Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is required to keep an up-to-date supply of land to meet the borough’s housing needs over the next five years.
The council’s most recently published housing land supply position statement (31 March 2022) sets out that because the Local Development Framework – its planning policy – is more than five years old, the number of homes required to be delivered is measured by the Government’s standard method for calculating housing need. This method starts with the 2014-based household projections published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and takes account of factors such as housing affordability. The outcome is a housing need figure (as at 2022) of 835 new dwellings per annum. However, this figure is increased as TMBC has not met its targets for a number of years.
Over the three-year period from 2018-21, the council records that only 63% of the homes needed were delivered. In its housing land supply position statement (31 March 2022), TMBC states “this means that the supply of housing in Tonbridge and Malling across the three-year period of 2018-2021 fell significantly short of the Government’s expectations”. As a consequence of the significant under-delivery of homes in the borough, TMBC’s five-year housing supply requirement must be increased with a 20% buffer. This means over the period 2022-27, the borough needs to supply 5,010 new homes, or an average of 1,002 new homes each year.
Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council is preparing a new Local Plan, which sets out the Government requires the delivery of 15,941 new homes in the borough by 2040.
To meet these targets, TMBC relies on landowners and developers to come forward with land and planning applications for new homes. For example, the previous draft Local Plan identified this site as an “Area of Opportunity” – as a possible location for new homes.
In its recent consultation on a new Local Plan, TMBC has suggested the site could provide 1,621 new homes. The East Malling Trust is engaging positively with the council as it prepares the new Local Plan. This includes responding to TMBC’s consultations and engaging with Kent County Council’s highways department. This site can significantly contribute to the supply of much needed new homes in the borough as identified by the Government and in the emerging new Local Plan. The site is sustainably located and would provide infrastructure, services and a new two-form entry primary school to support a new community. It can provide a range of home sizes and types. The development would be suitable for first-time buyers, families, people looking to retire, down-size or upsize and those who need affordable housing to name only a few. This means a truly integrated and diverse community will be created, at the same time supporting the supply of much needed new homes in the borough.
The scheme is being designed as a landscape-led proposal with a school and community hub at its heart. Existing trees will be retained wherever possible and a significant number of new trees planted. The scheme commits to providing a biodiversity net gain of 10%, supporting wildlife and the environment. All the relevant building regulations and standards in place at the time the houses are built will be met, such as electric vehicle charging, high levels of insulation and low water usage.
The East Malling Trust will work with the council through pre-application engagement to discuss and refine the emerging plans, with the aim of submitting an outline planning application in the middle of 2023. If outline planning permission is granted, matters such as the final layout, building design, landscaping and appearance will be agreed at a later date when a developer partner is on board. To ensure landscaping and high-quality placemaking is secured for the new community, parameter plans setting out areas to be open space, the location for the new school, new park and new community hub will be provided within the application. This will ensure The East Malling Trust has control of the overall appearance and design of the new community.
In terms of delivering new homes, construction could begin around three years after the planning application is submitted. Developers often complete new homes at a rate of 1-2 homes per week. Therefore, if two developers are appointed, around 10% of the total homes (around 160 homes) could be delivered every year.