The shocking news that the Gladman application for 580 homes off Swanstree Avenue is going to appeal because Swale Borough Council has delayed too long in determining the application is not going to fill local people with confidence that the Tory led Council can really meet the challenges they face over planning.
In spite of much rhetoric about “localism” in recent years, local councils are under strong pressure from Government to open up their environments to uncontrolled and unsustainable development.
Swale has taken an age to draft a Local Plan. All the time it remains unadopted, the area is vulnerable to aggressive developer applications like Swanstree Avenue. There is an equally aggressive application around for housing on land near Cryalls Lane.
Tory Swale knows very well that its own Government is likely to reject the draft local plan and insist on several thousand more houses. This is despite the fact many of the sites proposed, such as that near Grovehurst, will probably not be delivered, certainly not as planned at present.
Local people are rightly concerned that the housing allocations made for this area will not be matched by the necessary infrastructure investment, whether it be roads, transport, health or education. A recent Kent County Council report on funding for growth, up to 2031, indicated that
Swale was likely to meet a considerable shortfall in funding compared with other districts in Kent.
Returning to Swanstree Avenue, the Council says it will consider the application at its meeting on 23rd July. Why did it not happen before? The planners say there were some loose ends to tie up. Well, when they wanted to push through the planning applications for the town centre, they didn’t mind going to the planning committee with a few loose ends. Surely they realised that the Swanstree application was a matter of great local public concern. Couldn’t the Tory Leadership on Swale have pressed their officers to resolve the issues more quickly? What by the way have the local councillors for this ward been doing since they were elected in May to see that this issue was treated with urgency?
Labour are advising local residents to let the Council know their views and to attend the planning meeting on July 23rd.