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Updated: Jun 14

Note: there has been a Farms, Fields & Fresh Air Fact Checker (by Steve Atkins) added to this article since publication. See bottom of the page.


By Brian Pain

There is a general confusion as to why so many poorly designed and planned new housing estates have been built on rural or semi-rural land around Faversham over the past few years.

Unless one is prepared to read long planning documents usually years in advance of their implementation and actively then make an online representation, there is little chance of affecting what future development takes place. This of course disenfranchises those with limited IT capability.

Most people accept the need for more houses, but only ones that meet genuine housing need. They are confused as to why most new developments consist of bland cheaply built units with little attempt in their design to ensure necessary future proofing.  For instance, reliance on gas heating instead of heat pumps, a lack of solar panels, no grey water management and no onsite sewage treatment.  Further, the layouts of the estates are determined by profit maximisation rather than the optimisation of light and climate.

Very commonly, the local councils are blamed for giving planning permission to such developments when they are virtually powerless to refuse them because of national planning regulations.

Depressingly even now with so many new housing estates having been built in the past six years, Faversham is still threatened with much more of the same in the future.

Public disquiet has been growing for years and recently, deep unhappiness with the latest plans, especially the proposed Duchy of Cornwall development to the southeast of Faversham, have reached the national press, radio and even BBC TV Question Time.

In this section of the Eye we attempt to provide a clear explanation of:

  1. The issues involved and how the future demand for more housing sites is determined.

  2. Why we are so many new housing schemes so poorly designed and constructed. 

  3. Differentiate between the Faversham Neighbourhood Plan and the Swale Local Plan.

  4. Examine the pros and cons of the Duchy of Cornwall Development.

  5.  Finally, what is likely to happen if the electorate of Faversham in particular, and Swale in general reject the emerging plans and attempt to stop all new largescale greenfield developments?

Map showing the initial 'Call for Sites' where landowners and developers put forward land for consideration for development.

How future “housing need” is calculated

The government uses a method of assessing the number of new houses each area needs called the Standard Housing Method.  This method of determining housing need is widely criticised as being not fit for purpose by many professionals including the consultants who are contracted to produce the figures. Further the method was revised in 2020 and now produces even higher estimates for much of the south of the UK.

A curious aspect of this calculation is that the less affordable houses are in a particular area, the greater the number of new houses demanded. This means that in Swale the housing need figure is 30% above the anticipated level of demand. 

If the aim of this adjustment is to improve affordability, relying on a naïve belief that an increase in supply will reduce house prices, then it seems that the government fails to understand or wilfully ignores how volume housebuilders control their market.

Having been presented with the number of new houses an authority must plan for, developers are invited to put forward sites on which they would be prepared to build them.

Inevitably they prefer greenfield sites, which perversely avoids VAT payments and is where the most profit can be made. The Local Authority is then obliged to select sufficient numbers of these sites to meet their imposed new housing quotas and incorporate them into a development plan.

Since December 2023, when the Conservative government took fright about the adverse public reaction to manifest overdevelopment in the Home Counties, these quotas have become guidelines only.  However, failure of an authority to undershoot the figures leaves them vulnerable to large scale planning applications from the most rapacious housing developers. In our area, Gladman*  a particularly immoral developer is lobbying to get planning permission for about 250 houses at Ham Road and an alarming 7,500 houses on green fields along the Ashford Road between the M2 and the village of Sheldwich.

*See Faversham Eye’s 13 & 14.

The housing crisis is an affordability crisis. The current crude method of assessing future housing need and attempting to meet it by allowing private sector volume housebuilders the build the type of houses in the places they prefer to maximise their profits, will mean that the crisis of the genuine shortage of good quality affordable housing will never be solved.

Merely allowing developers to build more and more mediocre housing estates on what is left of the green spaces around our towns will lead to a permanent degradation of everyone’s quality of life whilst leaving more and more people trapped in expensive substandard rented accommodation.

Why are so many new houses so poorly designed and built?

The shortfall in housing supply, particularly that of affordable housing coincided with the state’s exit from large-scale house buildings in the late 1970s. The new orthodoxy became that housing should be provided by the market. Unfortunately, due to manifest imperfections in the market and the increasing consolidation of the housebuilding industry, appropriate supply now no longer meets demand.

More than four in ten council houses sold under “Right to Buy” are now owned by private landlords.

