Agenda item

Local Plan Regulation 18 Consultation


The Portfolio Holder for Development & Conservation presented the report, which sought Members approval. He advised that the Regulation 18, Part 2 Consultation was the next step for the Local Plan, following part 1 demonstrating that the contribution of  non-Green Belt sites would not meet the housing need. Therefore, a further consultation must take place to look at the opportunity for meeting the need and what opportunities could be used through some weakly performing green belt sites, in sustainable locations so that the strongly performing green belt could continue to be protected. The Development & Conservation Advisory Committee considered the same report and it was well debated at the meeting. They were in support of the recommendations.

The Planning Policy Team Leader further advised the Cabinet that the report recommended that the Regulation 18 Part 2 Consultation for the Local Plan 2040 be adopted. The consultation would run from 23 November 2023 to 11 January 2024, and would concern sites across the district, including the potential contributions of sites in the Green Belt. The Local Plan would help guide what could be built, and where, until 2040, and would address the district’s housing and infrastructure needs in a coordinated manner.

The first Regulation 18 consultation, held last year, focused on sites in existing settlements, to optimise density in sustainable locations. The consultation offered three density scenarios - Low, Medium, and High density - of which Medium Density was the most popular in the feedback received. This option did not meet the total housing need for the district, which was for 712 homes per year, 5.7 hectares of employment land, 43 Gypsy & Traveller Sites, and to maintain existing retail provision in high streets. Thus, additional development sites would need to be considered outside existing settlements.

The Planning Policy Team Leader gave an overview of the Local Plan’s evidence base. This included the Stage 2 Green Belt Assessment, which identified weakly performing Green Belt land on the edge of higher tier settlements in the district. The land was assessed against the purposes of the Green Belt as set out in the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). The exceptional circumstances for amending the Green Belt in these areas were a combination of the acute housing need, particularly for affordable housing, the identification of available, sustainable, sites, and that the Green Belt land in question was weakly performing. Other elements of the evidence base were progressing in line with the Local Plan timetable.

The Consultation would cover three development scenarios, which would approximately meet the housing need, would meet the housing need, and would exceed the housing need respectively. All three options included a baseline consisting of the urban sites that were the subject of the first consultation, and Green Belt sites. The first option comprised of the baseline, and multiple smaller and medium sites that were in both the Green Belt and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The second option consisted of the baseline, and a standalone settlement at Pedham Place. The third option was a combination of the other two options. It was noted that an over delivery of houses would likely not occur, as it was expected that some sites would not be brought forward for development. The site at Pedham Place was considered for a range of possible uses, including as a standalone settlement with 2500 housing units and associated infrastructure, including a secondary school. Another option was as part of a wider mixed-use development, which would provide a multipurpose stadium complex, hotel, and training facilities for Wasps RFC. 

The Senior Planning Officer outlined the consultation strategy. The consultation period was longer than the 6-week statutory requirement to account for the consultation taking place over Christmas. The consultation would be run online, via the consultation portal, and written responses would also be accepted. It would be publicised online through the Council’s website and social media and through physical posters and summary leaflets. Hard copies of the consultation document, summary leaflets, and paper response forms would be available at all libraries and parish councils across the district. Members would receive materials to help promote the consultation, and pop-up sessions would be held in Sevenoaks, Swanley, Edenbridge, Westerham, and West Kingsdown. There were additional plans to target demographic groups that were harder to reach through traditional consultation methods, including young people, commuters, and gypsy and traveller communities. These included targeted consultation activities at secondary schools, additional displays at key train stations, and specific handouts for the gypsy and traveller communities. Conversations with key stakeholders and neighbouring authorities regarding the duty to cooperate would also continue during the consultation.

It was also highlighted to Members that Knight Kavanagh & Page (KKP) had been appointed to produce an updated Playing Pitch and Sports Facility Strategy and this would help to develop a leisure strategy for the District, setting out priorities, which would be included within the emerging Local Plan for future sports and leisure provision.

In response to questions, the Planning Policy Team Leader advised that it was not possible to give an exact date for the NPPF, but regular meetings with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUCH) but it was expected sometime between now and Christmas.  In regards to KKP for sport and leisure evidence, it would take time to produce as they engage with sporting boards through their sporting seasons and that information would be available for Regulation 19. Engagement had already taken place with Sports England who were aware of the LDS timetable and had said they would not be raising objections at examination stage as they had signed up to the timetable and our methods.

Members thanked the team for all their work and noted that this stage 2 Regulation 18 Consultation remained in line and on course with the LDS timetable for the local plan as previously approved by Cabinet.

Public Sector Equality Duty

Members noted that consideration had been given to impacts under the Public Sector Equality Duty.


Resolved: That


a)     the content of the ‘Plan 2040 Regulation 18 Part 2’ at Appendix 2 for public consultation purposes, be approved;


b)     the presentation and formatting style, of the consultation document, as reflected in the indicative formatted chapter at Appendix 4, be approved and;


c)     the Chief Officer – Planning and Regulatory Services, be delegated authority, following consultation with the Development and Conservation Portfolio Holder, to approve the final formatting and presentation of the Regulation 18 (Part 2) Consultation Draft Local Plan and any minor pre-consultation text changes.


Supporting documents:


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