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Planning / Current Issues This section provides brief details of current and recent building development proposals, planning applications and decisions, and The Society’s opinion and response. It will be up-dated regularly. Click here for a useful summary of the main building schemes. Full details of applications submitted to Sevenoaks District Council and the very latest position can be viewed on its Planning Portal, by entering a key word or the application reference number. http://pa.sevenoaks.gov.uk/online-applications Quick Guide “Current Planning Issues” contains both proposed and on-going schemes, and also recent applications, including those that may resurface through appeal or revised application. In addition, this section contains an overview of important recent applications even if the application is concluded, so that the decision and conditions (and adherence) can be seen. (eg the Buckhurst 2 car park proposal). They are below in order of topicality or perceived importance. The separate section “Previous Applications” includes a) details and the past history of developments summarised in Current Planning Issues, and b) applications which have been concluded one way or another. They are split into development in a) Sevenoaks Town, and b) the immediate Surroundings. Older development schemes are in the separate “Archives” section of the website, under “Planning”.

24 April 2015

The Farmers Pub Site, London Road

Farmers

Regrettably permission was given on written appeal for the latest application to go ahead (March 2015). The Society had written to the Planning Inspectorate at Bristol strongly objecting to the most recent proposals to build two six-storey blocks of flats on the site of the Farmers pub opposite the station on London Road, as being over-dense, poorly designed and inappropriate for this sensitive location, with inadequate parking and insufficient affordable housing.

The government inspector, in over-ruling SDC’s decision to refuse permission, sided with the developers in taking the view that, given the towers on Tubs Hill, the Railway and Bicycle development and the building at 160 London Road, the proposal was appropriate. Many people, of course, regret the arrival of those three buildings and do not want another to close in the station area completely.

This is a major gateway to the town and any development should have taken full account of this. The picture shows an artist’s impression of what people will see as they approach Sevenoaks from the north when the scheme is completed.

Click here to view The Society’s Position Statement on this development and the inspector’s decision.

The pub was demolished in 2007. This photograph taken in April 2012 shows the derelict site and the construction of the flats on the site of the former Railway and Bicycle pub opposite.

 

24 April 2015

Buckhurst 2: Proposed Multi-storey Car Park

The 2016 proposal

A new proposal for a tiered car park on the Buckhurst 2 site has been put forward in principle but not in detail. The new plan will involve excavating the site to reduce the overall height and will be accompanied by some residential development to the south of the site.

The 2014 proposal

After widespread criticism and many objections, the controversial planning application for the proposed three-storey structure in Buckhurst 2 was withdrawn by Sevenoaks District Council in October 2014. Although The Society accepts the need for more long-term parking in the town, we had objected strongly to the scheme, being critical of its location and poor design, the implications for traffic-flow, the failure to consider other options and the haste with which the project had been pushed through.

Knole Estate, The National Trust and The Sevenoaks Conservation Council had also objected on the grounds of its detrimental impact on the landscape and proximity to Knole Park.

The application was withdrawn after Kent County Council refused to support the scheme, their Highways officers expressing “grave concerns” about the impact it would have on traffic in the town, especially at the junction of the High Street and Suffolk way – already a bottleneck. The costs of preparing the plans for the car park are quoted as being a little over £200,000.

Although the news has been welcomed by many, Peter Fleming, the leader of the Council, in acknowledging the “set-back” said that the search for a solution will continue. It is likely that a revised scheme and application will be resubmitted, so The Society will continue to monitor the situation very closely.

Click here to read KCC’s report: Multi-storey Car Park KCC Report

Buckhurst car park

24 April 2015

Salmon’s Printing Works, 98 – 116 London Road

The largest redevelopment proposal to appear in recent months is the demolition of Salmon’s Printing Works and its replacement with an extensive residential estate from Berkeley Homes. The Society would be pleased to see this amorphous area redeveloped; but in our view once again the developer is trying to cram too much into the space and the result would be overbearing both on London Road and on The Drive properties behind it. We objected accordingly and a revised application has been submitted. Decision pending.

Salmon redevelopment

24 April 2015

94-96 London Road

The Society has not objected to this neighbouring residential development, which was approved. The Society is monitoring the meeting of imposed conditions which are going through the planning process before work can commence.

24 April 2015

139 London Road

The site of the former “Rock & Fountain” pub, and fronted by former car showroom.

The original proposal to demolish the building and replace with flats was withdrawn. The Society had objected. The new proposal has paid better attention to the townscape at that point and The Society has also determined that there is so little left of the original eighteenth century building that it cannot be restored, so we have not objected to the 2nd application. Decision by SDC pending.

139 London Road

24 April 2015

5-13 Lime Tree Walk, formerly known as Hilder’s Yard

garage picA controversial proposal to demolish Colin Bird’s garage and associated buildings in Lime Tree Walk and to replace them with seventeen flats with ground floor parking attracted a good deal of opposition. Formerly known as Hilder’s Yard, this is a highly sensitive area just off London Road, and its relationship to the workers’ terrace houses designed by Sir Thomas Jackson demands careful treatment.