Tenants who would’ve previously been accommodated in social housing may now be forced to rely on expensive, insecure and often poor-quality homes being let by private landlords.

Research by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) found that 109,000 former council homes have started being let privately in the past ten years. The think tank warned that tenants who would have been accommodated in social housing are now forced to rely on expensive, insecure and often poor-quality homes being let by private landlords.

NEF, which sent freedom of information requests to local authorities, found 86% of homes sold under the scheme in Brighton are now being privately rented. Milton Keynes also had a high proportion being privately let at 73%, while Dover is at 59%.

Since ‘Right to Buy’ was introduced by the Tories under Margaret Thatcher in the 1990s, the proportion of social renter has almost halved from 31% of English households to 16% in 2022/23 according to the English Housing Survey.

A researcher at the New Economics Foundation said: 

While many have benefitted from it, we need to be honest about the devastating impact the right to buy scheme has had on our housing system. There are millions of people in this country who are denied access to safe, affordable, secure social homes, partly because of Right to Buy.” 

Daily Mirror 9 May 2024

Recently, we have had much painful experience of large energy companies that can exploit finite natural resources benefitting from a surge in prices caused by external factors and channelling supernormal profits to their investors while consumers pay the price. For instance, in 2023 Shell and BP reported their highest profits in decades.

The same applies to that other finite resource, land, the largest volume housebuilders (Barratts, Taylor Wimpey and Persimmon produce around 25% of all new homes) that can turn undeveloped or greenfield sites into habitable dwellings are enjoying equivalently large profits.

In 2021 a study by Archer and Cole at Sheffield Hallam University found that before 2010 each completed home netted an average pre-tax profit of about £30,000 across the nine largest UK housebuilders by 2017 this had increased to more than £62,000 (over the same period average gross weekly wages have increased from around £500 to £550 according to the Office for National Statistics).     


The largest house builders have taken this increased profit rather than increase their output or improve the quality of the building beyond the statutory minimum.

The other main obstacle in delivery of high-quality houses by the private sector is that since 2015, the government has made several decisions that have saved money for the housebuilders while running counter to the UK’s green targets. They have benefitted by billions of pounds from delays to low-carbon building regulations in the past eight years of Tory rule.

Coincidently the housebuilding sector has become one of the largest sources of donations to the Conservative Party.

The construction industry has saved at least £15 billion since 2015 by building homes to old, high-carbon standards, without solar panels and batteries, heat pumps and effective insulation. The cost of remedying these omissions to reach the UK’s target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, if left to individual homeowners to retrofit would reach over £45 billion. 

‘Building a new to low carbon standards is estimated to increase the cost by about £8,500, however, to retrofit to the same standards would cost the homeowner about £33,000.’ *

*The Guardian 2023

Map showing sites considered suitable, or unsuitable, for development surrounding and within Faversham. From the Faversham Neighbourhood plan

In September 2023 Rishi Sunak announced a further rollback of net zero policies and implementation of green regulations that will benefit housebuilders further.

Since 2010 housebuilders, developers and real estate tycoons have donated about £40million to the Tories.

Faversham Neighbourhood Plan

The Faversham Neighbourhood Plan covers the four wards of Faversham and is being prepared in the context of the much larger Swale Local Plan. 

Faversham Town Council is seeking to identify sites within the Town boundaries which are potentially suitable for the allocation of around 150-200 dwellings. 

The Swale Local Plan states that approximately 3,500 will be delivered in Faversham and approximately 3,300 of those are to be to the east and south of the Town, the remaining 150-200 to be met through the Neighbourhood Plan allocations.

Most sites considered in the plan are for a modest number of new houses and most of the potentially larger sites have been considered unsuitable. In particular, the hugely unpopular and environmentally damaging proposal for around 250 houses at Ham Road proposed by Gladman a particularly pernicious nationwide developer has been rejected.

It is expected that the draft plan will shortly be put to a referendum of Faversham inhabitants to decide whether it is to be adopted.

As in all such cases, a failure to adopt the plan makes the town vulnerable to successful speculative development applications by the likes of Gladman on the grounds of non-determination of a valid proven supply of new housing.

The preferred sites and housing numbers are available in the Neighbourhood Plan published and available to read on the Town Council’s website.

Map showing the area promoted by the Duchy of Cornwall for a development to the South East of Faversham.

