Sevenoaks District Local Plan Proposed Submission Version Regulation 19 Consultation (including Appendices 1-4)

Chapter 6 - Safeguarding places for Wildlife and Nature


Supporting Evidence

  • Kent Biodiversity Strategy 2015 - 2025
  • Biodiversity Analysis Evidence Base 2018
  • River Basin Management Plans 2015
  • Habitats Regulations Assessment (HRA) 

Biodiversity and Ecosystems

6.1 Nationally designated sites including Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) are already afforded protection from development due to their biological or geological importance. These designated areas play an important role in the ecosystem of the District and will be shown on the policies map.

6.2 The District has a number of locally designated sites including Local Wildlife Sites, Local Nature Reserves, Roadside Nature Reserves (8 currently defined within the District) and Kent Wildlife Trust Reserves. These are protected for their biodiversity and ecological value.

6.3 Biodiversity is not confined to designated and protected areas but is found throughout rural and urban areas. It is important to conserve existing biodiversity and create new habitats, either large scale such as wildflower meadows and flood prevention schemes, or through small scale solutions, such as new planting or bat and bird boxes. It is important to remove invasive species and to ensure new planting is native and appropriate for the location.

6.4 It is also important to provide means by which wildlife can move and thrive. Interconnected habitats allow wildlife to move freely in accordance with natural patterns and changing climates. The Kent Biodiversity Strategy includes the designation of "Biodiversity Opportunity Areas" across Kent approved by the Kent Nature Partnership. There are 4 such areas within Sevenoaks District. Biodiversity Opportunity Areas (BOA) indicate where the greatest gains can be made from habitat enhancement, restoration and recreation. The Biodiversity Analysis Evidence Base also indicates areas suitable for enhancement.

6.5 Access to the natural environment and areas of high biodiversity value can also have a positive impact on health and wellbeing and can help reduce social and health inequalities. We are supportive of projects such as community led habitat management, health walks and wildlife/nature experiences especially those which encourage children and young people to engage with the natural environment.

6.6 The District has a high quantity of woodland much of which is designated as Ancient Woodland. This extensive ancient woodland (11% of the District) is a particularly rich source of biodiversity and a sensitive and irreplaceable habitat.

6.7 The rivers and areas of open water within the District are also an important aspect of its character. They provide important habitats as well as recreational, educational and community opportunities.

Blue Green Infrastructure and the Natural Environment

6.8 jb043Blue green infrastructure and natural environment features should be incorporated into development schemes at the early stages of design in order to make the most of any existing features and providing new provision where possible. This can include suitable landscaping and planting as well as more innovative solutions such as living walls and roofs, bird bricks and permeable paving. Trees, woodlands and hedgerows within both the urban and rural areas form an important part of the District's character and the setting of buildings and settlements. They are an integral part of an area and play an important role in cleaning the air we breathe.

6.9 All blue green infrastructure is essential to mitigating and adapting to climate change ensuring that future generations can still enjoy a healthy and thriving environment for years to come. Plants and trees remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and release oxygen, acting as a carbon sink by storing it in the soil and vegetation. Natural landscaping can also help to adapt to a changing climate, by reducing localised flooding, surface water run off and providing floodwater reservoirs. Deciduous trees can help manage high temperatures by providing shading in the summer but still allowing heat and sunlight through in the winter.   

6.10  The District’s Blue Green Infrastructure network consists of the following sites:

  • Land of biodiversity value, including Biodiversity Opportunity Areas
  • Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs)
  • Registered Historic Parks and Gardens
  • Land designated under the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 (CROW) including Common Land and Public Rights of Way
  • Local Wildlife Sites
  • Kent Wildlife Trust Reserves
  • Ancient Woodland
  • Country parks
  • Trees subject to Tree Preservation Orders
  • River corridors and open bodies of water
  • Cycle routes
  • Sites identified in the Kent Compendium of Historic Parks and Gardens
  • Sites designated as Open Space including:
    • Amenity Greenspace
    • Natural and Semi-natural Greenspace
    • Provision for Children and Young People
    • Outdoor Sports facilities, playing pitches and playing fields
    • Allotments and community gardens
    • Green corridors
    • Cemeteries and Churchyards


6.11 The Council will continue to work with partners to develop projects to strengthen the blue green infrastructure network and improve access to and the understanding of the natural environment. Partners include:

  • The North West Kent Countryside Partnership
  • Kent Wildlife Trust
  • Kent Downs and High Weald AONB units
  • Town and Parish Councils


6.12 The progress of natural environment projects will be included in the Authority Monitoring report.


Policy WN1 - Safeguarding Places for Wildlife and Nature

Blue Green Infrastructure

The District’s Blue Green Infrastructure (BGI) Network will be protected and proposals to establish, restore, enhance and maintain coherent ecological networks and the BGI network will be supported.

