Agenda item

Questions submitted by Members

To consider any questions submitted by Members.  (The deadline for questions is 4.30 pm on the Monday the week before the meeting – please contact Democratic Services by e-mailing or call 01795 417330).



The Mayor advised 3 questions had been received from Members.  Each Member was invited to put his/her question, which was responded to by the relevant Cabinet Member.  The questioner was then invited to ask a supplementary question. 


Details of the questions and response are set out below:


Question 1- Councillor Steve Davey


I would like to ask if the Cabinet member for Housing, if he knows how many houses in Swale, managed by Housing Associations, are currently being sold off, either via agents or by auction, and the reasons that they give for this practice.


Response – Cabinet Member for Housing


Seven Optivo Housing Association homes have been listed for disposal this year (between August and December 2020), with all homes being sold through public auction sites. This is a legitimate practice as part of the disposal process governed by the Social Housing Regulator and Homes England. Deregulatory measures for social housing regulation (April 2017) introduced by the Housing and Planning Act 2016, changed the classification of Registered Providers (Housing Associations) to “non-public bodies” and as such they are no longer required to secure Homes England or Local Authority approval before selling existing vacant stock.


Of the seven properties listed by Optivo for disposal, 1 was in Lynsted (Aug 2020), 1 is in the Faversham Area, 2 in the Sittingbourne Area and 3 on Sheppey.


The seven homes put forward as disposals by Optivo were listed as uneconomical to maintain due to major levels of building repairs, refurbishment and SAP (Standard Assessment Procedure for Energy rating) improvement works required to bring the homes up to Optivo’s decent home lettable standard.  Capital receipts generated from local disposals are re-invested into new and more easily maintained homes to meet housing needs of the borough. So far this year the number of new build affordable and social rented homes delivered far outweighs the number taken to auction for disposal, with over 200 new affordable homes delivered so far this civic year. Optivo are currently developing 2 sites in the borough which will deliver 61 affordable rent homes and 27 shared ownership properties, some of these new homes have already been delivered, with other expected throughout the rest of the year. 


We have previously partnered with Optivo to look into options of purchasing homes that are being sold for council use, however, the cost to purchase and repair them is outside of our budget.


There was no supplementary question.


Question 2 – Councillor Lloyd Bowen


At the Cabinet meeting held on the 16th December a Southern by-pass was discussed for Teynham. The minutes of the meeting referred to 1100 dwellings at Teynham and included reference that the allocation was not expected to come forward until 2028 due to the proposed Southern bypass at Teynham which would take traffic, including HGV traffic away from the A2.


Please could the Cabinet Member outline where this by-pass is being considered, where will it potentially start from and end and advise what the timescales are for building this?


Does this address the concern raised by KCC at the last local plan inquiry that the A2, in its current form, from Teynham through to Key Street could not support further development in Teynham and if this were to go ahead, would it not be in conflict with the administration decision and your resolution that housing should not be used to fund the creation of new roads south of Sittingbourne?


Response – Cabinet Member for Planning


The route of any potential new road has not yet been decided and would be considered as part of the detailed master planning exercise which would include consultation with residents, the Parish Council, landowners, KCC Highways and developers. It would be south of the A2, although no specific potential alignments have yet been identified. Evidence would need to be gathered as to any technical aspects, including landscape and heritage impacts and benefits to the existing village would need to be assessed against the harm caused. A phasing plan linking the development of new routes to site build outs would be required.


In terms of timescales, the pre-amble to the policy clearly states that the Council does not envisage any housing delivery from the area of opportunity until after 2028 and as stated above a phasing plan will be required to set out at what stage any new road would be required to be built.


As for your question as to whether this addresses the concerns raised during the last local plan inquiry, yes, it does as the potential new road is intended to provided some relief to the existing A2 through Teynham. The policy and the accompanying Transport Strategy also include a number of measures to improve sustainable and active travel which could further reduce pressure on the A2.


