Agenda item



Mrs Brown asked the Leader the following question:


·  ‘If developers are asked to fund the full cost of the North Thanet link road and they say it is unviable to provide the agreed affordable housing on developments as set out in the Local Plan, there will be no benefit to the residents of Thanet. Gaining affordable and social housing for the district was the only advantage of allowing these developments. The mass development on some of the very best agricultural land in the country will be for the good of other local authorities, people wishing to move to the area and private investors. Local people will end up in a worse situation with all the infrastructure problems that entails.

·  The current Local Plan is written in a way that allows this to happen, does TDC propose to address this in the Local Plan review to ensure this is not the outcome?’


The Leader responded:


·  KCC are progressing a bid under the Department for Transport (DfT) Main Road Network (MRN) Fund to support the delivery of the North Thanet Link, a key part of the Inner Circuit proposed through the Local Plan. The bid is now one of only two priority schemes in Kent supported by Transport for the South East (TfSE), and KCC have received funding from DfT to develop the scheme to the next stage.

·  If the Bid is successful, it would reduce those costs for the relevant developers, and enable more contributions to a range of other planning obligations, including affordable housing. However, if the bid is not successful, then the site developers will have to fund the provision of the scheme.

·  Either way, the Council, as the local planning authority, is required to meet the housing needs for the district, as identified through the Government’s housing “standard method”. This is based on population change in the district over the Plan period, and is designed to meet a range of existing and future housing needs, and this is the primary benefit of new housing.

·  This includes people already living in the district, including new households forming (for example, young people leaving the family home to set up their own home). It also includes people who move into the district. Planning for housing for people moving into the area is not only required by Government guidance, it is also important for local people, because it prevents them (particularly younger people on lower incomes) from being squeezed out of the local housing market.

·  Government guidance supports the provision of affordable housing and key infrastructure through development contributions (whether by contribution or in kind/on-site).  However, the guidance is also clear that, in setting requirements for development contributions, local planning authorities cannot impose a level of costs which effectively renders development sites unviable, and prevents housing from being delivered.

·  Thus the Local Plan was itself subject to a high-level viability appraisal, and planning applications may also be accompanied by viability assessments that are independently assessed and verified. Where viability can be demonstrated to be an issue, then a decision has to be made about the priority and balance of s106 contributions to be provided.

·  The clause in Local Plan Policy SP23 (that the requirement on housing developments for 30% affordable housing may be reduced if meeting them would demonstrably make the proposed development unviable) is in line with Government guidance, as was confirmed by the Local Plan Examination Inspectors.