Click on link for planning applications 2010 to 2012
Where planning permission is needed, an application needs to be made to Sevenoaks District Council (in Hartley and New Ash Green's case, or Dartford Borough Council if you live in Longfield). Often it is helpful to discuss your proposals with planning officers first.
Sevenoaks Council then has to publicise the application. They usually do this by sending letters to the neighbours, putting up an orange site notice and advertising the application on their website. Some are also advertised in the public notices section of one of the local papers. There are a number of "statutory consultees" that they must write to also if the plans affect them, for example, English Heritage, the Environment Agency, and the Highways Authority. Hartley Parish Council are consulted on nearly all planning applications.
The officers at Sevenoaks Council have to form a view as to whether or not to grant permission, and if they grant permission, what conditions need to be attached to the permission. Sometimes a householder, on learning their application is not likely to succeed will withdraw it rather than have it refused. The basic rules on determining applications is set out in section 70 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990:
In dealing with such an application the authority shall have regard to the provisions of the development plan, so far as material to the application, and to any other material considerations.
The development plan is now called the Local Development Framework, and is available from the Sevenoaks Council website. What constitutes a material consideration includes guidance set out by the Government in "Planning Policy Statements" and circulars to Planning Authorities, and the outcomes of various court cases where a decision has been challenged by judicial review.
Most applications are decided by the planning officers, but some are decided by the Development Control Subcommittee at Sevenoaks. In general they only deal with applications where a member has requested it. At meetings one member of the public is allowed to speak against the application and the applicant can speak in favour.
If the council refuses an application or grants it with conditions that the applicant dosen't like, the applicant can appeal to the Planning Inspectorate. The appeal will be dealt with either by "written representations" or by a hearing. Hearings are usually held at Sevenoaks. The applicant can also appeal if the council doesn't make a decision within 8 weeks.
However if planning permission is granted, there is very little an objector can do. A judicial review in the High Court may overturn a planning decision but this is very expensive and not open to.
Applications are dealt with (except in a very few cases) by Sevenoaks District Council. If the applicant does not own all the interests in the land, then they have to let others know by serving notice on them. In the case of the telephone mast at Downs Valley, Orange did not serve notice on the correct person, so their application was not deemed to be valid until they had done so.
Sevenoaks must by law tell the parish council, and they must either put up a site notice or serve a notice on all adjoining landowners and occupiers. Sevenoaks tends to do the latter, but site notices are often dispensed with. Sevenoaks also publishes a weekly list of applications which is sent to Hartley Library, and is also put on their website (www.sevenoaks.gov.uk). Note down the number of the application (eg. SE/02/00001 etc) to quote on your letter to Sevenoaks.
Commenting on Applications
If you are in favour of an application, you can write too! Your neighbour will probably be grateful for the support. If you want to object, then you must be aware that the council can only take account of some objections. By law they must base their decision on the district plan and "other material considerations". Therefore the district plan is the starting point. You can see a copy of it in Hartley library (it is now also available on the Sevenoaks Council Website). What construes other material considerations is less easy to explain briefly, mostly they have been decided by the courts. One of the common grounds to oppose applications is "neighbour amenity", that is an adverse affect on surrounding properties through noise, overlooking etc. If you think the application is not following the district plan, note down the paragraph number when writing to the council. However there will often be clauses in the plan which will help the applicant, so the council will have to balance various factors.
You must act fairly quickly to comment, as the council is meant to come to a decision within 8 weeks. Try to answer within 3 weeks. Most applications will be decided by the council officers, only about 10% go to the council's planning committee. Applications where the officers and parish council disagree often go to committee, as cases where a district councillor requests it. Anyone who has written should be informed of the date of the meeting, and one person for and against has the chance to speak for no more than 3 minutes.
You can write or e-mail your comments to Sevenoaks.
Once the council has made a decision they will let anyone who has written know. Here lies one of the unfairnesses of the present system. The applicant has the right to appeal against the council's decision, but local objectors in effect do not. An appeal is heard by an inspector appointed by Planning Inspectorate but the minister can also "call in" applications, that is take the decision away from the council.
Sevenoaks Council keep details of planning applications back to 1948. An index
to date (Excel spreadsheet)
- 2010 to date (htm document)
Early Planning History
Before the Second World War there was a loose form of planning control, where building plans were approved by the district council, but I am uncertain what powers they had (if any) to prevent building. Planning controls were introduced nationwide in 1943. This was to cause trouble later on, for some people claimed they had been told they wouldn't need planning permission when they bounght plots in Gorsewood Road.
After the war, Hartley was very much in the forefront of the planner's minds. The 1.10.1949 edition of the Gravesend Reporter records a protest meeting against Longfield and Hartley becoming an overspill town for 5,000 from Dartford. Later in 1954 the Dartford Rural District Council Bulletin (no 20 - in New Ash Green file in Dartford Library) informed locals that the London County Council wanted to build a town for 20,000 - 30,000 in the Hartley-Longfield area covering 1,000 acres, not including the extra land needed for industry.
Hartley-Longfield and Meopham Town Map 1958
When the 1958 Hartley-Longfield and Meopham Town Map was adopted, Springcroft and Green Way had just been built, but much of central Hartley was still undeveloped. The approach then was more to say where and when development would be allowed, rather than where it wouldn't be. There was no green belt land locally then (the Green Belt only extended to the west of the Fawkham Valley Road), but "white" land, unallocated for development, where planning applications for new houses were normally refused. This white area was roughly the same as today's green belt, but there have been encroachments upon it at the estates at Bramblefield, Downs Valley and Chantry Avenue. In addition the back gardens of some of the houses on the south side of Manor Drive which were white land, have now been incorporated into the development area. It was in 1957 that the proposed green belt was first mentioned in a refusal for development at Hartley Manor (56/356), but the area was still only proposed Green Belt when New Ash Green was given planning permission in 1963.
Within the development area the council wanted to see phased development, in two stages:
It is clear from planning refusals at this time that the council preferred shopping parades to the individual shops in Hartley, and this is reflected in the zoning. The only areas zoned for shops were the existing parade at the Ash Road/Church Road junction (which was to be extended to the site on the other side of the junction, which had already been earmarked for shops the past 50 years), and the future one at Cherry Trees. Notable by its absence was the Little Shop in Church Road and Fairby Stores (the latter is now zoned for shopping). One other site of interest is Billings Hill Shaw, which was to be the site of a new Primary School.
The North West Kent Town Map 1972
A copy of this is available to view in Hartley Library. This was prepared just after the Green Belt was extended to Hartley in 1971. This map prepared the ground for the developments of the late 1970s as the former white land at Billings Hill Shaw and the future Chantry Avenue were not included in the Green Belt. In this map the far end of Fairby Lane and the new Primary School were all included in the village envelope (central development area), however the 1994 Sevenoaks District plan moved the green belt boundary to include them. The plan also allowed for the station carpark on the Hartley side of the railway.
The North West Kent Town Map 1978
At a public enquiry into the North West Kent Town Plan in 1977, there were three applications to take land in Hartley out of the Green Belt