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Rural campaigners attack Canterbury council’s housing target ahead of local plan examination

PUBLISHED: 08:53 09 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:01 09 July 2015

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CPRE Kent say the council has been blinkered in pressing ahead with a plan that is flawed

Rural campaign group CPRE Kent is drawing up the battle lines ahead of Canterbury’s local plan examination which starts next week.

The charity - which seeks to prevent what they consider inappropriate development - will dispute the housing target and strategic sites identified in the plan. The local plan will set the district council’s development priorities until 2031.

CPRE Kent has taken aim at Canterbury City Council’s housing target, particularly criticising the council’s decision to not carry out further consultation when it raised its housing target from 10,200 new homes to be built by 2026 to 15,600 by 2031. That rise in the target number means that an extra 270 homes would need to be built every year.

“Despite our warnings, the city council is pressing ahead with its flawed plan,” said CPRE Kent’s senior planner Brian Lloyd.

“The council has seemingly, from the outset, cast in stone the sites it wants to see developed, and despite high levels of public opposition it has not been prepared to consider alternatives. We will be participating fully at the examination to put our case that the plan is unsound.”

The example of development proposed for south Canterbury - which would see 4,000 new houses built - is given by Mr Lloyd, who says that no consideration was given to any other sites. The charity commissioned a top planning barrister to examine the council’s plans last year. The barrister’s findings questioned whether the plan was acceptable, judging that it was not legally compliant because when the housing target had been raised, the council failed to re-examine the impact on the environment.

Mr Lloyd said: “We hope the inspector will listen to us and to communities and ask Canterbury to come up with a more reasonable, realistic and sustainable plan which is properly assessed and consulted on.”

The local plan’s examination will begin next Tuesday (July 14) at The Franciscan International Study Centre, Giles Lane, Canterbury. The hearings are open to the general public.

A spokesman for Canterbury City Council told KoS: “All of these matters will be discussed at the examination run by the independent inspector which gets underway next week.”

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