highway infrastructure to mitigate these impacts need to be in place to ensure the increase in trips generated will not lead to an unacceptable level of transport impact.  To further minimise these impacts, measures and initiatives must be incorporated into the design of development to minimise vehicular trip generation.  Transport Assessments and Travel Plans, developed in accordance with KCC guidance will be expected to accompany all planning applications for new developments that reach the required threshold.   New development proposals will also be expected to enter into legal agreements to mitigate both their direct and cumulative impact on the transport network. The council will also also seek to secure Construction Management Plans to minimise impacts from new developments during construction.

 

POLICY DM 13

Sustainable transport

 

1.     Working in partnership with Kent County Council (the local transport authority), the Highways Agency, infrastructure providers and public transport operators, the borough council will facilitate the delivery of transport improvements to support the growth proposed by the local plan.  An Integrated Transport Strategy, prepared by the council and its partners, will have the aim of facilitating economic prosperity and improving accessibility across the borough and to Maidstone town centre, in order to promote the town as a regionally important transport hub.

 

2.     In doing so, the council and its partners will:

             i.          Ensure the transport system supports the growth projected by Maidstone’s Local Plan and facilitates economic prosperity;

            ii.          Manage demand on the transport network through enhanced public transport and Park and Ride services and walking and cycling improvements;

          iii.          Improve highway network capacity and function at key locations and junctions across the borough;

          iv.          Manage parking provision in the town centre and the wider borough to ensure it is fair and proportionate and supports demand management;

           v.          Improve transport choice across the borough and seek to influence travel behaviour;

          vi.          Develop the strategic and public transport links to and from Maidstone, including increased bus service frequency;

         vii.          Work with service providers to improve bus links to the rural service centres and larger villages, including route options and frequency;

       viii.          Improve strategic links to Maidstone across the county and to wider destinations such as London;

          ix.          Ensure the transport network provides inclusive access for all users; and

           x.          Address the air quality impact of transport.

 

3.     Development proposals must:

 

             i.          Demonstrate that the impacts of trips generated to and from the development are remedied or mitigated, including where feasible an exploration of delivering mitigation measures ahead of the development being occupied;

            ii.          Provide a satisfactory Transport Assessment and a satisfactory Travel Plan in accordance with the threshold levels set by Kent County Council’s Guidance on Transport Assessments and Travel Plans; and

          iii.          Demonstrate that development in, or likely to adversely affect, Air Quality  Management Areas incorporates mitigation measures to reduce impact to an acceptable level, in line with the borough’s air quality action plan.

 

A parking standards supplementary planning document will be produced to provide greater detail in support of the policy.


 

DM14 PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM14 Public transport

Key issues:

1.     Object to bus priority measures

2.     Need reference to timing of public transport in new development – it needs to be delivered early enough to be considered mode of first choice

3.     No reference made to rural area, needs commitment to increase public transport in these areas

4.     Part 1 does not provide enough guidance for developers and should be reviewed

Key issue 1: Objection to bus priority measures.

Increases congestion & pollution. What’s the point where buses are polluting, go slow, only have about 5 people on them expect for school time. You really have absolutely no idea how bad the roads are already with congestion in Maidstone I now shop in other towns as its too polluting, too noisy, too expensive to park, poor selection of shops, poor access. It takes me longer to drive round the one way system in Maidstone & Park than driving to Ashford or Bluewater! Take a leaf out of Ashford Books - lots of Business parks, good shops in town plus out of town & new houses but they have built the roads too to cope with it. Nice big dual carriageways & good links to the M20

Officer response: The council supports bus priority measures such as bus-only roads, bus lanes and selective vehicle detection at traffic signals as these are essential tools in ensuring that the limited people-carrying capacity of the road network is being used most effectively. The Council supports these measures as they help to reduce bus journey times, improve bus reliability and increase the efficiency of the bus network, especially when they are considered as part of a whole route approach.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Need reference to timing of public transport in new development – it needs to be delivered early enough to be considered mode of first choice.

Detail: There is no mention of ensuring public transport is provided at an appropriate stage of new developments so that public transport is considered as the mode of first choice

Officer response: Agree, the council agrees that new developments require a regular high quality transport service which should be provided early in the development phase to encourage early take up of bus services.

 

Policy DM13 requires that development proposals to provide a satisfactory Transport Assessment and a satisfactory Travel Plan. Proposals will be assessed at application stage using Local Plan and NPPF policies.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: No reference to rural areas.

Detail: No reference to rural areas - no commitment to increase public transport to the rural areas

Officer response: Maidstone borough has a well established bus network. The network is centred on Maidstone town centre and combines high frequency routes serving the suburban areas with longer distance services providing connections to many of the outlying villages and neighbouring towns.

 

Neither MBC or KCC directly influence the provision of commercial bus services. However, a number of services cannot be provided commercially and are classed as socially necessary services that require subsidy from KCC. These primarily consist of school, rural, evening and weekend services which provide access to education, employment healthcare or essential foot shopping.

 

MBC and KCC will continue to work collectively with the bus operators to improve the quality of bus services to rural areas and to ensure the highway network is planned and managed in a way that facilities the efficient operation of buses to increase passenger numbers.

Proposed change: No change necessary

Key issue 4: Part 1 does not provide enough guidance for developers and should be reviewed.

Detail: CPRE Protect Kent fails to see in what way part 1 of this Policy actually comprise a development management policy that provides guidance to prospective developers. This seems to be expressions of strategy that would be more at home in Chapters 4 or 5 than here. We would suggest that the construction of the Policy is reviewed or this part is included as an ‘SP’ Policy and moved to earlier in the Plan, perhaps combined with parts 1 and 2 of Policy DM13 to create a strategic policy on transport.

Officer response: Disagree – Part 1 of policy DM14 sets out the council’s preference to improve journey times and make public transport more attractive.

Proposed Change: No change.


DM14 PUBLIC TRANSPORT

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 14 Public transport

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

POLICY DM14

Public transport

 

Within the bus and hackney carriage corridors, as defined on the policies map, the council and the highway authority will develop preference measures to improve journey times and reliability and make public transport more attractive, particularly on park and ride routes. Such measures may include:

 

     i.        Dedicated bus lanes, including contraflow lanes where appropriate;

    ii.        Bus priority measures at junctions;

   iii.        Prioritisation within traffic management schemes; and/or

  iv.        Enhanced waiting and access facilities and information systems for passengers, including people with disabilities.

 

2. Proposals for major development will be permitted if adequate provision is made, where necessary and appropriate, within the overall design and site layout for the following facilities for public transport secured

through legal agreements:

 

     i.        Priority or exclusive provision for public service vehicle access to or through the proposed development area;

    ii.        Safe and convenient passenger waiting facilities, information systems and signed pedestrian access routes;

   iii.        Suitable provision for disabled access to the waiting facilities from all parts of the development area; and

  iv.        Suitable provision for disabled access onto buses from the waiting facilities.


 

DM15 PARK AND RIDE

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM15 Park and Ride

Key issues:

1.     Need Park and Ride site on A274

2.     Park and Ride is unsustainable

3.     Support in principle, but Linton crossroads is the wrong place

4.     Air quality impacts

5.     Disagrees that there is evidence to support Linton Crossroads

6.     Not enough room for bus priority measures south of Maidstone

7.     Old Sittingbourne Road should not be included for park and ride; this is subject to a short term lease. Site has more value for economic development use.

Key issue 1 & 3: Need Park & Ride site on A274 and; Support in principle, but Linton crossroads is the wrong place

Detail: Whilst appreciating the desirability of the P&R site proposed at Linton crossroads we would need to see a comprehensive proposal before being fully supportive.

The omission of a Park & Ride site on the A274 is something we recommend is reconsidered.

Officer response: The council is supportive of a Park & Ride site at Linton Corner. The proposed site is forecast to perform well above initial expectations and would cover its operating costs. A Park & Ride site on the A274 would only attract trips in the local vicinity with no long-distance trips accessing the site. The Council believes that if a site on the A274 was the sole site to the south of Maidstone, it would perform well and would cover its operational costs. However the site would fail to cover all of the demand that would travel to a Linton Corner Park & Ride site. Therefore a Park & Ride site at Linton is the councils preferred site.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Park & Ride is unsustainable.

Detail: DM15 - OBJECT - park and ride unsustainable

Officer response: The Council considers Park & Ride to be an important part of the council’s transport vision for the Borough. New developments have the potential to generate a considerable number of vehicular trips. Improvements to public transport, such as Park & Ride help to mitigate these impacts and ensure that increase in trips will not lead to an unacceptable level of transport impact. The goal of providing a range of park & ride sites is to offer the travelling public a choice with a view to reducing traffic levels, congestion and C02 emissions.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Air Quality Impacts.

Detail: Unconvinced that it will be possible to implement safe access to the proposed Park & Ride site at Linton crossroads as there are no bus priority measures in place and there is no scope for measures such as bus lanes to be built.

Impact of cars accessing the new park & ride site will have a negative impact on the areas air quality.

Officer response: The Council recognises that planning can play an important role in improving air quality and reducing individuals’ exposure to air pollutants. The council will review the significance of the air quality impacts from proposals in line with national guidance. Evaluation of air quality impacts will take into account factors such as the number of people affected the absolute levels and the predicted magnitude of the change in pollutant concentrations, the scale and kind of proposed mitigation.

 

Section 2 of the policy states that new facilities should provide satisfactory access, layout, design, screening and landscaping. Issues such as access to the site access will be considered during the planning application stage.

Proposed Change: No change.

Key issue 5: Objection to the location of Park & Ride at Linton crossroads.

Detail:

Park and ride is not a sustainable transport panacea, and if poorly located can increase local traffic congestion and pollution and damage the landscape. Park and ride works best where it is well-related to existing communities and not located within more remote stand-alone locations. Old Sittingbourne Road, London Road and Willington Street succeed in this context because they also serve the local community as a bus service. The defunct Langley Park park and ride would have brought optimal benefits because it would have complemented the originally proposed mixed-use development of the site and reduced the generation of local car journeys. However, the proposed Linton Crossroads site is relatively remote from settlements and will therefore increase rather than reduce car journeys, with a major potential for rat running through local country roads, especially from the major development in the Sutton Road / Boughton Monchelsea locality. Further, the Linton Crossroads proposal is totally unacceptable in scale and landscape terms because of the inevitable damage to the irreplaceable landscape of the Greensand Ridge by day and night. The impact of lighting in this prominent location is a particular concern. A smaller ‘satellite' park and ride may be acceptable on the A229 corridor but it must be better related to population centres and in a less sensitive location. A location within the A274 corridor well related to the major residential developments along the Sutton Road and avoiding sensitive or bio-diverse landscapes is favoured as an alternative. A key to reducing traffic congestion within Maidstone town centre is intercepting vehicles on the heaviest private car commuting route into the town centre i.e. the A229 Bluebell Hill. A focus of any park and ride policy must therefore be to work with Medway Council to deliver a park and ride serving both Maidstone and Medway Towns along the A229 axis.

Officer response: The Council believes that due to the distance from the town centre of a park & ride site at the A229 on Blue Bell Hill additional costs would be incurred resulting in increased operating costs and the site would fail to make a profit. The modelling outputs also suggest that much of the demand will be from along the M20 corridor to the east[1]. Whilst there may be some journey time benefits for travellers using this route if their ultimate destination is on the north side of the town centre, overall it is considered that this is likely to be considered an unfavourable route choice.

 

A Park & Ride site on Sutton Road would only attract trips in the local vicinity with no long-distance trips accessing the site. The Council believes that if the site was the sole site south of the town, Sutton Road would perform well and would cover its operational costs. However the site would fail to cover all of the demand that would travel to a Linton Corner Park & Ride site. A park & ride site at Linton Corner is forecast to perform well above initial expectations and would cover its operating costs. A smaller site would require an additional park & ride site to be allocated in the same A229 Linton Hill corridor. A limited site would also not cover the operating costs of the site, nor justify, the 10 minute bus frequency throughout the day1.

Proposed Change: No change.

Key issue 6 – Not enough room for bus priority measures south of Maidstone.

Detail: Roads in the area are already congested and there are highway safety concerns. The local infrastructure into Maidstone cannot cope with the additional demand and bus priority measures will not work. The site should be protected as it was in the previous Local Plan. There will be impacts on wildlife and additional noise, light pollution and environmental damage.

