Liberal Democrats oppose flawed Local Plan Review

20 Mar 2024
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Despite determined cross-party opposition from  councillors, including the Liberal Democrat Group (supported by many local residents), Maidstone Borough Council voted to adopt their controversial Local Plan Review document. However, this may not be the end of the saga. Speaking during the Debate Liberal Democrat Planning Spokesperson Tony Harwood pointed out that there were big practical challenges involved in the delivery of the larger housing allocations especially in the light of late issues raised by KCC on the day. These include the question marks hanging over the delivery of critical infrastructure at Lidsing and Lenham Heathlands and the impossibility of squeezing-in the sheer numbers of new homes proposed for Invicta Park Barracks and the Town Centre. Tony said:  “Maidstone’s Local Plan Review is built on foundations of sand and it is inevitable that the document will need to undergo some significant surgery going forward to make it deliverable and environmentally acceptable.”. He continued: “The big worry is that the largest housing allocations in the new plan will collapse under the weight of their own contradictions and leave the Borough vulnerable to speculative housing applications.”.

Liberal Democrat Group Leader Clive English added: “The only justification for this poorly designed plan has been that ‘any plan is better than no plan’, but if this plan unravels it will lead to the very situation it was meant to avoid, with developers needing to bring forward extra development sites.”  Adding: “Ironically, we would have opened the door to development on controversial and hard to develop sites without extending protection to the rest of the Borough - we will now have to see what can be done in terms of damage limitation and what room for manoeuvre the Council might have if the governing administration changes on 2nd May.”

During the meeting two amendments were called to delay the decision.  The last by Cllrs. Clive English and Tony Harwood of the Liberal Democrats to allow time to digest the late information from KCC, these were voted against.

At the outset the Conservative Party called for the vote to be named to be clear which councillors were for the Local Plan Review, against the Local Plan Review, or wished to abstain.

Voting FOR the implementation of the Local Plan Review:

Councillor Party Vote
Alan Bartlett Conservative For
Annabelle Blackmore Conservative For
Claudine Russell Conservative For
David Burton Conservative For
Denis Spooner Conservative For
Denise Joy Independent Group For
Fay Gooch Independent Group For
Gary Cooke Conservative For
Gill Fort Conservative For
Gordon Newton (Mayor) Independent Group For
James Reid Conservative For
John Perry Conservative For
Lewis McKenna Conservative For
Lottie Parfitt-Reid Conservative For
Martin Cox Independent Group For
Martin Round Conservative For
Michelle Hastie Conservative For
Paddy Riordan Conservative For
Patrick Coates Fant and Oakwood Independent For
Patrik Garten Conservative For
Paul Cooper Conservative For
Paul Harper Fant and Oakwood Independent For
Peter Holmes Conservative For
Sandra Knatchbull Conservative For
Simon Webb Conservative For
Stanley Forecast Conservative For
Steve Munford Independent Group For
Susan Grigg Independent Group For
Tom Cannon Conservative For
Val Springett Conservative For
Ziggy Trzebinski Conservative For

 

Voting AGAINST the implementation of the Local Plan Review:

Councillor Party Vote
Ashleigh Kimmance Liberal Democrat Against
Bob Hinder Conservative Against
Brian Clark Liberal Democrat Against
Clive English Liberal Democrat Against
Cynthia Robertson Liberal Democrat Against
Dan Wilkinson Labour Against
David Naghi Liberal Democrat Against
Derek Eagle Green Independent Alliance Against
Derek Mortimer Liberal Democrat Against
Janetta Sams Green Independent Alliance Against
Joanna Wilkinson Labour Against
Margaret Rose Labour Against
Maureen Cleator Labour Against
Mike Thompson Liberal Democrat Against
Paul Wilby Liberal Democrat Against
Richard Conyard Liberal Democrat Against
Stephen Thompson Green Independent Alliance Against
Stuart Jeffery Green Independent Alliance Against
Tom Sams Green Independent Alliance Against
Tony Harwood Liberal Democrat Against
Vanessa Jones Green Independent Alliance Against