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HOUSING CRISIS: Borough council is building MORE homes than it needs to - report

Friday 26th March 2021

MAIDSTONE has seen almost 50% more homes built in the past three years than were actually required, according to Government figures.
Unlike other parts of the county, Maidstone Borough Council (MBC) has not only met but exceeded what was built into the 2017 Local Plan.
The Housing Delivery Test compares the number of houses built against what is required by the authority's own policy in the form of a percentage.
In Maidstone's case, it constructed 146% of its own target having built 3,787 homes, rather than 2,592. The council's Liberal Democrat leadership has consistently blamed central Government for imposing high targets on Maidstone, creating the need for massive developments such as MBC’s own proposal at Lenham Heath for 4,000 homes.

Kate Hammond of the Save Our Heathlands (SOHL) campaign group, opposed to the MBC-led 4,000 home scheme at Lenham, said: "The enthusiasm for house-building by this council knows no limits, despite what they say publicly. It is now a self-styled master-developer and have joined the ranks of the construction businesses."
Opposition Conservative borough councillor Jonathan Purle said: "These figures tell a different story and put the lie to MBC's claim that it's somebody else's fault."
MBC claims the figure is misleading as the baseline for calculation is pegged to 2011. MBC, currently working towards its Local Plan review, will increase housing from just under 900per annum (pa) to more than 1,200pa.
Councils missing targets would face Government sanctions. 
The countryside charity CPRE (Kent) expressed “extreme concerns” to MBC leader Cllr Martin Cox that required infrastructure has not kept pace with house-building.
A CPRE spokesman added: "The delivery of the infrastructure required to support this has slowed down."
MBC said: “These figures…include a period of very low housing completions which were a factor of the economic downturn.
“What may now appear as over-delivery, is in part, this lag being rectified through the build out of existing consents..."