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

Chapter 8 - The Historic Environment


Supporting Evidence

  • Village Design Statements
  • Residential Character Area Assessments
  • Landscape Character Assessment 2016
  • Parish Plans
  • Conservation Area Appraisals
  • Historic Environment Review

Historic Environment

8.1 These policies seek to draw together a comprehensive approach to conserving and enhancing the District's Historic Environment.

8.2 The historic environment is a valuable asset which can contribute to wider strategic objectives such as economic development, urban regeneration, high quality urban design and planning, tourism, leisure, education and sustainability. It is important that planning decisions consider heritage assets in the District in the round, alongside wider objectives as set out in this Plan.

8.3 The Historic Environment Review for Sevenoaks District examines the District's historic environment to form the basis for conservation and heritage local planning. It recommends that the review of heritage assets should be prioritised for areas of high vulnerability (including conservation areas without up-to-date appraisals) or areas facing development pressure. As well as focusing on specific assets, it is important to consider the main themes and characteristics which help to form the District's local distinctiveness and which make a significant contribution to its heritage as summarised in the Historic Environment Review. 


Theme Diagram only



Policy HEN1 - Historic Environment

Proposals for development will be required to reflect the local distinctiveness, condition and sensitivity to change of the historic environment as defined in the following guidance:

  • Local Plan policies relating to design, heritage assets and landscape character
  • Other relevant principles in the hierarchy of local guidance including the Kent Design SPD, Kent Historic Environment Record (HER) and the Local List SPD
  • Findings as set out in the Sevenoaks District Historic Environment Review, Conservation Area Appraisals, Sevenoaks Landscape Character Assessment

All new development should demonstrate an awareness and commitment to the overall protection and, where possible, enhancement of the historic environment of the District by making positive reference to the themes in the Historic Environment Review and demonstrating the following in Planning Statements or Design and Access Statements:

  1. Clear consideration of the relationship with the historic evolution of the District and local area;
  2. A broad appreciation of the historic character of the local area including current conditions;
  3. An understanding of the presence of heritage assets and their associated significance, vulnerabilities and opportunities; 

Heritage Assets

8.4 A 'heritage asset' is the term used to describe highly valued components which make up the historic character of the District, they can be buildings, monuments, woodland, particular street scenes or areas, landscapes or outstanding views.

8.5 Sevenoaks District is characterised by a significant legacy of historic towns and villages, with many listed buildings, Conservation Areas and extensive areas of ancient woodland. These heritage assets and their settings are a key feature of the District, as they provide interest, variety, local character and distinctiveness to the many settlements and wider countryside.

8.6 A Designated Heritage Asset is an asset protected by national legislation and includes:

  • Scheduled Monuments
  • Listed Buildings
  • Conservation Areas
  • Registered Historic Parks and Gardens


Sev 220

8.7 Non-designated heritage assets have no statutory protection but they do receive protection under the National Planning Policy Framework because of their contribution to the wider landscape and to the wider social, cultural, economic and environmental benefits that conservation of the historic environment can bring. They include;

  • Locally Listed Buildings
  • Unregistered parks and gardens
  • Buildings identified in the Conservation Area Appraisal as making a positive contribution to the character
  • Other buildings, monuments, sites, places, areas or landscapes identified as having a degree of significance meriting consideration in planning decisions.

8.8 In some cases, during the assessment of a planning application a site may be identified as a non-designated heritage asset if it is considered to make a positive contribution to the area’s character and sense of place through its heritage value.

8.9 Heritage assets are an irreplaceable resource and they should be conserved and enhanced in a manner appropriate to their significance. Applications affecting heritage assets will be determined in accordance with national planning policy and legislation.


8.10 Scheduled monuments are protected against disturbance, and therefore prior consent from the Secretary of State is required for all works affecting such monuments, whether or not those works require planning permission. Some types of work generally related to agriculture or gardening, where these activities are already being carried out, are allowed to proceed without such consent.

8.11 Owners are encouraged to maintain their Scheduled Monuments in good condition by adopting sympathetic land uses. However, as scheduling is not comprehensive, this Plan makes provision for the protection of future Scheduled Monuments and archaeological sites, as well as those that have already been identified.