Officer Response: The council is working in partnership with Kent County Council (the local transport authority), the Highways Agency, infrastructure providers and public transport operators to facilitate the delivery of transport improvements to support the growth proposed by the local plan. An Integrated Transport Strategy is in the process of being prepared by the council and its partners, which will aim to improve accessibility from the south of Maidstone and across the borough to Maidstone town centre.

Proposed Change: No change.

Key Issue 7 - Old Sittingbourne Road should not be included for park and ride; this is subject to a short term lease. Site has more value for economic development use.

Detail: Both policies identify land at Eclipse Park (‘Old Sittingbourne Road’) as a Park & Ride site.  This site, although currently operating as a Park & Ride site, is subject to a short term lease to Maidstone Borough Council which expires in November 2014.  No new or extended lease is in place and no terms have been agreed for continued leasing of the land.  Furthermore, the landowner has confirmed that the site is not available for continued Park & Ride use, and the land is not available at a value likely to be affordable for Park and Ride at the site to be viable, as it has inherent economic development value for the reasons already outlined.

 

Given this, it cannot be demonstrated that the site is available and is not therefore deliverable.  The site is thus not effective and is unsound.

 

Notwithstanding availability, this site does not present the most suitable site in the Junction 7 area for Park & Ride development.  As draft Policy DM17 confirms (and as supported by the Plan’s evidence base and the site’s planning history), Eclipse Park forms a key strategic employment site for development as part of the Plan’s spatial strategy.  To designate a large portion of the site to Park & Ride development thus fails to make best and effective use of this site and does not therefore deliver sustainable development. 

 

The Council have failed to assess alternative locations in the area that would not result in the effective loss of key employment land. It is considered that such a search for alternative sites should be undertaken to find land more suited for Park & Ride provision that would not forego prime employment land and would deliver the sustainability benefits that Park & Ride at Junction 7 would bring.  Furthermore, the Integrated Transport Strategy does not provide any basis to conclude that Eclipse Park is the most suitable site at Junction 7, notwithstanding its unavailability for the Plan period. The ITS lacks sufficient evidence to reach a conclusion on the strategy for Park & Ride at Junction 7 and in the absence of this and clear agreement with KCC on the strategy, there can be no certainty at present over delivery, irrespective of site availability.  Even if the site at Eclipse Park were available and affordable, then the case has not been made.

 

In its current form therefore, these policies are unsound as they are not proven to be deliverable and are thus not effective; are not consistent with National Policy as they compromise the delivery of sustainable economic development; and are not justified as more suitable alternatives should be sought in any event.  Accordingly and to make the Plan sound, these policies should be amended to delete reference to the Eclipse Park site as it is not deliverable and a more suitable alternative site in the vicinity of Junction 7 should instead be identified in the event that it is concluded Park and Ride at Junction 7 is required.

 

The Local Plan is intended to provide a vision for Maidstone to 2031 and as drafted clearly fails to reflect the needs of the market and the opportunities for Maidstone that they represent.

 

I trust that the above comments will be given due consideration and would be happy to provide any further information or answer any queries as required.

Officer Response:  Reject: The existing site on Sittingbourne Road has a long established use as a park & ride site and was allocated in the Maidstone Borough-Wide Local Plan 2000. Paragraph 30 of the NPPF encourages the support of solutions to reduce congestion. The council fully supports the continued use of the park & ride facility located on Sittingbourne Road. The use of the site for park & ride will continue to reduce car borne pollution in built up areas and reduce congestion in Maidstone town centre.

 

Park and ride is an important part of the council’s transport vision for the Borough. A Study of park & ride opportunities in the borough was undertaken in April 2012 as part of the Maidstone Integrated Parking Strategy Research, which identified that the existing site on Sittingbourne Road will continue to have significant utilisation during the AM peak period accommodating demand for access to the town centre from the A249/M20 transport corridor. No other sites have been submitted during a call for sites that would serve the A249/M20 transport corridor. The Sittingbourne Road site has an existing use as a park & ride site and is the council’s preferred option for a park & ride site serving the A249/M20 transport corridor.

Officer Response: No change.


DM15 PARK AND RIDE

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 15 Park and ride

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

POLICY DM15

Park and ride

The following sites, as defined on the policies map, are designated bus

park and ride sites:

 

     i.        Old Sittingbourne Road (to serve the A249 corridor);

    ii.        London Road (to serve the A20 west corridor);

   iii.        Willington Street (to serve the A20 east corridor); and

  iv.        Linton Crossroads (to serve the A229 corridor).

 

2. The provision of new or replacement park and ride facilities should meet

the following criteria:

 

     i.        Satisfactory access, layout, design, screening and landscaping;

    ii.        Provision of suitable waiting and access facilities and information systems for passengers, including people with disabilities; and

   iii.        The implementation of complementary public transport priority measures both to access the site and moreover along the route. Measures will include dedicated bus lanes (including contraflow lanes where appropriate), together with bus priority measures at junctions.


 

DM16 AIR QUALITY

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM16 Air Quality

Key issues:

1.     Investment in low emission buses will continue where it supports a scheme being implemented by MBC.

2.     All development has a negative impact on air quality – question how air quality can be improved.

3.     Policy needs to make reference to areas outside of Maidstone AQMA, in particular Wateringbury crossroads.

4.     Developments should address existing air quality issues (where there is an issue) before being permitted.

5.     Policy should define circumstances where development will not be acceptable.

Key issue 1: Investment in low emission buses will continue where it supports a scheme being implemented by MBC.

Detail: Support - Recognising that there are limited actions the Borough Council can take to improve air quality through reductions in emissions by road transport, Arriva will continue to invest in low emission buses where there is a business case and where it supports a scheme being implemented by the Borough Council.

Officer response: The council fully supports and encourages the use of modes of transport with low impact on air quality. The primary focus for the council is placed on achieving model shift to walking, cycling and public transport and low emission transport.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: All development has a negative impact on air quality – question how air quality can be improved.

Detail: All development proposals impact on air quality –increased road usage especially.

Officer response: The Council recognises that planning can play an important role in improving air quality and reducing individuals’ exposure to air pollutants.

 

To address existing air quality issues within the borough – the NPPF requires planning policies to sustain compliance with EU limit values or national objectives for pollutants and the cumulative impacts on air quality form individual sites in local areas. Air Quality Action Plans set out to improve air quality in exceedance areas. The Council’s Integrated Transport Strategy will assist in accommodating model shift to more sustainable transport modes and support Air Quality Action Plans.

 

The council will require that development in or affecting Air Quality Management Areas to where necessary incorporate mitigation measures which are locationally specific and proportionate to the likely impact. The council will promote infrastructure the encourages the use of modes of transport with low impact on air quality, locating development close to transport infrastructure and community services and facilitates to minimise trip generation.

 

The council will develop a Low Emission Strategy which will outline the principles behind defining the scale of development and its likely impact depending on its location and proximity to exceedence areas and the public.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Policy needs to make reference to areas outside of Maidstone BC AQMA, in particular Wateringbury crossroads.

Detail: Your air quality policy only considers the same in MBC area through its Local Air Quality Management regime which consequently avoids our most affected and polluted village. As the Wateringbury A26 air quality is outside your Plan area but will be greatly affected by the Development Plan allocation this must be modified in some way to include the effect on areas outside the MBC remit.

Officer Response: Since December 1997 each local authority in the UK is responsible for carrying out a review and assessment of air quality in their respective areas. This involves measuring air pollution and trying to predict how it will change in the next few years. The aim of these reviews is to make sure that the national air quality objectives will be achieved throughout the UK by the relevant deadlines.

 

It is therefore the responsibility of Tonbridge & Malling Borough council to review and ensure air quality objectives are achieved throughout their borough. However, Maidstone Borough Council recognises that development within the borough of Maidstone, may have an impact on neighbouring areas. Public bodies have a duty to cooperate on planning issues that cross administrative boundaries, and the Council will continue to work with Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council on cross boundary issues such as infrastructure issues and air quality.

Proposed change: No change.

Key Issue 4: Development should address existing air quality issues (Where there is an issue) before being permitted.

Detail: GENERAL OBSERVATION - where air quality is an existing issue developments that exacerbate the situation should not be supported until mitigation measures for the existing  issue are implemented.

 Officer Response: To address existing air quality issues within the borough – the NPPF requires planning policies to sustain compliance with EU limit values or national objectives for pollutants and the cumulative impacts on air quality form individual sites in local areas. Air Quality Action Plans set out to improve air quality in exceedance areas.

 

In order to mitigate any schemes impacts the council will develop a low emission strategy. This document will outline the principles behind defining the scale of a development and its likely impact depending on its location and proximity to exceedence areas and the public.

Proposed Change: No change.

Key Issue 5 – Policy should define circumstances where development will not be acceptable.

Detail: In an effort to word this Policy in a positive way the Policy has become tortuous. For some issues it is appropriate to express the policy in a negative fashion, i.e. that planning permission will not be permitted, and this is one such policy. In the interests of clarity, therefore, the Policy should be redrafted to set out the circumstances where development will not be acceptable because of impact on air quality.

Officer Response: Reject: Government policy requires that local plans must be positively prepared, justified, effective and consistent with national policy in accordance with section 20 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended) and the National Planning Policy Framework.

 

Policy DM16 sets out that applications that will have a negative impact on air quality should identify sources of emissions from the development and identify how these emissions will minimised and mitigated against must be provided. In addition, policy DM16, requires proposals affecting Air Quality Management Areas should, where necessary, incorporate mitigation measures which are locationally specific and proportionate to the likely impact.

Proposed Change: No change.


DM16 AIR QUALITY

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 16 – Air quality

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.86 Pollution due to dust and poor air quality, resulting from either existing sites or proposed developments, has the potential to adversely affect human health and the environment in Maidstone. It is therefore essential that these issues are adequately assessed through the development management process.

 

11.87 The National Planning Policy Framework requires planning policies to sustain compliance with EU limit values or national objectives for pollutants and the cumulative impacts on air quality from individual sites in local areas. The council has a responsibility to work towards achieving these targets and does this through the Local Air Quality Management (LAQM) regime. Through this function the council has identified 6 areas currently exceeding EU guideline values and has an Air Quality Action Plan (AQAP) in place in order to identify measures aimed at reducing air pollution at these locations.

 

11.88 The hotspots are located at key transport junctions but the AQAP covers the wider Maidstone Urban Area designated by the Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) in recognition of the nature of road networks and traffic movements. This action plan contributes to the delivery of the national air quality strategy.

 

11.89 The air quality action plan identifies key partners and their responsibility for delivering measures to improve air quality in the exceedence areas. The primary focus is placed on achieving modal shift to walking, cycling and public transport and low emission transport. The council’s Integrated Transport Strategy is in place to address this objective. This policy will support the ITS and AQAP by:

 

·         Promoting infrastructure that encourages the use of modes of transport with low impact on air quality;

·         Locating development close to transport infrastructure and community services and facilities to minimise trip generation;

·         Installing charging points to facilitate expected increases in electric vehicle ownership;

·         Requiring developers to mitigate more effectively against emissions from new developments through soft measures such as landscaping and tree planting; and

·         Requiring developers to contribute to funding measures, including those identified in the air quality action plans and low emissions strategies, designed to offset the impact on air quality arising from new development

 

11.90 The Council will review the significance of the air quality impacts from new proposals in line with national guidance. Evaluation of air quality impacts will take into account factors such as the number of people affected, the absolute levels and the predicted magnitude of the changes in pollutant concentrations, the scale and kind of the proposed mitigation. The evaluation will also take into account how the impacts from the development relate to the principles contained within the council's air quality action plan and other relevant strategic guidance documents.

 

11.91 It is recognised that planning can play an important role in improving air quality and reducing individuals’ exposure to air pollutants. Whilst planning cannot solve immediate air quality issues, it has a role to play so any likely scheme impacts are reasonably mitigated. It is also important to ensure cumulative impacts of developments are responded to in a fair and proportionate way. In order to achieve this, a Low Emission Strategy will be developed going forward.

 

11.92 The Low Emission Strategy will outline the principles behind defining the scale of a development and it’s likely impact depending on it’s location and proximity to exceedence areas and the public. It will be developed in line with emerging best practice and national guidelines and be developed to support the

Air Quality Action Plan.

