Localism Bill

Memorandum submitted by KFAS/CPRE Protect Kent (L 169)

 

1. This is a joint submission from CPRE Protect Kent and the Kent Federation of Amenity Societies (KFAS). KFAS is the umbrella organisation for the civic society movement in Kent. www . kfas . org . uk and affiliated to Civic Voice www . civicvoice . org . uk . CPRE Protect Kent, www.protectkent.org.uk is the Kent branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) www.cpre.org.uk. The two organisations share a common interest in vibrant communities and good land use planning in both town and country and work closely together on matters of mutual interest.

2. Summary

· CPRE Protect Kent and KFAS welcome the shift of power to local communities.

· This will be a major culture change and needs to be properly resourced.

· Local referendums are welcome, but costs and organisation are a concern.

· Community right to bid needs strong support especially during the learning phase.

· Local asset lists and local authority property ownership will need to be organised and accessible.

· Planning reforms need to achieve community involvement by ALL local authorities.

· LDF transition from old, top down plans to new community driven plans needs time.

· New LDF’s will need to include ‘larger than local’ plans for infrastructure etc.

· Duty to cooperate must include a relevant definition of sustainable development.

· LDF’s need to work better, especially vis a vis the level of detail in core strategies.

· Community Infrastructure Levy proportion to communities needs to be safeguarded.

· Neighbourhood plans (NP’s) are welcome, but need to be simple and accessible.

· NP’s also need to be legal planning documents: i.e Development Plan Documents.

· Parish plans and other neighbourhood level evidence need to be collected and treated as relevant for NP’s.

· NP’s will need enablers in communities and more engagement by local authorities.

· Planning enforcement is currently very weak and strengthening is welcome.

· Abolition of regional strategies and the Infrastructure Planning Commission are welcome.

· Mandatory consultation before planning permissions should be at a lower threshold.

· An amendment to the Bill is needed to introduce a limited Community Right of Appeal as distinct from a general third party right.

· A change to the Bill is needed to require retrospective planning permission before enforcement.

· Action against unauthorised advertisements should not be limited to ‘persistent’ advertisements.

· An amendment to the Bill is needed to limit repetitious planning applications and appeals.

3. General

 

3.1 CPRE Protect Kent and KFAS welcome the intention to deliver a shift of power to local communities. Some of this will be challenging for local authorities and planning professionals. It will require a different way of thinking and working to become a reality. A culture change will be required to achieve this and we are concerned that if the necessary resources are not made available to local authorities and neighbourhood forums to put the provisions of the Bill into effect, it could turn into a planning disaster.

3.2. We welcome the general power of competence for local authorities, but a limited Community Right of Appeal in certain circumstances should be included in the Bill. It is essential to deal with the circumstance where a planning permission is granted that appears contrary to the provisions of a Local or Neighbourhood Plan or where an error in law or procedure has occurred. Such an appeal could be dealt with in an informal hearing by an Inspector or suitably qualified independent practitioner as the grounds of appeal would be very narrow.

Our detailed comments on these and other matters focus on Parts 4 and 5 of the Bill.

4. Part 4 Community Empowerment

 

4.1 Chapter 1. Local referendums

While welcoming local empowerment, our members and volunteers, who are all locally involved and knowledgeable about their communities, are expressing concern about the proposals for referendums. At a level of principle this seems alien to the way things are done in this country, and at a level of practicality there is concern about organization and cost. We note the provision for the SoS to arrange for payment in parishes in clause 53 (3), but if this payment is not forthcoming how is the referendum to proceed if neither the parish nor ward have the funds, but the processes to require a referendum have been fulfilled? We welcome the opportunity, but have anxieties about the practicalities.

4.2 Chapter 3. Community Right to Challenge

This is a Community Right to Bid, and should be titled as such. The first application of this power is in attempts to ‘rescue’ everyday and important community services that are essential to quality of life, but are facing budget cuts: footpath maintenance, rural bus services, libraries etc. The current experience may encourage community groups and parish councils to take up the new power, but there will be a steep learning curve and disappointment if it becomes impossible to find the funding and expertise to provide a service and meet legal requirements. This Bill will backfire if there is not substantial support to help community groups and parish councils play their part fully.

 

4.3 Chapter 4. Assets of Community Value

Too many communities are losing the buildings and services that help to bind them together. We welcome the provisions to give communities rights to identify public and private assets of community value in their area and bid to take on responsibility if there is a proposal to dispose of them. These provisions will ensure that community assets are not sold off due to lack of awareness of their value, and will provide local groups with time and capacity to develop alternative proposals.

