Kent Roundup

By Michael Hardware, Director of Planning and Property

Very much like Essex, which we covered last month, Kent has seen inroads by UKIP into several councils over the past five years, mainly at the expense of the Conservatives. This influence has dissipated somewhat in recent years although several councils still have significant UKIP presence albeit mainly in the guise of independents.

Many councils around Kent saw little or no change following May’s elections. The Conservatives maintained control of Ashford, Canterbury, Dartford, Medway, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge & Malling and Tunbridge Wells councils, but lost Folkestone & Hythe to no overall control. Labour gained Gravesham from no overall control and Swale went into no overall control with the Conservatives losing an astonishing 16 seats.

Thanet council has seen some turbulence last month with the Conservative leader suffering a vote of no confidence, and subsequently the party lost control with Labour taking over. This followed directions being issued by Housing Secretary, James Brokenshire, about the local plan earlier this year.  Maidstone saw the council administration move from the Conservatives to the LibDems, although this appears to have been quite a smooth transition by comparison.

In terms of local plans, Ashford and Maidstone have adopted plans, with the latter commencing its review process. Tunbridge Wells is at Reg 19 stage. Dover, Gravesham, Swale and Dartford are still at Reg 18 stages. Tonbridge & Malling, Folkstone & Hythe, Thanet and Sevenoaks have submitted their plans.

Folkstone & Hythe has been consulting further on gypsy and traveller sites and Sevenoaks has this month had its local plan returned by the inspector.  Although the only Kent council to submit a local plan with housing less that the OAHN, the inspector is more concerned about the lack of cooperation with neighbouring councils. Of course, the council disputes this.

We continue to be active in Kent with ongoing projects in Staplehurst, Hildenborough, and Ashford, and new ones about to start in Maidstone, Medway and Dover.