 

 

POLICY DM16

Air Quality

 

Proposals that have an impact on air quality that meet the following criteria

will be permitted:

 

1.     Proposals located close to identified air quality exceedence areas as defined through the Local Air Quality management process will require a full Air Quality Impact Assessment in line with national and local guidance;

2.     Proposals within or adjacent to Air Quality Management Areas that are likely to have a negative impact on air quality should identify sources of emissions to air from the development and an Emissions Statement identifying how these emissions will be minimised and mitigated against must be provided; and

3.     Proposals in or affecting Air Quality Management Areas or of a sufficient scale to impact local communities should, where necessary, incorporate mitigation measures which are locationally specific and proportionate to the likely impact.


 

DM17 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM17 Economic development

Key issues

1.     Due to lack of reference to the importance of green technologies.

2.     The policy fails to recognise the established significance of the employment  site at Detling Aerodrome.

3.     The Plan as drafted fails to support and improve the economy and fails to provide for the needs of businesses.

Key issue 1: Lack of reference to green technologies.

Detail: The representation states that Green technologies are a key growth area where Kent and the south east is already a research and development hot spot. MBC should be promoting and supporting this field of technology. With the UN calling upon the world to treble renewable energy production to reduce the catastrophic impacts of climate change this is not just an economic no-brainer but a moral imperative.

Officer response: Green technologies encompass a wide range of activities including renewable energy production, recycling, water/air purification, sewerage treatment, environmental remediation, solid waste management, energy conservation and sustainable construction and arguably much more.  Whilst tackling climate change and the sustainable use of natural resources are key outcomes, the sector offers real opportunities for business growth and innovation.  The sector was worth £107 billion to the national economy and in Kent some 17,500 are thought to be employed in it. Growth is expected at between 4 and 5% annually, much higher than many other sectors (Low Carbon Opportunities for Growth, 2010 KCC). It is recognised as a key growth sector in the Government’ Industrial Strategy, SELEP’s Strategic Economic Plan and by Locate in Kent.

 

The land use implications for renewable and low carbon energy schemes are set out in Policy DM3. The Council has also published planning advice notes on solar farms.

 

However the opportunities for Maidstone to grow this sector have not been demonstrated in either the GVA work on Employment Land Supply 2014 or consultation to date on the draft Economic Development Strategy 2014.  Moreover investment is already planned elsewhere in Kent and the South East. Major investment is planned in Thames Enterprise Park on a 400 acres brown field site to become a hub for environment technologies and energy generation  businesses. Dunton Technical Centre in Essex is a major research and development facilities for the automobile industry where the government has recently invested in fuel efficiency and carbon emission reductions research through the Technology Strategy Board. North Kent, including Ramsgate is seeking to develop businesses related to their Off Shore Wind Farms.

 

Maidstone does not have a Higher Education centre related to this sector. Canterbury Christ Church University, The University of Kent and The University of Greenwich all have specialist areas in subjects related to environmental sciences. Regional Resource Centre for Environmental Technology Skills (RRCETS) run by BSK CIC is based in Medway. It is a hub for supporting businesses to acquire skills and knowledge in understanding new technologies. It addresses a gap by providing local, low-cost business training including the following topics: Renewable energy, Energy Efficiency, Rain Water Harvesting, Environmental Awareness for SMEs; Waste Management.

The Economic Development team does promote Low Carbon Kent, Eco Innovation and other opportunities for businesses to access finance to innovate or reduce emissions.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: The policy fails to recognise  the established significance of the employment  site at Detling Aerodrome.

Detail: The representation argues that the policy fails to recognise the established significance of the employment site at Detling Aerodrome Industrial Estate and therefore its failure to include it in the policy as being suitable for retention intensification and regeneration of existing industrial and business estates. This industrial employment site has been established for at least as long as other sites identified as “Economic Development Areas” in the Plan and provides a valuable opportunity for enhancement and expansion together with the provision of important strategic infrastructure to assist the economic prosperity of the Borough.

Officer response: DM17 set out the general principles that the Council will follow to support economic growth. This policy refers the retention, intensification and regeneration of the existing industrial and business estates identified as Economic Development Areas listed in Policy DM18. Detling Aerodrome Industrial Estate is listed as “Detling Airfield” in Policy DM18 is therefore already included.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: The Plan as drafted fails to support and improve the economy and fails to provide for the needs of businesses.

Detail: This policy states that “the council is committed to supporting and improving the economy of the borough and providing for the needs of businesses”. This statement is not however supported by any evidence and to the contrary, the absence of an employment allocation at Junction 8 and any provision to meet proven demand for existing expanding businesses shows that the Plan as drafted fails to support and improve the economy and fails to provide for the needs of businesses.

Officer response:

 

The employment site allocations to be included in the Local Plan will be considered under Policy EMP1.

Proposed change: No change.


DM17 ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 17 – Economic development

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.93 The local economy is characterised by its strong base in administration and professional services, as well as public services, stemming in particular from Maidstone’s county town role. The town centre is an established focus for shopping and leisure activities, drawing trade from both within the town and beyond, in particular the Malling area, Medway and Sittingbourne.

 

NP[2] The qualifications profile is relatively low in Maidstone with less than one third of residents qualified at NVQ Level 4 or above.  This is below the Kent (33.6%) and national (35%) averages. More people in Maidstone are also qualified at below level 2 compared to Kent as a whole. The 2011 Census shows that some 1240 more people were leaving the borough for work than coming in, a reversal of the situation in 2001 when more people commuted into Maidstone to work. More out-commuters are working in managerial, professional, and technical occupations, while those commuting into Maidstone tend to be in skilled / semi-skilled occupations. The local workforce is generally quite highly skilled and although a proportion of residents travel outside the borough to work this is more than matched by those who commute in. Whilst the average earnings of those who commute out of the borough is higher than that of those who work in the borough, because of the prevalence of higher paid jobs in London as well as a preponderance of lower wage employment in the borough, the gap has been narrowing over recent years Annual Monitoring Report 2011/12. In general unemployment in the borough is low when compared with the Kent and national picture 'Unemployment in Kent' Research & Evaluation Bulletin, Kent County Council (September 2013).

 

11.94 For Maidstone Borough to grow in a sustainable manner the increase in house building needs to be aligned with growth in local employment. Economic growth will be achieved through a range of provision and for the purposes of the local plan, and in line with the NPPF, economic development includes the following uses:

·           Uses within Class B of the Use Class Order including offices, research and development, warehouses and industry

·           Public and social uses such as health and education

·           Town centre uses such as retail, leisure, entertainment, arts, cultural and tourism development.

 

11.95 The net additional land requirements for B class uses and retail to 2031 are to be delivered through the allocation of sites and the granting of planning permissions. Other economic growth will be created through tourism, social infrastructure provision such as education and health care, construction and other small scale opportunities such as the conversion or extension of rural buildings that will not necessarily require the allocation of land. The council’s Economic Development Strategy (2008) provides the economic vision for the borough and sets out how prosperity will achieved across the range of business sectors. This strategy is currently being reviewed. The council’s emerging Economic Development Strategy (2014-31) sets out an economic vision for the borough in 2031 through its ‘ambition statement’. The strategy goes on to identify five priorities to capitalise on the borough’s economic assets and to create the right conditions for growth. These are 1) retaining and attracting investment; 2) stimulating entrepreneurship; 3) enhancing the town centre; 4) meeting skill needs and 5) improving the infrastructure.

 

11.96 A significant proportion of Maidstone’s growth in B class uses is expected to come from office-based employment. The first choice location for new office development will be the town centre. The council is aiming to create the right conditions for growth in the town centre through a comprehensive approach, improving accessibility, enhancing the public realm and encouraging a range of commercial uses, primarily retail, office and leisure related. This is directed through the specific policies of the local plan. A particular issue is the quantity of long-term vacant office stock in the town centre and the identification of appropriate alternative uses for such stock. An initial estimate is that some 5,100sqm of currently vacant office stock in the town centre and elsewhere may no longer be fit for purpose at present Revised Employment Land Forecast (2013). Analysis suggests that some 25,000sqm of the borough’s stock of office floorspace is long term vacant[3] . Such stock, which is no longer fit for purpose, is unlikely to be fully re-occupied and its loss to other uses is unlikely to adversely impact on the borough’s economic growth.

 

11.97 In addition to town centre office sites, there is a complementary role for offices at beyond centre sites which are well connected to the highway network, such as Eclipse Park in recognition of the differing market demand that such sites meet.

 

11.98 The proposed strategic site allocation at Junction 7 is a particular opportunity to create a hub for medical related businesses, capitalising on the development of the Kent Institute of Medicine and Surgery, to attract high value, knowledge intensive employment and businesses as a boost the local economy. This site will also deliver additional general office space in a high quality environment. Outline consent has recently been granted for the medical hub (subject to the completion of a section 106 agreement). The further specific sites allocated for additional employment development, including storage, warehousing and industrial development in line with identified needs, will help provide for a range of jobs of differing skill and wage levels as a way of helping to maintain a low unemployment rate going forward.

 

11.99 With the exception of some of the secondary office stock within the town centre, existing business sites and industrial estates are an important and appropriate part of the business stock for the future which can also help to provide for the range of employment needs. Policy DM18 directs the retention, intensification and regeneration of the identified Economic Development Areas. In addition, there is a significant stock of commercial premises outside these designated areas which also provide for local employment. Within Maidstone urban area and the Rural Services Centres the first preference will be for such existing sites to remain in employment generating uses.

 

11.100 Retail development makes a big contribution towards the economic health of the borough and reinforces Maidstone’s role as County Town. Maidstone Town Centre is the primary focus for retail development within the borough with the RSCs also providing appropriate local levels of retail facilities as set out in the Centre Hierarchy. Retail provision elsewhere in the borough currently comprises district centres and a degree of out of town development.

 

11.101 Within the countryside the priority for economic development will be on the conversion and extension of existing suitable buildings and established sites, farm diversification and tourism where this can be achieved in a manner consistent with local rural and landscape character in order that a balance is struck between supporting the rural economy and the protection of the countryside for it own sake. Policy DM37 sets out the considerations which will apply when established rural businesses want to expand their existing premises. There is also a trend towards to greater homeworking which allows for a reduced impact on transport infrastructure.

 

11.102 Opportunities for further tourist related development will be supported in particular within the town centre as well as small scale initiatives that support the rural economy. The council will also promote education, leisure and cultural facilities, again within the town centre in particular, to retain a higher proportion of young and well educated people within the borough and in turn enhance the prospects of creating a dynamic local economy.

 

Policy DM17

Economic development

 

1.     The council is committed to supporting and improving the economy of the borough and providing for the needs of businesses. This will be achieved through the allocation of specific sites and through:

 

             i.          The retention, intensification, regeneration of the existing industrial and business estates identified as Economic Development Areas as defined on the policies map;

            ii.          The retention, intensification, regeneration and expansion of the existing economic development premises in Maidstone urban area and the rural service centres provided the site is in an appropriate location and suited to the economic development use in terms of scale, impacts and economic viability;

          iii.          Enhancing the vitality and viability of Maidstone town centre and maintaining the hierarchy of retail centres;

          iv.          Supporting proposals that encourage highly skilled residents to work in the borough to reduce out-commuting;

           v.          Improving skills in the workforce in particular by supporting further and higher education provision within Maidstone’s urban area;

          vi.          Supporting improvements in information and communications technology to facilitate more flexible working practices;

         vii.          Prioritising the commercial re-use of existing rural buildings in the countryside over conversion to residential use; and

       viii.          Supporting proposals for the expansion of existing economic development premises in the countryside, including tourism related development, provided the scale and impact of the development is appropriate for its countryside location.


 

DM18 RETENTION OF EMPLOYMENT SITES

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM18 Retention of employment sites

Key Issues:

1.     Policy fails to recognise the significance of the established employment site at Detling Aerodrome.

2.     Policy should add Springfield Mill.

3.     Policy should add Maidstone East car park/Sorting Office site.

4.     Policy should retain the employment role of Invicta Barracks.

5.     Policy identifies Eclipse Park for use class B1 development only which is too restrictive and contrary to NPPF.

6.     Brooklyn Park should be added as an economic development area or to EMP 1.

Key issue 1: An objection because the policy fails to recognise the established employment site at Detling Aerodrome and including the old Auction site.