8.12 Most archaeological sites are not Scheduled Monuments but nonetheless play an important role in the historic environment, contributing to a sense of place and providing people with a direct physical link to the past and bring to life stories and events occurring at an international, national, regional and local level. Sevenoaks District Council will follow Kent County Council’s guidance on ‘Areas of Archaeology Potential’.

Listed Buildings

8.13 National legislation provides for the protection of Listed Buildings under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. There is a presumption in favour of retaining Listed Buildings so permission to demolish will be the exception and only allowed if all other options to retain the building are demonstrated to have been thoroughly explored.

8.14 The repair, renovation, alteration and extension of a Listed Building should not be at the expense of its intrinsic value. It is important to guard against unnecessary change to the special interest of the building or over-restoration. In most cases materials should be sympathetic to those used in the original building. With new additions, contrasting materials may complement the historic fabric and provide a distinct and clearly legible layer of history, representing new materials and craftsmanship that emphasises the quality of the original work. In particular the District Council will resist applications that result in the loss of traditional features that contribute to the significance of the building.

8.15 Listed Buildings may become vacant and derelict if no acceptable use can be found and therefore buildings must have an economic future. The original use may be the most appropriate and will be encouraged where possible. Alternative uses for a listed building, compatible with its character and built form, will be encouraged where the original use of the building is no longer viable.

8.16 Where the District Council considers that a proposal would have an impact on the setting of a Listed Building, it will require the submission of a Heritage Statement identifying the contribution that the setting makes on the significance of the Listed Building and the impact of the proposals on this setting.

Locally Listed Buildings

8.17 A Local List SPD has been prepared which comprises a database of buildings across Sevenoaks town which are now locally listed. This approach is being extended to other areas of the District. Any proposals affecting a Locally Listed Building should consider the reasons why it was included on the Local List, and should avoid harming its distinctive features or character. It is also important to note that some buildings might not qualify for local listing but still play a role in contributing to local historic character.

Conservation Areas

8.18 Sevenoaks District has many designated Conservation Areas which vary greatly in their nature and character. Their special distinctiveness is derived not only from the quality of the buildings but the historic layout of roads, paths and boundaries, the building and paving materials and the strength of relationship between the historic settlement and its rural landscape.

8.19 Local authorities are legally obliged to review their conservation areas from time to time. We are committed to the review of Conservation Areas Appraisals and Management Plans. In addition to the statutory requirements in relation to content, there is an increasing emphasis on historic character and implications for capturing the essence of an area for the purposes of broader place-making.

8.20 Once designated, special attention must be paid in all planning decisions to the preserving or enhancing of the character and appearance. The choice of materials and detailed design are vital elements in achieving new buildings that preserve the local character and distinctiveness, which typifies the District's Conservation Areas. High quality contemporary design is not precluded from Conservation Areas provided that it sits harmoniously with the special character of the Area in order to assess the impact of proposals whether for redevelopment or alterations/additions to buildings, the District Council will require an appropriate level of detail including drawings or other pictorial material which shows the proposed development in its setting.


Policy HEN2 - Heritage Assets

Proposals that affect a designated or non-designated Heritage Asset, or its setting, will be permitted where the development sustains or enhances the heritage interest of the asset.

Applications will be assessed with reference to the following:

a) The significance of the asset and its setting

b) The significance of any elements to be lost.

Any development that might affect the significance of a listed or locally listed building, conservation area, registered park of gardens, scheduled monument, historic landscape or an archaeological site will be required to submit a Heritage Statement with any Planning and/or Listed Building Consent Application. This includes development affecting their setting. The assessment of proposals should make reference to the Sevenoaks District Historic Environment Review and relevant guidance.

Where an application is located within, or would affect an area of Archaeological Potential or suspected area of archaeological importance an archaeological assessment must be provided to ensure that provision is made for the preservation of important archaeological remains/findings. Preference will be given to preservation in situ unless it can be shown that recording of remains, assessment, analysis report and deposition of archive is more appropriate.


Performance Indicators for The Historic Environment

Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans (All Conservation Area Appraisals to be reviewed during plan period)

Conservation Area Extents (No reduction in the extent of Conservation areas due to insensitive development)

Conservation Area Demolitions (No demolitions should be granted contrary to advice from the Conservation Officer and/or Historic England)

Heritage Assets (No loss of listed buildings, historic parks and gardens, scheduled ancient Monuments or sites of archaeological interest)