The Swale Borough Council Local Plan

The area south of the A2 has been designated for the majority for the latest imposed allocation of new housing around Faversham. This is the proposed Duchy of Cornwall scheme, which is the development that has caused the greatest controversy.

In the next section we will present the argument in favour of the scheme from the Faversham Community Land Trust and that against by the Farms Fields and Fresh Air pressure group.

The Duchy Debate

The recent 2024 statement from the Duchy about their intentions for the 2,500 housing development situated to the southeast of Faversham essentially made the following points:

Their aim was to address the Faversham housing shortages by providing high-quality and affordable homes and jobs in a vibrant mixed-use, mixed income and walkable community. The new neighbourhood would be built over a period of 20 years and aims to provide an equality of opportunity or all, with access to housing, education, employment and enterprise regardless of background.

The masterplan evolved over six years of design and community consultation underpinned by:

  1. The intention to provide at least 875 affordable homes for local families and key workers, with over 400 to be socially rented but designed to the same high standard as those to be sold.

  2. Half of the site to be dedicated to green spaces, allotments and community gardens.

  3. 20% net gain in biodiversity, planting of native species and preserving the ecological balance.

  4. Solar panels and heat pumps. Using the latest technology the installation of a smart energy grid.

  5. Sewage and wastewater treated on site and re-used through a recycling system.

  6. Over 70,000 sq metres of employment and commercial space which will follow the approach used previously at Poundbury which has demonstrated the ability to generate significant economic activity.

  7. A new primary school and dedicated spaces for healthcare.

  8. A design that will result in 20% fewer car trips compared to a normal neighbourhood of a similar size.

Although it is usual for developers to paint a rosy picture of the merits of their proposals, if the planning authorities can keep the Duchy to their promises, the Duchy scheme represents a very significant improvement both environmentally and socially to the usual depressing developments built by a volume housebuilder.  See for instance Perry Court or in fact most of the new private estates built around the Town.

The following provides conflicting opinions on the merits of the Duchy scheme.



By Steve Atkins, who is the Land Director for the Faversham Community Land Trust and worked throughout his career as a Chartered Surveyor specialising in development.

The Community Led Housing Network was set up as part of the coalition government’s localism agenda at the start of the last decade.  The Network is the umbrella organisation for local Community Land Trusts and a total of 350 Trusts have  been formed since then across England and Wales.  So far, they have delivered 1869 affordable homes  and 100 green spaces, pubs and community shops.

A visualisation of the proposed development from the Duchy website

Britain is a nation of builders without a toolkit. In every community there are people who recognise that 4 in 10 people are struggling to meet their housing costs, that left behind areas are only getting a third of their fair share of charitable funding, and that we need to transform our energy and natural ecosystems for net zero. But our systems for land, development, housing and regeneration offer them no agency. Our planning system only really empowers the blockers to object. 

Community Land Trusts organise and empower the builders in our communities. They start with land, which underlies many of the problems we face today. The lack of homes people can afford; poor access to decent, quality workspaces and community spaces; the degradation of our natural environment are all symptoms of land not serving a greater social purpose. Ownership of the land confers control , power and wealth. 

We want to distribute that wealth, power and agency more widely, to serve the social, economic and environmental wellbeing of our communities. To see more land democratically stewarded for social good. With ownership through a Community Land Trust communities become partners to developers, not opponents; campaigners with, rather than against, councils; participants in building our nation, not passive consultees. 

Last year Michael Gove launched the Community Land Trust Network’s  ‘State of the Sector’ research paper in the House of Commons.  This report found that industry partnerships could help communities to build at least 278,000 homes through replicable project types. Twenty thousand of these  homes were identified from  portions of large sites with  specific reference made to  the potential offered by Garden Villages and Urban Extensions. 

Mindful to the Duchy’s proposals for development in Faversham and coinciding with a press release from the Prince of Wales in support of the homeless, we wrote in June last year to Ben Murphy, the Duchy Development Director. We requested a meeting  and Directors of the Community Land Trust subsequently met Ben last October. We discussed the prospect of a partnership or a development agreement, aiming to secure  a  proportion of the social rented housing stock  that they propose to deliver at SE Faversham, to be retained by the Trust in perpetuity for the benefit of Faversham folk. We have  since had further preliminary discussions with the Duchy and Swale. In addition to  the acquisition of stock we are also lobbying to secure priority bidding rights in the S106 Planning Agreement for Faversham residents, their kin and key workers for First Homes (discounted market housing).  We are encouraged by the response to our overtures, and for this reason and the others explained below, it is our intention to support the Duchy at SE Faversham.

