INDEPENDENT EXAMINER’S REPORT ON SEVENOAKS TOWN COUNCIL’S NEIGHBOURHOOD DEVELOPMENT PLAN RECEIVED WITH RECOMMENDATION TO GO DIRECT TO REFERENDUM
Published: 10 January 2023
Sevenoaks Town Council has worked with the local community for several years in creating a Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan (STNP) – the benefits of which have been outlined in this document.
The Independent Examiner’s Report on the Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Development Plan was received on 21st December 2022 and presented to the Planning Committee for noting on 9th January 2023.
This marks the one of the very final stages of the Plan’s progression towards Referendum, with the only outstanding actions being for Sevenoaks Town Council (STC) to amend the Plan according to the Independent Examiner’s proposed modifications[i] which relate to emphasis and clarity on matters within the document and alongside any of the minor amendment suggestions received during consultation[ii] that have been agreed to be relevant.
The Inspector has confirmed that the SNP can now move direct to public referendum. Sevenoaks District Council will be arranging the Referendum in its capacity as the Local Planning Authority, and further information as to when this will be arranged will be provided once the document has been received and formally signed-off by SDC’s Cabinet and Advisory Committee.
The purpose of the Independent Examiner’s report is to measure how well the Submission Draft of the Plan complies with the Basic Conditions and existing planning legislation.
It also provides a comprehensive overview of each individual Policy and what function they may have in guiding future development within Sevenoaks Town. The Examiner has confirmed that “the policies, as modified are supported by appropriate evidence, are sufficiently clear and unambiguous, and […] can be applied with confidence” in relation to their purpose.
The Independent Examiner provides the following Overview of the STNP and positive comments including below:
Overview: “It is evident that significant effort has been invested in the preparation of the STNP and the resultant document it well presented and clear. The identification of potential and allocated development sites and the identification of constraints and opportunities for those sites, will undoubtedly help in future decision making process. It is clear to me that the implementation of the policies in the STNP(as modified) will secure the realisation of the Town Council’s Vision and that Sevenoaks will retain its attractive characteristics while at the same time ensuring that a sustainable future is achieved.
- “All proposals […] will enhance the sustainability credentials of the town” (4.33)
- “Improvements would enhance the pedestrian experience in the town centre” and “ensure that the character of Sevenoaks is retained and improved” (4.34)
- The implementation of Policies E1, E3 and E4, which concern the local economy, “will be of benefit to local businesses and the wider community” (4.37)
- Policy D5, relating to development, “clearly sets out the broad approach to providing energy efficient homes which minimise environmental impact”, and all “policies (as modified) relating to Development and Housing contribute to the achievement of sustainable development” (4.53 and 4.55)
Sevenoaks Town Council would like to acknowledge and thank members of the Steering Committee who contributed towards the completion of the Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan resulting in positive feedback from the Planning Inspector and ultimately a Plan for the benefit of the town.
Full copy of the Independent Examiner’s Report is available via this link, and the full Submission Draft of the NDP including its supporting documents are available via this link.
Linda Larter MBE
Chief Executive / Town Clerk
10th January 2023
If you have any queries, please contact
[i] Various Plan Modifications are recommended by the Independent Examiner throughout the document and are summarised at the end of the report. Some of these are in response to feedback received during the Regulation 16 Public Consultation in order to make Policy wording stronger, and some have been made in order to make the document fully compliant with the Basic Conditions.
[ii] This references the Regulation 16 Public Consultation that was held between 4th August-22nd September 2022 and arranged by SDC in its capacity as the Local Planning Authority.