Sevenoaks District Draft Local Plan Consultation July 2018

Draft Local Plan July 2018

2 Protecting, Conserving and Enhancing Green Belt, Landscape and the Natural Environment

 

Protecting our Countryside

The Sevenoaks District is 93% Green Belt and 60% AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty). It is part of the Local Plan to restrict development within the Green Belt in order to protect the special character of the District. We need to make sure that any new development respects our unique landscapes.

 

Supporting Evidence

  • Landscape Character Area Assessment 2016
  • Kent Downs AONB Management Plan and associated documents and position statements
  • High Weald AONB Management Plan and associated documents and positions statements
  • Green Belt Assessment 2017
  • Green Belt Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) (to be updated and replaced)

www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/localplan

Landscape and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)

2.1 Sevenoaks District is an attractive place to live and work for all generations. The diverse landscape and strong historic features have contributed to the special and distinctive character of the District. More than 60% of the District lies within the Kent Downs or High Weald Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and 11% of the District is covered in irreplaceable Ancient Woodland (compared with the UK average of 2%).

2.2 The Landscape Character Assessment 2016 provides a detailed review of the entire District including the AONBs. 

Policy 3 - Landscape and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty 

The landscape character of the District and the countryside, including areas of tranquillity, will be conserved and the distinctive features that contribute to the special character will be protected and enhanced where possible.

Proposals within the Kent Downs and High Weald Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and their settings must conserve and enhance the character of the landscape with regard to the relevant management plan, associated documents and position statements. Consideration must be given to the:

  • Scale and form of development
  • Layout in relation to adjacent settlements and settlements patterns
  • Impact on scenic beauty
  • Use of materials and colours
  • Rural economic impact, either positive or negative
  • Historic use of buildings, site and surroundings

Enhancement may include but is not limited to:

  • Improvement of scenic beauty e.g. the removal or improvement of currently detrimental buildings or features; or by obscuring or distracting from negative features such as pylons, substations and major roads.
  • Restoring historic features and replacing existing materials with more appropriate and local materials
  • Supporting the local economy e.g. using local materials, including features reliant on local materials such as wood for biomass boilers, supporting new rural business etc.
  • Restoring historic settlement patterns, historic field patterns or historic routeways
  • Allowing new appropriate public access
  • Restoration of native planting and natural features including trees, hedgerows, meadows and grassland.
  • Improving tranquillity and reducing the existing impact of noise and lighting  

Green Belt

2.3 Sevenoaks District adjoins London and is predominantly rural in character with 93% of the District designated as Metropolitan Green Belt, the third highest percentage in England. The particular function of the Green Belt in Kent is to form a buffer to the outward growth of London, preserving the open countryside between the edge of London and the settlements of West Kent.

2.4 The general purposes of the Green Belt is to:Hills between shoreham and lullingstone

  • check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another;
  • assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.

2.5 The most important attribute of the Green Belt is its openness and the fundamental aim of Green Belt policy is to keep land permanently open. The 2017 study assessing the District's Green Belt finds that all areas continue to perform against at least one of the five purposes of Green Belt making its continued designation appropriate unless 'exceptional circumstances' are clearly identified.

Extensions and replacement buildings in the Green Belt

2.6 It is reasonable for those living or working in the Green Belt to be able to extend or replace their buildings, to cater for changing family needs or to provide updated facilities and accommodation. Proposals to extend or replace buildings in the Green Belt are not inappropriate development provided extensions are proportionate and replacements are like-for-like or 'not materially larger' in scale. Previous versions of the Local Plan have included a policy that allows the extension of a dwelling by up to 50% above the floor area of the original dwelling. Floor-space alone does not reflect the impact of the development of the openness of the Green Belt, but the percentage should be used as a guide, where extensions or replacements that result in an increase of more than 50% above the original floor-space are unlikely to be acceptable. The principles that determine the acceptability of a scheme are based on design and the impact that the form and appearance of the extension/replacement have on the openness of the Green Belt.

Basements in buildings in the Green Belt

2.7 The construction of basements in buildings in the Green Belt would not generally impact on the openness of the Green Belt in terms of their physical presence, providing that the basements are located entirely underground, are not visible externally and are not artificially raised above natural ground level or result in the re-grading of the site.

Dwellings permitted as Rural Exceptions in the Green Belt

2.8 Rural exception schemes are permitted based on a proven local need for housing of a certain size and type, as identified through rural housing needs surveys. As these developments have been allowed as an exception to normal Green Belt policy, to meet identified local housing needs, it is reasonable not to allow future extensions and additions which would impact on the size and affordability of these units or their suitability to meet specific housing needs. 

  

Policy 4 - Development in the Green Belt

Extensions and replacement buildings in the Green Belt

Proposals to extend or replace buildings in the Green Belt will be permitted where the design of the proposal does not materially harm the openness of the Green Belt through disproportionate scale, bulk or visual intrusion. As a guide, the total floorspace of the proposal, together with any previous extensions or outbuildings, should not result in an increase of more than 50% above the floorspace of the original dwelling (measured externally). Extensions should be subservient to the original building and replacement buildings should not be materially larger than the building they replace.

Basements in buildings in the Green Belt

Proposals for the provision of basements in buildings in the Green Belt will be permitted where

  1. The basement would be situated entirely underground with no part of it visible at any point externally and there would be no external windows, light wells, entrances or exits to the basement
  2. The building would not be artificially raised above natural ground level and the topography of the site would not be altered/re-graded, to accommodate the basement 

Dwellings permitted as Rural Exceptions in the Green Belt

Applications to extend dwellings or erect or extend outbuildings to dwellings that have been permitted as part of a rural exception scheme will not be permitted.