The Local Plan

The Council’s Local Plan sets a target of building of 780 houses a year over the next twenty years, or 15,600 in total, based on the assumption of high population growth and declining family size. The Council plans to concentrate building on a small number of large sites to the southeast of Canterbury, which it argues will allow the relatively straightforward integration of these new conurbations with the existing road system.

Numbers

The Canterbury Society believes that this scale of development risks having a detrimental impact on the city’s environment and overloading the transport infrastructure in and around the city centre. Instead, we favour a target of 550 houses per annum, reducing the overall number of planned units to 11,000. Our preferred figure is based on the Council’s mid-range assumption about population growth and economic growth in the city. It also incorporates more optimistic assumptions about the growth prospects of neighbouring towns in East Kent, and the probability that the universities will invest extensively in purpose-built halls of residence over the next few years, freeing up large parts of Canterbury’s existing housing stock. Crucially our preferred target reflects the expressed wish of local residents not to develop green-field sites in the Canterbury area.

Distribution

The Canterbury Society also believes in the importance of avoiding large-scale housing estates on green-field land the edges of the city, an approach to development which risks not only despoiling the countryside but also creating soulless dormitories which are dependent on the city centre for their amenities. We are particularly opposed to plans to build 4,000 houses on grade one agricultural land on the south side of Canterbury which would nearly close the gap separating Canterbury and Bridge, and encourage excessive car usage because of the absence of any alternatives transport connections.

Instead, we advocate:

–       The building of multiple small-scale developments in existing suburbs and villages (the ‘scattergun effect’) with an emphasis on in-filling and the low-key expansion. This would exploit brownfield land and minimize the negative impacts on the environment: indeed, judicious in-filling could actually enhance the appearance of many streets. The Council’s own strategic assessment of land availability highlights many such potential development sites.

–       The development of houses along existing roads and rail lines, which would again allow the vast majority of building to take place on brownfield land while maximizing the potential use of public-transport. In particular, we advocate siting new house-building along the two rail routes radiating from the West and East stations, which would meet the needs of new commuters to London, and on the bus routes linking Canterbury to Whitstable, Herne Bay, Thanet, Dover, Ashford and Faversham. There is sufficient land within walking distance of these routes to service housing needs for at least 20 years.

–       Similarly, we also advocate concentrating house-building within easy walking distance of public transport nodes such as Chartham and Sturry, which have railway stations connecting them to Ashford and London.

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