WHAT’S THE HORSMONDEN LOCAL PLAN REALLY ALL ABOUT?
As we know, the Government has convinced itself that housing supply in the UK is behind demand by some 400,000 homes and that these must be built across the country within the next 15+ years. These numbers are pretty staggering and although some would argue that some of the underlying premises are wrong, the fact is that this is Government policy and is set in stone. Further, this is only to catch up, as it were, and is separate from and additional to normal, individual so-called ‘windfall sites’ which will continue to crop up in the usual way.
Although it is true that being Government policy we can’t stop the clock, we shouldn’t forget that this very process we are going through in terms of Consultation and – most importantly – being empowered to come up with our own Neighbourhood Plan is unique in UK property development history.
All towns and villages in England have been given the opportunity to do just what we here in Horsmonden are doing, namely to consult within the village, establish our current and anticipated housing needs over the next 15 years and assess the impact of such new development on our existing infrastructure.
This is obviously a complex job and we are not just relying on internal volunteers but have employed specialist Planning consultants, Jim Boot and Lindsay Frost and advisors AECOM to help us.
TWBC have just published their outline plans showing total potentially between 225 and 305 new dwellings in our village. (It should be stressed, however, that this is over the period to 2036 so equates to 14 to 18 new homes a year set against the average of 11 new homes per year that we have been averaging over the past 10 or 11 years without any Government drive to build). Also, although a large number, this is well below the 500+ dwellings that were being spoken of at one stage.
The important thing is whilst these numbers have been proposed by TWBC, for the first time we in the village have the opportunity to examine the proposals and make our recommendations as to their viability. Whilst it might be tempting to be negative about the whole concept, the truth is that this is a remarkable opportunity for us as a village to be fully involved in the decision-making process. Once we have completed our Plan, submitted it to TWBC and a totally impartial Government Inspector and voted on it in our own Statutory Referendum, its conclusions will be built into TWBC’s overall plan and neither they nor any developers will be able to undertake any development should it conflict with the Plan.
So, vitally, we have the opportunity to:
- ‘Leverage’ future development(s) to try to help make our village more attractive – and hopefully affordable – particularly for young adults and families starting out in life.
- Focus developers’ attention on the needs of our older or disabled residents who still want to live in our village.
- Hopefully help to address our problematic traffic and parking problems in the centre of the village
- Encourage local jobs and provide better recreational space and facilities