Reg 19 Feb – April 2021

SWALE LOCAL PLAN:
REGULATION 19 CONSULTATION NOW CLOSED

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Swale Borough Council (SBC) is proposing to build 1,100 – 1,400 new houses north and south of the A2 London Road – plus a bypass that would pour concrete over the green fields of Lynsted.

The so-called “Teynham Area of Opportunity” (TAO) includes plans for 1,100 homes.  However, over 300 houses have already been approved under the existing ‘Bearing Fruits’ plan. 

So, in reality, we are talking 1,400+ more houses.  At the last census there were 1,232 households in Teynham and 468 in Lynsted.  So you can see what a MASSIVE increase this would be. 

SBC buried these proposals in bureaucratic jargon and dysfunctional website pages, breaking their promises to us for meaningful consultation.  We have been presented with no justification or analysis to support the idea of the TAO.

YOU MUST SUBMIT COMMENTS BY 30 APRIL. THE HOUSES AND BYPASS MIGHT NOT BE BUILT UNTIL 2028 – BUT THE DECISION TO BUILD THEM IS BEING MADE NOW


How to respond

CONSULTATION NOW CLOSED

THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO TOOK THE TIME AND TROUBLE TO SUBMIT THEIR COMMENTS

  1. The Interactive Representation Form. This is the easiest method.  You can complete online, save it, then email to the address provided.  Or you can print the form, complete by hand and send by post.  First, fill in your personal details. In section 2, write “AO1” in the Policy box at Q1.  You then have to tick some boxes at Q2-3.  Say whether you consider the Local Plan to be legally compliant, sound and whether it complies with the Duty to Co-operate.  If you agree it’s not sound, say that’s because it’s not positively prepared, effective, justified or consistent with national policy. Now add your thoughts at Q4. Head for our POLICY AO1 page and use the “statements to make in the Your Comments section”. Then answer Q5 using the “comments to make in the Changes Sought section”. We understand that Council officials will manually upload your comments onto the consultation portal. 
  2. Use the consultation portal yourself which can be found here: https://swale-consult.objective.co.uk/kse  Be warned!  It’s not very user-friendly.  But it’s the best method if you wish to comment on individual paragraphs in the TAO which starts at para 5.5.30.  You have to register first, then add your comments separately to each paragraph. Head for our Comments on paragraphs page for suggested statements. Don’t forget to also comment on Policy AO1 (see above). You may find it helpful to prepare your thoughts in a Word document before you start, as the portal can log you out!  Once you’ve finished your feedback on each paragraph, click ‘Complete Comment’. There is a ‘save draft’ facility.  Finally, review all your responses (you can edit if needed) then click ‘submit’. 
  3. SBC are encouraging everyone to use one of the two above methods.  But if you’re really short of time, just email your comments to Lpcomments@swale.gov.uk – copy and paste whichever statements you agree with. Say your comments relate to Policy AO1.

Because SBC has undemocratically taken the Local Plan straight to Regulation 19 (the final publication stage) you can only comment on ‘soundness’ and ‘legal compliance’.  Hopefully the text on the next two pages will help you to frame your arguments on this basis. You can copy and paste the sentences you agree with directly into SBC’s representation form or consultation portal.  Alternatively, use them as a starting point for your own personal statement.

For further help or guidance on submitting your responses, email:  nigel@aqma5.co.uk


POLICY AO1 – TEYNHAM AREA OF OPPORTUNITY

STATEMENTS TO MAKE IN THE “YOUR COMMENTS” SECTION

SBC made an undertaking it would follow the early Regulation 18 (2018 ‘Looking Ahead’) consultation with a second, Regulation 18b (‘Issues and Options’) consultation. This second stage of community involvement would also be supported by documented analysis and ‘proportionate’ evidence.  That promise was also indicated in SBC’s Statement of Community Involvement.

But, in 2020, everything changed.  SBC decided it would be ‘legal’ to ignore community involvement and proceed straight to a Regulation 19 (final publication) consultation.  The evidence base is incomplete and we are denied any influence over key decisions like the surprise announcement of the TAO.  When KCC Highways and SBC Environmental Officers commented on a significantly smaller development of 86 homes off Lynsted Lane, they recommended against it on traffic congestion and air quality grounds. 

