Sevenoaks District Draft Local Plan Consultation July 2018

Document Section Draft Local Plan July 2018 A Balanced Strategy for Sustainable Growth in a Constrained District Policy 1 - A Balanced Strategy For Growth in a Constrained District [View all comments on this section]
Comment ID DLPP1102
Respondent Mr (GCJ Eclair-Heath ID-3967) [View all comments by this respondent]
Response Date 28 Sep 2018
Current Status Accepted

Policy 1 Finding Places for new homes
1.1 The Number of new homes that should be built
Government has come up with a need for 13,960 new homes in Sevenoaks District.
The Sevenoaks Housing Needs study of 2015 (Conclusion 9.10) showed a much lesser need of 524 extra homes pa to support the district’s population. This equates to 9432 homes between 2018 and the end of the plan in 2036.
An alternative projection of need can be made from another study by Sevenoaks (2017 Local Housing Needs Study). There were 49,667 dwellings in 2016 and growth in population up to 2039 (4 years beyond the current local plan) was projected as 19.8%. By 2035 that growth would be some 17%. The total need for dwellings by 2035 would be 57,862, a rise of 8,195. Occupancy rates have been very stable, but even allowing a drop from 2.4 to 2.3 persons the total housing requirement would be 60,377. This rather extreme case would lead to a new dwelling requirement of 10,710 by 2035, nowhere near the 13,960 being demanded by central government, and supportive of the results of the 2015 study.
We must build homes. However, the scale must reflect the need of the local community and only go beyond that with the express consent of that community.
Government’s proposal for housing numbers in Sevenoaks District is unacceptable and cannot be accepted. The community should support the extra housing need identified by the District Council but no more.
1.2 The geographic burden of home building
Building new homes on a large proportional scale can change a community. If that is going to happen it should do so only with the explicit approval of the community. The community must provide for its own need when considering this, but is entitled to reject an imposition of some quota beyond its own needs from elsewhere.
Edenbridge Development Sites
Edenbridge is a market town in a rural setting, and is not urban. The community was 9590 people at the last 2016 estimate, a rise of 22% from the 2001 census figure of 7809 people, following intensive rebuilding within the town boundaries. This contrasts with the whole of South East England which has increased by 12.8% over the same period. A further 581 sites are already designated including a single major site of 300 homes already being built in the town by Bellway. Together these will house an increase of 1394 people or 14.5%. This is without building into the green belt around the town.
To take its proportional share of the 17% population growth in the district up to 2035, Edenbridge would need to find space for another 240 people above those already planned, which is just 100 homes beyond those already planned.
This would represent a reasonable compromise of meeting needs but not changing wholesale the rural nature of the town and might be explicable to people who otherwise express their feeling as “being dumped on”. Any accusation of “nimbyism” is answered by Edenbridge having hugely exceeded its share in the past 15 years and it will be taking its share fully going forward.
When it comes to planning for the future, I acknowledge that a town like Edenbridge must accept change, and very likely accept growth. The argument should not be whether to grow, but how to grow.
The requirement from central government on Sevenoaks to supply 14,000 new homes is scandalous. As usual it is taking a problem in another place and shunting it down the line. Natural growth in the population of Sevenoaks would require materially fewer houses. We are being forced to accept migration, and frankly that is unacceptable when it causes the loss of green belt. I hope the District Council is fighting on this.
All the three development plans for Edenbridge mention providing a medical facility. However, it turns out that none of the promoters is actually supplying any funding for it. The idea of leaving space for someone else to build a medical facility is being used to justify a change from green belt designation. It should require a rock solid commitment in cash and timing from someone who will supply the facility before a site is redesignated.
Of the three sites, Breezehurst is remote from and not contiguous with the town. Access on foot is poor, for vehicles the road would need widening and footpaths built (land would have to be acquired for this).
The Crouch House Road development by Wates also suffers from accessibility on the minor roads but to a lesser extent. It is still some distance from the town centre, particularly for a medical facility. We have no insight into dwelling design, but while increased densities are a way forward, the proposal to build (say) 275 homes on the area designated for houses gives a density of 12 per acre, which is very dense, as the outer perimeter bordering green belt will have to be low densiy. This proposal also affects the largest number of existing residents. On its boundary there is a large number of dwellings whose outlook currently over green belt will disappear.
The note saying there is no flooding is wrong. Springfield is the name for a reason, and in winter water bubbles up through the ground!
The Four Elms Road Development affects virtually no existing residents. The railway borders it to the North, the sewage works to the east and open land to the south. It is close to EBT station. It is alongside the library and day centre. It is close to the High Street and to the new Lidl. Close to the main road, and to the primary school. The proposed medical centre can be located next to existing public buildings and the land adjacent on which it could be built is already in public ownership through Kent County Council.
The boundary of the Four Elms Road development should be determined by the need to build just 100 dwellings on it in the planning period. This would bring the boundary to Skinners Lane.
The increase in housing is very significant and service capacities (water, waste, roads, rail) all need to follow. How these developments will fund these extra costs must be made clear.
It is being suggested Edenbridge should take 15 new traveller pitches in, compared to just 35 across the whole of the rest of the district. The existing site is already above the recommended maximum level, and any increase should be resisted.