SEVENOAKS TOWN COUNCIL PLANNING COMMITTEE RECOMMENDED REFUSAL ON PLANNING APPLICATION GASHOLDER STATION, CRAMPTONS ROAD
Published: 12 May 2021
As a Statutory Consultee to Sevenoaks District Council (SDC), Sevenoaks Town Council were recently consulted on the Planning Application 21/01254/FUL – Sevenoaks Gasholder Station, Cramptons Road. The final responsibility for approving or refusing the application rests with Sevenoaks District Council.
The Planning Application proposes the redevelopment of the former Gasholder site, which lies between Cramptons Road and Otford Road, into a 10 townhouses and a 10 storey rotunda to create a total of 136 new homes on a brownfield site.
Sevenoaks Town Council’s Planning Committee (Working Party*) held on Monday 10th May which was live streamed on YouTube unanimously voted to recommend refusal on the above Planning Application. The full Meeting can be viewed via the this link, with the discussion occurring after 6:40 on the YouTube video.
Sevenoaks Town Council recommended refusal on the following grounds:
- Layout and density of the building and overdevelopment
- Not consistent with the Allocated Development Management Plan of 2015, nor the emerging Neighbourhood Development Plan or Local Plan for the site.
- The design and materials are out of keeping with the residential character assessment for the areas local to it
- The rotunda is overdeveloped, overbearing and out of character and height incongruous with the residential character of the area. There are no buildings of that height in that locality
- Intrusive to the green belt
- The building will be solid, impermeable to light and internally lit at night, impacting visual amenity from a considerable distance
- No other buildings in the local area
Town Houses on Cramptons Road are not in keeping with the residential area character assessment and have an uncomfortable relationship with the neighbouring properties with overlooking and loss of privacy issues.
- Adequacy of parking is insufficient and Sevenoaks Town Council recommended that the KCC policy of one space per unit be adhered to.
- Lack of social housing – Sevenoaks Town Council recommended that 40% of the units be made available as affordable housing, and including social renting housing in perpetuity.
- The application includes a comprehensive travel plan, which includes frequent reviews of resident journeys and a car club as mitigation for lower parking levels and assumptions of residents not needing personal transport in this location. With the further delay to fast services from Bat and Ball Rail Station and with existing bus routes being tailored to a neighbourhood of car owners, Any Travel Plan must be binding and enforceable.
- The Town Council noted that the scheme makes a positive contribution to the green spaces of the area, and indeed there are very few green public spaces or play facilities in the Cramptons Road/ Moor Road/ Swanzy Road area. Public access to maintained public space and play facilities must be permanently ensured.
- The applicant states that the infrastructure for vehicle charging points can be provided. Any development should be conditional upon comprehensive provision of charging points for electric cars and bikes given their rapid increase in popularity and availability.
- The scheme as submitted is substantially larger than envisaged in the ADMP or NDP. It is vital that infrastructure is able to cope with 136 new families in the area and at present healthcare and education (particularly primary education) are at capacity. The applicant’s Design and Access Statement draws attention to schools which are operating at very tight catchments, plus one which doesn’t exist any longer. It covers medical centres without reference to a single GP practice, which we know to be under great pressure. Public transport infrastructure in this location is not designed for dense, low-car owning developments with few bus services serving the area at infrequent intervals and, whilst the site is undeniably close to a rail station, the services from Bat and Ball station do not compete for most London-bound commuters with those at Sevenoaks station. Bat and Ball junction is highly congested with unsignalled and hard-to-use pedestrian crossings and zero cycle infrastructure. Significant investment will be needed in local infrastructure to meet the expectations of this development and should be reflected in the Section 106/ CIL heads of terms.
It was noted during the meeting that the Sevenoaks Gasholder Station is a residential allocation identified not only in the SDC’s adopted Allocated Development Management Plan (AMDP) and upcoming Local Plan, but also in Sevenoaks Town Council’s draft Neighbourhood Development Plan. The Neighbourhood Development Plan, which is due to be submitted to SDC soon and put to local referendum, identifies the brownfield site as having the potential for 73 homes, while the Local Plan suggests 98 homes and the AMDP proposes 39.
Sevenoaks Town Council believes that the planning application for the former gas works site highlights the importance of progressing its draft Neighbourhood Development Plan to referendum asap. The Neighbourhood Development Plan will enable the public to vote on policies and proposals for development and areas not to be developed in the future rather than proposals being ‘developer led’.
It is hoped that subject to legislative procedures and no further public health restrictions that the public referendum will be held in the autumn and encourage all residents and local organisations to be supportive of this for the benefit of the future of Sevenoaks.
The main goal of the Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan is to set out objectives that will aid the fulfilment of the below vision of what Sevenoaks Town will look like in 2038. It takes into consideration the health and wellbeing of residents living within the Neighbourhood Development Plan area as well as the nationally declared climate emergency. The Neighbourhood Plan draws upon the town’s existing strengths, reflects the positive qualities identified by the local community and identities a number of challenges and opportunities.
An earlier press release explaining the vision and goals of the NDP can be viewed via the following link: https://sevenoaksndp.wordpress.com/2021/05/12/sevenoaks-town-council-neighbourhood-development-plans-vision/