As you may know Sevenoaks District Council is currently undergoing the process of updating our local plan – a series of key planning policies that will be used to decide planning applications – and to identify a new local housing target up to 2035.
Having an up-to-date local plan in place protects the district from unwanted and unsuitable development. Districts without local plans in place are finding they are losing every planning application at appeal – and unstoppable development is happening all over the place. Without the necessary infrastructure and design in place. Sevenoaks does have a local plan but it needs updating – so we need a new plan in place sooner rather than later to keep us protected.
As part of the process we have had to issue a call for sites, which is a government requirement for all council’s to identify new land for development. Last year the Council asked local landowners to volunteer land and a total of 252 sites were put forward. The majority of these sites are in the Green Belt as most of the 7% of the District not in the Green Belt has already been developed.
Just because land has been put forward it does not mean it will be developed. The next step in the process is for our planners to carry out a detailed investigation of each site and then recommend a shorter list of sites that have the potential to be developed. These sites will be considered by councillors and you will be asked for your views next year.
As you know there is a shortage of homes in this country which is why house prices are so high. In the Sevenoaks District house prices are up to seventeen times higher than average wages preventing local people from being able to afford to live here – causing a range of social issues. The Government has told us we have a duty to identify land for new homes as well as land for employment and local facilities.
The Cabinet member for Planning, at Sevenoaks District Council, Cllr Robert Piper, assures us by saying: “The truth is we have exhausted nearly every site in the built up areas so it is inevitable that, in the coming years, there will be some new development in the Green Belt. But we are committed to ensure only the most suitable and sustainable sites are developed, for example previously built on land, sites that are concreted over, poor quality land or Green Belt land that no longer serves its original purpose.
“We know this work will concern some communities, but we are talking about a fraction of one per cent of the Green Belt being developed and this will not be prime land.
“I want to assure our residents that we will do this job thoroughly and transparently and in full consultation with them and we will continue to do our best to minimise the impact on the Green Belt.”
You can view the sites at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/callforsites and can comment on the accuracy of the information presented by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. The Council will carry out two full consultations on the sites that will be recommend for development in 2017 followed by a public examination by The Government’s Planning Inspector in 2018 before being formally agreed in 2019.