Thanet’s Draft Local Plan – a blueprint for housing, business and infrastructure up until 2031 – will be voted on by Full Council next month (January).
The document sets out how much development is needed to support the future population and economy. Allocating land through the plan is designed to give the council greater control over where and what type of developments can take place.
Consultation was carried out earlier this year on revisions to the plan, including axing the aviation-use only designation at Manston airport and putting forward two new isle sites at Manston Court Road and Haine Road.
These changes were approved by Cabinet members at a meeting in October but still needed to go to members of the council’s Scrutiny panel in November.
At this meeting the plan was overwhelmingly rejected – raising speculation that it could be voted down at the full council meeting on January 18.
Thanet currently has 55 councillors and one vacancy. This is made up of 25 UKIP; 20 Conservative; 6 Labour; 2 Independent Group and 2 Independent councillors.
For a motion to be carried either way it will need at least 28 votes, meaning members of more than one political party will have to vote the same way.
If it is approved there will then be a 6-week publication period between January 25 and March 8, 2018, when public comments can be made followed by submission to Planning Inspectorate in March 2018 and examination in June 2018.
Or Central Government intervention?
However, if it is rejected it could mean Central Government steps in to take over the plan.
A statement issued in November by Secretary of State Sajid Javid, from the Department for Communities and Local Government, said the failure of Thanet and 14 other authorities to meet deadlines to put a local plan in place meant the government may serve notice of its intention to intervene.
In the statement Sajid Javid says: “I am particularly concerned about the 15 local planning authorities that have recently either failed the duty to cooperate or failed to meet the deadlines set out in their Local Development Schemes, the public timetable that all local planning authorities are required to put in place.
“I am therefore writing to the local planning authorities of: Basildon, Brentwood, Bolsover, Calderdale, Castle Point, Eastleigh, Liverpool, Mansfield, North East Derbyshire, Northumberland, Runnymede, St Albans, Thanet, Wirral and York.
“These letters will start the formal process of intervention we set out in the housing White Paper.”
The White Paper is the Government’s proposal to enable it to deliver one million new homes nationally by 2020 and a further 500,000 by 2022.
Thanet council has until January 31, 2018, to justify to Government any failure to produce a Local Plan.
Government intervention could mean the housing numbers required for Thanet will rise. Government guidelines currently dictate a build of 17,140 new isle homes by 2031.
But if a government proposal to standardise the way local authorities work out housing need is given the green light that figure rise to more than 20,200 homes, raising the requirement from 857 dwellings per year to 1063 dwellings per year.
However at a council meeting in December an officer said Thanet was not building the current target of 857 houses per year and it was doubtful this would ever happen on a consistent basis. In the past 12 months Thanet created 389 additional new homes.
The isle’s last active local plan was adopted in 2006.