Sevenoaks District Draft Local Plan Consultation July 2018

Draft Local Plan July 2018

Sevenoaks Vision 2015-2035 and Objectives of the Local Plan

Sevenoaks Vision 2015-2035

Sevenoaks District will strive to meet housing and employment needs without compromising the built and natural environment that is cherished by people who live, work and relax in the area. We will work with partners to ensure that growth is accompanied by a wide range of supporting infrastructure, particularly for education, health, transport and open space. Sevenoaks District will continue to thrive as a desirable place where people choose to build their lives.

People and Housing

The District is made up of patchwork of distinct communities with strong local character and we will protect this local identity for existing and future generations. People will be safe and healthy and proud of the area in which they live and work. There will be a choice of accommodation to meet the needs of the residents of the District, including affordable housing and homes for older people.

The District will help the delivery of new homes in a sustainable way, by making effective use of urban land within existing settlements and other brownfield land, thereby continuing to protect the Green Belt. Green Belt boundaries will only be altered in 'exceptional circumstances'.

Jobs and the Economy

The potential of the District's accessible location along major transport routes will be maximised to ensure a dynamic local economy, both urban and rural. The range of employment opportunities available in the District will be maintained and strengthened, and town centres will be the focus for retail and leisure opportunities. Broadband connectivity will be widely established, particularly to support rural communities and the visitor economy will be thriving. The District will benefit from the delivery of new employment opportunities, especially in offices. Retail and leisure activity in the town centres will be thriving. Challenges associated with the M25 (including air quality) and infrastructure provision (particularly medical and education facilities) are recognised and we will work with partners to facilitate improvements in these areas.

Nature and the Environment

All of the District's landscapes, habitats, historic and heritage assets, including the two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, will continue to be conserved and enhanced in a way which protects local identity and distinctiveness. New development will be of high quality sustainable design responding to local character.

Objectives

Topic

Objective

'Housing'

1. Promote housing choice for all

'Natural and Built Environment'

2. Promote well designed, safe places and safeguard and enhance the District's distinctive high quality natural and built environments

'Economy'

3. Support a vibrant local economy both urban and rural

'Infrastructure'

4. Support lively communities with well performing town and village centres which provide a range of services, facilities and infrastructure

'Health'

5. Promote healthy living opportunities

'Green Future'

6. Promote a greener future

 
These six objectives, which were established at the outset of the Local Plan process, and consulted on as part of the Issues and Options consultation in 2017, set out a way of achieving the Vision. They help to focus priorities for future work and investment but also provide structure and easily understood headings against which Local Plan progress can be monitored each year.

The objectives for the Local Plan come from the key issues which have been derived from evidence gathering and other plans and strategies. These include our Corporate Plan, Community Plan, the current adopted Core Strategy, the Sustainability Appraisal that accompanies this Plan, together with new Housing Strategy and Economic Development Strategy.

The objectives are also mindful of changing Government priorities around areas such as health, economic development, technology and infrastructure.

Current Adopted Policies

The Core Strategy was adopted in 2011 and the associated Allocations and Development Management Plan (ADMP) was adopted in 2015. However, because the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was adopted in 2012, and amongst other alterations, changed the way housing need was calculated, there is a requirement to update our Plan. Many of the policies contained in these existing documents remain relevant and it is the intention to carry these over into the new Local Plan, particularly in relation to Development Management policies and site allocations which have not yet been implemented. Over the past ten years, 2,626 homes have been completed (or 250 homes per year) against a target of 165 homes per year and last year 48 affordable homes were completed (against a target of 66 pa). In addition, our planning department is the busiest in Kent, with 2,269 planning applications received in 2017/18.

The Authority Monitoring Report (AMR) has been used since 2006 to report on how successful the adopted policies in the Core Strategy and Allocations and Development Management Plan have been in achieving sustainable development that meets local needs and national priorities. The AMR is used to track progress against the performance indicators set out in the policies in the Council's adopted planning documents.

There have been a number of key issues which have been identified during this time as set out in the table below. The new Local Plan will address these issues as set out in the following table.

