28 September – Remember ‘Your view is important’ – clarification to the figures given during the Public Meeting on 13th September  and Housing Need – Government White Paper

Make your view known to both Sevenoaks District Council and to Westerham Town Council, both of whom really want to know what you think about the first ideas for the Local Plan – including Squerryes proposals for Which Way Westerham. We understand that it’s not easy to give a view when the proposals are at such an early stage, but please respond to both surveys.

Whatever your view, it will be taken into account by SDC as they progress to the stage of the Local Plan, and by the Town Council in representing your views.

So please, give your view, pop it into the envelope provided and return the Sevenoaks survey by 5 October and the Town Council one by 20th October.

If by any chance you haven’t received your survey, then please contact the Council Office on 01959 562147 or email office@westerhamtowncouncil.gov.uk

or vote using this link to our survey online https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/WTCQuestion

Remember ‘Your view is important’

We have been asked to clarify the various figures given during the Public Meeting on 13th September and which appear in the slides used that evening:

12,400: is the Objectively Assessed Need (OAN) for housing for the whole of the Sevenoaks District for the period 2015 – 2035.
As explained in SDC’s publication ‘In Shape’ (special edition 103), this is not a target.

474: is the estimated number of households in the Upper Darent Corridor (Westerham, Brasted, Sundridge and Chevening) who were, at the time of SDC’s Housing Needs Analysis (May 2017), considered for various reasons, to be in housing need.

76: is the number of homes in Westerham which have either been completed since 2015, or for which planning permission has already been given.

32: is the number of homes which SDC estimates could be realised in Westerham by increasing the density on developable sites within the town.

48: is the number of homes which SDC estimates could be built on brownfield land within Westerham

These last three figures are contained in SDC’s Issues and Options consultation.

As we emphasised at the meeting, while the work, analyses and reports forming the evidence for the Local Plan are still in progress, all of these figures are provisional and could well change before the draft Local Plan is published in Spring 2018 

If you have further queries, do please visit the Information Room in the Council Offices, or call us on 01959 562147.

Housing Consultation

‘ You may have seen press reports about increasing targets for housing as a result of new government plans for calculating housing need.  The situation is indeed that the Government have published a White (consultative) Paper “Planning for the right homes in the right places”.  It proposes a standard method of calculating housing need, which if applied to Sevenoaks District could indeed result in an increase.

However, this is a consultative document, which your Council is studying and to which it will respond, along with Sevenoaks District Council, and the Local and National Associations of Local Councils. The consultation is open until 9 November and we will keep you informed of the conclusions we reach.

We also need to remember that housing need is not a target:  the target is set by the District Council after it has considered what it can sustainable deliver’

But above all PLEASE MAKE YOUR VIEW KNOWN in both SDC’s and the TOWN COUNCIL’s surveys. 

Thank you

September 2017 – Thank you to everyone who attended the Town Council Public Meeting on Wednesday 13th September 2017 at Churchill School.

Please click on the links for the handouts from the meeting.

slides from presentation

KCC response to scoping opinion for Covers Farm

Handout extract from Squerryes main report July 2017

August 2017  – Sevenoaks District Council has now published the first Consultation regarding progress on the new Local Plan.

This is the ‘Issues and Options’ Consultation and importantly for Westerham, it contains the Squerryes Estate’s idea for significant development on Green Belt land.

For this idea to proceed, Squerryes will need to demonstrate that there are exceptional reasons which justify this (‘exceptional circumstances’): in this case a by-pass, environmental improvements and increased Common Land are cited.

Westerham Town Council is not associated with this idea, nor have we formed a view on it.  We will not do so until we have ascertained what residents think.

In order to do this we will be sending out a Yes or No question on the Squerryes Estate’s idea to each household in Westerham and Crockham Hill in September.

This can be completed in paper form or on-line.  We believe that it is important that your Council asks you directly for your view on an issue which could radically affect the future of our town.

Before that we will be holding a Public Meeting at 7.30pm on Wednesday 13th September at Churchill School when we will highlight what we see as the main impacts for Westerham.

Sevenoaks District Council will also mail each household with an extensive survey on the entire Issues and Options Consultation.  They will hold a ‘drop-in’ session at the Council Offices in Westerham between 2 and 8 pm on Thursday 14th September, so that you can find out more before their consultation closes on 5 October.

Why two questionnaires? SDC’s survey will go to the whole of Sevenoaks District and the results will not be known until November/December. Its questions cover the ‘Issues and Options’ raised in the Sevenoaks District whereas Westerham Town Council’s will cover the Squerryes Estate’s idea as affecting Westerham only.  Your Council wants to hear directly from residents and to learn your views before the Local Plan process moves on.