The Bill could be amended and strengthened in a number of ways – see Appendix 1

 

5. Part 5. Planning

5.1General Introductory comments on Planning

5.1.1 Both KFAS and CPRE Protect Kent are engaged in the practicalities of the current strategic planning system. Our experience across Kent is that there is a wide variation in the methods adopted by local authorities: some try hard to engage with local people in informal discussion before draft documents are published; others seem to use consultation with minimal regard for comments. This Bill needs to bring all up to the best of local authorities that do take the views of local people seriously, informally and formally. There are many examples in Kent of good practice where communities have been as fully involved as is possible with the present inaccessible and cumbersome Local Development Framework (LDF) system.

5.1.2 The process of evolving from the current suite of local planning documents in a district will be difficult. Local councils are generally delighted by the abolition of regional planning which will enable them to make decisions again about housing numbers, and spatial priorities. However many have in place legal planning documents, based on the old top down instructions from Government. It will take time to change these and clarify or unwind legal commitments entered into with developers and infrastructure providers under the pre-localism period. The new planning strategies will need to retain policies to designate areas of landscape and biodiversity significance in line with national policy and community wishes, and ensure these are reflected in core strategies. The Core Strategies will also need to take into account wider ‘larger than local’ issues. Local authority officers may find themselves at variance with their elected councillors in this transition period, a situation which is further complicated by the Cala Homes legal outcomes. Also the change to ‘local’ does not avoid the frequent need to mediate conflicting views about development. The Bill assumes that involvement will lead to less rejection and more proposals. At best it will mean that more local knowledge and local context is brought into the process so that the quality of development and sense of place improves, and landscape setting and protection of the environment receive proper attention.

Against this background we make the following specific comments on Part 5 of the Bill:

5.2 Chapter 1 Regional Strategies , Duty to Cooperate and LDF’s

5.2.1 The abolition of regional strategies which have proved too remote from community interests and imposed inappropriate development on local areas is welcome. We are concerned however to ensure that there should be a plan-led approach including to ‘larger than local’ matters such as transport, waste and minerals and to the provision of other infrastructure services including utilities, to ensure services are delivered in line with Local Investment Plans and Local Development Frameworks including Neighbourhood Plans.

5.2.2 The Duty to Cooperate in relation to Sustainable Development will need to include a resilient definition of "sustainable development" which is not going to be subject of many possible interpretations leading to delays, disputes, appeals and litigation. Sustainable development will need to be defined in a practical way at both a local and ‘larger than local’ level. Kent has significant regeneration needs that are social and economic; it also has a highly valued natural environment and an historic built environment across the county which are natural, heritage and economic assets. The natural environment in Kent is at risk from excessive demands on its water resources, and from the loss of tranquility due to noise, pollution and congestion of road traffic, increasing at 5-6% p.a. and by ambitions to expand Kent’s airports, and many towns and villages are either in need of regeneration or subject to development pressure. Challenges on this scale all require a ‘larger than local’ perspective and considerable debate and challenge as well as cooperation between local people, their district, county and unitary authorities, to understand "sustainable development" for Kent, and how to plan towards achieving it.

This strategic approach to planning needs to be encouraged rather than discouraged by the Bill.

We recommend changes to Clause 90 to be more specific about sustainable development and to reflect the necessity of working in a ‘larger than local’ way See Appendix 2 for further detail.

5.2.3 Local Development Frameworks will now provide the structure of all local spatial planning. They need to work better than hitherto. Core Strategies in particular have often been rejected as having inappropriate level of detail. They now also need to take account of Neighbourhood Plans as additional Development Plan Documents. We welcome Clause 92 which makes Inspectors’ recommendations non binding, but retains the requirement to recommend the plan if it is found sound and its provisions are capable of being implemented.

5.3 Chapter 2. Community Infrastructure Levy

We welcome the proposed changes to the Community Infrastructure Levy to ensure that a "meaningful proportion" goes direct to local communities (Clause 95) and await further details of the safeguards that will need to be put in place to ensure that communities gain access to the funds they require. We assume that the "meaningful proportion" will go to a local Parish or Town Council or Neighbourhood forum for specific and agreed purposes and be "ring fenced".