Supplementary Question


Would a new road make the lives of residents that much better when there is a probable addition of 8,000 car movements per day?


Response:  This is a matter for the residents of Teynham and the other stakeholders in the masterplan and I cannot predetermine what residents would like to see in their village.


Question 3 – Councillor Lloyd Bowen


Teynham has had its fair share of building in recent years and with potentially more to come which will fundamentally change the village environment to that of a small town or a suburb of a town (Sittingbourne). Why does the cabinet member think that the village can accommodate a further 10% increase to the 1000 originally discussed at the local plan panel meetings following the call for sites? 


A further potential 1100 houses in Teynham will only increase demands on an already stretched road network.


Could the cabinet member confirm that the Southern link road and Teynham by-pass will be built before the provisional additional 1100 houses identified in your proposed housing allocation sites are commenced, if the site is agreed in your plan? 


Response – Cabinet Member for Planning


Thank you for the question.


To be honest, Swale as a whole has had more than its fair share of building in recent years thanks to the ridiculous housing targets the Conservative Government has repeatedly imposed on the Borough.  

It may be useful to familiarise ourselves with the actual policy at this point, as it answers many of the questions being asked.

Policy AO 1 Teynham Area of Opportunity

1. An area of land around Teynham, as shown indicatively on the Proposals Maps and Picture 5.5.1, is identified as an area of opportunity for development of approximately 1,100 homes, proportionate employment and accompanying infrastructure to be commenced in the mid to latter part of the plan period (post 2028).
2. Landowners, agents and developers with interests in this area are required to work together, in liaison with the Borough Council, to contribute to the production of a Teynham masterplan Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to be adopted by the Borough Council.

3. The masterplan document will be evidenced by research and will follow the outline established in the text above and will include a commitment to:
a. Community engagement and leadership
b. Housing, economic land uses and infrastructure to meet local needs
c. An urban design and landscape design approach, respecting and enhancing local landscape and heritage assets, and positively creating an efficient network of new streets to bring development forward

 d. Improving air quality and reducing the impact of private vehicles by creating viable alternatives

e. Adaptation and mitigation to the risk of climate change, including flood risk and overheating

f. Reversing declines in biodiversity and providing for a 20% biodiversity net gain

g. A phased approach, delivering new development, community infrastructure and design, landscape and biodiversity gains in tandem

h. Long term stewardship

4. Until the adoption of the Teynham masterplan SPD, no significant development (aside from allocations within the Conservative Council’s 2017 adopted local plan) is likely to be approved by the Borough Council within the area of opportunity. New development within the area of opportunity will accord with the requirements set out in the masterplan.


Teynham itself is classed as a village service centre in the settlement hierarchy and as such Teynham has been identified as an 'area of opportunity' to support new housing development to take advantage of its central location, rail connections and existing services and facilities. The policy states that the area of opportunity will provide “approximately 1,100 homes” but it will be for the detailed master planning work to determine the exact final figure.


Hence the potential new road, which could provide some relief to the existing A2 through Teynham. The policy and the accompanying Transport Strategy also include a number of measures to improve sustainable and active travel which could further reduce pressure on the A2 and the surrounding road network.


There is only a potential link road proposed, not a southern link road and a Teynham bypass. The pre-amble to the policy clearly states that the Council does not envisage any housing delivery from the area of opportunity until after 2028 and a phasing plan will be required to set out at what stage any new road would be required to be built. This would be agreed in consultation with Kent Highways who would confirm the exact point of housing delivery that any such new road was needed to be operational.?


Supplementary question:


The 1,100 houses as part of the additional 1400+ potentially form part of the numbers required by Central Government.  You have said 10,000 houses are needed across the Borough – is this correct?  The former Cabinet Member for Environment quoted a figure of 6290 houses required, or 7580 without any windfall sites.  Please confirm the figures, has 10,000 been rounded up and have Members and residents been misled on the figures?


Response:  A written response will be provided.