In the last few years, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) have been undertaking a review of the adopted Local Plan. In January 2019 they submitted a proposed new plan for independent examination. Within the submitted plan South West of Aylesford was identified as a sustainable location to deliver significant strategic residential growth.
Unfortunately, in response to concerns raised by the examining Inspectors, fundamentally a failure to satisfy the Duty to Co-operate with Sevenoaks District Council, TMBC agreed to withdraw the plan from examination in 2021.
Notwithstanding, we agree with TMBC’s assessment that the south west of Aylesford is a sustainable location to deliver much needed new homes – homes that can be delivered now and ahead of a new replacement local plan being achieved.
TMBC have a significant shortfall in identification of land to deliver new homes in the coming five years. Their latest assessment being a supply of just 2.93 years land against a nationally set minimum requirement to have at least 5 years housing land supply identified. This supply shortfall is also impacting the delivery of much needed affordable homes and the overall delivery of new homes.
There is clear evidence TMBC cannot wait for a new local plan to be progressed to adoption if housing needs are to be responsibly provided for.
In light of the land supply shortfall the presumption in favour of sustainable development, set out in paragraph 11 of the NPPF (July 2021) has to be applied for decision making purposes. This means approving development proposals without delay unless there are clear reasons for doing so, or the adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when assessed the policies of the Framework taken as a whole.
At the time of our application’s submission the NPPF and its policies will be a significant material consideration for TMBC’s assessment of the proposals. The policies of the current out of date adopted local plan will also remain the starting point for the determination of the application. Albeit the policies most important for determination will need to be applied with much less rigour.
We believe our proposals to deliver new homes, on this non-Green Belt land, complies with the policies of the Framework when taken as a whole. And likewise the relevant policies of the adopted Local Plan.