Sevenoaks Council have launched a consultation on the preferred Core Options
for the Local Development Framework. This will replace the current district plan and will run until 2026. A summary leaflet is available in Hartley Library.
Why is it important?
This document when approved will guide future planning decisions. So it will affect landowners' chances of getting planning permission for a particular site, and the grounds that local people can comment on applications. It may not sound interesting, but potentially it affects us all.
What is being proposed?
This is a long document (79 pages long). As usual there is confusion as to Hartley and New Ash Green's status, as they are referred to both as towns and large villages. Taken together Hartley and New Ash Green are the third largest urban area in the district with a population of 11,684. There are certain national policies that the council has to implement locally, the most important of these is the requirement to build 165 new houses each year.
* New Ash Green Shopping centre, which suffers from vacant units and environmental problems, to be regenerated "on a scale that serves the needs of the community". Elsewhere loss of shops will be resisted (paragraph 4.90, policy LO7).
* The extent of the green belt will be maintained (policy LO8). They think they can meet housing target without building on the green belt.
* Outside Sevenoaks, Swanley and Edenbridge, there will need to be 950 housing units built by 2026. This will be based on existing settlements. Locally "this development will be on a scale consistent with the size and relative sustainability of the settlement concerned and meeting the needs of the local community served by the settlement." However it is envisaged they are less suitable sites for larger scale development (paragraph 4.83, policy LO7)
* There will be more affordable housing. The threshold for this will be reduced from 15 units to 5. This means that for developments of 5 units, at least 40% of the units must be affordable housing, meaning social rented or shared ownership. And 65% of affordable housing should be social rented. (paragrpah 5.33 ff, policy SP4). This policy is strongly worded, they will refuse developments that do not contain an affordable element, or where they have artificially reduced to avoid being caught. Paragraph 5.52 defines who is entitled to benefit from affordable housing.
* Housing density - in our area a minimum of 30 dwellings per hectare will apply (note - for comparison Quakers Close, Perran Close and Culvey Close have similar densities). With certain qualifications development that doesn't meet this target will be refused.
* New developments should be designed to a high quality, be sustainable (eg. lower water consumption) and create safe and attractive environments (policy SP1). Village design statements to clarify this will be encouraged (paragraph 5.6).
* Contributions toward infrastructure - developers will be expected to pay for additional school, surgery, library, public utilities etc provision their development causes, after taking into account affordable housing provision (paragraph 5.83 ff, policy SP10)
* Smaller houses - the council will encourage more 1-2 bedroom housing (policy SP6)
* Employment - They plan to retain certain sites as employment land, and think future employment land will be based on existing employment sites (policies LO7, SP9). Development that supports the local economy will be supported (policy LO8). When rural buildings are converted, preference will be given to schemes that are commercial (paragraph 4.110)
* Parish plans - will be encouraged for more local policies (paragraph 4.92).
* Horseyculture - They support horse riding but are less happy about the associated buildings (paragraph 4.106)
* Leisure - the council calls for more allotments in New Ash Green (paragraph 5.97). Where open space is deficient in an area, developers will have to provide open space on site or make provision for it elsewhere (policy SP11)
What happens next?
This is only a consultation document at present. If you have any comments for or against, you should let the council know. Remember that this will dictate planning decisions for many years to come. It could be your one chance to have a say now! You can make your comments by logging in to the consultation website.