Swale Council has twice identified the Duchy’s land at South East Faversham as the best and most sustainable location for significant new development. This included a thorough Garden Communities assessment process in 2018 and again  when the site was allocated in the draft Local Plan in 2021.  As  such there is a strong presumption in favour of development. 

The Duchy have an established  track record of building sustainable new communities with a distinct sense of place. They adopt a  stewardship development model and retain a strict controlling  interest in the land and all matters relating to the development and management of the site in perpetuity. This contrasts starkly with the other land promoters and speculators who generally tend to offer scant details in their applications.  On the grant of outline consent they  sell a series of development parcels to the oligopoly of volume housebuilders who then secure detailed consent based on their standard house types. Both parties then take  their profits and run.

The Duchy master planning vision is inspired by the New Urbanists and  focuses  on placemaking and community building.  Their design strategy is focused  on walkable neighbourhoods and a detailed vernacular study. Integrated mixed use is introduced in the first phase of the development.   The volume house builders plot their  standard house types on layouts dictated by prescriptive KCC Highway adoption design standards to accommodate the car. This is  evidenced by the  indistinguishable identikit estate layouts  that have sprung up  in recent years around Faversham and across the nation. The mixed use element is normally substituted with housing on viability grounds, or  delivered  at  the end of the development when higher returns can be achieved. 

This modus operandi  contrasts starkly with the Duchy schemes which are master planned by Urban Designers, they also  commission  Architect designed house types. Although not to the taste of all,  these are informed by the local vernacular in the layout, form and selection of building materials.  Each scheme is  unique and this engenders pride in the place. The Duchy only seek to adopt their highways on major distributor roads, where they are obliged  to (Public bus services have to run on highways that are adopted). The result is that their layouts are not dominated by the car. This is why their walkable estate layouts encourage social connection which  supports the development of the new  community.  As a result, they create  pleasant  places  to live which  are very  different to the monotonous, pedestrian unfriendly,  car dominant schemes promoted by the industry.  

The Duchy have consulted at length and in depth with the community. Their  design  output clearly states  their intentions on housing typologies, sustainability, and the environment.  The speculators undertake a token consultation to tick the box and secure outline consent, offering limited detail and  no housing design, other than indicative vernacular studies.  The detail of design is dealt with by the housebuilders in subsequent reserved matters applications, after  the principle of development and the housing numbers are established; scant regard is given to  their vernacular reference study submitted with the outline application. The result is developer standard house types, these are designed by building design technicians to an  accountant’s brief  seeking to minimise cost. Their schemes  pare back to the bone on sustainability, the environment, affordable housing & the delivery of amenities. At Lady Dane, Crest Nicholson’s standard house type templates  are named after Sussex villages!  These schemes  are duplicated everywhere across the country.  

The Duchy’s proposals for SE Faversham are  unique and  demonstrate considerable differentiation to  those of the box bashers  whose wagons are circling  the town.  It is clear that the Duchy scheme will exceed prevailing sustainability and biodiversity standards by a considerable margin. They  demonstrate  an exemplary zero carbon low energy strategy and  offer a pioneering solution to sewage and water security issues. They also address affordability and propose a policy compliant affordable housing allocation, with a balanced mix to address local housing need. Their affordable housing tenure mix offers a generous  40%   allocation of social rented housing. This is a quantum  of truly affordable stock that is significantly in excess of the  planning  guidance targets. All of the above  will  demand  a considerable level of  landowner subsidy and cannot be viewed as  the profiteering as some objectors claim.    

The box bashers pare planning guidance, environmental and sustainability standards, and building costs to the bone.  These cost factors are two  of three metrics in their business plan that they can control in their relentless drive to optimise profit.  The other is to negotiate  a reduction in the affordable obligation  through the mechanism of  viability reviews. These justify an offer  with reduced numbers below policy requirements. Viability review also results in the delivery  of  the more unaffordable forms of Interim Tenure and less Social Rented housing. This requires a significant  landowner subsidy and delivers lower returns (a 35% discount to development land value and a 6% gross profit margin).  