The concept of an Area of Opportunity was never declared under the Regulation 18 consultation, thus singling out the parishes of Teynham & Lynsted for a treatment that has not been applied to other areas of the Borough.  It’s an untested and undemocratic approach lacking the analysis or the rigour of strategic thinking required to bring forward such a proposal and to allow those now being consulted on it to fully understand and respond to its implications. No attempt was made by SBC to consult with the two affected Parish Councils, citing ‘lack of resources’ as an excuse.  Introducing the TAO at this very late stage is clearly unfair, undermines the fundamental principles of engaging with the local community in the development of the Local Plan and is totally unreasonable given the effects the TAO would have on the locality.

We understand that KCC Highways have already stated that the additional housing at Teynham is “potentially the worst location in terms of traffic impact”.

We currently suffer from 14,000 vehicles daily along London Road.  The combination of existing allocations in Bapchild (600), Teynham (430 + 26,840sqm commercial/light industrial) and Ospringe (300) plus the proposed TAO (1,100) makes for 2,430 more homes along a road that is already beyond its “service rate” (capacity).  That means about 4,250 new cars/vans in this rural setting.  A conservative estimate suggests new traffic movements along the A2 between Ospringe, Teynham and Sittingbourne of 8,500.  Thereby increasing traffic through three AQMAs to 22,500 vehicles – that is 60% more than today.

Yet there has been no traffic modelling;  no air quality modelling;  no attempt to apply meaningful continuous tests of the four harmful pollutants at the heart of Government policy on the environment;  no mention of the 25 years of brickearth extraction from Barrow Green Farm immediately east of Teynham;  no assessment of the impact on the landscape or local bio-diversity. 

This plan is not consistent with policies in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  Firstly, the importance of building on Lower Grade land, not Best Most Versatile land that forms the Fruit Belt immediately south of the A2.  Secondly, the NPPF requires plans to identify land for development to meet housing needs over the plan period.  That has not been done.

The TAO is unsupportable in terms of its location;  access to facilities and employment;  destruction of BMV land;  fracturing of sensitive rural communities;  and legal constraints (NPPF) governing the cumulative impact of pollution on health in AQMAs. 

A key element to a ‘sound’ plan is that it takes into account the reasonable alternatives, based on proportionate evidence.  The Plan is not justified because there is no evidence demonstrating the TAO has been assessed against alternative schemes.  It appears to have been pre-determined by SBC and then post-rationalised by the promise of some future ‘masterplan’. 

The whole process has been hidden from sight behind a bureaucratic smoke screen.  Democratic engagement has been abandoned.  This smoke screen includes:  initially hiding the policies in SBC’s impenetrable and dysfunctional website;  lack of a robust communications strategy (until residents protested);  incomplete evidence base;  misdirection on addressing Reg19 responses (conflicting advice from officers on the ability to influence change);  and misdirection on the sustainability of ‘Teynham’ as a Rural Local Service Centre. 

At a residents meeting, the Cabinet Member for Planning threatened us with 600 new houses if the TAO were to fall – without supporting evidence of need, sustainability or suitability.  This is bullying. 

COMMENTS TO MAKE IN THE “CHANGES SOUGHT” SECTION

I request the complete removal from the Local Plan of the Teynham Area of Opportunity (TAO) and Policy AO1.  It is uninformed by community/parish council involvement.  It is severely damaging to the AQMAs in Ospringe, Teynham/Lynsted, Bapchild and East Street.  It is a product of secretive behaviour and misdirection by SBC Councillors and Officials.  There has been no sustainability appraisal that meets the relevant requirements.  It is an inappropriate use of Supplementary Planning Guidance to make housing allocations subject to a lesser test than is applied to any other kind of allocation.  It only offers a future ‘masterplan’ as a means of deciding how the development will be achieved as opposed to whether it should exist at all.  This is an abuse of administrative process by SBC.  The TAO and Policy AO1 render the whole Local Plan ‘unsound’.  Rather than waste further public money and time by pushing forward to examination, the Plan should be withdrawn now and a fresh Reg18 consultation prepared once the requisite evidence has been produced. 

Once you’ve submitted your views on Policy AO1 (Teynham Area of Opportunity)…  If you now wish to comment on the individual paragraphs that explain how they’ve arrived at this policy, then please click on the link below


Comments on paragraphs

COMMENT ON INDIVIDUAL PARAGRAPHS

USE THE STATEMENTS ON THIS PAGE IF YOU WANT TO COMMENT ON INDIVIDUAL PARAGRAPHS IN ADDITION TO POLICY AO1 ITSELF.

Again, just copy and paste – or use the statements as a starting point for your own comments.

