Agenda item

Neighbourhood Plan and Local Plan Update


The Planning Policy Team Leader presented the report, which updated the Committee on neighbourhood planning, national planning reforms, the Local Plan, and the Council’s Active Travel scheme.


The Officer provided an update on neighbourhood planning. She outlined the support the Council provided for town and parish councils throughout the process, including feedback on drafts, providing evidence, organising mapping and printing, and eventually publication and referendum. Sevenoaks Town’s neighbourhood plan had been adopted at Annual Council on 23 May 2023. Enhancing gateway points, new open spaces and community facilities, and active travel were priorities of the plan. No land was allocated for development, but offered support for 13 sites, including the Sevenoaks Quarry site that had since received outline planning permission. Neighbourhood plans for Swanley and Fawkham were at the community consultation stage. Six other plans were at the policy-writing stage of development, and five others had been designated, but not yet advanced further.


The consultation on reforms to the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) closed in March 2023. The government had received roughly 26,000 responses, and it was uncertain when their response to the consultation would be published.


The Local Plan continued to follow its timetable – the Local Development Scheme – and was preparing for its next Regulation 18 consultation in autumn 2023. Progress on the plan, despite the risk of national planning reforms, was important, due to the pressing need for homes and infrastructure within the district, and the need to protect the Green Belt from speculative development. A stage two Green Belt assessment had been undertaken in preparation for the consultation. This would identify sites at the edge of high-tier settlements that were weakly performing (from a Green Belt purposes-perspective), to help address the district’s housing need. The Plan would continue to protect strongly performing Green Belt.


Members heard an update on the progress of the Local Plan’s evidence base. Modelling work to assess the impact of proposed development on the strategic road network and junctions was ongoing. The Strategic Flood Risk Assessment was being updated. The Council was out to tender for work to update its evidence on recreation and leisure facilities. A Biodiversity Net Gain policy was being created, with support from Kent County Council’s Ecological Advice Service, to ensure proposed developments were compliant with the new policy requirement that would take effect in November for major schemes and in spring 2024 for all other development. Infrastructure providers were providing feedback on the implications of proposed developments on infrastructure, which would feed into the development of the Infrastructure Development Plan.


The public consultation on the Sevenoaks Town East-West walking, wheeling, and cycling route would close on 14 July. A final public event would be held on 12 July. The Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) for Swanley was being developed.


In response to questions, the Officer explained that local Members would be notified of proposed site allocations in their wards, for information. A Playing Pitch Strategy would be developed, along with an indoor sports facilities review, as part of the evidence base on recreation and leisure facilities. Members further discussed the need for informal recreational spaces within the district.


Resolved: That the report be noted.


Supporting documents:


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