Maidstone Council voices need for more social housing as over a quarter of residents earn less than £20,000

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MAIDSTONE Borough Council (MBC) in Kent has voiced a need for social housing in the area in their new Supplementary Planning Document (SPD).

The SPD was outlined during the Council’s Committee meeting on 7 July, to provide advice on how MBC’s Local Plan housing policies for the provision of affordable and local needs housing should be implemented.

The SPD has various purposes, including to facilitate negotiations and provide certainty for landowners, lenders, housebuilders, and Registered Providers regarding the council’s expectations for affordable and local needs housing provision in specific development schemes.

This includes guidance on the range of approaches, standards and mechanisms required to deliver a range of truly affordable housing to meet the needs of the people in the borough.

The need for social housing in Maidstone is reflected nationally.

The SPD notes that across the borough as a whole, it is estimated that 67% of need is for social or affordable rent tenures, whilst around 33% is for intermediate housing.

Smaller one and two bedroom homes account for between 60% and 70% of the need, with larger three bedroom and above, accounting for between 30% and 40%.

The Maidstone Strategic Housing Market Assessment showed that over a quarter of households have an income below £20,000 with a further third in the income range of £20,000 – £30,000.

Chair of the MBC Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Committee, Councillor David Burton commented: “Ensuring a supply of affordable housing is a massive challenge to Maidstone Borough Council and for all authorities nationally.

“This policy clearly sets out what our local needs are and how we expect developers to pay for and contribute to the supply of affordable housing.

“Without this policy we would not have the evidence to insist upon their contributions being appropriate.”

An Affordable and Local Needs Housing Supplementary Planning Document is a commitment in the Maidstone Local Plan 2017.

The document builds upon and provides more detailed guidance on the policies within the adopted Local Plan around the Council’s preferred approach to the provision of affordable and local needs housing in the borough of Maidstone.

The SPD has been subject to informal engagement with key stakeholders and Council Members, followed by a formal six-week public consultation.

Following consideration of the representations, the document has been subject to amendments and a final Consultation Statement has been produced, illustrating this process.

The SPD will now be used as a material planning consideration in the decision-making process.

The Maidstone Local Plan Review is currently approaching the second stage with a second public consultation (Preferred Approaches – Regulation 18B), which will allow for all interested parties to comment.

This is due to begin in October 2020.