The volume housebuilder schemes housing mix is generally unbalanced and weighted in favour of larger four bedroom ‘executive homes. These are  designed to capitalise on the deeper pockets offered by inward migration from the metropolis  and  do not address local housing need.  FCLT compiled  an  evidence base on new build completions, to evidence  a planning based campaign, seeking to secure a balanced mix to  correct  this aggressive commercial practice. At  Lady Dane we had some success where we persuaded Crest Nicholson to reduce the number of 4 bed homes and  rebalance their mix. We have set The Duchy’s mix for the detailed application against the new build completions evidence in the table below. 

To address local housing need  over 45%  of the Duchy’s first phase housing has been plotted as one and two bed homes and apartments.  This  is close to a  doubling of  the quantum built by the volume housebuilders across more than 1000 homes through the study period. This results in a higher net density than the volume housebuilder schemes with a more efficient use of  the finite supply of development land. 

The Duchy’s  track record demonstrates that they invest in a plan that exceeds all  standards and good practice by a considerable margin. This dictates  a significant level of cost expenditure  which I have no doubt would support a viability review to reduce the affordable allocation. We are not aware of any application where  the Duchy  have submitted one.  

Unaffordable and escalating house prices and rents together with a progressive reduction in grant support for social housing  from the government underline the housing affordability crisis. This  is driven by a lack of supply; we need more homes that  local people can afford and the Duchy have addressed this. The housing numbers to be allocated in the emerging new Swale Local Plan have   not yet been disclosed, however  for the reasons outlined above we would prefer to see the Duchy scheme promoted for Faversham’s share, rather than one of  the mooted plethora of speculative schemes surrounding the town.  These are identified  on the Housing Development Status Plan.


2,500 more houses! A threat to Faversham and villages?

By Wendy Clarke - Farms, Fields and Fresh Air

The Duchy of Cornwall owns 320 acres of farmland that spans Faversham, Boughton, Selling and Sheldwich and it has submitted a planning application to build on ALL of that Grade 1-3 agricultural land – some of the best quality farmland in the country. 

The application is available to view on Swale Borough Council’s Planning Portal - 353 documents detail a full application for 261 dwellings (Phase 1) and seeks outline planning for the rest of the site – up to 2500 houses plus commercial and business development. 

Farms, Fields & Fresh air (follow us on Facebook) have campaigned for over two years to keep this valuable farmland out of Swale’s Local (housing) Plan. What are the issues? 

1. Swale Borough Council must meet Government set housing targets

GOOD News - measurements used to track house building show that Swale already has enough sites to meet its target for new houses (1043 per year across the Borough) for the required next 5 years. Swale has also met the required Housing Delivery Test; in fact, the Council has over-delivered – 105%.


2. Local Plan controls future development

The locations of large housing and commercial developments are contained within the council’s “Local Plan” document which is agreed in a consultative process with the community; the last plan was agreed in 2017 and the Duchy was not included. 

3. The Duchy of Cornwall Application is SPECULATIVE

At 2500 dwellings, this application is both speculative and larger than the total of all the other new housing estates that have sprung up around Faversham in the last few years ie the 1850 homes on Perry Court, Brogdale Road, Ospringe Gardens, Davington Fields, Faversham Lakes, Nova, Kingsmead, Fernham Homes and Preston Fields. 

4. Will The Duchy development meet local need?

NO! In this area we need properties that are truly affordable and properties for social rent. There are almost 1700 households on Swale’s housing waiting list, that figure increased by 300 in the last 2 years, despite the vast number of houses built in the Borough!  Phase 1 of the Duchy development provides for NO social or “affordable” housing.  It is thought that by the end of the project, in some 20 years’ time, a mere 400 social rent properties will have been delivered!   Who knows the size of the waiting list in 20 years! 

Wage levels in Swale mean local people can’t afford the inflated new build prices and are being driven out of the area. The population of Swale rose by 11.7% in the last 10 years (increase for England in that time - 5.9%).  The new estates are clearly attracting people from more affluent areas.

5. The impact on residents already living in Faversham and Villages.

Our infrastructure is creaking at the seams! These issues should be addressed BEFORE  any major development:

 The patient to GP ratio in Swale is one of the highest in the country. Brenley Corner is over capacity and the congestion will only increase.Poor air quality along the A2 corridor is well documented.  We live in a water scarce area; both ends of the borough – Dunkirk and Sheppey - went for weeks without drinking water last year.  KCC are under unprecedented pressure to fund rapidly rising costs including adult social care, schools, libraries and recycling centres.