It is important that we are all involved in this consultation and take this, the first of several opportunities to make our views known.   Please watch out for more information on our website, Facebook page, in your email box, on notice boards and in the press.  Email us or write to us with your views: office@westerhamtowncouncil.gov.uk or 01959 562147.

If you would like to read the full documents, they can be found at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/issuesandoptions and the Squerryes submission at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/info/20014/planning_policy/349/local_plan_-_issues_and_options_consultation/   Paper versions can be viewed at the Library. The Council Office at Russell House has an area where the documents can be read and where you will be able to leave your views.

July 2017 – We have promised to ‘keep you informed’ of events which may affect the future of Westerham. Many of you came to the Public Meeting held on 24th May to hear the Leader of Sevenoaks District Council explain the Local Plan they are putting together and how, and when, you as residents, will be able to make your views known. Many more of you have asked to be kept informed via email.
As your elected representatives – and as a body which will be consulted on any planning matters – we must at this stage remain neutral. But equally it is important that we know our residents’ views so that we can better represent them.
SDC have stated that in planning developments in the District, they will continue to protect the Green Belt. In order to do so they will:
• Agree that new housing will need to be built at higher densities, within existing town and village boundaries
• Allow ‘brownfield’ land in the Green Belt to be sustainably developed
• Look at cases where a convincing ‘exceptional circumstances’ case can be made in accordance with national policy
This is important to Westerham as we understand that Squerryes Estate is putting forward an ‘exceptional case’ for the building of some 600 houses on Green Belt land to fund a by-pass.
Your Town Council does not yet have the details of this case, but expects to see them in early August when they should be published for all to see.
This could have a substantial effect on Westerham. Once it has further information, your Council will both hold a further Public Meeting alongside the ‘drop-in’ sessions SDC plan to hold and follow that up with a poll of every household in Westerham. The results of this poll will not only enable your Council to better understand and represent the community’s views, but will also be important information for Sevenoaks District Council as they continue to draft their plan.So please watch out for further information during August and September – we will continue to ‘keep you informed’ when we know more.

May 2017 -Please click the read more button to view the notes and presentation from the public meeting on 24th May.

Keeping you informed

Keeping you informed QA

Westerham public meeting Presentation

What Peter Fleming said

Moorhouse –application for DPD depot

New Local Plan 2015-35 (from Sevenoaks District Council website)

The proposed timetable for the production of the Plan (as set out in the Local Development Scheme) is:

  • Issues and Options consultation – late Spring / Summer 2017
  • Draft Local Plan consultation – Spring 2018
  • Pre-submission Publication – Summer 2018
  • Submission – Autumn 2018
  • Adoption – Summer 2019

February 2017 – Many of you have been asking about the current activity in planning the future of our town.  Our aim, as your elected representatives, is to make sure that we keep you updated on what it going on, and most importantly, are consulted about any proposals which are likely to affect our town.  The current work, all of which is directed at producing a new Local Plan, is only the start of a lengthy process, throughout which your Council will seek your views, so that it can accurately represent them.

This statement is intended to introduce the main strands of work, explain how they fit together and the points at which your Council will formally be asking for your views. There will be more detail on our website http://www.westerhamtowncouncil.gov.uk/  and on Sevenoaks District Council’s website http://www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/services/housing/planning/local-plan-and-planning-policy   In addition to the more formal consultations, our Town or District Councillors welcome your comments and questions at any time. Contact your Town Councillors through the Council Office office@westerhamtowncouncil.gov.uk and your District Councillor  Cllr.Maskell@sevenoaks.gov.uk

The Local Plan: the key document which determines where new homes will be built. The one which covers Westerham is currently being rewritten by Sevenoaks District Council and will cover the period up to 2035.  It’s being rewritten to deal with the well publicised need for more housing.

The ‘Call for Sites’: Landowners were invited to put forward sites which might be suitable for development over the next 20 years.  Several sites around Westerham were put forward and are being assessed for suitability. This does not mean that all or any of these sites will be developed. However because 93% of Sevenoaks District is Green Belt, then many of the offered sites are in the Green Belt. So there is a

Green Belt assessment: undertaken by consultants, it looked at whether any of the Green Belt could be taken for development. Two areas round Westerham, one to the north and one to the west of our town have been recommended for ‘further investigation’. This does not necessarily mean that the land will be released from the Green Belt.  SDC have said that brownfield sites within the Green Belt would be investigated before greenfield sites are considered.

Housing Study: looks at the need for housing in the District, taking into account our aging population, need for affordable housing, and the sort of housing we said we wanted when we filled in the housing survey sent to us all.

Which Way Westerham?:  the Squerryes Estate is the major landowner in and around our town and responded to the call for sites with several pieces of land around Westerham. This has led to their current exercise to consult the community.  When complete it will be presented to Sevenoaks District Council to consider as they prepare the Local Plan. Squerryes are also continuing their engagement with the community.

