Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has granted permission for a 675-home scheme in Sittingbourne, Kent, despite opposition from the local council, which warned the development will not meet its carbon-neutrality standards.
In a decision on 29 April, Mr Jenrick gave permission to the scheme, which includes 81 units of affordable housing, despite admitting the potential for a “permanent loss of open land” between Sittingbourne and nearby Chestnut Street.
Swale Borough Council objected to the planning proposals, which were put forward by house builder Barratt, as the development would not meet its aim to reduce operational carbon in new dwellings by 50%. The scheme would reduce emissions by just 2%, which is against the standard required by building regulations.
Mr Jenrick’s decision considered Swale Council’s carbon-reduction target, but said it does not align with national policy and therefore agreed to the plans. He also ruled that the 50% target represents guidance only, which has not gone through a public examination process and therefore could not justify the imposition of conditions.
The decision said: “Notwithstanding the high-level national commitment to carbon neutrality, and the significant weight attaching to tackling climate change, these conditions also go beyond current and emerging national policy. He therefore considers that the proposed conditions cannot be said to be either reasonable or necessary.”
Weighing in the scheme’s favour was the provision of open market and affordable housing as well as the economic benefits and highway improvements, according to the housing secretary.
The decision said that Mr Jenrick “considers that any adverse impacts would not significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits when… taken as a whole. As such he concludes that the presumption in favour of sustainable development applies.”
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