November 2019 newsletter from our Maidstone Borough Councillor.

Hollingbourne Parish Council has received the following newsletter from our Maidstone Borough Councillor Patrik Garten. Please Read More for further information.

Whichever local paper you look at these days, there is always an article complaining about the lack of local infrastructure. Of course, the author always blames MBC for granting ever more planning permissions for new houses.

Maidstone is the Local Planning Authority. As such, the Officers and Planning Committee (of which I am NOT a member!) are granting planning permissions for applications which fulfil the conditions as set out in the Local Plan.

The target setting of housing numbers in this ‘Local Plan’ is dictated by Central Government. One thing I’ve learned over the past 3 ½ years as your councillor, is that we local politicians are treated as mere elected administrators of central government targets.

As the Local Planning Authority, MBC can fine-tune where we accommodate those new homes with least impact and we can ask developers for S106 or CIL financial contributions to compensate for the negative effects of those new developments.

CIL = Community Infrastructure Levy, the name says it.

So, why is there no infrastructure forthcoming ?

  • roads, fall within Kent County Council’s remit,
  • doctors => the remit of the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
  • trains => Network Rail
  • electricity supply => National Power
  • broadband ……
  • …….

Maidstone takes millions of CIL and S106 contributions from the developers and passes it to these third-party authorities and …… they sit on it !!!!  There are really millions in the kitty waiting to be spent. Regular readers may remember that a year ago I questioned the whereabouts of £10.35 million of highways improvement monies. Have you seen any diggers around the Wheat-Sheaf Junction since?

Most of the other current events – the Call For Sites and the Town Centre Opportunities Sites – I reported on last month and there is no update. Rest assured, when there is, I will tell you. For now, PLEASE DON’T PANIC!  (whatever you read in the press or hear on the grapevine)

In the meantime, if you want to get your teeth into something important, not relating to the above nor Brexit, have a look at this:

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/designated-landscapes-national-parks-and-aonbs-2018-review

The Government has just published the ‘Landscapes Review: AONBs and National Parks’ (‘The Glover Review’). It is a long and detailed report. It is ambitious for AONBs and I am hopeful that the Government’s response to this review will be a positive one.

Key points include:

  • To bring National Parks, AONBs and National Trails together served by a shared National Landscapes Service (NLS) , which is supposed to do more for nature recovery and climate change and form the backbone of the Nature Recovery Network
  • More benefits for more and more diverse people including health and well-being and volunteering supported by new National Landscape rangers and a special place for National Landscapes in sustainable rural tourism
  • Better support for communities including affordable housing and public transport
  • Closer working between NLS and the National Trails
  • A better designation process
  • A new financial model which is more secure and more enterprising

A ‘one-liner’ which sums up the recommendations for AONBs is to be found in proposal 24: ‘AONBs strengthened with new purposes, powers and resources, renamed as National Landscapes’.

There seems to be some light at the end of the tunnel, making it worth my while to be your ‘local elected administrator’

PATRIK GARTEN   

MBC Councillor for North Downs Ward  (Conservative)

Email:   patrikgarten@maidstone.gov.uk

Phone: 01622-807907

Pictured below is Councillor Garten.

MBC Councillor Patrik Garten.