The Society’s view is that this site, next to the Sevenoaks Business Centre (formerly The lime Tree Hotel), is an important piece of Sevenoaks’s historical identity and the buildings should not be demolished. It is the last remaining Victorian workshop building in the centre of the town, where a series of coach-makers assembled and painted carriages. (Hence the narrow width of the lane leading off London Road).

We wrote opposing the original proposal and it was withdrawn, only to be resubmitted. The Society has again written to object: the latest new proposal is still much too overbearing for the location in general and will change the character of Hilders Yard completely. Planning permission was refused by SDC but the situation needs to be closely monitored. Click here for our letter.

24 April 2015

Toni and Guy Hairdressers, High Street

Toni & Guy Hairdressers applied in 2012 to extend the ground floor shop-space into the covered archway to the front of this listed property in the High Street, resulting in the enclosure of the arcade. The Society objected: in our opinion this proposed change to the historic 1843 Market House is inappropriate, and an intrusion onto open space which has for many years now been regarded as public access. Click here for the letter.

The application was withdrawn in August 2012, but resubmitted. Permission was refused but was granted in November 2014 after appeal. The important issue of right of way was not considered at appeal as being outside its remit. Work has yet to start. We will continue to monitor the situation, especially the matter of establishing a right of way.

market

24 April 2015

Transterra House, 156 High Street

The application to demolish the building and replace it with offices and flats was refused on 29/1/15. This is an important case and the reasons for refusal were as follows:

“…. because of its scale, density and built form it would be out of keeping with the street-scene and existing character of the area, would represent an overdevelopment of the site, and would result in unacceptable overlooking of other properties. It would also result in the loss of a heritage asset”.

24 April 2015

166 High Street (formerly Edwards Electrical store)

he building has long since been demolished and the site left derelict. But there is still no indication that the original proposal to replace it with a residential and office development will be enacted. Since the demolition, no planning application has reached a decision stage. It remains a regrettable eyesore.

24 April 2015

Tubs Hill House, North Block

The original application to add two penthouse flats when the building is converted to residences was refused in May 2014. (Planning permission is not needed for the conversion from offices but it is for the extra height). The Society wrote in July 2014 with various objections. It has now gone to appeal.

The building was sold again in March 2015. The new owners wish to start work on the conversion to 91 flats in all by the end of summer 2015, once Council permits for the change of use are obtained. The project has a development value of £40m.

24 April 2015

Blighs 2: Pembroke Road, Flats

The Society objected to the first application on the grounds of overdevelopment and an incoherent pastiche design on the frontage. The resubmission was more acceptable and was approved by SDC. Building of the prestige flats next to the M&S store is in progress.

24 April 2015

1 The Vine (“Ragstones”)

The Society has objected to a proposal to replace a rather undistinguished building, on the grounds of over-development at that crucial point opposite the Vine behind the War Memorial. There is considerable concern by residents about the impact on this important historic site. The original and 2nd applications were refused. It has gone to written appeal.

24 April 2015

Wildernesse Estate

Wilderness estate

Dorton House, formerly owned by the Royal London Society for the Blind, was sold in 2013. Since then we have been closely monitoring the proposals to develop retirement residences on the Wildernesse estate around the house and to build new properties on the existing site on the other side of Wildernesse Avenue. With regard to the latter, although the new buildings will be in the Green Belt there was an initial agreement with SDC many years ago that that land could be developed, but any new development must not extend beyond the footing of the existing buildings.

Around the house itself, some of the proposals are desirable removals of earlier unsuitable additions. However the proposal which has caused most concern is the area approached by Dorton Drive, and the Wildernesse Avenue and Woodland Drive residents have written objecting to that, with our support when required.

The Society also stressed to SDC the importance of ensuring that the various historic trees on the site are fully protected, and we are keeping a close eye on the actions taken to safeguard them.

A decision by SDC is pending.

24 April 2015

Greatness Mill, Mill Lane

Although the site has a rich history, the building itself is largely a 1920’s rebuild, and is not listed. Application has been made for partial demolition and conversion into residential accommodation. We objected to the first application but not the resubmission, which in November 2013 was approved with conditions, the responses to which are now being submitted through the planning process. We will continue to monitor.

24 April 2015

Morewood Close, London Road

The building of blocks of flats on the site of the old police station, demolished in 2014, is nearing completion (March 2015), following the approval by SDC of a second application. The Society had no objection to the scheme, but we did express concern about the traffic implications of this extensive residential development, and the impact of this and other developments (including Lidl) on an already congested road. We will continue to monitor the situation.

 

The Society is often approached by local residents or their Associations and other concerned bodies and persons regarding proposed developments affecting private residences. In responding, we use a number of criteria to determine whether it is appropriate to act. We may do so for example where we believe there is a public interest concern, or the proposal involves inappropriate or over-development, the alteration or demolition of an important building, or undesirable “garden-grabbing”. As with all schemes, we will also consider whether the proposed design is consistent with the character of the area, notable trees and open spaces may be affected, or there are significant traffic implications.The Society is monitoring several other applications and schemes including the Railway and Bicycle building by the station, completed in 2013. It is regrettable that the design and scale of this edifice was ever approved; it hardly graces this important approach to the town and some of the residential and commercial premises remain empty.