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Looking Ahead consultation

Monday 30 April

How do we meet development challenges?

We have launched a consultation to gather views about the future development of the borough up to 2038.

The current local plan Bearing Fruits was adopted in 2017 and sets out local planning policies and identifies how land is used and what will be built where until 2031.

Bearing Fruits needs to be reviewed, and a new plan adopted, by 2022. The consultation, Looking Ahead asks for people’s thoughts on possible approaches for the council to consider.

The government inspection of the existing plan raised concerns that need to be addressed, particularly around the capacity of local road network along the A2, to cope with increased development.

The next local plan also needs to address changes to national planning policy, particularly those around future housing numbers and how they may impact upon the borough.

These changes mean that more new homes will need to be built every year than ever before – possibly increasing the borough’s housing current target of 776 per year until 2022, to more than 1,050 when the new local plan is in place from 2022.

Cllr Gerry Lewin, deputy leader of the council, and cabinet member for planning, said:

"The government is setting local councils the challenging task of addressing the housing crisis through ever-increasing targets for the number of homes to be built.

"At this early stage of the local plan preparation, we want to local people to help us shape how we approach the process.

"We need to ask some challenging questions about how we have previously approached strategic planning to meet our expected development needs, and gauge the level of support for alternative approaches, such as possible new garden communities.

"At this stage, nothing is decided, and we are open-minded about the way forward. This is why we want to hear from people about how they think we can best approach the task ahead."

The main consultation is based on the document Looking Ahead, and runs from 27 April until 8 June. This asks for people’s views in a number of areas including the council’s settlement strategy, green spaces, air quality, transport, design, town centres, employment and affordable housing.

There is also a shorter questionnaire which is asking people to prioritise views and approaches to the planning issues. People will be able to respond to this online instead of - or in addition to - the more detailed questions set out in the main consultation document.

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