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Other Planning Matters (link from About Us/Organisation – Townscape and Planning Group) d4 Mar 15 Our Townscape and Planning Group (TPG) is responsible for addressing planning matters. Its role is to:

  • monitor planning submissions at each stage of the process;
  • identify significant planning, design, or construction issues;
  • draw attention to any matters that may have an adverse impact on the character and environment of the town;
  • respond as appropriate to planning matters brought to the Society’s attention by members or the public;
  • through informed, impartial and constructive advice, seek to influence development proposals, planning decisions, building & landscape design, and overall town planning strategies where this is considered necessary in the interests of the community and the town.

The Group’s remit is broad: the term Townscape covers the space between buildings and their relationship to each other, and includes tangible elements such as roads, pavings, street furniture and signs, walls, hedges, trees etc. More intangibly it is about the sense of place, views and activity. Planning is the statutory process of achieving or restricting development. The work does not only entail making representations on planning proposals. The group also participates in the making of Local Plans and Supplementary Planning Documents, and monitors planning legislation and regulation at national and local levels, making comment where necessary. It also has an important proactive role in recognising positive contributions to the town, drawing attention to areas that need improvement and encouraging and applauding good design. (The Frank Marshall Award aims to promote and acknowledge significant improvement initiatives or new buildings that have a positive impact on the town). The Group consists of a group of around six members with skills in planning townscape and design, possessing an extensive and respected knowledge of the town, planning and development matters, and previous planning history. It is represented on the Executive Committee of the Society, the Sevenoaks Conservation Council and the Steering Committee of The Sevenoaks Town Council Neighbourhood Plan. It holds quarterly liaison meetings with SDC’s Planning Department. The current members are: Gareth Atkinson BEng(Hons) CEng MIStructE John Edge FRICS Roger Fitzgerald RIBA Charles George QC Peter Moss RIBA Tim Pearce MA (Oxon). See the Planning section of the web-site for details of specific planning proposals and The Society’s responses.

Case studies One example of the Group’s attention to wider issues is London Road. This part of the town has been subject to several piecemeal development proposals and schemes, from Morewood Close up to the Marks and Spenser store as part of Blighs 2. The Society has expressed various concerns regarding these developments and is closely monitoring a number of current proposals and applications, the impact of completed schemes, and, importantly, the overall picture. The significance of this northern entrance to the town and the risks in taking a narrow view are highlighted by the Lidl store development.

The potential traffic issues were considered exclusively in relation to the immediate access to and egress from the Lidl site and not linked to the other development issues which affect the London Road from the top of Amherst Hill to the junction with St Botolph’s and Granville Roads. Click here to view The Society’s video of London Road. Another issue which the Group is addressing concerns the inability of local authorities to effect any movement on derelict sites such as the former Farmers’ pub opposite the station and the former Edwards Electrical shop in the High Street, north of Suffolk Way. The TPG is examining ways in which local or even national regulation may establish that no demolition could take place until various guarantees of replacement have been established within a given time scale.