Theresa May urged to re-assess plans for thousands of additional homes in Kent

PUBLISHED: 09:04 08 November 2017 | UPDATED: 09:04 08 November 2017

Prime minister Theresa May. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Prime minister Theresa May. Photo: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Conservative MPs Helen Grant and Tracey Crouch have written to the prime minister to voice concerns

Theresa May is being urged to re-assess plans for thousands of additional homes in Kent by two of her Conservative colleagues in the county.

MPs Helen Grant and Tracey Crouch have joined forces to write to the prime minister as local opposition to government plans continues to grow.

Medway Council strongly rejected suggestions by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) that it needs to provide almost 9,000 more homes, on top of the near-30,000 already earmarked in its local plan.

Likewise, Maidstone - the constituency of Mrs Grant - is being asked to find space for 1,236 more homes per year, an increase of 40 per cent on the current formula, while Tonbridge and Malling must earmark space for an additional 3,260 homes by 2031 under the department’s proposals.

The MPs say the plans are likely to be undeliverable in a county where so much of the land is classed as either Green Belt, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, or a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

They add that the government should concentrate building efforts in locations such as the Midlands and the North rather than the “over-crowded” south east.

Mrs Grant said: “I am sympathetic to the government’s desire to fix the broken housing market and provide more affordable homes, particularly for young people.

“I am extremely concerned however about the impact these plans will have upon our existing communities and in particular local infrastructure.

“The road network in Maidstone is already bursting at the seams. The impact of such a drastic rise in housing numbers, without the required infrastructure provision to go with it, is unthinkable for those who use our roads every day.

“This is why Tracey and I are urging the prime minister to re-consider a blanket allocation of numbers and take another look at the government’s proposal.”

Last week, the government’s housing minister Alok Sharma agreed to meet Rochester and Strood MP Kelly Tolhurst who had also voiced frustration in the House of Commons.

The DCLG said councils are free to use their own methods to assess housing need if they have “sufficient reason to” and said it encouraged all responses to its consultation, which closes on Thursday.

“The simple truth is that for far too long we haven’t built enough homes and we don’t build them quickly enough – so it’s time to fix that,” a spokesman added.

“This new approach will cut the unnecessarily complex and lengthy debates that can delay house building.

“It’s not a local target, but will help make sure there’s a clear and realistic assessment of how many new homes are needed.”

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