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Questions to ask your Local Election candidates

By David Conder

We have local elections on 4 May with all 39 CCC seats up for election. Each and every candidate wanting your vote should be confronted with hard questioning, without favour, on housing and planning:

1. Does the candidate accept both that CCC no longer needs to follow house-building targets (whether mandatory or advisory) from Westminster/Whitehall AND should not?

(When asking this question, do remember that volume house-building has - for decades - failed to meet genuine housing need! Also that so-called 'affordable housing' is increasingly a discredited concept, ie the price of housing said to be affordable).

2. Does the candidate agree that CCC should move to a 'community-led' housing policy, where genuine local housing needs are identified and met before CCC gives permission for houses to be built for the national market (indeed, international market as far as Kent and  southern England is concerned)?

3. Is the candidate aware of the 'Grampian Principle'?

This is infrastructure in first, i.e.  infrastructure that can cope with the new development is put in place before a single house is built.

It is welcome that some local policy-makers (but not yet all) now seem to support the Grampian Principle as it relates to sewage disposal (ie. an end to tankerloads of sewage being carried away, as often as daily with bigger developments) and an end to the gross sewage pollution of Kent's coast and rivers. 

However, as residents, we should ask our Canterbury City councillors to apply the Grampian Principle to traffic and roads. This is highly relevant to the latest Littlebourne application, the 3,200-housing unit* new town at Adisham, the 420+ house estate at Womenswold, the massive extension of Aylesham now embedded in the latest draft of the Dover plan, and so on. It is also before the construction of single building of the now-approved 4,000 housing-unit Mountfield New Town (taking the built-up area of the City to the edge of Bridge), which is bound to have a massive impact on all of us south of Canterbury.

4. Does the candidate agree that brownfield sites should be used, not open countryside and farmland?

5. Does the candidate agree that CCC should pause the plan-making process, as over 50 other local planning authorities in England have now openly done, so that CCC's officers/staff can:

  • reconsider the infrastructural implications of the developments already approved including Mountfield;
  • take into account all planning applications in the district that have been approved but not yet acted upon by the respective developers (in the plan, CCC officers have included approved applications that the officers believe will be developed in the first 5 years of the new plan's life, but there are hundreds of others which should now be accounted for and included in the next draft);
  • identify and calculate genuine housing need in our district (and work with our neighbours in East Kent on this);
  • redraft the plan with an embedded 'infrastructure in first'/Grampian Principle approach on both sewage treatment/disposal and traffic/transport with a housing policy that meets local housing need first, before allowing houses to be built in the district feeding national/international market demand. 

PS. a plea! Developers do not build 'homes', they build houses. Their PR consultants have successfully got us using the warm, cuddly term 'home' when actually they are building 'houses' or (for pedantic people like me) if the development has a significant number of flats, then 'housing-units'. Unless we work for a development company and if we are sceptical of developer-led volume house-building as a useful way forward for Canterbury, Kent and England, then the unit to use is 'house' or 'housing-unit'.