Stones Farm - The Inspectors Verdict
Following the devastating news that Stones Farm had been included in the plan were looking to the inspectors full report for clarity and certainty on a number of matters pertaining to the development of the site, but the report fails to provide this on a number of key points.
We were happy to see the inspector impose an upper limit of 600 houses, but concerned that he considered that the site could be progressed without the Northern Relief Road being completed, which we believe will cause severe disruption to the A2.
Having said that he also stated that the site would still have to contribute towards the Northern Relief Road, although Swale Borough Council has already conceded that this would be not be possible under the usual Section 106 agreement given that the site is not dependent on it.
With regards to timescale the inspector has suggested the later half of the plan period 2011 to 2016. However the inspector says “If, as the Council anticipates, no shortfall in housing supply arises until the latter part of the Plan period, then it will clearly have the opportunity to reassess the need to develop the Stones Farm site when it prepares and subsequently reviews its LDF.”
This and the fact that technically Swale has not actually consulted the public on the inclusion of the site, at least provides a glimmer of hope that at least it could still be some way off yet. We are also mindful to the housing provision set in the Draft South East Plan to 2026 which ultimately reduces our year on year targets and takes precedence over this plan.