Detail: The representation argues that the policy fails to recognise the significance of the established site at Detling Aerodrome. It should be listed as a site designated for Economic Development for use classes B1, B2 and B8 within the first part of the policy. It provides a valuable opportunity for enhancement and expansion of employment within these classes, together with provision of important strategic infrastructure to assist the economic prosperity of the Borough. The cattle auction site should be included as part of Detling Airfield as it is previously developed land and well screened from the rest of and AONB.

Officer response: Detling Aerodrome is already listed in Policy DM18 as Detling Airfield.

 

The old auction site is not included within the boundary set out in the adopted Local Plan 2000. However the GVA report does include it within the boundary of the Detling Airfield Economic Development Area. It is well screened and forms a cohesive part of the existing estate.

 

Representation 1619 also argues for the significant expansion of the Aerodrome. The allocation of additional employment land is a matter for Policy EMP1.

Proposed change: Amend the boundary of the Economic Development Area at Detling Airfield to include the auction site.

Key issue 2: Objection the policy should add Springfield Mill and Maidstone East car park/Sorting Office site; and retain the employment role of Invicta Barracks.

Detail: The representation requests that Springfield Mill is included in policy DM18.

Officer response: The long term business occupants of both the Sorting Office and the Whatman site (at Springfield) are vacating their sites. This prompts the opportunity to consider the future use of these sites by the inclusion of specific site allocations in the draft plan. On balance, it has been considered because of the Maidstone East/Sorting office site’s key town centre location provides the best opportunity for contributing to future retail needs in the short/medium term with associated housing (Policy RMX1). Springfield can deliver a significant amount of housing on an urban brownfield site to contribute towards the challenging ‘objectively assessed need’ for new homes (Policy H1).

 

The specific merits of any representations proposing alternative uses for these sites will be considered when the site allocation policies are reviewed in January 2015.

 

Maidstone Barracks is identified as a potential housing site post 2026 (policy H3 (2)). The site may offer employment opportunities for MOD staff but it is not more widely available to the commercial market and as such is not identified as part of the general employment sites supply in Policy DM18.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Objection the policy identifies Eclipse Park for use class B1 development only which is too restrictive and contrary to NPPF

Detail: The representation argues that the prescriptive approach to use classes is contrary to national policy in the NPPF that advocates a flexible and positive approach to economic development. Eclipse Park is particularly well placed to deliver employment development as the site is free from infrastructure constraints and therefore by enabling the flexible delivery of economic development, it will allow the timely delivery of development and jobs early in the Plan process whilst some other sites more constrained by infrastructure delivery will require more time to deliver employment.

 

Policy DM18 identifies Eclipse Park as a designated Economic Development Area for use class B1 development. The policy states that non B-class development will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of their take up or continued use for the designated use in the medium term.

 

Whilst the identification of Eclipse Park for development is supported, the prescriptive approach to use classes is contrary to national policy in the NPPF that advocates a flexible and positive approach to economic development. Paragraph 21 of the NPPF states that “ policies should be flexible enough to accommodate needs not anticipated in the plan and to allow a rapid response to changes in economic circumstances ”, whilst paragraph 156 states that Local Plans should “ allocate sites to promote development and flexible use of land ”.

 

This approach is also reflected by the current permissions in place and development at the site which itself is a mix of office, retail and a hotel, all of which make a contribution to employment. It is also reflected more widely at Junction 7 in the mix of employment uses that exist in the area at Newnham Court (comprising retail, offices, childrens’ nursery, veterinary clinic, hairdressers and restaurants), KIMS and the wider Maidstone Medical Campus outline permission and Maidstone Studios.

Officer response: The NPPF states that local planning authorities should identify sites for local and inward investment to match the Economic Development Strategy and to meet anticipated needs over the plan period. The anticipated need for B1, B2 and B8 uses for the Borough to 2031 is set out by GVA in their Quantitative and Qualitative Employment Site Assessments 2014.  Eclipse Business Park forms an important component of the Borough’s B1 supply now and in the future with the potential to provide new, bespoke office floorspace suitable for modern business needs in a location highly accessible to the motorway network . It is considered a strategically important employment location by Locate in Kent, the County’s inward investment agency.

 

However the same study goes on to state that “the predominant nature of take up of office space suggests that demand for space in the future will require smaller units or purpose built, multi-tenant stock. This reflects the concentration of small businesses within the borough, the focus of office occupiers (mostly smaller professional service firms) and the lack of strategic market interest in Maidstone as a ‘back office’ location for financial or insurance services.”  The extant offices consents at Eclipse Business Park are for large scale office floorplates, which are clearly now no longer in demand. Existing planning permissions are unlikely to be built out.

 

The representation proposes that the policy should take a more flexible approach to the future development of this site. In response, criterion (3) of the policy would allow for non B class uses on the site where it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of the site’s use for offices. Further, criterion (4) exceptionally allows for mixed use development where wider, specified benefits would accrue.  It is considered that this policy approach allows for reasonable flexibility whilst still prioritising the site’s predominant importance as an office location.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Business ID 1704 Brooklyn Park should be added as an economic development area or to EMP 1

Detail: Employment allocations should make the best use of motorway junctions to meet market demands. As such DM18 should be amended to include Brooklyn Park as a designated Economic Development Area or if not included in Policy EMP 1.

Officer response: The site is 1.9 hectares located on Junction 6 M20. Consent has previously been granted for B1 offices (MA/09/1210) and B1 light industrial units (MA/03/0399) and B2 (MA/03/0873). An extant permission for B8 storage (MA/11/2023) still exists. A new planning application has also been submitted for B2 uses. The identified Economic Development Areas are sites in existing employment use (in whole or in part).  Whilst this is not the case for Brooklyn Yard, the site is particularly well connected to the strategic road network and would be suitable for B class uses in principle making a valuable addition to the stock of such business premises. As the intention of Policy DM18 is to retain the best employment sites in such uses, inclusion of  Brooklyn Yard in this policy is considered appropriate

Proposed change: Include Brooklyn Yard in Policy DM18 (1).


DM18 RETENTION OF EMPLOYMENT SITES

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 18 – Retention of employment sites

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.103 In addition to new allocations of employment land, it is important that a stock of existing employment sites is maintained.  A range of well located commercial premises and sites need to be secured so that they can continue to be available to meet the needs of existing and modernising businesses. Policy DM18 identifies Economic Development Area across the borough designate specifically for B class uses which include sites with planning permission as well as established, existing employment locations.

 

11.104 The demand for office, manufacturing and warehouse premises can be expected to fluctuate over the plan period in line with changes in the economic cycle. It is important that these designated, good quality and productive sites are not permanently lost to alternative uses as a result of only short term changes in demand, whilst recognising that the permanent protection of a site that has no prospect of coming forward for its designated use is counter-productive for the local economy. Recent changes to the General Permitted Development Order enable the conversion of office space to residential use without the need for planning permission for a limited 3 year period (until 30 May 2016). Policy DM18 identifies locations with higher quality office floorspace for retention in the longer term, recognising that in the short term conversion to residential use could happen without consent. The recent General Permitted Development Order changes also allow up to 500m2 of B1 floorspace to be used for B8 uses without the need for planning permission.

 

11.105 Planning applications which seek alternative non B class uses in identified Economic Development Areas will be supported only where there is clear evidence that substantiates why the site should not be retained for its designated use.  This must include evidence of, and the outcomes from, the concerted marketing of the site for its designated uses for a continuous period of at least 12 months prior to the applicant's submission via relevant commercial property publications and websites. In addition, applications should include an analysis of the on-going suitability of the site for its designated uses and its commercial viability for those uses. Both the suitability and viability assessments should evidence current market conditions and also the future prospects for the sectors for which the site is designated. The analysis of future prospects should look ahead at least 5 years to ensure a medium term view of market trends and employment land requirements is taken.

 

11.106 Exceptionally, a mixed use scheme which incorporates an element of non B class uses may be a means to achieve an overall upgrade in the quality of B class business floorspace on a designated site or bring underused premises into more productive use.  The overall employment capacity of the site should be maintained or increased by such a scheme as measured by either the employment-generating floorspace provided or the number, permanence and quality of the jobs created. Any proposals for retail or leisure would also need to comply with policy DM19.

 

11.107 There is also a significant stock of B class employment premises and sites outside the designated Economic Development Areas.  In Maidstone and the rural service centres, the redevelopment or expansion of existing sites for employment-generating uses will be supported.  Redevelopment of such sites for non-employment generating uses will be permitted where the existing use has an adverse impact on residential amenity, causes highway safety issues or causes over-riding visual harm or where it is proven through the submission of a viability report that there is no realistic prospect of its commercial reuse.

 

11.108 In the town centre specifically, there is a significant stock of office premises however the quality of these is mixed.  A review of the town centre office stock[4] reveals that the better quality stock it is not focused in a single or limited number of locations, rather it is dispersed through the town centre;. Notwithstanding the current, temporary changes to permitted development rights, it is considered important to retain the better quality office premises to help sustain the town centre’s role as an employment location.  The larger scale (above 1000sqm) higher quality office premises are included in Policy DM18 as their loss to alternative uses would have the greater significance for the town centre’s employment role.

 

Policy DM 18

Retention of employment sites

 

1.     The following locations, as defined on the policies map, are designated Economic Development Areas for use classes B1, B2 and B8:

             i.          Lordswood Industrial Estate, Walderslade;

            ii.          Aylesford Industrial Estate, Aylesford;

          iii.          20/20 Business Park Allington;

          iv.          Parkwood Industrial Estate, Maidstone;

           v.          Tovil Green Business Park/Burial Ground Lane, Tovil;

          vi.          Station Road/Lodge Road/Honeycrest Industrial Park, Staplehurst;

         vii.          Pattenden Lane, Marden;

       viii.          Detling Airfield, Detling;

          ix.          Lenham Storage, Lenham;

           x.          Marley Works, near Lenham;

          xi.          Barradale Farm, near Headcorn;

         xii.          Station Road, Harrietsham;

       xiii.          Viewpoint, Boxley;

       xiv.          Ashmills Business Park, Lenham;

        xv.          Tenacre Court/Roebuck Business Park, Ashford Road, Harrietsham;

       xvi.          Hart Street Commercial Centre, Hart Street, Maidstone;

      xvii.          Hermitage Mills, Hermitage Lane, Maidstone

    xviii.          The Old Forge, Bearsted;

       xix.          Gallants Business Centre, East Farleigh

        xx.          Headcorn South, Biddenden Road, near Headcorn

       xxi.          Woodfalls Industrial Estate, Laddingford

      xxii.          Warmlake Business Estate, near Sutton Valence

    xxiii.          Bredhurst Business Park, Westfield Sole Road, Walderslade

    xxiv.          The Old Brewery, London Road, Maidstone

     xxv.          Brooklyn Yard, Sandling, Maidstone

 

2.     The following locations, as defined on the policies map, are designated Economic Development Areas for use class B1:

             i.          South Park Business Village, Maidstone;

            ii.          Turkey Mill Court, Maidstone;

          iii.          Eclipse Park, Maidstone;

          iv.          County Gate, Staceys Street

           v.          Medway Bridge House, Fairmeadow

          vi.          23/29 Albion Place

         vii.          Victoria Court, Ashford Road

       viii.          West of Lower Stone Street comprising Gail House, Link House, Kestrel House and Chaucer House

 

3.     Within designated Economic Development Areas, change of use or redevelopment of a site or premises to non B class uses will not be permitted unless it can be demonstrated that there is no reasonable prospect of their take up or continued use for the designated uses in the medium term.
 

4.     Within designated Economic Development Areas, mixed use proposals incorporating an element of non B class uses may exceptionally be permitted where such development would facilitate the regeneration of the site to more effectively meet the needs of modern business and where the overall employment capacity of the site is maintained.
 

5.     Outside the designated Economic Development Areas, the redevelopment and expansion of existing B class employment premises in Maidstone urban area and the rural service centres for employment-generating uses will be supported. Redevelopment of existing or vacant employment premises in Maidstone urban area and the rural service centres for non-employment uses will be permitted provided it can be demonstrated that the existing/last use has an adverse impact on residential amenity, highway safety or causes over-riding visual harm and/or there is no reasonable prospect of continuing or re-establishing an employment use.


 

DM19 TOWN CENTRE USES

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM19 Town centre uses

Key issues:

1.     Objection: The policy should be amended to replace “ an existing centre” with “ the existing town centre” to clarify the presumed purpose of this policy.

