Many readers will no doubt be aware of the large number of rural housing development proposals going through the local planning system.
The government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2012 set out originally to encourage localism.
It talks of placing unprecedented power in the hands of communities to shape the places in which they live.
It seems however that it is developers and landowners who have taken control here.
They are using the NPPF to push through development that is frequently neither desired, nor needed by the community.
In many cases it is not sustainable – a key word in government policy – villages and market towns lack the infrastructure to support large scale housing plans.
Tenterden could be seen as a town that has had large development imposed upon it.
The rationale for pushing this through the planning system was that this scheme would be the extent of development in the Tenterden area for some years to come.
However, far from limiting the built environment another application was made for 100 houses at Tilden Gill.
This, on the outskirts of the town, would lead to urban sprawl – something we were assured would not happen if Tent 1 were approved.
Ashford Borough Council have rejected the Tilden Gill application but it has now gone to appeal to the National Planning Inspectorate in Bristol.
Here is where localism ends and planning becomes a numbers game: those planning authorities that cannot demonstrate a five-year supply of housing land increasingly have developments, such as Tilden Gill, forced upon them.
Another application waiting in the wings is the Stocks Road Development in Wittersham – a proposal for 27 house, with Phase 2 taking it to 44 – a potential increase in village population of almost 10 per cent.
This is planned on prime agricultural land in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) and like Tilden Gill on an unallocated site.
The government’s own policy restricts major development in AONBs to ‘exceptional circumstances’. There are none – the objections are legion.
Yet the concern is, like Tilden Gill, that if ABC rejects this application as it ought, the loopholes created by the NPPF could allow that decision to be reversed on appeal.
Government’s own figures in 2012 revealed enough brownfield sites to deliver 1.8 million homes.
Yet here in Kent we risk the possibility of the built environment spreading from Ashford through the new town of Chilmington Green, to Tenterden, almost to Wittersham and then on to Rye.
These concerns have been brought to the attention of Greg Clark, Secretary of State for Communities.
We are still waiting for his response.
We, the Stocks Field Group urge those alarmed by all this to make their views known; to the local authority by commenting on the planning application (15/00459/AS); to the ward councillor; and to the MP.
Stocks Field Group
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