5.4 Chapter 3. Neighbourhood Planning

5.4.1 We warmly welcome the provisions given to communities to prepare neighbourhood plans for their areas. This is fundamental to the power shift envisaged by the Bill. With the right support it could unlock the local knowledge and expertise in communities so often ignored by local councils. Local communities care deeply about their area and know it better than anyone else. A number of civic societies are already talking to their local authorities, town and parish councils about the role they can play in a neighbourhood plan.

5.4.2 The success of these measures will rely on the process being kept simple and straightforward so that ordinary people can participate and understand what is going on. Otherwise the Government’s wish for 20% to 60% of the country having a neighbourhood plan in the next 10 years will not be met.

5.4.3 The scale of the change being proposed should not be underestimated. The current reality is that in almost all the many communities we know across Kent, the majority of local people are either disinclined or just too busy with jobs and family to engage with pro-active community activities as are being envisaged by neighbourhood plans and other Big Society ideas. It is important to distinguish between the proactive development work needed for a neighbourhood plan and the self organizing and often highly effective action groups that spring up when something is proposed that would disrupt the equilibrium of a community. Action groups use media and political and ‘people power’ to fight unwanted proposals including if necessary at Public Inquiry. An important aspect of these action groups is that they involve relatively short run bursts of community activity: people are willing to give up ‘normal life’ for a short time, but not many are willing to do it for the long haul to develop and deliver a neighbourhood plan. Also a neighbourhood plan , being a positive plan for development involves a quite different kind of activity: persuasion and negotiation. Those communities with Parish Plans may have had relevant experience.

5.4.4 The work needed for Parish plans should be accepted as relevant preliminary work for a neighbourhood plan. To discount or ignore it would also be deeply unappreciative of the work done, almost all of it on a voluntary basis.

5.4.5 The relationship between neighbourhood plans and the LDF should be made clear. Their status as a form of Development Plan Document should be defined by the local authority in the Local Development Scheme. Neighbourhood plans will need to meet tests of soundness and be consistent with their Core Strategy. It will be a betrayal of localism if neighbourhood plans are found unsound because there is no opportunity to develop them inline with core strategies. If this happens there will be no change from the fate of many parish plans which are ignored or rejected [see example cited in Appendix 3]

5.4.6 We have serious concerns about the provision for neighbourhood development orders. We believe the main vehicle for the new planning process should be the preparation and adoption in the LDF of a community led Neighbourhood Plan with appropriate policies. We are particularly concerned to ensure that neighbourhood development orders, if retained in the Bill, are not used to undermine listed buildings and conservation areas. These are designations of national as well as local importance and should not be disregarded as a matter of principle by neighbourhood development orders, which is the effect of Schedule 12 page 317 of the Schedules. These provisions should be deleted from the Bill. A properly plan-led approach based on a well functioning LDF, is greatly to be preferred to neighbourhood development orders.

We have identified a number of other key issues on neighbourhood planning, which the Bill needs to address: They are listed in Appendix 2.

5.5 Chapter 4. Consultation before applying for planning permission

Effective involvement of the local community at the earliest stages of preparing a development proposal is essential but still all too rare. The provisions of Clause 102 are a recognition of the problem but their effectiveness will depend on the threshold established in Regulations. We understand the Government intends that these provisions will only apply to 300-600 of the largest planning applications each year. As these are usually developments which are better on consulting communities, this threshold is too high to achieve a step change in community participation as envisaged in the Open Source Planning Green Paper. We recommend a much lower threshold.

5.6 Chapter 5 Enforcement

5.6.1 Enforcement is the weakest part of the planning system. There are too many cases where the planning laws are being bypassed and unauthorised development is proceeding without enforcement action.This damages the environment and discourages local people from getting involved in community activity.We welcome the provisions for stronger enforcement to help address some of the key issues and strengthen the hand of local authorities working on behalf of their communities.

5.7 Retrospective Planning Permission

5.7.1 The provisions enabling local councils to prevent appeals against enforcement notices on the grounds that planning permission ought to have been granted are welcome. This is a long overdue closing of a blatant loophole.

5.7.2 We would like to see the provisions extended so that local authorities have power to require a retrospective planning application to be submitted as an alternative to taking enforcement action. This would reduce delays in taking enforcement action where a developer or owner refuses to submit a planning application prior to the work. It would also help avoid the current situation where unauthorised development is simply ignored.

