PRESS RELEASE: Sevenoaks says YES! to Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan, which was SUCCESSFUL at Referendum
Published: 10 May 2023
evenoaks Town Council is delighted to announce that its Neighbourhood Development Plan, which includes policies that protect the environment, character and heritage of Sevenoaks Town has been SUCCESSFUL at Referendum
. This means that, once the official adoption process by the Local Planning Authority has been completed, this document will have legal planning weight in the determining of planning applications within Sevenoaks Town.
Created with the considerable involvement of the local community, this positive result represents a significant success for the Town and its residents, as it provides local detail and protections to the assets and character which make Sevenoaks unique.
The counting of the Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan (STNP) Referendum ballot papers was completed on 10th May 2023, with the final numbers revealing that 4294 votes in favour
were received, in contrast to 1292 votes against. The remaining 285 submitted ballot papers were rejected for various reasons.
Full breakdown of the results, including voter turnout, which totalled 38.66% of the 15,185 electorate, can be viewed online here.
Cllr Sue Camp, the Chairman of Sevenoaks Town Council’s Planning Committee provided the following quote which encapsulates the achievement and positive development for the Town’s future which the STNP represents:
“Sevenoaks Town Council are leading the way for Neighbourhood Development Planning, and we are proud to be the first Town Council in Sevenoaks District to achieve this. It will enable us to have more say with local developments in the town and make life better for everyone. Sevenoaks needs Growth but also needs to preserve our heritage, and affordable housing standards can be applied. Biodiversity and green initiatives will be a big consideration for a greener more sustainable town, making Sevenoaks an even better place to live work and visit.”
Copies of the STNP and its summary document will remain available at the Town Council Offices for members of the public to help themselves to. Public are highly encouraged to do so, as the Plan will continue to be a significant document in shaping the development of Sevenoaks Town for the next 15 years.
Monitoring of how policies are delivering their objectives, as well as actioning of any future studies which have been indicated within the Plan to be pursued throughout its lifetime will be achieved via a Monitoring and Action Committee. This will be set up in due course by Sevenoaks Town Council, with membership to include representatives of the community, local businesses and organisations.
Cllr Tony Clayton, leader of Sevenoaks Town Council provided a quote, thanking the many individuals and representatives of various organisations for their significant contributions to the STNP’s successful Referendum:
"A huge’ Thank You' to everyone who has helped to make Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan a reality. The residents associations, the local experts, businesses, Sevenoaks Society, Town and District councillors, and above all the staff team under Linda Larter have worked hard to bring it about.
It’s been a long journey of more than six years, with setbacks to make it longer than it should have been. But the result justifies all the effort, and the investment of time and thought by local people. Now we can use the plan, and develop it to meet future challenges. Putting environmental policies at the heart of the plan will help us achieve that.”
Included in the aforementioned Monitoring Group’s intended agenda will be the production of an Action Plan to prioritise and allocate future projects as indicated in the Plan, as well as to undertake 5-yearly review and updates of the STNP in order to ensure that it remains relevant and effective at delivering positive changes in Sevenoaks as supported by residents.
If you would like to be included in this monitoring and review process, please contact Georgie Elliston at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, for a reminder of what the Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan was created to achieve, please see below:
The STNP is based upon a vision for the future of Sevenoaks Town, and an accompanying set of objectives which will be achieved through the implementation of the corresponding policies and aims. One of the main focuses is on improving health and wellbeing of Sevenoaks Town residents, addressing the nationally declared climate emergency, and strengthening the positive qualities that define and characterise Sevenoaks Town. The full Vision Statement can be viewed on page 7 of the STNP.
Below is a short list of example benefits that the STNP will deliver to the town:
• Enhanced community and sports facilities, including a new allotment site at Bradbourne Vale Road, a watersports centre at Sevenoaks Quarry (Tarmac site), and allocation of the Oast House for community-use
• Proposals for a Cultural Quarter and improvements to the Public Realm to support and enhance the local economy and local businesses
• Protection of Sevenoaks’ character, heritage and identity
• Improvements to Bat & Ball junction
• Retention of trees and support of tree planting and policy-protection of how proposed developments treat blue and green infrastructure
• Promotion of safe walking and cycle routes, including a proposed cycling path which connects Dunton Green, Sevenoaks Town, and Otford.
• Policies that tackle important and more recently identified environmental issues such as ensuring that new developments secure a net gain of 10% biodiversity, and that surface water is properly managed to minimise flood risk.
Most importantly regarding the last bullet-point, is the fact that such issues related to the need to tackle climate change do not currently have Planning Policy protection at a local level. The unfortunate delays to the District Council’s emerging Local Plan mean that more recent events such as the Environment Act 2021, which now requires most major consented developments to ensure a 10% biodiversity net gain, are not locally reinforced.
The STNP however has been updated to recognise and address the nationally declared climate emergency, with 26 of the overall 34 Policies, and 6 of the overall 13 Aims specifically contributing towards meeting the government’s zero carbon commitment.
In practice, and to deliver the objectives of the STNP, the document will be used in a number of ways. The three key uses will be by the Local Planning Authority in its determination of local planning applications, developers in the shaping of their planning applications for proposed development, and by Sevenoaks Town Council in its actioning of several of the plan’s priorities.
Included in the Plan therefore, are Policies on design guidance for potential future development and housing, added protection of local character and heritage, as well as Aims which indicate a priority that will be pursued throughout the lifetime of the Plan.
For more information about the STNP, including history of its progression, previous public consultations, and its supporting documents, please visit: https://sevenoaksndp.wordpress.com/.
If you have any queries, please contact