Swale explains it's position on Stones Farm consultation

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23 Jan 2010
Following the publication of the consultation draft of the Stones Farm Development Brief SPD, the Council has had an opportunity to consider its position on the way forward.

As you are aware (see my letter to Mr Sharp dated 19 January 2010) the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) completed in December 2009, indicates a need for the Borough to bring forward some greenfield housing sites to secure future provision against the South East Plan housing targets. This would suggest to the Council therefore, that we should be prioritising the Stones Farm SPD.

Whilst I hold firm to the view that the Stones Farm land owners should have co-ordinated their programme with the outcome of the SHLAA and that the consultation draft SPD should preferably have been consulted upon in tandem or behind Kent County Council's Bapchild Link Road consultation, the Council is in a position of having to respond to the consultation currently taking place.

At this stage, it is proposed that the Council's comments will focus on what is missing from the submission, rather than on the merit of the proposals contained in the document. Accordingly, I do not propose referring the development brief to the Council's LDF Panel at this stage, but will await the formal submission of a draft SPD from the developer with an associated Consultation report. A report will then be presented to the LDF Panel for suggested amendments/modifications and these combined with the Draft SPD will be formally consulted upon.

I note on your web site that the Parish Council is unclear as to whether this consultation could potentially become void, because of the failure to work with the Borough Council. This is not the case. The developer has every right to undertake preliminary consultation as it believes fit. The developers will submit to the Council a revised development brief with an associated document setting out the results of consultation which the Council will use to consider its views on the brief.

I would therefore, not support any suggestion that any parishioners abstain from becoming involved. Indeed, I would advocate as much representation as possible so that the council in considering the draft SPD formally submitted by the developer can be made aware of the local community views.

Following the Council's formal consultation, which will include all statutory consultees, the Development Brief will be reported to the LDF Panel who will then recommend to resolve to adopt the SPD to the Council's Executive. I am not in a position at this stage to set out the potential programme for this process. However, I will keep you informed of any progress.

James Freeman
Head of Development Services