5.8 Unauthorised advertisements and defacement.

We welcome the provisions to strengthen the hands of local authorities in taking action against illegal advertising and the defacement of property (graffiti) that can so sap civic pride. We are however concerned that the proposed measures will limit action to "persistent" advertisements, and will require notices to be displayed and not just served, providing further opportunities for abuse.

5.9 We recommend that the Bill include a limited Community Right of Appeal.

There are situations where a local planning authority grants planning permission against the wishes of a local community, and against the understanding of the Plan precisely because the reference LDF planning document is strategic and lacking the detail of the application. There are cases where the local authority believes it is legally allowed to grant permission, but the community has a different interpretation of the planning strategy. An independent decision made by the Inspectorate, would resolve such issues and empower communities. The community right of appeal should also apply where the planning authority grants itself planning permission, and the community or group believes this is against its own planning policies. The only challenge at present is by costly judicial review. To avoid abuse the Community Right of Appeal would only be open to a Town or Parish Council or properly constituted Neighbourhood Forum in the absence of a Town or Parish Council.

5.10 We recommend the Bill include limits on repeat applications and appeals.

At present proposers of development can appeal repeatedly, and can resubmit applications that have been refused or withdrawn. These resubmissions are free of additional charge, but the community and the local authority have to consider the application again and again; often until their resistance is ‘worn down’. There should be limits on the repetition of appeals and applications. The intention is to avoid abuse. It is not intended to discourage developers from making improvements to their proposals to respond to reasons for refusal and to learnings from Inquiry by Design.

5.11 Chapter 6. Nationally significant infrastructure projects.

We welcome the abolition of the Infrastructure Planning Commission and the provisions in the Localism Bill for the Secretary of State to determine major infrastructure projects and for this to be managed through the Planning Inspectorate.

See also:

Appendix 1 Further comments on Part 4 Chapters 3 and 4

Appendix 2 Further comments on Part 5 Chapters 1 and 3

Appendix 3 ‘Parish Plan’ Case Study- Kent.

Appendix 1

PART 4 Community Empowerment

KFAS and CPRE Protect Kent suggest the Bill could be amended and strengthened in a number of ways:

 

Chapter 3. Community Right to Challenge

1. Provide support for community groups and parish councils to understand their rights and responsibilities; how to secure start up funds; establish revenue streams and put in place insurance and other safeguards to help secure volunteer support.

2. Where parishes take over and fund services previously delivered by a local authority there will be an assumptionof a reimbursement of precept for thsese services if they are ‘concurrent functions’. It will be essential to resolve these and other funding issues and provide civic societies and other local groups with time and capacity to develop proposals and an undertanding of when and how they may have any preferential rights in a bid situation.

Chapter 4. Assets of Community Value

3. Replace the standard Treasury requirement to dispose of public assets on the basis of "best consideration" and replace it with a presumption in favour of a disposal to the local community, which is not calculated by reference to economic value alone. Otherwise communities will soon lose confidence in the process if the assets are always sold off to the highest financial bidder.

 

4. Extend the range of people in a community able to make a "community nomination" to list an asset so that it includes not only Parish Councils but also any other group qualified to prepare a neighbourhood plan.

 

5. Extend the range of assets to be able to include conservation areas and open country that provides the setting for a settlement : for example open countryside that has been noted by a planning inspector as a community asset.

6. Remove any confusion that might arise in relation to other "local lists" for example the existing local lists of buildings of architectural or historic interest, which are different.

7. Local Authorities should publish or otherwise make available lists of the property in their ownership, for example they should not resist freedom of information requests by imposing a large administrative access fee.

8. Provide independent adjudication of decisions to list and/or dispose so local councils cannot dispose of community assets for financial reasons against the wishes of the local community.

Appendix 2. PART 5 Planning

Chapter 1 . Clause 90: Duty to Cooperate

Almost every locally driven decision will have ‘larger than local’ impacts, of environmental, social or economic dimensions. The role of planning has to be always to help mediate the inevitable conflicts that arise, and to provide a framework to help decision making. It would therefore be helpful if these ‘larger than local’ dimensions were better reflected in Clause 90.

We recommend that

1. Clause 90 (3) (c) is not restricted to ‘planning of development’, but has the wider remit of ‘spatial planning’.

2. There is a duty to cooperate and consult in determining an workable definition of sustainable development that takes into account ‘larger than local’ impacts and needs.

