Agenda item

To consider any questions by Members under paragraph 19.3 of Part 2 (The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution, notice of which have been duly given.


Two questions had been received from two Members in accordance with paragraph 19.3 of Part 2 The Council and District Council Members) of the Constitution.


Question 1: Cllr Dr Canet

“There is an increasing number of older people living in our district, as shown by the recent census, most of us will want to keep a measure of our independence especially as Kent County Council is under a lot of pressure to meet Adult Social Care needs. What is Sevenoaks District Council doing to enable suitable housing to be built in the district to meet the needs of private owners? Many of us would like to be able and must in future help each other. Developments similar to Rockdale could be a solution.”

Response: Leader of the Council


“If by Older people Cllr Dr Canet is talking about the over 65’s then between 2015 and 2020 the district saw a less than 1% increase in the number of older people, however as with all age groups we continue to see an increasing need for housing of all types and tenures

As with the Housing Strategy 2022-2027, the Targeted Review of Local Housing Needs (2022) and Older Persons Housing Study (2022) form the key evidence that informs the housing policies in the emerging Local Plan.

These studies identify a requirement for around 1,000 new units of specialist older persons accommodation over the plan period to 2040.  The Older Person’s Housing Study (2022) shows that while 67% of older people want to stay living in their existing home with help and support when needed, there are also significant numbers (24%) who would like to move to a more suitable home – in a suitable location with access to transport, broadband, shops, healthcare and other amenities – if one were available.

It is widely recognised that there is huge diversity in what older people are looking for and that many could afford to buy on the open market. However, it is evident that there is a gap in supply.

A new Local Plan policy that specifically considers housing for older people will address the gap. It will ensure that a sufficient supply and range of housing and accommodation suitable for older people (both market and affordable) is delivered over the Local Plan period 2022-2040 in order to meet the specific needs of this group and to assist in the creation of mixed, balanced and inclusive communities. The new policy sets out a number of criteria that applicants will be expected to meet including making sure that the proposed development is in a well-connected and sustainable location, that it incorporates high quality design principles in order to offer attractive alternatives to the current home, that it meets the required accessibility standards and has access to private or communal outdoor space.

The emerging Local Plan (entitled Plan 2040: A new Local Plan for Sevenoaks District) will undergo public consultation starting Wednesday 16th November and running to Wednesday 11th January 2023. We would love as many of our residents as possible to get involved, and in particular those who have an interest in housing for older people to comment on the proposed policy.

For households who wish to remain in their homes, we will continue to provide support through the provision of Disabled Facilities Grants and other discretionary grants which are set out in the Council’s Private Sector Housing Assistance Policy.

I am sure Cllr Dr Canet will agree that those Wards without the national planning constraints that cover the vast majority of the district will need to do more to provide all the housing types needed going forward and I am also sure she will be doing all she can to bring appropriate sites forward in her own ward.”


Supplementary question: Cllr Dr Canet


How do you think the planning department can meet these needs?


Response: Leader of the Council


The Leader advised that 67% of older people who took part in the survey want to stay in their own homes and at some point they would need support to stay. There was a  growing number that would want to move and the local plan looked at how to support that going forward.


In accordance with the Constitution, no further discussion was allowed.


Question 2: Cllr Streatfeild


“An important source of financial support for rural businesses was removed when the West Kent Leader programme came to an end last year, could the leader of the council outline what support the District is going to put in place for rural businesses in Penshurst Fordcombe and Chiddingstone and across the District and will it be better than the Leader programme?”

Response: Leader of the Council

“The West Kent Leader programme was considered as one of the most successful in the country, in fact towards the end of the programme we continued to have such a strong pipeline of projects that we applied for the underspend from other areas, although this wasn’t possible due to EU Leader rules it showed just how positively the programme was seen by our rural businesses and communities.

The LEADER Programme closure report has recently been shared with Finance & Investment Advisory Committee and Improvement & Innovation Advisory Committee and the positive outcomes from this scheme were recognised by partners across Kent and provide an excellent example of how to support our rural areas, which is why we intend to build on LEADERS legacy and use these findings to inform future programmes.

In July the UK Shared Prosperity fund was announced by Government with an allocation of £1million funding for the District to assist in Levelling up local areas with the requirement to submit an investment plan by 1August 2022.  Whilst we still await approval to begin spending on this programme, the submitted investment plan includes a range of projects to support businesses, town centres, communities and residents throughout the District.  The range of schemes will be further discussed with Town and Parish Councils and local stakeholders to ensure that the schemes are promoted in local areas and that specific local needs are included wherever possible.

In addition on 3 September the Rural England Prosperity fund (REPF)  was announced which provided an additional allowance for rural areas, for Sevenoaks District this amounts to £501,000 which requires an addendum to the UKSPF investment plan to be submitted by end November.  Cabinet discussed proposals on 10 November and agreed the proposal to use this funding to work with West Kent Districts (Tonbridge and Malling Borough and Tunbridge Wells Borough) to develop a follow on to the LEADER scheme using the lessons learned from previous delivery to design the new programme.   

The REPF funding is Capital funding with no allowance for administration therefore economies of scale in terms of the animation and administration of the funding can be made by working across the West Kent area as per the LEADER scheme, the geography also makes sense to many rural businesses.  However it should be noted that all Sevenoaks allocation will be ring fenced for spend in Sevenoaks District.  This scheme has the support or local rural landowners, a number of rural businesses who were consulted including the previous LEADER Executive Group.  Letters of support have been received from all 3 of the District MP’s who were supportive of both the use of funding in this way and the collaboration across West Kent area.   

