Inspector approves Stones Farm
Over the last few of days there have been various rumours with regards to the contents of the draft report on the Swale Local Plan. One of them concerns Stones Farm where the inspector appears to haven given the go-ahead to the inclusion of the site. I must stress that at the juncture we have not seen the report and do not know the detail of its contents. Nor do we know the timescales involved although it appears that it will be towards the end of the plan period 2011-2016.
I’m genuinely quite shocked that the inspector has seen fit to include Stones Farm. I thought that our case was very well presented especially as this plan is unlikely to run its full course and the site was only selected at the last minute to fill a minor potential shortfall in housing numbers which won’t occur until the very end of the plan period.
It would have made much more sense to evaluate this in the context of the emerging Local Development Framework (LDF) which will replace this plan before this site or any other is required.
This would provide an opportunity for a proper consultation on the selection of the next site, which did not occur during the preparation of the Local Plan and which could ultimately land Swale with a legal challenge.
Although certain headlines appear to have been leaked from the draft report, Swale is keeping very tight lipped about the detail and in particular whether the site can be constructed before the Northern Relief Road (NRR) is completed. This is obviously a major concern as the only access to this site is directly onto the A2 and without the NRR we predict major traffic problems.
Unfortunately Swale needs another housing development to pay for the Northern Relief Road, so it will be very interesting to see whether we get the horse before the cart so to speak.