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Planning/Previous Applications

This section contains a) details and the past history of some of the developments mentioned in Current Planning Issues, and b) applications and schemes which have been concluded one way or another.

The two parts cover developments in a) Sevenoaks Town, and b) the immediate surroundings. Older applications of note are in the Archives section of the web-site.

Sevenoaks Town

27 April 2015

Wildernesse Estate / Dorton House

12/03248/FUL and 12/03249/CAC – Land at Dorton Drive, Wildernesse Avenue
Demolition of existing teaching block, nursery, 3 terraced dwellings and single detached dwelling and redevelopment with a 34-bedroom Close Care Facility (Use Class C2) and 4 detached dwellings.

This application was been withdrawn and replaced by 14/01562 (see “Current Issues”)

The Society had closely monitored this submission in 2012 by the Royal London Society for Blind People (RLSB) for a care home and other buildings after receiving representations from residents objecting to the proposals. The Society was also aware of the concerns of the Sevenoaks Conservation Council and the recommendation of Sevenoaks Town Council (STC) that the application be rejected by the District Council, and issued its own response – also urging that it be refused.

In summary our arguments were:

1. The application would have an adverse impact on the setting of Dorton House, a Grade 2 Listed Building, and on the Wildernesse Estate Conservation Area.
2. The application was for part only of the Dorton House Estate. The Society felt strongly that it is wrong to deal with this application in isolation and that there should be a comprehensive approach to the future planning of this important area.
3. It was therefore the Society’s view that the application be refused on the grounds that it involves a piecemeal approach to a sensitive conservation area which should be dealt with in a comprehensive manner.

Our Trees and Landscape Group also wrote to SDC, urging that whatever the decision, sufficient safeguards be put in place to preserve the special “countryside” character of the estate and to protect its historic trees, including the avenue of ancient chestnuts by Dorton House and the lime trees in Wildernesse Avenue.

The site was sold to PegasusLife in August 2013. In a statement the RLSB’s chairman Ian Stephenson said “RLSB is pleased to announce that PegasusLife, a specialist property developer that provides well designed homes for older people, is the new owner of the Dorton site.

We always wanted a new owner who understood the history and local relevance of this important site and we believe PegasusLife will uphold the standing of this wonderful place. RLSB is also pleased to announce that PegasusLife is leasing back some of the site’s buildings to the charity on a short term basis for a nominal rent.

This means that staff will remain in three of the buildings at the College site until at least August 2014.  The RLSB nursery will continue in its current location for up to six months prior to moving to the College’s Student Centre”.

The Sevenoaks Society continues to monitor the situation and the new application.

Click here for more details and an historical note.

Click here for our letter in response.

27 April 2015

Lidl

Lidl: application to develop a store on the site of former Peugeot car dealership in London Road.

Whilst the Society again had no objection to a Lidl outlet in principle, it expressed its serious concerns about the traffic and transport implications  – not only for the site but for the whole stretch of London Road from the top of Amherst Hill to the crossroads at St Botolph’s and Granville Roads, given the extra traffic the development would generate.  Click here to read the Society’s letter.

PICCIE 2

Permission was granted in September 2012. Work on the site proceeded rapidly and the store opened in November 2013. The Society maintains a watching brief over any traffic problems that may result – and is pleased to see that 5 young trees have been planted in early 2015 in eventual compliance of a screening condition.

27 April 2015

Marks and Spencer

The Society welcomed the application to build a new Marks and Spencer store on the Blighs Meadow/London Road site, but had significant concerns regarding the design, impact on townscape and implications for parking and traffic. Click here to read the Society’s letter.

MANDS

The store under construction in May 2014

The application was enthusiastically approved by SDC in December 2012 but with a large number of conditions imposed on the biggest development in town for over 30 years. Planning consent was given for the new store and 22 new apartments at the junction of London Road and Pembroke Road. Demolition of the ugly building formerly housing.

The Depot started in June when the developer Reef Estates took over the site, which was handed over to Marks and Spencer in April 2014 and opened that October.
The Society kept a watchful eye on compliance with the conditions which were imposed. We were pleased to see that the ragstone removed on the London Road frontage has been reused, and pedestrian access provided via new steps.

We also noted that a pedestrian pathway had been created from opposite Robert Dyers, suitably protected from over-lapping car bumpers (an occasional impediment elsewhere).