Key Issue

Findings from the AMR

Draft Local Plan Approach

Successes  

Housing density

The average density of completed housing units was 60 DPH over the last five years, compared to the Core Strategy target of 40 DPH.

Policy for a new flexible approach to higher density to make the most efficient use of land.

Design - Building for Life

The AMR reports that the majority of schemes assessed generally scored 'very good' or 'good'

Integrate more widely in design policy to ensure high quality development across smaller sites.

Town Centres

The number of retail units within the three main town centres (Sevenoaks town, Swanley and Edenbridge) were consistent with monitoring targets reported in 2016/2017 with Sevenoaks just under the target of 70% at 69%, although still successful.

New policy supports a varied mix of town centre uses which better meet the needs of the town centre whilst encouraging reuse of existing retail units.

Challenges  

Affordable housing

The affordable housing target of 40% has not been met almost every year since the introduction of the target.

The Local Plan promotes innovative ways of providing affordable housing and includes a new, more flexible policy. It also explores an alternative approach of introducing a lower target, where viability information will not need to be provided on policy-compliant schemes.

Key Issue

Findings from the AMR

Draft Local Plan Approach

Change of use from office accommodation to residential under permitted development

As at 31st March 2016, the District had lost approximately 17,000 m² of office floorspace within 12 buildings. A further 4900 m² could be lost from schemes yet to be implemented following the introduction of permitted development in 2013 to allow for change of use from office accommodation to residential without planning permission.

Article 4 directions will be served on all office accommodation on allocated sites to prevent change of use without the requirement of planning permission.

 
The Local Plan encompasses a wide range of objectives including social, environmental and economic issues; its policies establish the relationship between these objectives and the use of land. The AMR will continue to monitor progress against new performance indicators.

The following chart explains how the chapters in this Plan relate to the six key objectives above and outlines how these objectives will be delivered by addressing the following key issues:

Chapter

Issues Addressed within this Chapter

Link to Objectives

1. A balanced strategy for sustainable growth in a constrained District

Sustainability
Headline needs
Duty to Co-operate
Place-making
Housing Supply

1-'Housing'
3-'Economy'

2. Protecting, conserving and enhancing Green Belt, landscape and the natural environment

Natural environment and Landscape
Green Belt

2-'Natural and Built Environment'

3. Safeguarding places for Wildlife and Nature

Biodiversity and Ecology

2-'Natural and Built Environment'
6- 'Green Future'

4. Ensuring well-connected communities are supported by appropriate infrastructure

Infrastructure priorities, particularly transport, health, education & broadband
Developer contributions
Viability

4-'Infrastructure'

Chapter

Issues Addressed within this Chapter

Link to Objectives

5. Providing for housing choices

Affordable Housing, incl. older people
Housing mix, size, type, and density
Gypsies and travellers

1-'Housing'

6. Supporting a vibrant and balanced economy

Employment needs and supply
Rural and visitor economy
Retail and town centres
Tourism

3-'Economy'
4-'Infrastructure'

7. Ensuring new development respects local distinctiveness

Design
Heritage and Conservation

2-'Natural and Built Environment'
6-'Green Future'

8. Health and Well-being

Health and wellbeing
Air quality
Climate Change and flood risk

5-'Health'
6-'Green Future'

9. Leisure and Open Space

Leisure
Open Space and Recreation

5-'Health'
6-'Green Future'

 
Equalities and Health Impact Assessments

This local plan will have a positive impact on equality by creating housing choice for all, providing green spaces for all to enjoy, seeking high quality development and providing a range of facilities to serve local need. A full Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) will be carried out alongside the Local Plan before submission to the Secretary of State for Pre-Submission Consultation (Regulation 19).

The Local Plan has the potential to positively influence the general health of the District by identifying sustainable transport (ie. Walking and cycling) as opportunities to improve physical activity, provision of housing to suit peoples needs and accessibility to green infrastructure, open space and sports facilities. The Health Impact Assessment (HIA) will be updated alongside the Local Plan before submission to the Secretary of State for Pre-Submission Consultation (Regulation 19).