2.     Objection: town centre, and edge of town centre locations should be more widely considered for additional housing.

3.     Objection: There is no evidence to demonstrate that the sorting office and Maidstone East site is capable of delivering new retail development.

Key issue 1: The policy should be amended to replace “ an existing centre” with “ the existing town centre” to clarify the presumed purpose of this policy.

Detail: The policy should be amended to replace “ an existing centre” with “ the existing town centre” to clarify the presumed purpose of this policy.

 

Officer response: The representation implies that Policy DM19 refers to just one centre; Maidstone Town Centre. This is not the case and the policy relates to the district and local centres listed in Policy DM20.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Town centre, and edge of town centre locations should be more widely considered for additional housing.

Detail: It is the view of KCC that town centre, and edge of town centre locations should be more widely considered for additional housing. There is no question that the nature of town centres is changing rapidly, with such change likely to increase in coming years as shopping habits alter (including more extensive online shopping, for example). In order to ensure vitality and viability, town centres must embrace a level of change.

Kent County Council would like to see further emphasis on town centre and edge of centre residential uses – including conversion of existing (former commercial) buildings. This would reduce the pressure on housing sites at the urban fringe and in outlying villages, but would also contribute towards the ongoing viability of the town as a centre for entertainment and recreation, assisting in its ability to compete against other retail/commercial/leisure centres.

 

Officer response:

It is important that Maidstone town centre maintains a supply of good quality office stock to meet the needs of businesses over the plan period. Policy DM18 lists the protected Economic Development Areas in the town centre where change of use to non B class uses will not be supported. However outside Economic Development Areas the mixed redevelopment of B class employment for non employment uses, such as residential, will be supported subject to the criteria in the policy; see DM18 paragraph 5.  It is also recognised that recent changes to the General Permitted Development Order enable the conversion of office space to residential uses without the need for planning permission for a limited three year period (30 May 2016).

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: There is no evidence to demonstrate that the sorting office and Maidstone East site is capable of delivering new retail development.

Detail: There is no evidence base with the Local Plan that conclusively demonstrates that he Maidstone/Royal Mail sorting office sites are capable of delivering new retail development as part of their wider regeneration over the Plan period. The identification of these  sites as a priority for new retail development, in concert with the provisions of Policy DM19 relating to the sequential and impact tests and accessibility criteria, impose a presumption against development of otherwise suitable out of centre sites for retail purposes. Given the failure of the Local Plan to carry out NPPF/NPPG compliant assessment whether the retail needs requiring to be met over the plan period exceed the availability of suitable town centre of edge of centre sites such a presumption is unjustified and will result in needed retail development being refused planning permission.

Officer response: Solum Regeneration, a joint venture between Network Rail and Kier Group, has been established to redevelop and improve railway station sites across the South East. It has submitted an outline application for retail and a new station together with public realm improvements (2014).  This provides considerable evidence that the site will come forward for development.

Proposed change: No change.


DM19 TOWN CENTRE USES

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 19 – Town centre uses

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.108 The National Planning Policy Framework defines the main town centre uses as retail, leisure and entertainment, offices, arts, culture and tourism and the town centre is the first choice location for these uses.  Applicants will be expected to have demonstrably followed a sequential approach when selecting development sites for town centre uses, including fully exploring how the scheme could be adapted so that  it could be accommodated on a more central site (i.e.'disaggregation').  The sequential approach, whereby in centre and then edge of centre sites are selected above well connected out of centre sites, is underpinned by the principle that sites closest to existing centres are likely to be better served by public transport and be more accessible by walking and cycling. Development on such sites also increases the prospect of linked trips, whereby one journey into the centre can serve a number of purposes.

 

11.109 The National Planning Policy Framework provides the definitions of ‘edge of centre’ and ‘out of centre’ sites. For retail uses the site’s relationship to the primary shopping area is the key factor in determining whether a site is in, edge or out of centre. This is defined on the policies map. For other town centre uses the key factor is the site’s relationship to the town centre boundary, which is also shown on the policies map. Applicants should follow the approach to sequential sites’ assessment set out in the Communities and Local Government (CLG) document ‘Practice Guidance on Need, Impact and the Sequential Approach  December 2009’, together with the tests set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 24).  The local plan also identifies a number of district and local centres across the borough, which serve more localised shopping and service needs, and these should also be regarded as centres for the purposes of a sequential search for retail sites.

 

11.110 In assessing the impact of proposals, applicants should also follow the approach in the CLG practice guidance and the National Planning Policy Framework (paragraph 26). Additionally, applicants will be expected to give specific analysis to the impact of their proposals on the retailers in the primary shopping frontages because maintaining the health of this core retail area is considered to be particularly important in sustaining the future vitality and viability of the town centre.

 

11.111 The local plan identifies the Maidstone East/Royal Mail Sorting Office, which is an important regeneration site, as a priority site for new retail development at the edge of the town centre. Out of centre retail proposals which would undermine the delivery of this key allocated site will not be supported.

 

POLICY DM19

Town centre uses

 

1.     Proposals for main town centre uses should be located in an existing centre unless:

 

             i.          By means of a sequential approach, it is demonstrated that the proposal could not be accommodated first on a site within an existing centre and the proposal is located at the edge of an existing centre, or second it is demonstrated that the proposal could not be accommodated on a site within or at the edge of an existing centre and the proposal is located on an accessible out of centre site; and

            ii.          By means of an impact assessment it is demonstrated that a retail, office or leisure proposal would not result in a significant adverse impact, cumulative or otherwise,  on the vitality and viability of an existing centre or undermine the delivery of a site allocated for the use proposed.

 

2.     Proposals located at the edge of an existing centre or out of centre should ensure the provision of specific measures which will improve the quality and function of sustainable connections to the centre, in particular walking and cycling routes and public transport links and specific measures which will mitigate the impact of the proposal on the identified centre or centres. The nature, extent and permanence of the measures will be directly related to the scale of the proposal.


 

DM20 DISTRICT CENTRES, LOCAL CENTRES AND LOCAL SHOPS AND FACILITIES

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM20 District centres, local centres and local shops and facilities

Key issues:

1.     Some unconditional support.

2.     Policy should reject developments outside the High Street, which is a significant asset.

3.     Newnham Court should be included as a district centre.

4.     Doctors’ surgeries should be included in centres.

5.     Reference should be made to local views and adopted neighbourhood plans.

6.     Insufficient parking in Coxheath.

7.     Include Church Green, West End, Maidstone Road and Albion Road (Marden).

8.     Policy does not address retail units not on the High Street.

9.     Part 4 should refer to community uses.

Key issue 1: Some unconditional support.

Detail: Some unconditional support.

Officer response: Noted.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Policy should reject developments outside the High Street, which is a significant asset.

Detail: Comment seeks for this policy to also restrict retail development outside of the high street and restrict development on retail parks.

Officer response: Reject. In principle this comment reflects the sequential test as set by Government, however, this is addressed in policy DM19 – Town centre uses.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Newnham Court should be included as a district centre.

Detail: As a reflection of the existing and proposed development, Newnham Court should be designated as a district centre.

Officer response: Reject. The inclusion of Newnham Court as a district centre is not justified. Newnham Park has been identified in policy RMX1 as a mixed use allocation, part of which includes Newnham Court. The shopping village as is, has grown in piecemeal fashion and is allocated to allow for a comprehensive redevelopment. However, that redevelopment is predominantly replacement premises for the existing garden centre and shops which are already established (14,300m2) and up to 700m2 of additional floorspace, which will comprise uses complementary to the town centre, rather than in conflict with it.

 

Application 13/1931, which proposed a comprehensive redevelopment, beyond the boundaries of which were envisaged in this policy, was refused at planning committee.

 

In addition, Grovewood Drive, Grove Green, which is in close proximity to the Newnham Court Shopping Village, is designated a district centre, offering an appropriate range of retail and community facilities.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Doctors’ surgeries should be included in centres.

Detail: Doctors’ surgeries should be included in district and local centres.

Officer response: Partially accept. The council does not maintain an absolute list of what uses are compatible and what uses are not compatible with district and local centres, because local context also needs to be taken into account. However, the term ‘community facilities’, which is referenced for both district and local centres, may include doctors’ surgeries. Where it is appropriate, district and local centres can include these uses. Doctors’s surgeries are not always immediately adjacent to district and local centres and as a result would not serve the function in themselves.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 5: Reference should be made to local views and adopted neighbourhood plans.

Detail: Neighbourhood plans form part of the development plan, alongside local plans. Where adopted, a neighbourhood plan will contain planning policies, which must be considered in determining planning applications. Neighbourhood plans can also allocate and designate land for specific uses, although these must be in conformity with the strategic policies in the local plan.

Officer response: Partially accept. Although neighbourhood plans do need to be considered alongside the local plan, this is standard practice. The development plan as a whole should be considered in determining a planning application. This does not need to be referenced in the local plan.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 6: Insufficient parking in Coxheath.

Detail: During the local plan consultation, in particular at the Coxheath event, and in comments submitted, the lack of parking in the centre of Coxheath has been raised as a concern by a number of residents.

Officer response: Partially accept. Some residents in Coxheath undoubtedly need car parking when visiting the shops. The problem is identifying the appropriate opportunity to address this issue. The purpose of policy DM20 is to identify existing and proposed district and local centres and provide policy protection so that these uses cannot easily be changed to something that would erode the function of the centre. For car parking to be provided, land needs to be available to provide this function.

 

The draft neighbourhood plan addresses car parking, although does not propose how further spaces will be provided.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 7: Include Church Green, West End, Maidstone Road and Albion Road (Marden).

Detail: Proposed expansion/addition to the district centre identified in Marden.

Officer response: Partially accept. Detailed research was undertaken in the borough to determine the ongoing status of existing centres and to consider if any new centres needed to be allocated. In Marden it is accepted that Church Green could be added to the district centre as an outlier.

Proposed change: Amend policy to include Church Green as part of the Marden district centre.

 

Rename Marden district centre to:

 

“High Street and Church Green, Marden”

Key issue 8: Policy does not address retail units not on the High Street.

Detail: This policy does not cover the town centre.

Officer response: Reject. The town centre is addressed in policies SP1 – Maidstone Town Centre, DM19 – Town centre uses, DM27 – Primary shopping frontages, DM28 – Secondary shopping frontages and DM29 – Leisure and community uses in the town centre.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: Part 4 should refer to community uses.

Detail: Part 4 of the policy relates to scenarios where the loss of facilities in a district or local centre is proposed.

Officer response: Reject. Although this policy does appropriately refer to community facilities, these are addressed by policy DM12 – Community facilities.

Proposed change: No change.


MARDEN - PROPOSED DISTRICT CENTRE(BLACK).jpg


DM20 DISTRICT CENTRES, LOCAL CENTRES AND LOCAL SHOPS AND FACILITIES

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 20 – District centres, local centres and local shops and facilities

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.112 Local convenience shops and other such facilities can play an important role in sustainable development, by meeting the day-to-day needs of local communities.  The National Planning Policy Framework seeks to guard against the unnecessary loss of valued facilities and services, particularly where this would reduce the community’s ability to meet such needs.

 

11.113 Whilst the council recognises the importance of securing viable uses for premises, this must also be balanced against the needs of the community. Changes in the economy sometimes lead to public houses becoming vacant and alternative uses being sought. However, for some communities, especially in rural areas, these facilities provide both important services and leisure opportunities.

 

11.114 Where the loss of a local convenience shop or facility is proposed, the council will expect such an application to be supported by a viability report, prepared by a qualified professional within the relevant industry, together with financial accounts and marketing information illustrating that the use is no longer viable.  Accounts should, where possible, cover a three year period. The council will also give consideration to the availability of comparable alternative facilities.  In assessing this, the feasibility of such alternatives being used will be considered, including not only the distance from the potential users, but also the attractiveness and likelihood of the route being used. The impact of the loss of a local facility may be greater in village locations, where alternatives are less accessible. Well located local facilities can be positive assets, which are available to all, including those without cars and mobility problems.

