KCC u-turn on Stones Farm

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07 Jan 2007

In what appears to be a desperate last ditch attempt to push Stones Farm through KCC have gone against the advice of the inspector and teamed up the developer to put forward new evidence to advocate the development of Stones Farm without the Northern Relief Road being in place.

This evidence submitted after the inquiry hearing on the 29th November, where KCC quite clearly stated that the site could not be fully developed without the Northern Relief Road, has meant a prolonged session which eventually ended on Friday 5th January.

During the inquiry officers from the planning department of Swale Borough Council gave evidence that the estimated shortfall of housing now stands at just 231 units.

They also said that “there is now doubt as to whether there is a need to allocate this site or any other”  

By the end of the inquiry is was quite apparent that the biggest stumbling block for the developer was the construction of the Northern Relief Road which is likely to be 10 to 15 years away. In fact the road can not be constructed in the next five years whether it has funding or not and is currently towards the bottom of the list of roads likely to get funding any time soon.

KCC tried to suggest that maybe a portion of the site could be constructed without the Northern Relief Road being in place but were unable to say exactly how much that might be. KCC then suggested that they worked with the developer and submitted further evidence at a later date. The inspector acknowledge this but due to the time constraints of the inquiry said that there would be insufficient time in which other parties could participate with feedback and therefore asked that they didn’t proceed with this.

However faced with Swale Council saying that another site probably won’t be required and evidence that the Northern Relief Road wouldn’t be built in the lifetime of the plan period, KCC decided to go out of their way to support the developer with the ludicrous suggestion that everything they said before and during the inquiry was wrong and in fact there is additional capacity on the A2 and therefore the Northern Relief Road wasn’t a factor any more.

Baffled, yes we are too.