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MBC looks at proposed changes to government housing formula

10 Sep 2020

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Maidstone Borough Council (MBC), Leaders are grappling with proposed changes to the Government’s formula which dictates the number of new housing units which councils must provide for within Local Plans.

Maidstone is currently undertaking a review of its Local Plan under the current formula, known as the Standard Methodology.  This results in the Council’s annual housing provision target being due to rise by 40% from 883 to 1,214 upon the planned adoption of the Plan in 2022. However, under the proposed new government formula, which could become operative very quickly, this figure could potentially rise from 883 to 1,569, an increase of almost 80%.

The proposed new formula was discussed this week at the MBC Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee meeting, Members were advised that there is uncertainty around when the Government would introduce the new rules and that they have options to change the current timetable which may enable them to secure the lower housing target in the Maidstone Local Plan Review (LPR).

The Committee was unanimous that the Council should do all it can to delay the impact of the new target for as long as possible, and instructed Officers to come back to its’ meeting on 22 September with a revised timeline designed to shorten the preparation period for the LPR.    

Cllr David Burton, Chair of  the MBC Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee  said: “We all working hard at MBC to reach a broad agreement on where our new housing will go in order to ensure that when our current Local Plan expires in 2022, we have a new Plan in place and, as a Council, are in control of where housing growth takes place in our borough and can ensure that the necessary jobs and infrastructure are provided in parallel with this. This new government guidance represents a very serious challenge, not just around the number, but also around the timing. 

“The Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee agreed that we should do our absolute best to stave off this new number for the longest possible period, and whilst I can assure everybody that elected Members and Officers will work very hard indeed to do this, we are faced with the uncertainty of when the new guidance becomes operative.”  

Leader of the Council, Cllr Martin Cox added: “Our communities will know very well how difficult it has been to meet our current housing targets, and indeed to plan for the almost 40% increase that we will face upon completion of our current Local Plan Review in 2022. 

“However, MBC has worked positively and transparently, and are close to determining where and how we can accommodate this growth, but to now be faced with the doubling of new our housing figure by the government will be difficult for people to stomach.  In addition to attempting to slow down the potential impact of this, Maidstone Borough Council will be making our representations in the strongest terms in order to get this number reduced.”

The Maidstone Local Plan Review is currently approaching the second stage with a second public consultation (Preferred Approaches – Regulation 18B), which will allow for all interested parties to comment.   This is due to begin in October 2020, and a further round of public consultations will commence in February 2021. 

The Council has been working with its Councillors throughout the Local Plan Review process to commence a programme of work that will lead to the next major public consultation of the LPR.

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