 

11.115 Within the borough, the council has identified district and local centres which fulfil the function of providing essential local facilities as a group. District centres serve a wider catchment than a local centre and will typically cater for weekly resident needs.  A district centre will usually comprise groups of shops, often containing at least one supermarket or superstore, and a range of non retail services, such as banks, building societies and restaurants, as well as local public facilities such as a library. Local centres include a range of small shops serving a small catchment. Typically, amongst other shops, a local centre might include a small supermarket, a newsagent, a sub-post office and a pharmacy. Other facilities could include a hot-food takeaway and launderette. In rural areas, large villages may perform the role of a local centre. Additionally, there are small parades of shops throughout the borough of purely neighbourhood significance.

 

11.116 The council wishes to maintain the existing retail function together with supporting community uses in these locations, in the interests of securing sustainable, well-functioning communities. Within the defined district and local centres, new non A or D use classesA use classes comprise A1 shops, A2 financial and professional services, A3 food and drink, A4 pubs and bars, and A5 hot food takeaways; D use classes comprise non residential community uses and small scale leisure uses. will be resisted at ground level in order to maintain the retail role of the centres. The provision of additional retail and/or community facilities, plus a new local centre to complement the new residential development scheme at Langley Park, will be supported for similar sustainability reasons.

 

POLICY DM 20

District centres, local centres and local shops and facilities

 

1.     The council will seek to maintain and enhance the existing retail function and supporting community uses in the following district centres, as defined on the policies map:

             i.          Mid Kent Centre, Castle Road, Allington;

            ii.          Grovewood Drive, Grove Green;

          iii.          Heath Road, Coxheath;

          iv.          The Square, Lenham;

           v.          High Street, Headcorn;

          vi.          High Street and Church Green, Marden; and

         vii.          High Street, Staplehurst.

 

2.     The council will seek to maintain and enhance the existing retail function and supporting community uses in the following local centres, as defined on the policies map:

             i.          Ashford Road, Bearsted;

            ii.          The Green/The Street, Bearsted;

          iii.          Marlborough Parade, Beverley Road, Barming;

          iv.          Cherry Tree, Tonbridge Road;

           v.          Boughton Parade, Loose;

          vi.          Egremont Road, Madginford;

         vii.          Parkwood Parade;

       viii.          Sandling Lane, Penenden Heath;

          ix.          Senacre Square, Woolley Road;

           x.          Northumberland Court, Shepway;

          xi.          Snowdon Parade, Vinters Park;

         xii.          Mangravet, Sutton Road/Mangravet Avenue;

       xiii.          High Street/Benover Road, Yalding; and

       xiv.          Hermitage Walk, Hermitage Lane.

 

3.     A new local centre will be provided as part of a new residential development scheme at Langley Park.
 

4.     In considering planning proposals which would involve or require the loss of existing post offices, pharmacies, banks, public houses or class A1 shops selling mainly convenience goods outside local and district centres, consideration will be given to the following:

             i.          Firm evidence that the existing uses are not now viable and are unlikely to become commercially viable;

            ii.          The availability of comparable alternative facilities in the village or the local area; and

          iii.          The distance to such facilities, the feasibility of alternative routes being used, and the availability of travel modes other than by private motor vehicle.


 

DM21 RESIDENTIAL PREMISES ABOVE SHOPS AND BUSINESSES

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM21 – Residential Premises above shops and businesses

Key issues:

1.     Some Unconditional support.

2.     Does not include/reference RSC’s.

3.     Point 2 should be expanded.

4.     More promotion of residential uses.

Key issue 1: Some  unconditional support

Detail: Some unconditional Support

Officer Response: Support noted

Proposed Change: No change

Key issue 2: Does not include/reference RSC’s.

Detail: GENERAL OBSERVATION - doesn't include RSCs.

Officer Response: Point 1 refers to within town, district or local centres.

Proposed Change: No change.

Key issue 3: Point 2 should be expanded.

Detail:

CPRE Protect Kent supports this Policy, but we consider that some further guidance should be given in regard to point 2. As it stands, planning permission will be granted as a matter of course, but there could be instances where this should not be the case, e.g. where it might impact on the continued viability or operation of the shop.

Officer Response: The Council recognises the importance of shops and other such facilities in playing an important role in sustainable development. The NPPF supports a balance of land uses within an area so that people can be encouraged to minimise journey lengths for shopping.

 

Para 11.114 of the Draft MBC Local Plan states that “where the loss of local convenience shop or facility is proposed, the council will expect such an application to be supported by a viability report, together with financial accounts, and marketing information illustrating that the use is no longer viable”.

Proposed Change: No change.

 Key issue 4: More promotion of residential uses.

Detail: GENERAL OBSERVATION - edge of town centre locations should be more widely considered for additional housing. Would like to see further emphasis on town centre and edge of centre residential uses – including conversion of existing (former commercial) building

Officer response: This issue is dealt with under Local Plan policy SP1 which allows for the retention of the best quality office stock whilst allowing for the development of lower quality offices and opportunities for residential development.

 Proposed Change: No change


DM21 RESIDENTIAL PREMISES ABOVE SHOPS AND BUSINESSES

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 21 - Residential premises above shops and businesses

·           No policy changes proposed

 

 

11.117 'Living over the shop' can have a positive impact upon the vitality of town centres and other commercial areas. Once shoppers and workers depart, residential units to upper floors can provide a sense of life and occupation, which can add to a perception of security and vitality. 'Living over the shop' also helps to create a sense of place and mix of uses advocated by the National Planning Policy Framework.

 

11.118 The council wishes to support such proposals in all suitable locations, where good standards of living can be provided for future occupiers. New proposals will be required to meet the design criteria set out in policy DM4. The loss of residential accommodation above retail and business premises will be resisted unless the circumstances of the site render it unsuitable for continued occupation.

 

POLICY DM 21

Residential premises above shops and businesses

 

1.     Change of use from residential accommodation in premises where the ground floor is (or last was) in class A retail or class B1 business uses within town, district or local centres will be permitted, provided it can be shown that the accommodation is no longer suitable or is potentially unsuitable for residential occupation because of location or design.

2.     The council will permit ‘living over the shop’ projects in all suitable premises in the town centre, district and local centres, and village shops.


 

DM22 MOORING FACILITIES AND BOAT YARDS

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM22 – Mooring facilities and boat yards

Key issues:

1.     Some unconditional support

2.     Provided adequate scale and short term

3.     Policy encourages boats to moor along the River Medway which restricts river management, forcing flood water back to Yalding

4.     Need to balance the increase in mooring facilities with sufficient stations to supply and water needs

5.     Require ii to be amended

Key issue 1: Some unconditional support

Detail: Some unconditional Support

Officer Response: Support noted

Proposed Change: No change.

Key issue 2: Support

Detail: Support - Provided adequate scale and short term

Officer Response: Support noted - Policy states that small scale and short term mooring facilities will be provided – subject to the views of the Environment Agency

Proposed Change: No change.

Key issue 3: Policy encourages boats to moor along the River Medway which restricts river management, forcing flood water back to Yalding.

 Detail: Object to this policy as it encourages boats to be moored beside the River Medway for recreation purposes and permanent living accommodation which restricts the management of the river at times of floor at all times of year, which forces flood water back up to Yalding.

 Officer Response: The Council promotes the mooring and boat yards for small scale and short term mooring facilities only. The development of these facilities will only be permitted, subject to the views of the Environment Agency.

 

The Environment Agency response states that they are unable to provide views on new facilities until such a time when detailed proposals have been submitted.

Proposed Change: No change.

 Key issue 4: Need to balance the increase in mooring facilities with sufficient stations to supply and water needs.

Detail - In the event of expansion of access to waterways there is a need to balance the increase in mooring facilities with sufficient stations to supply fuel and water needs and proper facilities on land for the disposal of waste, including sewage.

Officer Response: Policy DM22 requires that facilities are provided for the disposal of boat toilet contents. The need for fuelling facilities is a commercial decision and is the responsibility of individuals or businesses to provide these facilities should they wish. Applications for fuelling facilities will be assessed against wider policies contained within the Local Plan.

Proposed change: No change

Key Issue 5: Require ii to be amended – Environment Agency

Detail: We note this policy and that proposed new moorings will be subject to our views. As has been implied, we are unable to provide any views until such time that detailed proposals have been submitted. We however require the following point to be amended:

ii – “Maidstone town centre – subject to an increase in the width of the navigable channel without loss of ecological value

We do not see how this adds value to this point. As with all the other locations listed it will be totally dependent on the details submitted as part of a formal application.

Due to the complexities of the Medway Navigation it may be worth considering a more detailed Strategy for the Medway Navigation as a supplementary planning document in consultation with Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council and us.

Officer Response: Noted

Proposed Change: Point ii to be amended to: “Maidstone town centre”


DM22 MOORING FACILITIES AND BOAT YARDS

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM 22 – Mooring facilities and boat yards

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

 

11.119 Mooring facilities and boatyards can provide tourism and recreation facilities which can contribute positively towards the economy. The National Planning Policy Framework lends strong support to the building of a robust economy, including within rural areas. The River Medway, which runs through both the urban and rural parts of Maidstone Borough, is an important asset, which provides opportunities to enhance tourism and recreation facilities through additional and enhanced mooring facilities. The council wishes to safeguard existing boat yards, in order to protect water-based recreation facilities. The River Medway contributes positively towards a varied range of recreational facilities and this enhances the attractiveness and diversification of the borough for local communities and visitors.

 

11.120 However, in order to safeguard the rural character of the countryside and the quality of the built environment, it is important that such proposals are limited in scale and that their cumulative impact is not harmful to amenity. Much of the River Medway is seen in the context of highly sensitive townscape and landscapes, such as the Maidstone All Saints’ Church Conservation Area, the valley formation of high landscape quality through Teston, East and West Farleigh and the Green Belt at Nettlestead.

 

11.121 The council will also have regard to the advice of the Environment Agency in assessing flooding issues.

 

POLICY DM 22

Mooring facilities and boat yards

 

1.           Further small scale and short term mooring facilities will be permitted at the following locations subject to the views of the Environment Agency:

 

i.             Allington

ii.            Maidstone town centre - subject to an increase in the width of the navigable channel without loss of ecological value

iii.           Wateringbury

iv.          East Farleigh

v.            Yalding

vi.          Stoneham

 

And provided that all of the following criteria are met:

 

vii.         There is no loss of flood plain or land raising;

viii.        The impact, including cumulative impact, shall preserve landscape quality, ecology and uses of the river and valley in the locality;

ix.          Proposals create no operational problems for other river users, including fishermen;

x.            Facilities are provided for disposal of boat toilet contents;

xi.          The site is capable of being adequately screened and it being possible to provide appropriate landscaping with indigenous species; and

xii.         xii. The presence of any similar uses in the locality and the combined effect of any such concentration would be acceptable in terms of environmental impact and highway safety.

 

2.           The council will not permit the redevelopment to other uses of boat yards that are in use, or have the potential to be used, in connection with water-based recreation.


 

DM23 HOUSING MIX

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM23 – Housing mix

Key issues:

1.        References to SHMA should be omitted as it is an unreliable tool and is flawed.

2.        Consideration for older person needs to be addressed with specific mention of provision of bungalows.

3.        Reference to be made of the importance of ‘local needs’ housing.

4.        Paragraph 11.124 is not carried forward into policy.

5.        Policy should mention neighbourhood plans.

6.        Policy does not provide guidance for developers.

7.        Housing mix becoming unbalanced due to smaller properties being enlarged.

Key issue 1: References to SHMA should be omitted as it is an unreliable tool and is flawed.

Detail: References to SHMA should be omitted as it is an unreliable tool and is flawed.

Officer response: RejectThe NPPF, published in 2012, says that Local planning authorities should prepare a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) to assess their full housing needs and have a clear understanding of market and affordable housing needs. The SHMA should identify the scale and mix of housing and the range of tenures that the local population is likely to need over the plan period.

 

Maidstone along with Ashford and Tonbridge & Malling Borough Councils commissioned consultants GL Hearn to undertake a SHMA for the Maidstone, Ashford and Tonbridge & Malling local housing market areas in 2013.  The SHMA responds to and is compliant with the requirements of both the National Planning Policy Framework (the NPPF) and the CLG’s SHMA Practice Guidance (the Guidance) published in August 2007.

 

GL Hearn is one of the UK’s leading independent property consultancies providing trusted commercial property advice to the public sector, developers, investors and occupiers. They offer a comprehensive service advising on economic viability, planning, regeneration, development and strategic planning. They have extensive knowledge and experience of undertaking a range of studies and consultations for local authorities (including Strategic Housing Market Assessments) and advise on the formulation of policies within Local Development Frameworks.

