County Councils as Strategic Planning Authorities – Lets not Forget How Bad some of them Were

There was speculation in Planning this week that with the abolition of the DTC there could be a resurgence of County Council level plans. Certainly we have more unitaries. However lets not forget just how terrible many of the Structure Plans/County level plans were:

  • Taking 20 or more years to prepare
  • Dominated by rural interests they often dumped huge amounts of development in one corner of the county leading to huge sprawl – examples being Surry, Hampshire and Kent. In Kent the sprawl around Chatham was so great the M2 and HS1 had to bend around it.
  • Not testing realistic alternatives
  • Having policies that strangled all growth in most villages, even those with services (example Cornwall even to this day).
  • Being at the forefront of arguing that housing numbers should be reduced
  • In many authorities just being the awkward squad not making any attempt to structure DTC agreements and being the bully pulpit for arguments that housing numbers should be decreased (Kent is a good example where it has held up good planning around Maidstone for a generation).
  • Being dominated by Highways and Schools departments who were only concerned about car access and which squeezed affordable housing S106s often to zero.

Of course practice varies and there are many examples now of more proactive good practice (such as Oxfordshire). But lets not fantasise about the past.

Peter Cushing Lives in Whitsable – He cant go shopping on his Bicycle – Row over lack of Sustainable Access to Herne Bay Urban Extension

Kent Messenger Note the site is not in the 2017 local plan – but is the only real lrge site for the next phase of the town development. The logical way to access the site would be from the south via Sainsburys (bus served) but that requires a bridge over the railway line. The developers might also be avoiding a ransom access. I note the county council raised no objection, not considering bus access. It is exactly the kind of development Transport for New Homes rightly critique. This site really sums up the issues over zero carbon development. If an accessible site is only served by car is it zero carbon – no. However he site can only realistically be developed with a publicly led access and a coordinated masterplan and development code driven approach – which incidentally would give the council Ponte Gourde rights over land value uplift. An ideal case for a housing infrastructure fund bid and involvement of Home s England you think. Of course the main obstacle in the way of this is the ‘build what you like where you like’ clauses of the NPPF with the council fearing an appeal. Joanna – I hope the ministry studies case like this as examples of exactly the kind of regime shift needed in planning and how existing policy acts as the main obsticle to the kind of shift you want to achieve. One where you could sing the song about the development


Fears buses will not be able to access planned housing estate on outskirts of Herne Bay

A developer has been accused of “box-ticking” amid claims its proposal for a 350-home estate on the outskirts of town does not contain adequate bus links.

Firm AE Estate has officially launched its bid to build the properties on a 45-acre plot in Hillborough, on the outskirts of Herne Bay.

The land in Hillborough, Herne Bay, was earmarked for homes in the city council's Local Plan in 2017
The land in Hillborough, Herne Bay, was earmarked for homes in the city council’s Local Plan in 2017

Papers show that the company wants to construct a number of “large, detached luxury homes”, while also creating allotments and a central green equipped with goalposts and a ping pong table.

But Stagecoach South East has objected to the scheme, fearing that buses would not be able to serve the estate because of the perceived unsuitability of the routes on to the site.

Its planning manager, John Pugh, said: “Access to the site would be via the existing residential roads – Highfield Avenue, Chartwell Avenue and Osborne Gardens.

“These roads are not built to take buses, and already have extensive on-street parking.

“This is clearly a box-ticking exercise rather than a serious attempt to come up with a sustainable proposal to discourage car use.”

Three different developers are planning almost 1,500 new homes in total near Beltinge
Three different developers are planning almost 1,500 new homes in total near Beltinge

The development is one of three earmarked for the plot south of Beltinge, with companies Kitewood Estates and Taylor Wimpey wanting to build a total of 1,080 homes in the area.

AE claims a proposed spine road running through its development will be designed to accommodate buses – but Mr Pugh contends that this is not enough.

He added: “Buses would not be able to serve the site because of the unsuitability of the surrounding roads.ADVERTISING

“We therefore conclude that the application is not sustainable as a stand-alone development and does not meet the basic measures needed to achieve modal shift away from car use.”

Each of the Hillborough developments have been met with objections from residents who believe they will cause traffic disruption, a drop in air quality, and place additional pressure on existing services.

Taylor Wimpey has appealed the council’s decision to snub its 900-home plans for its section of the plot.

Beltinge councillor Jeanette Stockley thinks if AE’s bid gets the green light it will make the surrounding roads congested and dangerous.

“Osborne Gardens is quite narrow and has parked cars everywhere, and Highfield Avenue is a sleepy cul-de-sac,” the Conservative added.

“There would be massive congestion if buses went through there and it wouldn’t be nice for the residents.

“It sounds like a lovely scheme, but it only works, from what I can see, as a stand-alone site – the whole of Hillborough was meant to be one big development.”

‘There would be massive congestion if buses went through there and it wouldn’t be nice for the residents…’

In planning papers, AE says its project, which it has named Beltinge Green, will be “realistically priced”. It is also pledging to offer 30% of the homes as affordable properties.