Council’s Draft Neighbourhood Development Plan submitted to Planning Authority for formal progression
Published: 05 August 2022
Sevenoaks Town Council’s Draft Neighbourhood Development Plan (see paragraph titled Further details”, listed below) was formally submitted alongside its supporting documents to the Local Planning Authority on 23rd June 2022.
It is now the District Council’s responsibility to arrange for appointment of an Independent Examiner, publicise the plan for a minimum of six weeks, and in due course arrange for Referendum. If the Plan receives over 50% positive votes, it will be made by the District Council and become a part of the statutory development plan.
Sevenoaks Town Council is optimistic that the Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), if successful at referendum will deliver the following benefits:
1.The NDP is part of the Statutory Planning Process and therefore has ‘statutory weight’ in considering planning applications. It will also add local detail to the existing and emerging Local Plan.
2.The NDP precedes the emerging SDC’s Local Plan and will therefore introduce important new policies around such issues as biodiversity, net gain and managing surface water to reduce risk of flooding.
3.The NDP identifies design principles and the benefits that should be delivered as part of potential development on vacant and under-utilised sites in the town. This includes guidance on the scale and massing of development that would be appropriate. Whilst site capacities have been removed from the main text of the NDP on planning advice, reference remaining in the consultation appendix, this guidance will be important to delivering appropriate development on the identified sites.
4.There have been several planning applications submitted over the last year where it was agreed if the NDP had been in place it would have helped oppose such applications. The NDP puts in place a policy whereby ‘The Town Council will normally require major planning applications to be submitted to a Design Review Panel for review early in the planning process’. Had this been in place, this could have addressed for instance, public concerns with parking provision and housing density at the Sevenoaks gasholder site, concerns about medical provision at the Tarmac Quarry site, the bulk mass of the design at Berkley House.
5. The NDP has been updated and incorporates climate change aspirations and initiatives.
6. Promoting safe walking and cycle routes via reinvigorating the dormant Cycle Strategy and supporting 20 mph proposals.
7. Introduced proposals for a Cultural Quarter and improvements to Public Realm.
8. Identifying and in some cases progressing enhanced community and sports facilities, including:
• Bat & Ball Station and Access Ramp
• Bat & Ball Centre (identified as a priority and refurbished as per Policy COM1, which has been widely successful and benefited the community especially throughout COVID-19)
• Business Hub
• Sevenoaks Day Nursery development
• 3G Hockey Pitch at Hollybush Rec
• Greatness Football Pavilion
• Oast House
9. Identified objectives supported by the community.
10. Policies relating to protection of Sevenoaks character, heritage, and identity.
11. Proposals to develop and enhance key areas of the town including Station Square.
12. Proposals for new blue and green infrastructure including additional allotments and further protection of current.
13. Proposals for improvements to Bat & Ball junction.
14. Proposals for development of key sites that would not have otherwise been identified as the District Council requires site owners’ agreement and a demonstration that sites are deliverable within the Local Plan period to allocate them. E.g., Edwards Electrical site.
15. Engaged residents in the process formally and informally (see consultation statement), and most importantly reflected these in the NDP and voted for in a
referendum rather than local council committee. The initial public response identified the following most important objectives:
• Improve the areas that detract from the positive character of the town
• Undertake an Integrated Transport Study
• Improve the gateways into and out of the town, including the stations
• Protect the architectural characteristics of the town
• Retain pathways, historic alleyways and promote for pedestrian use
• Support tree retention and tree planting
• Protect green belt and green spaces
• Promote an effective pedestrian, cycling and vehicle strategy
• Consider inclusion of Sevenoaks in TFL’s Oyster Card charging zone
• Consider 20 mph speed limits in areas of town
16. Due to the length of time to develop the NDP, some supporting documents will need review and updating, although key principles remain – this should be part of the future NDP Action Plan.
17. Provides an overall indicative development plan for lobbying for additional infrastructure e.g., health and education facilities.
18. Having the NDP adopted and in place, with its policies on high quality housing and design guidance reduces the risk of unwanted development from developers that may have otherwise been able to push the application through due to the presumption in favour of sustainable development.
Further details on the Neighbourhood Development Plan
The below five listed documents were presented to and signed-off by the Steering Committee and the Planning Committee on 20th June 2022. Included in this list is a Consultation Statement which schedules all changes made to the NDP since its Regulation 14 public consultation in 2020. This schedule features a direct comparison of previous and current wording to demonstrate exactly how it has evolved in response to Statutory Consultee advice and its Strategic Environmental Assessment. These documents are available via the following links:
A presentation summarising the progress, contents and edits made to the Submission Draft of the NDP was provided by Sevenoaks Town Council’s consultant, Hugo Nowell of Urban Initiatives Studio prior to both meetings. Copy of the presentation slides are available in the Appendix of the below listed Minutes documents, where a link to the Youtube recording of the meetings and summary of key points discussed can also be found: