A report charting the infrastructure and new homes needed to support a growing population across Kent and Medway shows a £3.96 billion shortfall in funding.
The Kent and Medway Growth and Infrastructure Framework (GIF) is published by Kent County Council and helps KCC, Medway Council, local planning authorities and the government understand what services and infrastructure are required up until 2031.
Kent and Medway are expected to see 396,300 new people, 178,600 new homes and 170,300 new jobs with a total infrastructure cost of more than £16 billion by 2031.
The report says the house-building programme is equivalent to creating a town the size of Faversham every year for 20 years.
But only 5% of the necessary funding is secured and 71% expected to be secured, leaving the £3.96 billion black hole.
The report says a combination of population growth outstripping housing and services and cuts to Government funding have brought the county to ‘breaking point.’
It states: “Over recent years, Kent and Medway have delivered some of the highest rates of housing delivery in the country; however, the infrastructure has not kept up with the pace of growth.
“Growing congestion on roads and in towns, overcrowded trains and ever longer waiting times to access health facilities have meant a continued challenge to the quality of life for residents and businesses.
“For years, housing and population growth has far outpaced the delivery of the infrastructure required to sustain it. Combined with unprecedented funding challenges, local services across the county have been brought to breaking point.”
A further issue is making sure there are jobs and investment for the growing population but suitable commercial space is across kent and Medway in limited supply.
Assessing needs for all areas, such as education, transport, health, economy, across the timescale several projects are marked as ‘priority.’
These include Thanet Parkway Station (pictured), with a planning application recently submitted by KCC. Twelve areas earmarked as strategically significant include three for Thanet – Ramsgate Port, Marina and Waterfront (commercial); Thanet ‘Centre Island’ and Manston and Margate and Cliftonville Regeneration as well as nearby Discovery Park.
The report brands the Thanet Mental Health Unit as not fit for purpose and says Thanet needs more investment in community and learning and indoor sports provision.
KCC Cabinet Member for Planning, Highways, Transport and Waste, Mike Whiting said: “Kent and Medway are embracing growth. We recognise the benefits business and housing growth brings to the county in terms of new jobs, new facilities, and new communities.
“However, the GIF makes it clear that the current mechanisms in place for the planning, funding and delivery of infrastructure are not sufficient for accommodating the level of growth planned for Kent and Medway.
“New approaches are required to secure the additional public and private investment needed and the GIF includes a forward-thinking action plan to begin to close the investment gap.
“Over the coming year, we will be looking to develop a GIF Implementation Plan to take forward these actions.”
Find the report here