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Planning policy

Medway Council has a statutory duty to prepare plans that cover the Medway area to control and regulate most forms of built development.

The power to control development comes from primary legislation (in the form of the various Town and Country Planning Acts) and is given to the council by central government. The council grants planning permission to allow developments to occur. To ensure that decisions about the granting of planning permission are seen to be fair, open and reasonable, the council is required to prepare publicly available plan(s) containing policies and proposals to guide the shape and nature of development in its area.

The Local Plan for Medway currently comprises Development Plan policies from a number of plans, including the Medway Local Plan 2003. National policy guidance is provided by the National Planning Policy Framework. These provide the policy basis for the consideration of planning applications.

Future Medway - a new Local Plan for Medway

The council is working on a new Local Plan to replace the 2003 Medway Local Plan. This will be a single document, containing strategic level and development management policies, land allocations, minerals and waste, and a policies map. The plan will cover the period up to 2035, providing for the number of homes and jobs, and supporting infrastructure, such as transport, health facilities, schools, parks that the area and its growing population needs over this time, balanced with the protection of the environment, heritage and community facilities.  Subject to outcomes of an independent examination by a planning inspector, it is anticipated that Medway’s Local Plan will be adopted in 2019.

Details of the timetable and process for preparing the new plan are set out in the Local Development Scheme.

Development Options Consultation

The Development Options consultation document was presented to Medway Council's Cabinet on 20 December 2016.  This is the second formal stage in the preparation of a new Local Plan for Medway and builds on the work carried out in the first stage - Issues and Options.  The document provides a draft vision for Medway in 2035, setting out emerging approaches to policies to address the key issues facing Medway's communities, economy and environment. To consider options for how development land could be allocated across Medway, it also sets out a range of scenarios that could provide the basis for Medway's development up to 2035.  The consultation will run from Monday 16 January 2017 to 5pm on Monday 6 March 2017.  Please see the Future Medway page for more information.

Strategic Land Availability Assessment

Local planning authorities are required to carry out an assessment to identify sites with potential for housing and assess when they are likely to be developed. The council first carried out this assessment for housing, retail, employment and other uses in November 2010, reviewing and reporting on this annually.  After a new call for sites was made in 2014, the council carried out a new assessment which was published in November 2015.  Following this, comments were welcomed back on the results and methodology as a part of the Issues and Options consultation carried out during January and February 2016.  After a review of the comments received and the Council’s own internal review, a second assessment of the SLAA, with an updated methodology on the process for reviewing and assessing sites, was published in January 2017.  This new document identifies sites that are currently suitable for development and provides a basis to inform and assist the direction of development options being considered as part of the Local Plan consultation - see the Future Medway page for more information.  Further information and downloads of the assessments can be found on the Strategic Land Availability Assessment page.

Strategic Housing and Economic Needs Assessment

Central to the work on the new Local Plan, is an understanding of the scale of development that is needed in Medway to meet the needs for housing, jobs, shops, services and infrastructure.

The council commissioned a comprehensive analysis of development needs through a joint Strategic Housing and Economic Needs Assessment (SHENA) with Gravesham Borough Council. The following documents are available to view:

Further information on the publication of the retail needs assessment and a timetable for comments will be issued shortly.


Every year the Council produces a Monitoring Report which records the progress of the Local Development Scheme and the extent to which the policies set out in the Local Plan are being achieved.  All published documents relating to this can be found on our Authority Monitoring Report page.  The information published covers each year from 1 April through to 31 March the following year.

Research and Intelligence

The Planning Policy team also provides information and analysis on local demographics and development issues to support planning policy and decisions, which can be found on the facts and figures page.

Neighbourhood Planning

Alongside the Medway Local Plan, Neighbourhood Plans for parishes and other local areas in Medway, can form part of the development plan for the local authority. There are currently no adopted Neighbourhood Plans in Medway, but work is underway in preparing a Neighbourhood Plan for Cliffe and Cliffe Woods. Further details on progress can be found on the Neighbourhood Planning page.

Development Briefs, area based policies and other guidance

The council provides several supplementary planning documents to give advice on specific planning subjects and areas, to be used in conjunction with existing national and local planning guidance.

Statement of Community Involvement (SCI)

The council has prepared a Statement of Community Involvement which sets out the methods by which the community and other stakeholders will be engaged in the preparation and review of Local Plan documents.

Self-build and custom housebuilding register

We have a duty to keep a register of individuals who are seeking serviced plots of land for Self-build and Custom Housebuilding on land in Medway.  The register provides useful information on the level of demand for self-build and custom housebuilding which we will consider when allocating land for different types of development in the Medway Local Plan and when deciding on planning applications for housing.  Please see the Self-build and Custom Housebuilding Register page for more details.

Brownfield land register

The government has set out its commitment to introduce a statutory brownfield register and ensure that 90% of suitable brownfield sites have planning permission for housing by 2020. It is part of the government’s aim to boost the supply of housing land and to deliver plans for increased housebuilding. Brownfield registers will contain a standard set of information that will be kept up-to-date and published to help provide certainty for developers and communities. Medway Council was asked to take part in an early pilot scheme to test out the approaches to be taken in the roll out of the Brownfield land register, following the Housing and Planning Act 2016.

Environmental appraisals

Under the requirements of the Planning Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the National Planning Policy Framework 2012 the council as the Local Planning Authority must carry out a Sustainability Appraisal (SA) of its Local Plan to help fulfil the aim of sustainable development.  This is part of the process in preparing the new Local Plan.  Further details can be found on our Environmental Appraisals page.

Further information