 

The final report was published this year and the data was subject to standard data quality control checks and as such is considered to be a reliable and sound tool that developers should use, along with other relevant sources, when considering submitting new planning proposals.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: Consideration for older person needs to be addressed with specific mention of provision of bungalows.

Detail: Consideration for older person needs to be addressed with specific mention of provision of bungalows

 

Officer response: Accept – The Council acknowledges that older person’s needs should be considered and mentions this at 11.122 of the plan.  Specific mention of types of housing, including bungalows,  have not been included in this policy and targets have not been set as this could result in inflexibility.  The council will seek to implement this policy by seeking a mix of housing types within the Borough that will be able to accommodate the needs of an increasingly diverse population (including older people) and help to encourage the creation of mixed, sustainable communities. Successful implementation of this policy will see individuals or households able to pass through all phases of life, if they so wish, living within one community. This should lead to improved community cohesion and health.

 

Specific housing types, including the provision of bungalows, can be addressed in the affordable and local needs housing supplementary document which will be produced. It is recognised however that the wording at 11.122 of the plan could be better, and that Policy DM23 could make reference to older persons and specialist supported housing.

Proposed change:

 

11.122 The key requirements for of a mixed community are a variety of housing,  particularly in terms of tenure and price, and a mix of different households such as families with children, single person households and older people. Maidstone Borough Council recognises that to truly promote sustainable communities there must be a mix of types of housing that are provided in any given development or location. The council will actively seek to balance communities where particular house sizes or tenures have become prevalent beyond an evidenced need.’

 

Replace this with the following proposed wording:

 

11.122 The key requirements for a mixed community are a variety of housing, particularly in terms of tenure and price, and a mix of different households such as families with children, single person households and older people. The borough is made up of a variety of household types including, for example, older people who have specific housing needs that are different to the needs of large families and different again to those of disabled people. Maidstone Borough Council recognises that to truly promote sustainable communities there must be a mix of types of housing that are provided in any given development or location. Through providing a mix of housing types the borough will be able to accommodate the needs of an increasingly diverse population within the borough. The council will actively seek to balance communities where particular house types, sizes or tenures have become prevalent beyond an evidenced need.

 

Policy DM23

1. A sustainable mix of house sizes, types and tenures will be sought that reflects the needs of those living in Maidstone Borough now and in years to come.

 

Replace this with the following proposed wording:

1.
In considering proposals for new housing development the council will seek a sustainable range of dwelling types, sizes and tenures that increases local housing choice and reflects the needs of those living in the Maidstone Borough now and in years to come.

 

Add new point 4.

 

4. The council will work with partners to facilitate the provision of specialist and supported housing for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people.

Key issue 3: Reference to be made of the importance of ‘local needs’ housing.

Detail: Reference to be made of the importance of ‘local needs’ housing.

Officer response: Reject - Local needs housing is specifically covered under Policy DM25.  This policy goes in to detail about the importance of local needs housing and how this can be considered and delivered.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: Paragraph 11.124 is not carried forward into policy.

Detail: Paragraph 11.124 is not carried forward into policy.

Officer response: Accept – Paragraph 11.124 details the range of data sources developers will need to access in order to help shape their proposals. Paragraph 11.124 states:

 

Developers will need to access a range of sources, including the SHMA, to help shape their proposals. Local stakeholders, including parish councils, may often be able to provide targeted information that assists an applicant to submit a locally relevant scheme. Where affordable housing is proposed or required, the housing register may provide additional guidance.

 

Point 2 of Policy DM23 however refers mainly to developers using the accommodation profiles detailed in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) to help inform and determine which house sizes should be delivered in urban and rural areas to meet the objectively assessed needs of the area.

 

2. Accommodation profiles detailed in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2013 will be used to help inform developers to determine which house sizes should be delivered in urban and rural areas to meet the objectively assessed needs of the area. In relation to affordable

housing, the council will expect the submission of details of how this information has been used to justify the proposed mix.

 

It is therefore accepted that Policy DM 23 needs to be revised to make it clear that developers will need to take into account a range of data sources in addition to the SHMA to help shape their proposals.

Proposed change: New part 3 to be amended in the policy to read as follows:

 

3.     Accommodation profiles detailed in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment will be used to help inform developers to determine which house sizes should be delivered in urban and rural areas to meet the objectively assessed needs of the area. Developers should also use a range of additional sources to help shape their proposals. These include, but are not limited to, discussions with Parish Councils and consulting adopted Neighbourhood Plans.  In relation to affordable housing, the council will expect the submission of details of how this information has been used to justify the proposed mix.

Key issue 5: Policy should mention neighbourhood plans.

Detail: Policy should mention neighbourhood plans.

Officer response: Accept – Paragraph 11.124 mentions parish councils as a source for developers to help shape their proposals and this can be expanded to include neighbourhood plans.  Neighbourhood plans to be included in ‘Point 2’ as mentioned in ‘Key Issue 4.’

Proposed change:  As stated in ‘Key Issue 4’ above.

Key issue 6: Policy does not provide guidance for developers.

Detail: Policy does not provide guidance for developers.

Officer response: Reject – Point 2 of the policy provides specific guidance for developers about what information they should be using to help shape any proposals. An affordable and local needs housing supplementary planning document will be produced to expand on how the proposals in this policy will be implemented.  This will provide further more detailed guidance for developers.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 7: Housing mix becoming unbalanced due to smaller properties becoming enlarged.

Detail: Housing mix becoming unbalanced due to smaller properties becoming enlarged.

Officer response: Reject – The Council has acknowledged this issue.  Paragraph 11.122 states that, ‘The Council will actively seek to balance communities where particular house sizes or tenures have become prevalent beyond an evidenced need.’

Proposed change:  No change.


DM23 HOUSING MIX

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM23 –Housing Mix

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.122 The key requirements for a mixed community are a variety of housing, particularly in terms of tenure and price, and a mix of different households such as families with children, single person households and older people. The borough is made up of a variety of household types including, for example, older people who have specific housing needs that are different to the needs of large families and different again to those of disabled people. Maidstone Borough Council recognises that to truly promote sustainable communities there must be a mix of types of housing that are provided in any given development or location. Through providing a mix of housing types the borough will be able to accommodate the needs of an increasingly diverse population within the Borough. The council will actively seek to balance communities where particular house types, sizes or tenures have become prevalent beyond an evidenced need.

 

11.123 Evidence detailed in the Maidstone Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) 2013 guides the profiles of development that are required in urban and rural locations. This evidence is valuable in determining the local housing picture and as a consequence which types and tenures of housing are required. The council will not, however, set specific targets within policy because these would result in inflexibility and a situation where imbalances could begin to occur over time.

 

11.124 Developers will need to access a range of sources, including the SHMA, to help shape their proposals. Local stakeholders, including parish councils, may often be able to provide targeted information that assists an applicant to submit a locally relevant scheme. Where affordable housing is proposed or required, the housing register may provide additional guidance.

 

POLICY DM 23

Housing mix

 

Maidstone Borough Council will seek to ensure the delivery of sustainable mixed communities across new housing developments and within existing housing areas throughout the borough.

 

1.     In considering proposals for new housing development, the council will seek a sustainable mix range of house sizes, types and tenures  that reflects the needs of those living in Maidstone Borough now and in years to come.

 

2.     Accommodation profiles detailed in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2013 will be used to help inform developers to determine which house sizes should be delivered in urban and rural areas to meet the objectively assessed needs of the area.

 

3.     Where affordable housing is to be provided, developers should also take into consideration the needs of households on the council’s housing register and discuss affordable housing requirements with the council’s housing team at the pre-submission stage of the planning process. In relation to affordable housing, the council will expect the submission of details of how this information has been used to justify the proposed mix.

 

4.     The council will work with partners to facilitate the provision of specialist and supported housing for elderly, disabled and vulnerable people.

 

5.     Gypsy, Traveller and Travelling Showpeople accommodation requirements will form part of the borough need for housing.

 

An affordable and local needs housing supplementary planning document will be produced to expand on how the proposals in this policy will be implemented.


 

DM25 LOCAL NEEDS HOUSING

Consultation issues and responses

 

Policy: DM25 – Local needs housing

Key issues:

1.     Criteria 1 is contradictory to meeting local needs.

2.     Important that housing mix and tenure is able to be progressed on a site specific basis responding to local need and aspirations.

3.     Local communities must initiate such rural exception sites.

4.     More consultation with Parish Councils.

5.     Majority of housing should be reserved for local people.

6.     Accords with Coxheath neighbourhood plan.

7.     A small supply of bungalows should be included in the requirements for affordable and local needs housing.

8.     But policy should be extended to encourage self-build schemes.

9.     Provision of housing for ageing population needs to be considered.

10. Need to recognise the local needs of each age group, regard should be paid to the provisions of any relevant adopted neighbourhood plan and the recommendations of the Integrated Transport Strategy.

11. Headcorn Parish Council is happy to work with  MBC to identify whether there is a need for  local needs housing within the parish.

12. Consistency is needed here – 4 “The scale of development must be sympathetic to the character of the settlement where it is located.” 5. Please amend to reflect paragraph 116 NPPF – where it relates to major developments.

13. But could be further improved using the model applied to DM26.

Key issue 1:  The Parish Council do not support section 1 of the policy.

Detail: The Parish Council do not support section 1 of the policy, which states:

 

People meeting the relevant occupation criteria will be given priority to occupy local needs housing (under the council’s housing allocation scheme).

 

Comment was that this allows MBC to decide who will be offered the accommodation in villages, of which could comprise of people from the urban area on the waiting list being forced to take accommodation in a rural area, or be removed from the list.


Local residents living in the village or surrounding areas will be excluded from consideration if they are not on the MBC Housing Register. Section 1 contradicts the ethos of the policy which is local need housing.

Officer response: Reject. Ensuring that access to local needs housing is available to local residents who are most in need of affordable housing, and have local connections is an extremely relevant issue and important. It is also a matter that the council take very seriously when administering allocations to such schemes. The council however does not consider that section 1 contradicts the ethos of the policy for local needs housing.

 

The council has a statutory duty under Part 6 of the Housing Act 1996 to adopt an Allocation Scheme “for determining priorities, and as to the procedure to be followed, in allocating housing accommodation.  For this purpose ‘procedure’ includes all aspects of the allocation

process, including the persons or descriptions of persons by whom decisions are to be taken”.

 

In order to be accepted onto the register all applicants must meet the two qualifying criteria; these are local connection and housing need. This ensures that only those households with a true genuine need for affordable housing and with a local connection can be accepted, which actively supports the principals of a local housing needs scheme.  Residents who live in the parish or neighbouring parishes, who wish to be considered for a local housing needs scheme, will be invited to apply to join the register, if they are not currently registered.

 

The council actively work in partnership with parish councils and affordable housing providers in marketing and publicising local housing need schemes, in order to ensure that local residents are aware of the eligibility requirements and process for applying.

 

The allocation scheme is designed to treat all applicants for social housing in a fair and equitable manner and to offer applicants some choice in their accommodation and ability to express preference on their accommodation type and location. Applicants who meet the occupancy criteria for a local housing needs scheme will have the option to bid for vacancies advertised through the Choice Based Lettings scheme, administered through Kent Home Choice. The occupancy criteria (current or past residency, employment, immediate family) gives priority to those applicants with a local connection to the parish or neighbouring parishes, ensuring local residents most in need of affordable housing benefit from the scheme.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 2: It is important that housing mix and tenure is able to be progressed on a site specific basis responding to local need and aspiration.

Detail: It is important that housing mix and tenure is able to be progressed on a site specific basis responding to local need and aspiration.

Officer response: Accept. The council agrees with this principal but considers that Policy DM23 and working practices covers the objection being raised regarding housing mix and tenure. Policy DM23 states:

 

1)    A sustainable mix of house sizes, types and tenures will be sought that reflects the needs of those living in Maidstone Borough now and in years to come.

2)    Accommodation profiles detailed in the Strategic Housing Market Assessment 2013 will be used to help inform developers to determine which house sizes should be delivered in urban and rural areas to meet the objectively assessed needs of the area. In relation to affordable housing, the council will expect the submission of details of how this information has been used to justify the proposed mix.

 

In addition to this, the council will also use a range of other local need data sources, such as the Housing Register, Help to Buy Agent database and Local Housing Need Surveys, when determining the appropriate housing mix and tenure for schemes on a site by site basis.