The definition of rural for the purposes of this scheme is towns, villages and hamlets with under 10,000 population and market hub towns with a population of up to 30,000 that provide services to local rural areas, therefore giving coverage across the District. 

Government approval to commence spend is expected in early 2023 with a view to the scheme being launched in April 2023 running through to March 2025. The scheme will support businesses and community organisations with Capital grant funding, and interventions include supporting businesses, community organisations, the visitor economy sector, cultural and heritage sector and rural circular economy projects.  Whilst the details are still being confirmed the expectation is for an intervention rate of 50% and grants in the region of up to £25,000, levels based on the evaluation of the LEADER scheme. 

It has been noted that the administrative burden on applicants should be appropriate for the size of funding and that support to develop and submit applications would be advisable. 

Local councillors will be asked to assist with promotion of the scheme within their areas to ensure as many local businesses and organisations are aware of the opportunity as possible.


Supplementary question: Cllr Streatfeild


Please could you confirm that the £25,000 limit to allegedly leverage private capital, how effective do you think that’s going to be at that scale?


Response: Leader of the Council


The Leader advised that the conclusion report on the LEADER programme showed that even grants at that level managed to access other funding, and often the funding that was found for LEADER, brought the greatest benefit was some of the smaller grants. This was why when there was only a limited resource looking on the history of the projects that came through LEADER but were also in the pipeline should LEADER have continued, looked at £25,000 being the appropriate figure for us to get the most bang for our buck.


In accordance with the Constitution, no further discussion was allowed.


Question 3: Cllr Clayton

“Data on the national website   shows that in the year ended March 2021 Sevenoaks District Council:

- recycled 36.6% of domestic waste collected

- collected 414kg of waste per person across he District

- had 'residual household waste’  of 616 kg per household across the District.

By comparison, figures for the 4 top collection authority Districts in England  (most around the M25) are

- 62 to 64% recycled

- 325 to 389 kg collected per person

- 335 to 404 kg residual waste per household 

Our nearest neighbours (Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge and Tandridge) show the following performance:

- 48 to 60% recycled

- 355 to 415 kg collected per person

- 379 to 480kg residual waste per household

This data shows Sevenoaks:

-  generates much more domestic waste than most other councils (getting on for 40% more)

-  recycles well below the national average, and almost 30% less than the best

-  has ‘residual waste per household’ about 70% above the most successful recycling councils; over 250 kilos per household, or about 12,000 tones of extra unrecycled waste every year across the District

Does the Council recognise the importance of this in Sevenoaks Districts’ overall carbon footprint, and how far will the impact be reduced by 2030?”


Response: Leader of the Council

“What of course the figures don’t show is household typography and recent history which has an enormous impact on waste figures. Since the pandemic we have seen approximately a 20% increase in the collection weights of household waste, mirroring more people being at home, creating and disposing of more waste locally.

When you look at waste to landfill figures Sevenoaks doesn’t even register on the scale with a figure below 1%, with a maximum figure for English Districts of over 50% of waste going to landfill.

As Cllr Clayton will be aware, the UK Waste hierarchy places recovery and recycling above disposal, we have entered a period where the Sevenoaks district disposes of less than 1% of the waste collected

In the examples given in the question, it is worth remembering that in 2019 Tonbridge & Malling and Tunbridge Wells both entered into a new waste contract, this I think they would agree did not start well and got worse during the pandemic period, a quick google will tell you that some residents were, for an extended period, making their own arrangements including taking waste to the municipal tip and also in some cases engaging external contractors to pick up their domestic waste, none of this will have entered their figures.

Sevenoaks District Council continued to collect waste and recycling throughout the pandemic, something I am sure Cllr Claytons residents were grateful of.

It is also worth noting that although these councils offer separate food waste collections that audits show similar amounts of food waste entering the residual waste stream between all authorities, this shows that Sevenoaks residents are either, less wasteful of food overall or are composting and re-using any food waste, again a step higher than simply recycling in the waste hierarchy.

Similarly, with glass, those neighbouring councils collecting glass at the doorstep versus our 40 site disposal scheme, a scheme that sees almost no glass entering the Sevenoaks waste stream through the residual waste route, however due to some recycling sites within the district sitting outside our control and operated privately, Sainsbury’s Otford Road as an example, and with both glass and food being higher weight recycling we don’t benefit from all this tonnage when it comes to our overall ‘recycling’ figures.

We will continue to work with residents and business to achieve at the most preferred end of the UK Waste hierarchy, prevention, and re-use, whilst also making sure none of the district’s residual waste is disposed of and is instead recovered or recycled, these actions will have a positive impact in terms of the district overall journey to Net Zero

Supplementary Question: Cllr Clayton


How much of the Districts waste through incineration ends up producing Co2 and how much can we get that down by - the district’s current system is designed to reduce landfill it is not designed to reduce climate impact. When is that going to change?


Response: Leader of the Council


I answered the question I was asked and referenced to all of the references made by the Questioner in his question. This included neighbouring authorities information and provided Members with an explanation to the point that was trying to be made.  The Questioner believed that our waste collection scheme was in some way inferior to our neighbours. Using the UK’s waste hierarchy we would be looking at the upper end of the waste hierarchy reducing the impact of waste within the district, over that period and therefore having a positive impact on our net zero ambitions for the District.  


In accordance with the Constitution, no further discussion was allowed.


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