Main Changes to Local Plan 2030

Comment ID MCLP/736
Document Section Main Changes to Local Plan 2030 Policy S5 - Land South of Pound Lane (MC12) Content [View all comments on this section]
Respondent James Ransley [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 31 Aug 2017
To be "Sound" a Plan should be Positively Prepared, Justified, Effective and Consistent with National Policy
Do you consider that this ‘Main Change’ is sound? No
If you consider the ‘Main Change’ is unsound, on which grounds do you consider it so (see guidance)?
  • Not Justified
  • Not Effective
  • Not Consistent with national policy

Please set out your representation here, relating to "soundness". If applicable, what changes do you propose to make the document "sound"?

To help the independent Planning Inspector manage the examination, we ask that representations are concise and, where they are necessarily detailed, that you provide a concise summary setting out your main points.

Comment

Main Changes 10, 11 and 12 are not soundly based in terms of being effective or consistent with national sustainable development objectives.  Main Change 10 refers to 'an indicative capacity of 950 dwellings' at Court Lodge; Main Change 11 increases the site capacity at Land North of Steeds Lane and Magpie Hall Rd from 320 units to 400 units; and Main Change 12 increases the site capacity at Land South of Pound Lane from 100 units to 150 units. The three contiguous sites would constitute a strategic urban extension of about 1,500 dwellings.

The evidence base for the Local plan does not adequately justify these allocations as being either deliverable or sustainable and there are substantial technical and environmental constraints regarding flood risk, access and highway capacity affecting deliverability.

(i.) Flood risk

All three proposed allocations (Policies S3, S4 and S5) rely on a new highway connection known as Kingsnorth Strategic Link Road. KCC commissioned a feasibility study into the Link Road (Amey 2016). JBA Consulting undertook a review of the feasibility study alongside ABC's Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (2016) and other documents. JBA Consulting review is attached as an appendix to these representations. In summary, the review concludes:

'We are bound to observe that, in order to apply the sequential approach to development and flood risk, the following evidence should be made available (in order of priority):

  • The potential housing allocations which would create the need for this road should be shown to satisfy the Sequential Test, i.e. that there are no reasonable alternatives so development can be located in areas of lower flood risk.
  • Where necessary, it should be demonstrated that housing allocations in Zone 3a satisfy the Exception Test.
  • Once the need for housing to be located in this area is supported by appropriate evidence, it should be demonstrated that the Strategic Link Road satisfies the Sequential Test, to demonstrate that there are no reasonable alternatives to provide for transport capacity by other modes or routes at a lower risk of flooding.
  • If the Strategic Link road is shown to satisfy the Sequential Test, it should be demonstrated that the proposed highway satisfies the Exception Test, including specific provisions for development within the functional floodplain. This would normally require the preparation of a detailed FRA incorporating fluvial and surface water modelling.
  • Finally, the FRA should include consideration of the requirement that compensation storage volumes to be applied off site do not adversely impact the viability of the proposed housing.'

This flaw in the Local Plan process, in itself, demonstrates that the three Kingsnorth allocations are not soundly based and further work is needed work which may identify preferable alternatives. On this matter, regard should be given to the Court of Appeal decision on Watermead Parish Council v Aylesbury Vale District Council (2017) EWCA Civ 152 (17th March 2017). The decision confirms that the sequential test should be applied to the location of sites first regardless of what measures may be proposed to improve flood risk on an individual site and distinct from the exception test.

There are other flood risk and drainage concerns about the proposed allocations including:

  • Court Lodge site (Policy S3) includes an area functional floodplain (Flood Zone 3b) associated with the Whitewater Dyke. The Local Plan states that the intention is to remodel the floodplain to enable development to occur on land closest to Ashford whilst also retaining higher ground on the eastern flank to use as a landscape buffer. Remodelling the flood plain could lead to a significant increase in surface water flood risk off site.
  • It will prove very difficult to identify enough land for flood compensation. The land above the floodplain owned by ABC, for example, is subject to archaeological constraints (a Roman Settlement) and will not be able to be remodelled.
  • It will not be possible to deliver safe access and egress because none of the proposed access points to the site can meet will be safe during 1 in 100 plus climate change event.
  • The proposed link through to the Magpie Hall site (S4) and then to Ashford Road is subject to considerable surface water flooding.

(ii.) Highways and M20 Junction capacity

A key concern is that the three Kingsnorth sites lack sufficient and specific transport evidence to be justified. Main Change 4 refers to the importance of viability and deliverability and states: 'The policies and strategic site allocations within this Local Plan have been assessed within the context of whole plan viability'. It is vital that there is a robust and accurate understanding of all infrastructure upon which housing allocations are reliant.

The Infrastructure Delivery Schedule (IDS) item 1.3 indicates the need for an upgrade to the orbital roundabout which is needed for the delivery of the Kingsnorth sites and other allocations. The modelling work undertaken by Highways England for new Junction 10A of the M20 shows the orbital roundabout and dual carriageway will exceed the theoretical capacity. This capacity constraint is not identified in in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan therefore contrary to PPG paragraph 003 Reference ID: 54-003-20141010. This constraint suggests the need for a third lane which would be required to cross Eurostar line, domestic lines and run along embankment. This would adversely affect the viability of the proposed allocation and the ability for it to deliver within the plan period.

More generally, a planning application submitted off Pound Lane and Magpie Hall Road for 750 dwellings (15/00856/AS) stalled and has not proceeded partly because of transport objections from Highways England and Kent County Council. Instead, it was decided that the sites could come forward through the Local Plan but there no new transport evidence has been presented to justify the sites. This is in the context of their being existing capacity north of junction 10 that could be utilised by allocating sites in this location (Such as omission site NW1, Lees Farm) before the new infrastructure is required - an approach which is supported by DfT Circular 02/2013 and Planning Practice Guidance.

Overall, the allocations in Policies S3, S4 and S5, as amended in Main Changes 10, 11 and 12, are not soundly based in terms of effectiveness or consistency with national planning policy.

Suggested change

By virtue of the main changes being made all three Kingsnorth sites need to be revisited and unless sufficient evidence exists delete the allocations from the plan.

Attachments
Do you consider it necessary to participate at the oral part of the examination? No
Does your representation relate to a new or a previously-submitted omission site?
  • Submitted Previously
If you have previously commented on the Local Plan, as a result of this ‘Main Change’ do you wish to withdraw, replace or add to any previous comments?
  • Not Applicable – this is a new representation
Do you consider that this ‘Main Change’ is Legally Compliant in accordance with the relevant regulations?
  • No