 

The council have not set specific housing mix targets within policy because these would result in inflexibility and a situation where imbalances could begin to occur over time. This position therefore enables the council to support the issue being raised, by ensuring that housing mix and tenure is progressed on a site specific basis, responding to local need and aspiration.

 

The council will continue to work with developers and affordable housing providers on a site by site basis through viability assessments, to determine whether a variation of tenure split or housing mix is acceptable/appropriate, and what alternative proportions are achievable.

 

An affordable and local needs housing supplementary planning document will be produced to expand on how the proposals in this policy will be implemented.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 3: Local communities must initiate such rural exception sites.

Detail: Local communities must initiate such rural exception sites.

Officer response: Accept. It is normally the case that rural exception sites which are brought forward are done so in consultation and partnership with the parish council.  Most rural exception site schemes are delivered as a result of a request from the parish council, for a local housing need survey to determine affordable housing need within the parish. The council and the local community then work together to identify suitable and available rural exception sites, some of which are put forward by local land owners.

 

Neighbourhood planning was also introduced through the Localism Act 2011.  Neighbourhood planning legislation came into effect in April 2012, which gives communities the power to establish general planning polices for the development and use of land in a neighbourhood.

 

Many parishes are now seeking to address local housing need issues within their Neighbourhood Plans.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 4: More consultation with Parish Councils

Detail: More consultation with Parish Councils

Officer response: Accept. The council considers close partnership working and consultation with parish councils to be vitally important. Paragraph 11.134 states: The council must therefore work in close partnership with parish councils and local stakeholders in order to maintain and promote sustainable, mixed and inclusive communities.

 

Policy DM25 also states: The council will work with parish councils and local stakeholders to bring forward sustainably located local needs housing at its rural communities, where this has been proven necessary by a local needs housing survey undertaken by or on behalf of the parish council(s) concerned.

 

It is acknowledged that improvements can continue to be made with respect to consultation and communication with parish council’s throughout this process, and the council will seek to address this through the affordable and local needs housing supplementary planning document.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 5: Majority of housing should be reserved for local people.

Detail: Majority of housing should be reserved for local people.

Officer response: Accept. The council’s Housing Allocation Scheme and relevant occupancy criteria for local housing need schemes, ensures that priority is given to those with a local connection to the parish or neighbouring parish.

Proposed change: No proposed.

Key issue 6: ID493: Resident Support

Detail: Policy supports Coxheath Neighbourhood Plan

Officer response: Accept. Council are pleased this policy is supporting local ambitions within the Coxheath Neighbourhood Plan.

Proposed change: No proposed.

Key issue 7: Not enough suitable housing is being proposed for the increasing elderly population.

Detail: Not enough suitable housing is being proposed for the increasing elderly population, many of whom do not wish to live in flats because of the isolation they can generate. The availability of private garden space is also much valued by the elderly population. Bungalows provide an invaluable housing option for disabled people, but are rarely built by developers as they represent an inefficient use of the available land. A small supply of bungalows should be included in the requirements for affordable and local needs housing, to ensure availability of suitable accommodation for the elderly and disabled who need access to them. Policies DM24 and 25 should incorporate some reference to this.

Officer response: Accept. The council recognise the importance of providing suitable and appropriate housing for an ageing population. This comment is more relevant to policy M23 – Housing Mix, which does make reference to housing for older people. The affordable and local housing needs supplementary planning document will expand and provide further details as to the requirements for suitable housing for older persons.

 

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 8: Policy should be extended to encourage Self Build Schemes as promoted by current Central Government policy

Detail: The Parish Council supports the draft Local Plan’s policy for Local needs housing (DM25) but wishes the policy to be extended to encourage Self Build Schemes as promoted by current Central Government policy.

Officer response: Accept. The council recognises and acknowledges that Self Build schemes could offer potential benefits to local communities, and the borough such as resulting in properties that are higher quality, greener and cheaper. It is also considered that self building might offer part of the solution to Britain’s housing shortfall and contribute to housing supply within Maidstone.

 

The council are therefore open to working with communities who wish to explore developing and/or managing their own land and developments through models such as co-operatives, mutuals, co-housing, self-build, Community Land Trusts, (CLTs) and the emerging Community-Right-to-Build, as well as self-build and custom-build approaches.

The Planning Minister Nick Boles announced new measures (2 July 2014) in which he said he would give aspiring self and custom builders a new Right to Build, which would enable them to ask their council to identify a shovel-ready site for their project.

Prospective self and custom builders will be able to register their interest with the local council, who will then be required to offer suitable serviced plots for sale at market value.

Land for plots could come from local authorities’ own landholdings or land from other landowners.

 

This initiative is in the early stages of development and it is too early to give a considered opinion as to how this concept will work and be implemented through council policy. The Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG) issued a document inviting councils to lodge expressions of interest in becoming Right to Build "vanguards" to test the concept ahead of full-scale implementation. The lessons learned by these areas will then form a crucial part of a consultation later this year, on extending the Right to Build across the country. The council will therefore await the results of this exercise in order to fully consider how this concept could be implemented in Maidstone.

 

The Homes and Communities Agency is also committed to supporting communities to deliver their own local housing and regeneration solutions. The HCA can support these bodies and schemes through their enabling role, and in some circumstances through their funding and land programmes. Some funding may be available through their Community Led Project Support funding to help groups get started.

Encouragement towards the delivery of self-build schemes and support that is available will be considered as part of the affordable and local needs housing supplementary planning document, which will expand upon how proposals in this policy will be implemented.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue 9: The provision of housing for ageing population does not appear to feature in the thinking.

Detail: The provision of housing for ageing population does not appear to feature in the thinking. The Ledian Farm, Leeds care village is the start of a large feature of development in the coming years. Not only does it satisfy a need, but it puts houses back into the market (for sale) and brings facilities to villages.

Officer response: Reject. The council recognises and acknowledges that the provision of housing for an ageing population is a key issue.  The provision of such housing in local needs housing schemes will be considered where this has been proven necessary by a local housing need survey, and other key data sources such as the Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Housing Register.

 

The council have also worked very closely with Kent County Council on the development of a new accommodation strategy for Kent, to provide for the county’s older and vulnerable population now and into the future.

 

The strategy will inform providers about where and what investment is needed in Maidstone and across Kent, so they can best target resources to make sure Maidstone and Kent’s elderly and vulnerable population can live as independently as possible in their communities.

 

In order that the strategy was inclusive to the Maidstone area, a district profile and local demographic and housing data was used as supporting evidence to help shape existing and future housing requirements for older persons. The results from this strategy will also feed into the council’s own Housing Strategy, which is due to be revised shortly. This will include reference to housing for older persons, and necessary actions to ensure that this provision is delivered.

Proposed change:  No change.

Key issue 10: Need to recognise the local needs of each age group.

Detail: Need to recognise the local needs of each age group.

Regard must also be paid to the provisions of any relevant adopted Neighbourhood Plan and the relevant recommendations of the Integrated Transport Strategy.

Officer response: Accept. This will be recognised when tailoring individual local housing need schemes to meet the needs of the local community. Reference to data on age groups will be used from local housing need surveys and the housing register to help inform the needs of each age group.

Proposed change: No proposed.

Key issue 11: Headcorn Parish Council is happy to work with MBC to identify whether there is a need for local needs housing within the parish.

Detail: Headcorn Parish Council is happy to work with MBC to identify whether there is a need for local needs housing within the parish.

Officer response: Accept. The council acknowledge the invaluable support and assistance that Headcorn Parish Council provided in the recent local housing needs development at Grigg Lane.

Proposed change: No change.

Key issue: 12: Consistency is needed.

Detail: Consistency is needed here –

 

4 “The scale of development must be sympathetic to the character of the settlement where it is located.”

5. Please amend to reflect paragraph 116 NPPF – where it relates to major developments.

Officer response: Accept. The council recognises that consistency is important in terms of its policy approach. It is accepted that criteria 4 could be better worded as suggested.

 

Criteria 5 in Policy DM25 states: Where national landscape, ecological and heritage designations are affected by the proposed development, the necessity for development must be proven to outweigh the purpose, for which the designation is made.

 

Paragraph 116 is included under section 11 (Conserving and enhancing the natural environment) within the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) which states:

 

Planning permission should be refused for major developments in these designated areas except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest.

 

Consideration of such applications should include an assessment of:

·            the need for the development, including in terms of any national considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy;

·            the cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere outside the designated area, or meeting the need for it in some other way; and

·            any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated.

Proposed change: Amend paragraph 4 to read…’The scale of development must be sympathetic to the character of the settlement where it is located’.

Key issue: 13: Policy should be redrafted in accordance with DM26.

Detail:  CPRE Protect Kent generally supports this Policy, but considers that its construction could be improved by following that used for Policy DM26. We would suggest, therefore that it be recast as follows:

 

“Planning permission will be granted for local needs housing as an exception to usual policies of restraint designed to protect the countryside from development provided:

1. A need for it has been identified by a local needs housing survey undertaken by or on behalf of the Parish Council concerned;

 

2. The housing provided will be occupied by those identified in need for housing in the Parish Council area;

 

3. The housing provided will remain available in perpetuity to meet the local need for which it was permitted. This will be secured by planning conditions and/or legal agreements as appropriate;

 

4. The site is sustainably located in regard to proximity to local services, in particular school and health facilities, and that these are accessible preferably on foot, by cycle or on public transport;

 

5. The development would not harm the landscape and rural character of the area, in particular the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and the openness of the Metropolitan Green Belt. Appropriate landscaping will be provided where necessary to mitigate impact;

 

6. The scale of the development is appropriate to the context of the settlement where it is located;

 

7. The site can be safely accessed to and from the highway by all vehicles using the site on a regular basis;

 

8. The site is not located in an area at risk from flooding (zones 3a and 3b) based on the latest information from the Environment Agency or a specific Flood Risk Assessment which has been agreed by the Environment Agency; and

 

9. The ecological impact of the development has been assessed through appropriate survey and a scheme for any necessary mitigation and enhancement measures confirmed

Officer response: Accept. There are some aspects of the criteria in Policy DM26 which could also be used for Policy DM25, due to both local needs housing and gypsy and traveller sites mainly being in rural locations. It is considered that not all of the proposed alternative wording would however be suitable to use. Saying the housing provided will be occupied by those identified in need for housing in the Parish Council area would create inflexibility and to severe an occupancy restriction which in turn could lead to lengthy void periods. All local needs housing will be prioritised in the first instance to local people within the parish, and then neighbouring parishes as part of the allocation cascade and occupancy criteria arrangements agreed within the relevant s106 agreement. There needs to be flexibility built in though to go beyond this point to consider people with a local connection to the borough, if there are no qualifying applicants to consider.

 

Criteria around safe access to and from the site is a relevant point though of which should be included as part of the criteria. Sustainability of any site is mentioned as a key consideration, as well as national, ecological and heritage designations.

 

It would be helpful to separate out as a listed criteria the requirement for local needs housing to be proven necessary by a local housing need survey undertaken by or on behalf of the parish council. Such survey would need to be approved by the borough council. It’s also important that any scheme which may come forward accurately reflects the needs of local residents who would be eligible to be considered for such accommodation.

Proposed change: Change opening paragraph and criterion 1 to say:

 

The council will work with parish councils and local stakeholders to bring forward sustainably located local needs housing at its rural communities. The council will consider granting planning permission subject to the following criteria:

 

1.     This has proven necessary by a local needs housing survey approved by the council which has been undertaken by or on behalf of the parish council(s) concerned. In consultation with the parish council and registered provider of social housing, the council will determine the number, size, type and tenure of homes to be developed after assessing the results of the survey. The council will also use the housing register to determine where there may be unmet housing needs.

 

Amend criterion 4 to read:

 

4.     Sustainability of the site and its settlement will be a prime consideration in decision making. The council will give preference to settlements and communities where a range of community facilities and services, in particular school, health, and shopping are accessible from the site preferably on foot, by cycle or on public transport. The site must also be safely accessed to and from the public highway by all vehicles using the site at all times.


DM25 LOCAL NEEDS HOUSING

Proposed policy following amendments

 

Policy DM25 –Local needs housing

·           Additions and amendments

·           Deletions

 

 

11.131 Market housing in the borough’s rural se