Email: Swale Borough Council’s planning team at

Write: Mid Kent Planning Support, Maidstone House, King Street, Maidstone, ME15 6JQ

If you comment online you will first have to register as a user on the planning portal. If you email or write please add your name, address and date to your comments as well as the planning reference 23/505533/EIHYB and Site address: Land at South East Faversham Between A2 Canterbury Road/London Road and M2 Faversham Kent ME13 9LJ.



By Steve Atkins



The whole situation is a complete mess at present.

Due to the recent scrapping of housing targets by Michael Gove in a desperate attempt to save Tory seats, we do not know if the stalled Local Plan will ever be completed and therefore whether Swale’ s demand that 3,500 new houses be built in and around Faversham remains to be enforced.

We also don’t know what planning policies the likely new Labour government will introduce or how soon that is likely to happen. Alarmingly this potentially leaves the town vulnerable to rapacious and opportunistic developers who show scant regard for anything beyond how much pro t they can make. This is because, as has been discussed elsewhere, our planners have little ability to resist planning applications without an adopted local plan.

The conclusion seems clear: If the demand for 3,500 extra houses in Faversham is dropped, then there is no need for the Duchy scheme to be built on farmland.

If we are still forced to accommodate thousands of new houses, then the superior specification and quality of the Duchy proposals with the higher percentage of social housing and better environmental mitigation measures is to be preferred over what would be dished up by most other volume housebuilders.





By Steve Atkins, Land & Planning Director, Faversham Community Land Trust.


Farms Fields and Fresh Air are correct in stating that the Duchy Site is not included in the Local Plan 2017, this was adopted on the 27th July 2017, seven years ago. However, they refuse to acknowledge that this plan is out of date and fail to grasp that the Swale Planning Committee will be directed by the officers to accept this. They will be advised to determine the application in the context of the Local Plan Review 2021 which allocates the site for development. We have addressed this issue previously in the limited format of our fact checker so take this opportunity to present the planning context in more detail. See concluding paragraph of this blog which addresses the fundamental issue that will influence officers when considering the planning balance.

National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) Para 33

Policies in local plans and spatial development strategies should be reviewed to assess whether they need updating at least once every five years and should then be updated as necessary. Reviews should be completed no later than five years from the adoption date of a plan and should consider changing circumstances affecting the area, or any relevant changes in national policy. Relevant strategic policies will need updating at least once every five years if their applicable local housing need figure has changed significantly; they are likely to require earlier review if local housing need is expected to change significantly in the near future.

Local Development Scheme

A Local Development Scheme is required for reviews of Local Plans under section 15 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 (as amended). This must specify (among other matters) the development plan documents (i.e. local plans) which, when prepared, will comprise part of the development plan for the area. Local planning authorities are encouraged to include details of other documents which form (or will form) part of the development plan for the area, such as Neighbourhood Plans. The Local Development Scheme must be made available publicly and kept up to date. It is important that local communities and interested parties can keep track of progress. Local planning authorities should publish their Local Development Scheme on their website which Swale have done (Google ‘Swale Local Development Scheme’).

Swale last updated their LDS at a meeting of the Council on 15th November 2023 stating:-

“Members agreed to continue to postpone the next formal consultation stage of the Local Plan Review This makes the latest LDS out of date. The LDS is intended to be revised after the next NPPF has been published and the Government’s intention towards Local Plan making has been made clear. Until then background work on the Local Plan Review continues. Updates to the timetable and new LDS will be posted here in due course.”

It is clear that Swale have been compelled to suspend the Local Plan Review and FFFA are clearly both wrong, and mischievous, in the Facebook post above where they state they have ‘reneged on it’.

The NPPF was published in December 2023 following Royal Assent to the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill. Unfortunately the revisions failed to address the contentious issue of housing numbers for local plans. As a consequence the Local Plan Review for Swale and 65 other Local Authorities remain suspended. Numbers were deferred by the government for inclusion in the next iteration of the NPPF.

Despite the posturing of the Government on this issue and their much heralded, so called, abandonment of the 2019 manifesto commitment to build 300,000 new homes a year they never committed to it. The pledge to reduce the target was announced following the Amersham ‘algorithm’ landslide bye election defeat in 2021. The consequence was disruption to the review of Local Plans in progress. This opened the door for speculative predatory applications following regulations set by government introducing a presumption in favour of development for authorities with out of date Local Plans. Political action has led to the complete disruption of Local Development Schemes and the Swale Local Plan Review, this has now been stalled for 20 months.