Chapter 3 . Neighbourhood Planning

KFAS and CPRE Protect Kent have identified several key issues on neighbourhood planning which the Bill needs to address:

1. Attention should be paid to the capability and culture of participation as well as the process of neighbourhood planning to avoid a breakdown between the new approach being introduced in the Localism Bill and the inability of communities and local authorities being able to implement it due to a cultural mismatch between them.

2. A variety of techniques for public engagement should be developed and encouraged, combining measures which engage a large number of people with other measures involving more in depth work with a representative cross section of the community and existing groups. A great deal of good preliminary work has already been undertaken on community planning through the national ACRE network. Please refer to http :// www . acre . org . uk / our - work / community - led - planning Much of the community led planning work has been the completion and implementation of Parish Plans – a national technique supported by Defra and the Commission for Rural Communities. Specifically in Kent there are 50 completed "Parish Plans" and a further 38 under way. Please refer to http :// www . ruralkent . org . uk / ourwork / community - planning . htm Therefore we specifically ask that these community planning exercises be given a "fast-track" procedure to become neighbourhood plans. Not to do so will be to alienate the very community activists that the Government is hoping to harness through the neighbourhood plan concept.

3. Independent financial support, advice and facilitation should be made available to community and voluntary groups in supporting local participation and in enhancing the skills and competency of local volunteers.

4.The approach to neighbourhood plans should be rolled out consistently, working equally well in both urban and rural areas and in areas both with and without a Town or Parish Council.

5.Good planning for a neighbourhood where the community has not yet been able to prepare a neighbourhood plan should not be distorted by the immediate introduction of a presumption in favour of sustainable development which would undermine public confidence in the new planning system.

6.Communities will need to see new safeguards, which underpin their commitment and investment in collaborative neighbourhood planning, and improve their confidence that plans will not be overridden or ignored. These include a carefully defined community right of appeal against the the grant of planning consent that conflicts with the neighbourhood plan, is unlawful, or has involved a breach of proper process. There needs also to be stronger enforcement against breaches of planning control.

7.The Bill will need to give new rights to communities where local councils do not, or are reluctant to genuinely devolve power to their local neighbourhoods.

8.The success of the Localism Bill will depend on the ability of local authorities to harness the passion that people have for the places in which they live and in supporting local communities to develop a shared vision for their area and a sense of Civic Pride.

In the many places that are not parished, there are existing pressure groups, societies and residents associations able to work together on a neighbourhood plan. Local authorities could help facilitate that cooperation by providing a contact list of local groups.

9.Effective measures will be needed to ensure that local councils have a duty to work with local communities and voluntary groups in addressing cross boundary and strategic issues.

10. Neighbourhood planning will require both the development of a network of independent enablers and facilitators with the necessary skills and abilities to support communities, and a change of attitude in many local authorities. More councils will need to move away from an approach based on "representation" and "consultation" to truly engage with their communities. The role of ward councillors in this will be crucial.

11. The availability of independent financial and professional support to neighbourhoods will be essential to ensure public confidence in the integrity of the process, and to achieve Neighbourhood plans that can be subjected to tests of ‘soundness’ and consistency with the Core Strategy They will need to be prepared on a professional basis and planned as a part of the LDF programme. For neighbourhood plans to emerge as a strong part of the planning process , communities need to be involved much earlier and local planning authorities will need to ensure that evidence is collected on a neighbourhood basis wherever possible so that it is readily available to neighbourhood forums.

12. As there are bound to be resource limits on the number of neighbourhood plans that can be generated, there needs to be a process to ensure that communities with the greatest needs have equal opportunity to engage and to prepare neighbourhood plans.

Appendix 3 CASE STUDY OF A PARISH PLAN - KENT

Pluckley ‘Parish Plans’

 

Pluckley Village Appraisal for the Millennium

Quoting from the introduction, a public meeting was held in the village hall to find out what interest there was within the village to do something in time for the millennium. The idea of a village appraisal was raised along with other ideas.

A number of people were willing to help, but finally a coordinator was found - Chairman of the Parish Council.

This appraisal is a full description of the village, its history, public services, amenities, education, employment, pubs, hotels shops, farming transport, and more. The background was a detailed survey, which was carefully masterminded so that groups of about 10 houses were allocated to a person who delivered the survey and then returned to collect the completed booklet, or helped to complete the survey if the householder requested help. 285 households out of 450 replied: a 63% response.

The question under examination both then, and later in 2008-2009, was the need for further housing in the village.