Proposals will be permitted where opportunities for provision of additional BGI have been fully considered and provided. Any new BGI should take account of the existing network and provide improvements and new connections where possible. 

Designated Biodiversity Areas

In addition to national designations, local areas of importance for biodiversity will be protected from any development which may cause a loss in biodiversity value, habitats and/or result in damage to the ecological network. Areas included are, but not limited to:

  • Local Wildlife Sites
  • Local Nature Reserves
  • Kent Wildlife Trust Reserves
  • Roadside Nature Reserves
  • Country Parks
  • Ancient Woodland

Opportunities will be sought for the enhancement of biodiversity through the creation, protection, enhancement, extension and management of sites.

New Development

Proposals for new development must retain as many existing natural features and existing blue green infrastructure as is feasible. This will include, but is not limited to, retaining the existing:

  • Trees and vegetation
  • Hedgerows through the site and along the boundary
  • Onsite ponds, ditches and watercourses
  • Connections to offsite blue green infrastructure
  • Nesting sites and areas of high ecological value
  • Ponds and wetlands


Proposals for new development must also result in a net gain in biodiversity and include new habitat and biodiversity features taking account of the local context and character of the site, in accordance with the advice of an ecologist and secured for the lifetime of the development. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • Using suitable new planting and trees to extend existing habitats, create green corridors and encourage wildlife
  • Incorporating living walls and roofs
  • Incorporating new habitats and nesting sites such as bat boxes, hedgehog boxes, bird boxes, bird bricks, bug boxes, bug hotels and crevice nesting areas
  • Incorporating natural SuDS and permeable surfaces
  • Creation of ponds and wetlands
  • Incorporation of wildlife friendly kerb/drains
  • Holes in fences for hedgehogs
  • Creation of meadow areas
  • Additional features such as log piles, stone piles and rockeries


Where existing features with biodiversity value occur (e.g. ponds, bat roosts etc.), or where the development area is greater than 0.1ha a biodiversity net gain plan should be submitted. Within this plan, applicants must demonstrate that proposals have adopted a strict approach to the mitigation hierarchy (i.e. avoid, reduce, mitigate, compensate) and are able to quantify all unavoidable impacts on features with biodiversity value. Where an unavoidable impact on biodiversity is predicted, applicants must justify the rationale for this and demonstrate (through the use of a suitable metric such as the Defra biodiversity metric) that a measurable net gain in biodiversity is possible either on or off site. Specialist ecological advice should be sought by the applicant to prepare the biodiversity net gain plan.

Information on the wildlife and biodiversity measures and how they can be easily maintained should be provided to all new residents alongside onsite interpretation panels of ecological features and habitats where appropriate.

New planting must be predominantly compromised of native species suitable to the local area and that have value to wildlife and should include a range of nectar rich and berry producing plants which flower at different times of the year. Small areas of landscaping can be designed for biodiversity through the incorporation of climbers on walls and fences.

Applicants will also be required to set out the maintenance and management arrangements to ensure the longevity of any new features.

Ancient and veteran trees and ancient woodland will also be protected and must be incorporated into any potential development proposals, with suitable buffer areas between net development and retained woodland/trees.

Non-native invasive species that pose a potential risk to existing features with biodiversity value must be removed following best practice methodology before any development takes place. 

Proposals close to rivers or areas of open water will be permitted where it does not have an unacceptable impact on the river in terms of water quality, river flow, or an unacceptable impact on habitats and species. Development proposals should actively enhance the natural functioning, habitat and protection of watercourses. This should include providing adequate natural buffers to watercourses to prevent damage, unculverting piped watercourses and restoring damaged waterbodies.


Performance Indicators for Safeguarding places for Wildlife and Nature

Blue Green Infrastructure Network (No net loss of Blue Green Infrastructure)

Local Wildlife Sites (No net loss of wildlife sites)

Development within 7km of Ashdown Forest (All residential development within 7km of Ashdown Forest to have provided SAMMs contribution)