There’s lots of other input too, all on the SDC website: search for New Local Plan.

Where does Westerham Town Council stand?  Your Town Council has always supported and endorsed the current Local Plan, under which no new development is allowed in the Green Belt unless it meets very special circumstances.  It routinely opposes any planning application which proposes development on the Green Belt land which encircles our town.

With the prospect of a new Local Plan, and as your elected representatives, we have to take an even handed view of any proposals which come forward during its preparation.  It will form its view, based on your views, as proposals become firmer.

In late Spring/early Summer this year, the issues and options which have emerged from all the evidence assembled will be published and views of the District’s residents asked for.  A year later, in 2018, the first draft of the new Local Plan will be produced, again for consultation. It won’t be until 2019 that the new Local Plan will be adopted and become the framework for all future planning decisions.

A more detailed WTC statement is available Longer statement regarding Planning process

If you would like to receive updates on this, or other Town Council matters via email, then please respond ‘Keep me updated’ to office@westerhamtowncouncil.gov.uk

January 2017 – Westerham Town Council is aware that the Squerryes estate will be delivering leaflets around the town over the next week inviting residents to ‘drop-in’ sessions to contribute to discussions about how the estate views the future shape of the town.
The Council’s position remains as communicated in late 2016: that it sees its continuing role as maintaining and enhancing the environment of the town and its surrounding countryside, seeking, (as far as it can), to meet the social and economic needs of the town and resolving infrastructure challenges.
In doing so, as the democratically elected representatives, we seek to foster the long term sustainable development of the town.
This means that the Town Council cannot promote the interests of any one landowner over another and that it has to take an even handed view of the various development proposals that may come forward through SDC’s Local Plan process.
Squerryes is keeping the Council informed of its proposals. Council is also keeping abreast of the progress of Sevenoaks District Council’s Local Plan – including its ‘call for sites’ and Green Belt review.
It is committed to keeping residents informed of how these activities are progressing, and will continue to update as and when information becomes available.

June 2016 – Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) and Economic Land Availability Assessment (ELAA) – Maximising Supply (call for sites)  Following a meeting of their Planning and Advisory Committee on 21 June, SDC have issued the following Press Release:

Landowners put sites forward for development

Sevenoaks District Council has vowed to continue to protect the Green Belt as is considers more than 250 sites put forward by landowners for new housing, employment and community facilities.

Sevenoaks District Council, along with every other council in the country, is required by the Government to identify land for new development as it updates its 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.

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 built on.

In the coming months the Council’s planners will carry out a detailed investigation of each site and will recommend a shorter list of sites that have the potential to be developed. The sites will be considered by Councillors and local people will be asked for their views next year.

Cllr Robert Piper, the Council’s Cabinet member for Planning says: “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 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.”

The sites were considered at last night’s Planning Advisory Committee (21 June 2016).

Local people can view the sites at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/callforsites and can comment on the accuracy of the information presented by e-mailing sites@sevenoaks.gov.uk.

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.

Westerham Town Council wants to make it clear that it was not one of the landowners who put forward land for development and has not offered any of the land it owns as part of this exercise.  It is currently looking at the sites put forward within Westerham and Crockham Hill and will be commenting to SDC should it discover any inaccuracies.  The sites put forward can be viewed at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk/callforsites .  For those not able to access the internet, a copy is held in the Council Offices (opening times Mon- Fri 9.30am -1pm)

June 2016 – Westerham Town Council did not respond to the call for sites from Sevenoaks District Council and has not offered any of the land it owns.

WTC has been made aware of an item being considered by the District Council’s Planning Advisory Committee on 21st June. SDC recently undertook a ‘call for sites’ where local landowners, developers, businesses, Town and Parish Councils and other interested parties were invited to submit sites to the District Council for potential inclusion in the new Local Plan. Approximately 250 sites were submitted across the District and these sites have now been published in the papers to be considered by the above committee.
You can view the sites here (under item 8): http://cds.sevenoaks.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=326&MId=2055&Ver=4. The sites are ordered alphabetically by ward, and there is a PDF for each ward that you can download.
It is important to note that there are no recommendations about the suitability of any of the sites at this stage. Each site appraisal sets out a factual summary of the site, whether there are any constraints to consider, the key issues to be addressed in assessing the site’s suitability, and the evidence to be gathered to assist in making that judgement.
To ensure that the site appraisals are robust SDC are inviting comments on the accuracy of the information presented. Please send any comments to sites@sevenoaks.gov.uk at the earliest opportunity as this information will feed into the site appraisals. Please note that SDC are not inviting comments on the suitability of the sites at this stage.


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