Your Councillors

Issue - meetings

Maidstone Article 4 Direction - option

Meeting: 15/10/2018 - Policy and Resources Committee (Item 69)

69 Review of Decision of Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee: Town Centre Article 4 Direction - Options pdf icon PDF 1006 KB

Additional documents:


Councillors Wilson, Clark and Mortimer outlined their reasons for referring the decision not to issue Article 4 Directions to office blocks in the town centre to the Committee. The reasons given were that the decision seemed to be taken solely on planning grounds, without considering other issues related to office to residential conversions under Permitted Development Rights, such as a lack of developer contributions and the creation of poor quality accommodation which was outside of the control of the Council in its role as the Planning Authority. The outcome the Councillors were seeking was a briefing session with members prior to the Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee re-taking the decision on issuing Article 4 Directions on town centre office blocks. The Councillors who had referred the decision were concerned that the decision had been taken too quickly without enough time for member engagement. This had led to inadequate consideration of the risks and potential costs of not issuing Article 4 Directions. This was why they had requested a member briefing before taking the decision again.


Councillors D Burton, Garten and Gooch addressed the Committee as Visiting Members.


The Committee considered the request to review the decision and made the following comments:


  • Even if the Permitted Development Rights were removed, the Council’s Officers and Planning Committee would still have little control as Maidstone Borough Council had not adopted minimum space standards and other Planning Policies that controlled developments through the submission of a Planning Application.

  • Office to residential conversions were only liable for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions if they ended up with net additional floorspace. If an office block had been vacant for more than 3 years it would be CIL liable even if the conversion took place under the Prior Notification procedure rather than a full Planning Application.

  • It was more appropriate to review the issuing of Article 4 Directions through the Local Plan Review. This way, policies covering Parking and Housing standards could also be reviewed to give the Council further control over these conversions.


RESOLVED: That the decision of the Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee is endorsed.


Voting:  For - 8  Against - 7  Abstentions - 0


Note: Councillor Gooch arrived during consideration of this item at 6.43 pm, but did not take her place on the Committee and instead spoke as a Visiting Member.


Meeting: 11/09/2018 - Strategic Planning, Sustainability and Transportation Committee (Item 74)

74 Town Centre Article 4 Direction - Options pdf icon PDF 166 KB

Additional documents:


Mr Stuart Watson, Planning Officer (Strategic Planning), addressed the Committee.  Mr Watson explained that there was sufficient evidence that a non-immediate Article 4 Direction was appropriate for; County Gate, County House, Medway Bridge House, 23-29 Albion Place, Sterling House, Maidstone House, Romney House, Gail House, Kestrel House, Knightrider Chambers, 62 Earl Street, 66 Earl Street, 72 King Street and Clarendon Place.  The Council recognised that further work could be undertaken to reduce the likelihood of intervention by the Secretary of State, if required.


The Committee debated the proposal and commented that:


·  The Maidstone Borough Council Local Plan outlined that the development of housing units was to be achieved using office stock, which contradicted the Article 4 Direction; and


·  The timing of the Article 4 Direction was not appropriate, and it should instead be included in the review of the Local Plan.


Mr William Cornall responded that there were broader issues that impacted on this decision, as greater control of office stock ensured for better quality homes that were of an appropriate size and included the provision of parking.


RESOLVED: That no Article 4 Directions should be taken forward for the Town Centre.


Voting: For – 8 Against – 1 Abstentions – 0