Your Councillors

Agenda item

Questions and answer session for members of the public

Minutes:

Mrs Maureen Cleator asked the followingquestion of the Chairman of the Committee:

With over 500 units being built on Springfield site and the Royal Engineers Road, what plans have been put in place to ensure that we don’t end up with the traffic situation such as on the Hermitage Lane, which is basically chaos? 

The Chairman of the Committee replied that:

 

The response I have for you is drawn largely from the detail in our Local Plan.

 

Included within Policy H1 (11), which is the Springfield allocation, there are criteria which address highways and transport matters. Access to the site will be taken from the A229 Springfield and A229 Royal Engineers roundabouts only. Improvements to and provision of pedestrian and cycle links is required to facilitate connections with the town centre. Finally, improvements are required to the eastern bank of the river towpath for pedestrian and cycle use. As part of the planning process, a transport assessment will be required to explain how impacts of the development will be mitigated. This will be assessed by Maidstone Borough Council as the local planning authority and Kent County Council as the highways authority.

 

Mrs Cleator then asked the following supplementary question of the Chairman of the Committee:

 

From the answer you have given me, are there no further improvements to the roundabout at the Barracks, because it is actually very chaotic now, never mind when 500 extra houses are built there?

 

The Chairman of the Committee replied that:

 

Any further improvements will be drawn out of the transport assessment. There is a package of highways improvements across the Borough and further improvements may feature through that as well.

 

Mrs Jane Darling asked the followingquestion of the Chairman of the Committee:

I noted on the local plan it states that on this development the target rates for affordable housing provision within the Maidstone area will be 30%, with the exception of policy H1(11) Springfield, Royal Engineers Road which is set at 20%; where there will only be a provision for 20% affordable housing, what is the reason for this?

The Chairman of the Committee replied that:

 

When the Local Plan was submitted it was supported by a viability study (DEL 002 Revised Plan and CIL Viability Study) which determined that 30% affordable housing at H1 (11) Springfield is not feasible due to site constraints. As a result, a 30% affordable housing requirement would have resulted in limited capacity to provide for necessary supporting infrastructure. The lower requirement of 20% would allow for an appropriate balance of affordable housing with the need to provide infrastructure.

 

Mrs Darling then asked the following supplementary question of the Chairman of the Committee:

 

I have actually read what you have just read to me and I simply don’t understand what it means. What does the viable bit mean?  Why is it that 20% affordable housing is more manageable? What are the site constraints?

 

The Chairman of the Committee replied that:

 

In simple terms, the viability study looks at: the cost of the site, the cost of construction, the cost of providing affordable housing and the other associated infrastructure. It then comes to a conclusion of whether it is commercially viable to deliver the site or not. If there wasn’t enough margin in the project then the site would lay dormant and no developer would bring it forwards. I think that that is a major issue across the whole of the country as developers are sitting on sites and not developing and we did not wish that to be the case for this site based upon a very thin viability assessment.