To compound this nonsense the Conservatives never did confirm revised housing numbers prior to calling the general election. Quite extraordinarily they have now undertaken a second complete U turn by increasing the numbers in their manifesto housing target for next month’s election by setting them at 320,000 p/a! Labour has set a target of 300,000 and the Lib Dems 380,000. Whoever wins the election, the emerging Local Plan housing numbers, set by Swale for Faversham at 3,500 (derived from the Conservative 2019, 300,000 manifesto commitment) can now be viewed as robust. We expect that the target will be set at 3 - 3,500.

The planning system is now in a complete mess as a consequence of what has transpired to be a farce of futile political posturing.

FFFA claim that the Duchy support their position but omit to mention that the Duchy concede in their Planning Statement that the application will not be determined earlier than 2025 when the emerging Local Plan is likely be adopted.

27 - Progress with the Local Plan review has been paused, and it now appears that the new Local Plan will not be adopted earlier than 2025. This is unfortunate for all concerned, because the need for housing, employment and community uses has continued to grow, and the delay has led to uncertainty and has underlain the Council losing several appeals.

28 - Whilst the Duchy is keen to commence development at the earliest opportunity, and has the resources to do so, it is accepted that the Council is unlikely to be in a position to grant permission in the short term. The intention is to continue engaging with the Local Plan process in parallel with discussions surrounding the planning application.

It is noted that consultation periods leading to the determination of applications for strategic allocations on large sites with complex issues requiring detailed consultation are rarely completed within two years.

The revisions to the NPPF in December did introduce protection from speculative development for Local Authorities with an out of date Local Plan. However, there is a sting in the tail. This protection is limited to December 2025, thereafter there will be no protection and the presumption in favour of development will return. This opens the door to predatory applications from the land speculators circling the town and provides an incentive for Swale to expedite progression of the Local Plan review. It is noted that the Duchy could also seek approval through this lack of protection if their application is not determined before December next year. Intentions can be changed in adverse circumstances.

Progression of The Local Plan Review 2021

When the Local Plan ("Bearing Fruits") was examined in 2017, the inspector only found it to be sound (i.e. capable of being adopted) on the basis of an early review. She required a further review within no more than three years from the Plan's adoption. In line with the Inspectors recommendations Swale commenced work on this in 2018 and undertook three public consultations which commenced in April 2018 and completed in November 2021.

Please note Reg 18 and Reg 19 consultation periods have been juxtaposed in error on these graphics. These documents can be viewed on the ‘Swale Consultation portal

Local Plan Review Stages of Preparation & Consultation – Progress to date

1) Looking Ahead - April 27th to June 11th, 2018

This followed extensive gathering and review of data, evidence and information on key issues. Reports and studies were prepared on matters such as housing, employment, retail, environment and landscape etc. to inform the Council’s draft policies.

2) SBLP Issues and Preferred Options (Regulation 18) - February 8th to April 30th , 2021

Para 31 of the NPPF states that the preparation and review of all policies in a Local Plan should be underpinned by relevant and up-to-date evidence. This should be adequate and proportionate, focused tightly on supporting and justifying the policies concerned, and take into account relevant market signals.

Swale sought views on different options for distributing future development across the borough and on possible alternative or additional approaches in certain policy areas, such as town centres and economic development, climate change and providing new homes.

During the evidence gathering stage members of the public are consulted and can give their views on the issues important to them in their area by telling the local authority what the local needs are, and which sites should be developed, and which should be protected.

3) The Local Plan Review Pre-Submission Publication Stage (Regulation 19) - Oct 29th to Nov 29th, 2021

Having taken account of responses received from the early-stage consultation and the findings of the Sustainability Appraisal; the Council published a planning document for a statutory consultation period of six weeks ahead of submission to the Government for ‘Examination’ by an independent Inspector from the Planning Inspectorate.

Reg 19 incorporated the following Policies.

Policy MU1 – East of Faversham Expansion

This large development site is located on the eastern side of the historic market town of Faversham and is bounded by the London to Thanet railway line to the north and the M2 motorway to the south, with the historic A2 road and the London to Dover railway line running through it. The majority of the site is currently being used for agriculture; mostly top and soft fruit and arable crops with shelter breaks as the predominant landscape feature. Land is relatively flat overall with subtle undulations and then rising to the south-east – levels increase from 25m AOD to 40m AOD. From the A2 travelling east and from the M2/A2 junction the part of the site east of the railway line is visually prominent due to this topography.

