Sevenoaks District Draft Local Plan Consultation July 2018

Document Section Draft Local Plan July 2018 Executive Summary 1. Finding Places for New Homes [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID DLPP438
Respondent Sevenoaks & Swanley Liberal De… [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 09 Sep 2018
Current Status Accepted

Sevenoaks & Swanley Liberal Democrats

The main constraint on Sevenoaks District Council in its plan is the artificial government target for housing numbers. Changes in the economic and social pressures on different communities present real risks to the plan. The role of international workers in the London economy which Sevenoaks serves, and in local industry and services, is high and the impact of leaving the EU will be significant. It is therefore vital that the targets are reviewed early in the life of the plan.

In-migration to Sevenoaks depends critically on transport links to London for employment for residents. The rail links on which many workers depend are at full capacity, with no new investment planned beyond limited new services via Otford and Swanley on Thameslink, promised for 2018 but not yet delivered.

Significant increases in housing must be conditional on new rail capacity delivered on the Darenth Valley line, improvements on the West Kent Mainline through Sevenoaks and from Swanley during the plan period.

The other key constraint is the Green Belt and AONBs which give the District its special character. We accept that some brownfeld areas may need to be used for new purposes. However, ’Exceptional Circumstances’ Greenbelt sites should not have to deliver such a high proportion of the total number of homes, 6,800 out of 13,400 - over half.

As a higher proportion of additional residents are forecast to be retired people, there should be greater emphasis on attractive, higher density community / co-housing sites (like Rockdale in Sevenoaks), encouraging their development at the heart of existing communities. This would support the sustainability of our town and village centres, and help grow the already vital contribution of older and retired people to their communities. More efficient use of land, and of the housing stock, must be central to the plan, with roles for housing associations better defined.

Where ‘Exceptional Circumstances’ sites are included in the plan there must be clear evidence that social and transport infrastructure will be developed to support them. More important, they must not be so large that the developments overwhelm the communities around them. The proposals at Pedham Place and in Westerham fail both these tests, and should not be included in their current form.

The major developments at Edenbridge and Swanley are also challenging; to be accepted these need clear resolution of transport and social infrastructure needs. The total for developments in Halstead also run the risk of overwhelming the local community, and the access links.

Major development proposed around the quarries in north Sevenoaks needs to be limited to avoid impinging on Seal and Kemsing, and to safeguard the function of the Green Belt separating settlements. Seal Parish Council make the point that neither the draft Local Plan nor Tarmac acknowledge that existing mineral conditions on the quarry site require restoration and public access for recreation, without the need for enabling development, This omission requires correction, to make absolutely sure that funding generated by new development contributes to new infrastructure, and is not diverted for restoration which the site owners are already required to carry out.