Housing issue shows you why it’s so hard running Canterbury

Houses under construction (stock image)

It’s easy to bash the council. Hell, I should know, I’ve done it myself.

That said, I have genuinely found little to criticise city hall for in quite a while. I support the eastern bypass plan. I backed the Whitefriars purchase. And I support the additional slip road between the A2 and A28 at Wincheap.

We are, in fact, lucky to have to have a well run local authority – although you wouldn’t know it from some of the vitriol spewed in its direction. For a comparison, check out some of the lunacy in other places around the UK.

But one of the problems we have in this great city is that whenever the local authority – or especially a developer – tries to do anything, it will be opposed.

Just look at housing. We know the country needs houses. That means it’s only fair that Canterbury takes its share.

We know, too, that Canterbury’s appeal means it is growing. As Canterbury Journal columnist Dave Wilson points out many people are migrating here from London.

But try actually building houses for people to live in and see where that gets you.

You will hear people say the city is big enough already. Some will say yes, I accept we need new homes, but can you not build them near my home – that is to the north, south, east or west of the city.

Some people will say new homes come with a problem: people, people who drive cars or want access to schools and health services.

Some people say developments must be of high quality and must blend – or “bland” – in with existing buildings.

Others will say such buildings are boring and will call for more imaginative structures. Some, meanwhile, will point to the need for more social housing, in which case the buildings will have to be cheaper.

Then there’s the issue of student accommodation. Some will say we need more purpose built flats in order to free up space in residential streets for families.

Others will say there are too many student blocks already.

If new houses get built, some will accept them, but demand better infrastructure – that is, new roads like an eastern bypass. Others will say new roads are bad for the environment and destroy irreplaceable countryside.

The city council has more than 2,300 households on its housing waiting list. That means a certain amount of people will simply say: “We just want somewhere decent to live. Why are there so many efforts to prevent that happening…?”


  1. I accept that city planning is complex but a few policy guidelines would help: for example speculative builders have to prove the need for purpose built student accommodation; Council built homes for those on the waiting list to take precedence over luxury houses in areas of historic significance (I’m thinking of Puckle Lane where luxury houses have destroyed an ancient habitat recorded in medieval maps).


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