Is the impact on local infrastructure considered enough before new housing developments are started?
The approach should be to think of building communities, sustainable communities, not just houses.
This approach assumes we make sure the elements of building a community, the infrastructure, is in place, ideally before the construction of new developments commence. Residents are wary of promises which don’t materialise after the development has finished.
By infrastructure I mean transport (roads, buses, trains, cycle and pedestrian access); medical facilities (GPs, dentists and hospitals); schools ( primary and secondary); communal facilities ( community halls, recreational spaces); Utility provision (water, drainage, gas, electricity, broadband and gas) and the other things that well developed sustainable communities have which adds to the quality of life for its residents.
Our planning system recognises the need to invest in infrastructure, there are mechanisms for charging developers; section 106 agreements and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL), both worthy ideas but together they fall short of what we need to fully fund all of what we need.
This shortage of money is compounded by some developments which do not meet the threshold for the charging mechanism, their size or type of development doesn’t trigger the necessary payments.
What I can reassure Sevenoaks residents is the close collaboration between Sevenoaks District Council and Kent County Council to maximise the opportunity to fund the essential infrastructure our new communities expect and need.
KCC and SDC have a detailed analysis of future infrastructure requirements based on expected growth, local plans and their cost. There is a gap between the cost of what we need and what we can extract from developers. This gap is therefore what we need to fund locally or from national government grant to build sustainable communities; we shall stand up for local residents to do just that.
Councillor Nick Chard, KCC