Newsletter 1

Background to Neighbourhood Planning:

The Coalition Government announced its intention to give people more power over development in their local area in the Coalition Agreement published May 2010.

The concept of Neighbourhood Planning was introduced as part of the 2011 Localism Act with detailed regulations following in 2012.

A Neighbourhood Development Plan can establish general planning policies for the development and use of land in an area, for example:

  1. where new homes and offices should be built
  2. what they should look like
  3. Information that should be submitted as part of a planning application The plan can be detailed or general, depending what local people want.

Neighbourhood plans allow local people to get the right type of development for their community, but the plan must still meet the needs of the wider area. This will mean that neighbourhood plans will have to take into account the local council’s assessment of housing and other development needs in the area (Sevenoaks District Council is the Local Planning Authority for Sevenoaks Town)

Across the UK:

To date 8 Neighbourhood Plans have now passed referendum, and hundreds are in the development stages. Sevenoaks will be looking in detail at these other plans to glean best practice and help streamline the process.

Members of the public who want to see what has been achieved in other areas may wish to look at the following plans which have received national attention and praise:

Thame – www.thametowncouncil.gov.uk Exeter St James – www.exeterstjamesforum.org

In Sevenoaks:

At the Sevenoaks Town Council Annual Town Meeting held on the 14th March 2013 residents signalled their support for the Town Council to begin the preparation work on a Neighbourhood Plan for Sevenoaks, setting out a vision of how development in the Town should be guided over a 15-20 year period.

The Town Council has hosted a number of open meetings on the topic to galvanise local residents/organisations and foster a sense of community ownership. This culminated in a workshop session held on 26th November 2013 supported by the charity Locality, who received financial support from government department DCLG to assist communities with the implementation of neighbourhood planning powers.

At this workshop 7 main policy headings were decided upon, which have now led to the creation of 7 distinct Sub Committees, these Sub Committees are:

  • Economic Development and Growth
  • Character of the Town
  • Leisure, Sport, Green Space, Community and Health
  • Transport
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Education
  • Housing

In addition to the formation of the 7 Sub Committees, membership has also been agreed for the Steering Committee who will be responsible for the successful delivery of the project and ensuring that targets for community engagement are met.

All meetings associated with the creation of the Sevenoaks Town Neighbourhood Plan are open to members of the public who are free to engage with the process and share their views.

The initial meetings of Sub Committees will be taking place in February 2014 and we would encourage members of the public to attend any Sub Committee meeting of particular interest or meetings of the Steering Committee to learn more about the general plan making process.

Over the coming months the Sub Committees will be drawing up key questions which will be combined into a town wide survey, which will help to find out what issues matter most to the residents of Sevenoaks.

Once feedback has been collated the Steering Committee, with the support of Sub Committees, will draw up “options” for the future of the Town, which may include site allocations, specific policy suggestions, or other material which will could feature in the final plan document. A second round of community engagement will then take place to gauge feedback on these proposals.

After many iterations of community consultation the draft Plan will be submitted for independent examination which will check its compliance with Local, National, and European policy and law.

If the Plan passes examination it will proceed to referendum. If there is a majority “yes” vote then the Local Planning Authority will be obligated to “make” the plan, which means it will form part of the Local Development Plan for the area and influence subsequent planning application decisions and development in the future.

We’ll be launching a new website dedicated to the Plan and creating social media pages/accounts to help keep you updated on the process, you can also ask to be added to the email distribution list.

In addition to the above consultation methods we will also be running a Children’s competition in partnership with the Sevenoaks Chronicle, where we’ll be asking youngsters from around Sevenoaks to draw/sketch/collage their visions for the future of the Town. Once launched the form will be distributed to participating schools, additional forms will be available from Sevenoaks Art Shop in London Road.

If you’d be interested in getting involved with the Neighbourhood Plan process in Sevenoaks please get in contact with us:

 

planning@sevenoakstown.gov.uk 01732 459 953

@SevenoaksNP

Supported by Sevenoaks Town Council and the Department for Communities and Local Government

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