Statement from Westerham Town Council

Posted on Feb 17, 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

 

 

16th February 2017

 

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