Paragraph 5.5.30

Without any supporting evidence or analysis, SBC claims that Teynham not only supports existing needs locally – but could also support a massively out-of-scale development based on its asserted status as a ‘Rural Local Service Centre’.  Teynham has declining retail facilities and inadequate education/healthcare provision.  Public transport is infrequent and the nearby towns too distant for realistic modal shift to ‘active transport’ (ie. cycling). 

Paragraph 5.5.37

This identifies an ‘Important Local Countryside Gap’ between Teynham and Lynsted.  The bypass and houses south of the A2 would be built on this gap, resulting in the merging of settlements – not the preservation and retention of their individual characteristics. 

Paragraph 5.5.44

The justification for an ‘area of opportunity’ is inadequately researched.  The alleged ‘existing facilities’ in Teynham are insufficient for current need.  ‘Rail connections’ run once an hour.  The line is at capacity in terms of signalling and rolling stock, and there are just six parking spaces at Teynham station.  More frequent, faster services are available at Sittingbourne and Faversham.  So the vast majority of local residents drive to these towns for rail connections or access to shops and services – adding to traffic congestion and air pollution.  The ‘evidence base’ should have been provided now, not at a later stage through a ‘masterplan’.  There has been no ‘consultation’ to date with residents and businesses in Teynham – nor is it stated as being planned at all with households in Lynsted where 300+ homes and the bypass would be built.

Paragraph 5.5.46

The “masterplan” appears as a democratic instrument but with clearly defined ambitions already embedded for a radical and unjustified series of developments – housing, commercial space, bypass, conversion of cul-de-sacs into through-roads, some 5,000 more vehicle movements, and much increased pollution.  The inclusion of this prejudicial and cynical device defines additional housing allocations without any supporting evidence of need or opportunity.

Paragraph 5.5.47

Air quality and transport modelling should have been included at this Reg19 stage.  A2 junction improvements are undeliverable, constrained by listed buildings, absence of footpaths and narrowness of roads.  Bus prioritisation is undeliverable, given their infrequency and unreliability.  This Local Plan has come to Reg19 without a coherent Transport Strategy.  It is stated as ‘currently in development’ but we understand with limited input from KCC Highways!

Paragraph 5.5.48

The TAO does not have the analytical and evidential base that should be in place before inclusion in this Local Plan.  It commits SBC to a course of action that fails to meet the same tests of ‘soundness’ applied to the Local Plan as a whole.  We understand that land availability has not been established, therefore the plan is not ‘deliverable’ in the timeframe.  SBC refers to ‘meaningful community consultation’ as part of the Masterplan process. Their lack of consultation to date has eroded trust. 

Paragraph 5.5.49

The TAO housing allocations depend on the delivery of a ‘southern link route’ which is an incorrect use of Supplementary Planning Guidance.  The unspecified route would have no alternative but to drive across BMV agricultural land, close to listed buildings in a conservation area, and into the sensitive Lyn Valley nailbourne to rejoin the A2.  No assessments of the impact of the bypass on landscape, local amenity and wildlife have been included.  SBC argues the bypass will relieve the A2.  This assumes all traffic will turn away from a direct route along the A2 to Sittingbourne, Faversham or the M2.  Everyone would have to take the longer ‘scenic route’ through Lynsted parish on a daily basis.  This is highly unlikely.  A rural bypass simply attracts up to 40% moretraffic [CPRE Study], before any new houses are built, which will spread a deeper and more widely spread cloud of harmful pollution along the corridor of the A2.

Paragraph 5.5.50

As the TAO and Policy AO1 are described as Supplementary Planning Guidance, the whole concept should have been explored outside the Local Plan, or addressed by the same tests as the Local Plan.  Planning Inspector Guidance and the Planning Advisory Service state the document put out to consultation should be legal, consistent and accompanied by complete evidential support.  The TAO is being consulted on with key policy documents and evidence missing or incomplete.  SBC has demonstrated failure of process.  The whole Plan has to be declared ‘unsound’ because SBC has tried to embed an untested, undeliverable bypass proposal tied to out-of-scale development allocations – with total disregard for the damage caused to local communities and a total lack of consultation. 

For further help or guidance on submitting your responses, please email:  nigel@aqma5.co.uk


Stop TAO

For further help or guidance on submitting your responses, please email: nigel@aqma5.co.uk

This website is published by the following local residents in Lynsted and Teynham: • Terry Hewett • Bruce Bell • Charlotte White • Paul Townson • Nigel Heriz-Smith • Dylan Winder

November 2021

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