The recent commentary from Local Plan inspector, Sue Turner by way of her interim findings on the Swale Local Plan has been met with tears of joy by the majority of Tory councillors who have welcomed the endorsement of retaining the two distinct planning areas within Swale.
This split of the borough into Faversham and everything else will enable preferential treatment of Faversham in terms of the quantity of future development including most crucially housing quotas.
Not only will Faversham now be protected in terms how much housing it will have to take, Sittingbourne and to a small extent Sheppey will now conversely be required to take not only their fair share but also a considerable portion of Faversham’s too.
Perhaps most remarkably, this course of action was not only supported by Faversham Councillors but also many from Sittingbourne and Sheppey too.
The current proposals have already identified some 10,800 houses, with a split of 9,600 in Sittingbourne and Sheppey and 1,200 in Faversham. However, the Council has now been told to increase this number to 13,192 and will be looking to select sites to make up the extra 2,392 houses required. This, we are led to believe, will happen by way of a further public consultation in the next couple of months.
Swale Borough Council has, in preparation already elected to identify those sites which it considers best to make up this shortfall and unsurprisingly the bulk of these will also be in Sittingbourne and Sheppey.
Our MP Gordon Henderson tells us that he is not happy with his conservative colleges and has already written a letter outlining his concerns to Council leader Andrew Bowles.
However, one suspects that now effectively given the green light from a government inspector that little can be done to prevent this. I would also expect that Sittingbourne’s population will surpass the 50% mark before the plan period reaches its end and with a more concentrated population in one area, serious issues will arise and have to be overcome for an infrastructure that has been built around the old three town system.