Published: Thursday, 14th March 2024

We have formally responded to Michael Gove with our revised Local Development Scheme.

On 19 December 2023, we received a letter from RT Hon Michael Gove MP directing us to revise our Local Development Scheme within 12 weeks of the publication of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

We acknowledged this letter in a formal response sent to Michael Gove on 21 December 2023 and, as requested, have now formally responded to the Secretary of State with our revised Local Development Scheme, including the updated timetable (at 6.3 of the report).

We continue to move forward

Cllr Vince Maple, Leader of Medway Council, said: “I remain incredibly disappointed in the way the Secretary of State and their department have dealt with this matter. Our administration was elected last May and since then we have been working with officers to prioritise Medway’s Local Plan. In my first week, government withdrew £170million funding which would have helped put infrastructure in place to allow for new homes on the pensinula. This had a huge detrimental impact on the current Local Plan at the time and our officers have been working incredibly hard to meet government’s challenging housing target. That being said, we have continued to move forward positively and work towards the deadline of submitting our plan in June 2025. My personal invitation for Mr Gove to visit Medway remains so he can find out more about how we’re looking to deliver the economic growth, infrastructure and homes that are desperately needed for Medway residents.”

Response letter to Secretary of State

Date: 11 March 2024

Dear Secretary of State

I refer to your letter of 19 December 2023 where you stated that you felt justified to use your powers under S15(8)(b) of the 2004 Act and directed us to revise our Local Development Scheme within 12 weeks of the revised NPPF. 

You will be aware from my response of 21 December, that whilst we were astonished and disappointed by your letter and the lack of courtesy that was afforded us before your speech and DLUHC X feed, I made it very clear that we already were making significant progress and adhering to the timescales around revising and updating our LDS. 

We have continued to work with your officials at DLUHC – as we had been doing regularly over the years to keep them updated of our progress and challenges, and indeed your officials came to Medway to meet senior officers and Members and were shown around our area. We have also followed their advice and continued to engage with the Planning Advisory Service, inviting their consultants to meet with both officers and key Members to review our emerging revised LDS. 

I have attached our revised LDS, which was adopted by my Cabinet on 13 February, the covering report and the PAS Project Management Support Note dated February 2024. We recognise the tight time frame we are working to, and the risks associated with that in terms of limited flexibility to respond if there are issues outside of our control, primarily relating to Government decisions such as election dates and the potential for delays caused by Government bodies such as National Highways and Natural England. We are acting on the 3 recommendations included in the PAS report to assist with mitigating the risks associated with that tight timeframe. 

You will be aware from my letter of 21 December of the work already undertaken since May 2023 when we took on the administration of Medway Council, which has greatly assisted our ability to meet the timescales set out in the LDS. 

I would also like to reiterate my personal invitation to you to visit Medway to discuss the progress we have made and how we can work collaboratively to deliver the economic growth, infrastructure and homes that are desperately needed for Medway’s residents. I am confident that your visit would demonstrate that we are doing everything possible to submit a sound plan by June 2025, whilst also enabling you to witness first-hand Medway’s contribution to: 

  • Award-winning, large scale brownfield development, led by the Sector in close partnership with the Council, cited as a National case study by Homes England 
  • Exemplar use of modern methods of construction to deliver new homes 
  • New mixed-use communities 
  • Strategic sites, de-risked by the Council enabling delivery of regeneration 
  • The need for infrastructure to enable new homes and community facilities on the peninsula 
  • Sector-leading design codes and neighbourhood planning 
  • A Local Planning Authority that celebrates building beautiful with a focus on supporting our SME developers 
  • An authority that delivers 76.9% of non-major applications within 8 weeks without the use of an extension of time.  Medway is one of the 9% of Authorities referenced positively in your speech regarding Development Management. 

I hope and trust that you agree our LDS is deliverable, as discussed with your officials at DLUHC and the Planning Advisory Service.  Should you require any further information or wish to discuss any element please do not hesitate to contact me and again I hope that we can welcome you to Medway soon. 

With best wishes 

Yours sincerely

Councillor Vince Maple
Leader, Medway Council

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