We need housing to be built across the country, that we do not dispute. We need more homes in Kent, but how many and where? Development doesn’t come without its controversies for our communities. Just think Canterbury, Herne Bay & Whitstable. Just think Headcorn, Folkestone Ebbsfleet & Borough Green and just think Otterpool Park and Princes Parade in Hythe. These are just some of our communities being heavily blighted with large, medium and small scale development within Kent.
Seven district/borough councils have submitted Marginal Viability Funding bids to enable further development. The Marginal Viability Fund (MVF) is designed to get housebuilding started quickly on sites where the upfront costs of putting in the infrastructure are not stacking up financially. For example, this could be due to unforeseen costs for utility provision such as electricity, fibre optic and telecommunications cables, gas, mains water, sewers and abnormal site re-mediation
The seven councils are: Ashford, Dover, Maidstone, Shepway, Swale, Thanet (x2) and Tunbridge Wells (x2). The nine bids total £57 million; and will, if successful, deliver 6,373 new homes. However, will they be the right type of mix. Affordable, social housing and private. 6,373 new homes is NOT the sum total of all proposed development in Kent, just the total for where funding has been sought.
Each of the submitted bids are summarised below and are in alphabetical order.
Ashford Borough Council: land re-mediation and site assembly (circa £8.65 million)
This would support the regeneration of the former railway works site in Newtown, Ashford and deliver 350 new dwellings. The long disused site comprises brownfield land currently in private ownership and includes grade II listed locomotive sheds of approximately 300 metres in length and other associated listed railway buildings. The scheme will deliver town centre housing, restore and bring back into use the listed railway buildings and provide improved local highway infrastructure together with quality public realm, in an attractive and sustainable neighbourhood which reflects the railway heritage of the site.
Dover District Council: Bus Rapid Transit Infrastructure (circa £16 million)
This would support the delivery of a new rapid bus link between the planned major urban extension at Whitfield and Dover Town/ Priory Railway Station.
Maidstone Borough Council: site assembly and highway improvements (£9 million)
This would support the delivery of the Maidstone East Urban Civic Quarter project, led in partnership by Kent County Council and Maidstone Borough Council. The Civic Quarter is located to the north of Maidstone Town Centre, comprising three sites in the public ownership of Kent County Council, Maidstone Borough Council and Network Rail. Off-site highway network improvements and the reprovision of the existing commuter car park serving Maidstone East Railway Station would enable the delivery of approximately 640 new dwellings.
Shepway District Council: land re-mediation (circa £2.5 million)
This is to re-mediate a derelict site in Ship Street, Folkestone which formerly comprised a gasworks and is allocated for residential development in the Core Strategy Local Plan 2013. If the application is successful, the District Council intends to complete the purchase of the site with a view to delivering 85 new dwellings.
Swale Borough Council: Queenborough and Rushenden Regeneration (£3.5 million)
This is for land raising, surface water drainage and demolition works on a 25 hectare brownfield site at Queenborough and Rushenden, Isle of Sheppey. The site is owned by the Homes and Communities Agency and is allocated for major residential development in Bearing Fruits 2031: The Swale Borough Local Plan 2017. Development of this infrastructure would enable the delivery of phases 2-4 (990 new dwellings).
Thanet District Council: new roundabout on the A256 corridor (circa £2.5 million)
This is for the delivery of a new roundabout at the Haine Road junction with the B2050 Manston Road to enable delivery of consented residential development at EuroKent (up to 550 dwellings) and Manston Green (758 dwellings). As it submitted two applications for Marginal Viability Funding, the District Council identified this as the priority scheme.
Thanet District Council: Columbus Avenue Highway Extension (circa £10 million)
This proposal is identified in the emerging Thanet Transport Strategy and is necessary infrastructure to support the delivery of strategic development sites at Westgate (1,000 dwellings) and Birchington (1,000 dwellings), identified in the emerging Thanet Local Plan.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council: Paddock Wood junction improvements (circa £2.1 million)
The proposed infrastructure scheme consists of junction improvements at two key locations to increase highway capacity. The improvements relate to the realignment of the B2160 Maidstone Road/ Badsell Road/ Mascalls Court Road junction and improvements to Colts Hill roundabout. These will enable the delivery of three major residential sites in Paddock Wood, comprising approximately 1,000 new dwellings. As it submitted two applications for Marginal Viability Funding, the Borough Council identified this as the priority scheme.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council: Woodsgate Corner junction improvements (£2.75 million)
The proposed infrastructure scheme consists of improvements to the junction of the A264 Pembury High Street/ A228 Tonbridge Road, to the east of Tunbridge Wells Town Centre. The scheme is necessary to enable the delivery of major residential sites allocated in the emerging Local Plan which will be submitted for Examination in 2018.
These developments will impact on various communities across Kent, if the bids are successful. There will be winners and losers and such changes will change our communities irrevocably.
The Shepwayvox Team