Land Research Associates have been appointed by Maidstone Borough Council to undertake agricultural land classification mapping of up to 65 sites put forward by land owners and developers to help meet the increased need for housing in the district.
The National Planning Policy Framework 2012 states in paragraph 112 that ‘Local planning authorities should take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile agricultural land (defined as land in grades 1, 2 and 3a of the Agricultural Land Classification). Where significant development of agricultural land is demonstrated to be necessary, local planning authorities should seek to use areas of poorer quality land in preference to that of a higher quality’. Consequently agricultural land quality is one of the many factors that have to be considered when deciding which sites can be allocated within local plans.
The work, to be scheduled over autumn 2014, will involve desk study, liaison with landowners and detailed survey of several hundred hectares of agricultural land within the district, with maps produced using MapInfo GIS in order to enable easy integration into the council’s Geographic Information System.