In total, this site will accommodate a minimum of 3,340 dwellings with an appropriate mix of type and tenures and affordable housing percentage, in accordance with Policies ST 5 and DM 15. It will provide a wide range of employment, including at least 20ha of land for economic land uses and a new secondary school and two new primary schools, one 2FE and one 2 or 3FE.

Policy - MU 1c Land at South East Faversham

Subject to securing high quality design and an appropriate mix of uses, planning permission will be granted for a minimum of 2500 dwellings, a variety of employment space capable of supporting 2500 jobs, community infrastructure, open space and habitat creation on land at South East Faversham, as shown on the Proposals Map.

Development proposals will:

  1. Incorporate a local centre that will meet many of the day-to-day needs of the development, while complementing, and not diminishing, Faversham town centre and the retail offer at Macknade Fine Foods.

  2. Provide a mixture of economic land uses throughout the site which meet the needs identified through Swale’s Employment Land Review, including warehouse and distribution uses on the parcel of land between Brenley Corner and the railway line. This latter area of employment will need to be well screened with landscaping and of a high design quality as it will form the new gateway to Faversham.

  3. Base the development on an integrated landscape strategy that will create a strong framework of open spaces, habitat retention and creation and planting, including the use of tree lined streets within the development. The strategy will include a variety of publicly accessible open spaces to cater for the diverse needs of the community, including parks and play areas. The publicly accessible open space shall include a wooded linear park along the M2 corridor. The landscape proposals should work with underlying natural systems, enhance biodiversity within the site and provide opportunities for food growing.

  4. Consider any new development in relation to the setting of the neighbouring Area Of Natural Beauty (AONB).

  5. Should the Masterplan involve relocating the cricket club and/or football club, suitable new provision shall be made within the scheme, reflecting close consultation with the Clubs and both Faversham Town and Swale Council.

  6. The area currently designated as Local Green Space may be required to be developed as part of this plan, which will be acceptable in principle. If so, provision shall be made for an equivalent area of new open space to be laid out and made suitable for Local Green Space designation in due course, and upon completion of the new ground, the current Local Green Space designation will no longer apply.

  7. Incorporate a road system capable of being linked to the A251 should the Council promote a link through the Preston Fields site.

  8. Provide for infrastructure needs arising from the development, including those identified by the Local Plan Implementation and Delivery Schedule, including a 2 or 3 FE primary school.

  9. Swale has a chance to make changes to the draft document after the consultation and may decide to carry out further consultation if any resulting changes are considered to be significant prior to submission.


Local Plan Review - Outstanding stages to be completed prior to adoption.

4) Submission of Document and Independent Examination (Regulation 22)

At this stage the final draft documents are submitted to the Government, and an independent Inspector holds an Examination into the soundness of it and the associated Sustainability Appraisal and evidence. The Examination hears evidence from anybody who wishes to make a submission on any of the key issues or questions highlighted by the Inspector.

The Inspector considers all of the evidence and representations made at each stage of the Local Plan consultation process. The Inspector can recommend adoption where he/she considers that the document satisfies legal requirements and can be considered ‘sound’. The Inspector is not an adjudicator to decide between conflicting views. The role is solely to ensure that the new plan complies with the policy and guidance set by the Government.

5) Inspector’s Report and Adoption (Regulation 24)

Local plans and spatial development strategies are examined to assess whether they have been prepared in accordance with legal and procedural requirements, and whether they are sound prior to formal adoption.

FFFA in other Facebook posts claim that ‘Just because the Duchy land has been in every spatial version of new housing for Swale of the last failed Reg 18 and delayed and abandoned Reg 19 of the Swale Borough Council Local Plan, does not mean it should be passed or deemed inevitable”

Reg 18 has not failed and Swale are quite clear in their LDS statement that the plan has been suspended not abandoned.

Planning Officers, when drafting their report to the Planning Committee (at the earliest at the end of 2025) will weigh the evidence between the 2017 Local Plan (which will be at least 8 years old and three years out of date) against the new policy scoped in Reg 19. With a fair wind by then we will have an approved new Local Plan or at least one at an advanced stage towards adoption. It is quite clear that the planning balance is weighed heavily in favour of the emerging Local Plan.


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