27 April 2015

Land north of Bouchier Close

Land north of Bouchier Close, Sevenoaks. Application to build a new care home (SE/11/01878/FUL)

Thanks to the diligence of neighbours and members, the Society was alerted to the resurrection of this dormant application, first made in July 2011. The application was refused by SDC in June 2013. There had been a large number of objections and determined opposition from residents, and it was resoundingly rejected by the Development Control Committee.

The Society had made comprehensive representations in August 2011 and asked that the application be refused. The principal points of objection were that:

  • the development was overly obtrusive in the valley particularly when viewed from the west.
  • the combination of traffic movements both from the development itself but also from the church car park created a unacceptable disruption and nuisance on Bourchier Close, The Dene and Oak Lane.

The amended application, before the Council in August 2012, did not mitigate those concerns and the Society responded continuing its objections to the proposals, which were again refused.

The application was sent to appeal and was granted with conditions in 2014. These conditions are currently being addressed through the planning process. (As with all developments where conditions apply, work cannot commence until the conditions are demonstrably met in submitted supplementary planning applications for each one).

The Society will continue to monitor the situation, including adherence to the conditions and the impact of the development.

Click here to read SDC’s reasons for rejection. (ADD LINK)
Click here to read the Society’s original letter. (ADD LINK)

Sevenoaks Surroundings (exceptional cases)

27 April 2015

Beechmont Bank

Planning  application  by Acorus Rural Property Services, acting as agents for Enduro Kent and the landowner.

The application submitted to Sevenoaks District Council to hold off-road motor-cycle events on Beechmont Bank, Riverhill was refused for the second time in July 2012.

The Society had objected to both the original 2011 application (refused in September 2011) and the resubmission, through the both chairman and the Footpaths Section. SDC’s planning officer’s report recognised the Society’s concerns – along with those of many other individuals and bodies, especially those with responsibility for  the protection of the environment and  countryside, such as CPRE, English Heritage, Kent Wildlife Trust, Kent Downs AONB Unit and the local authorities.

The reasons for refusal of the application were cited in that report and the official SDC letter dated 3 July 2012. They are the same reasons as given previously, and  confirm that the proposed development would cause:

  • Significant harm to the amenities enjoyed by neighbouring and local residents by way of Intrusive noise disturbance,  dust and fumes
  • Significant disturbance to users of the Greensand Public Right of Way and harm to the character and enjoyment of the countryside and Kent Downs AONB
  • Potential harm to biodiversity conservation interests
  • On-going harm to protected trees of significant amenity value
  • Harm to the setting, character and enjoyment of Riverhill House Gardens.

The officer’s report concluded that “For the reasons stated above, the proposal continues to be in conflict with the Development Plan. The harm identified is not outweighed by other material considerations”.

To read the Society’s main response to the application, click here.

This is the link for access to details of the decision and the relevant Council documents.

27 April 2015

Mackerels Plain

Mackerels Plain: SDC Planning Application 13/02284 by Montreal Estates.

This application has been withdrawn.

Mackerels Plain is situated in the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, approximately 1 mile from Ide Hill.  A Planning Application was made to create a new intensive “industrial-style” Farm Centre on a 9-acre site incorporating a large grain store, a woodchip and timber processing unit, and several other buildings.

This controversial development resulted in over 100 objections, citing the “excessive” scale and “intrusive” nature of the development, the impact of increased heavy vehicle traffic, and the effect on the environment, wildlife and amenities as a result of the loss of the field and ancient woodland, the activities of the Farm Centre, and the and the widening of existing roads and lanes.

It is exceptional for The Sevenoaks Society to comment on planning matters outside the boundaries of the Town Council. However in this case we believed that the negative impact could be severe, in terms of environmental effects and loss of amenity.

In particular the use of industrial vehicles in narrow rural lanes, notably Back Lane, would have a significant impact on the Green Belt and the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and would also affect local traffic movements especially through Bessels Green and onto the A25. The Society therefore wrote to Sevenoaks District Council, objecting strongly to the application on the grounds that the environmental impact and the cost of the Mackerels Plain development to the community are unacceptably high.

The Society urged that if the proposal were approved it should be accompanied by an appropriate condition preventing development on the unused farm sites between there and Montreal Park as if they were brown-field sites. (TIM to add sentence re precedent). The Society was therefore pleased that the application was withdrawn but will monitor the situation in case it is resubmitted.
Click here to see the letter.