1 What do you think about the number of houses that have been built in Pluckley over the last 10 years?

2 What kind of accommodation do you think Pluckley needs?

3 What types of homes is/are needed?

4 Is there need for more accommodation of the following types in Pluckley?

Private rented 43(10.0%)

Local authority/housing assoc, rented 98(22.7%)

Owner occupied 65(15.0%)

Shared ownership(part owned/rented) 51(11.8%)

Sheltered housing 48(11.1%)

Restricted sale to local people 116(26%)

Low cost sale 75(17.4%)

There is no need for any of these 153((35%)

Other 12(2.8%)

The answers to questions show there were divided opinions on housing issues.

In 1992, a mixed estate of small privately owned and housing association houses for rent, was built.

Pluckley Parish Design Statement

This was planned in 2001 and completed in 2003.

Quote from the introduction. "The Design Statement has been formally adopted by Ashford Borough Council as Supplementary Planning Guidance. In adopting the Design Statement the Council is not necessarily supporting all of these opinions but is undertaking to take into consideration the design guidelines included, when making planning decisions. The Council does not have sufficient powers as a planning authority to require these design guidelines to be met in all cases and the active support and commitment of developers, landowners and householders is also essential."

After the Greater Ashford Development Plan was published, the plan for future growth of Ashford was made into an exhibition, which toured the villages and the public could ‘drop in.’ A parish councillor from Pluckley visited the Charing exhibition: by 7pm less than a dozen local people had visited it. In talking to a member of the Planning Department, the councillor learned that no houses were allocated to Pluckley as part of Ashford’s growth; nor were any representations or opinions from Pluckley parishioners requested.

Ashford Borough wanted a quick response to what villages ‘wanted’ and suggested that ‘wish lists’ could be done quickly. A detailed ‘wish list’ was sent to Ashford Borough Council from Pluckley Parish Council. By this time it was realised by the Parish Council that Pluckley required a small number of affordable homes, private homes for sale, association built houses to rent, and houses restricted to Pluckley and the surrounding local villages. The wish lists were summarised by ABC and Pluckley was listed indicating its housing request.

The Core Strategy was examined in 2007. The request from the CPRE asked that each village had to be formally asked whether they wanted some housing or not.

Later it was made clear that a housing allocation for the villages was based on the hierarchy of villages and their size and the services they supplied. Ashford Planning Department maintained their hierarchy of villages; Pluckley was half way down this list and had the services and size to qualify for some houses.

The final consultation of the Core Strategy was nearing its end, and as a final resort, Pluckley Council sent a letter directly to the Inspector requesting its addition to the lowest level of housing allocation in the villages. No reply or acknowledgement was sent by the Inspectorate and so the Parish Council assumed that it had not been considered or even read by the Inspector. What surprised everyone was the inclusion by the Inspector, of Pluckley in third tier of settlements, ‘provisionally’.

The result was that Pluckley was included in the ‘workshop’ programme carried out by the planning department to assess the wishes of the villagers with regard to the various sites. However, the villagers were alerted and, without knowing the details of the small number of houses to be allocated by the Planning Department, were so insistent that they did not want any houses that the workshop meeting had to be abandoned. Another workshop was held two months later.

A few months after the second workshop, the whole Parish Council resigned and a bye-election was held. The new Parish Council agreed that no houses would be built. The final outcome for the Tenterden and the Rural sites DPD is that there are no houses to be built in Pluckley, no infilling, and no windfall sites. Moreover, the Brickworks site, now abandoned for 14 years, remains a B2 site. The vocal rejection of houses was in line with the borough council plan not to allocate houses to Pluckley. A site cannot be found for local needs houses and the present council now say that Pluckley does not need such houses. The recent, 2009, survey now shows that only 4 houses may be needed, but no exception site has been found.

The background information is essential to understand why the parish council elected in 2003 considered that some affordable houses were needed to balance the age groups of the village and provide mixed housing, and housing for different levels of income.

The small cottages in the village have been enlarged and extended of the last 15 years. The houses that have been built since 1995 are 3 / 4-bedroom properties. The affordable properties, sold at about £200,000 to £220,000, are ex-council houses or ‘Dering Terrace’ cottages, which were built for the brickwork’s workers.

The demography has gradually changed so that the young couples between 25 to 40 years of age are ‘missing’.The outcome of this ‘localism’ is that Pluckley is gradually becoming a middle class retirement village.

March 2011