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THE SEVENOAKS LOCAL LIST

Locally Listed Buildings

In common parlance, reference to a ‘listed building’ is generally understood as referring to one recognised nationally and listed as Grade 1 or Grade 2. There is, however, another class of listed building that is assuming increasing policy importance, namely a locally listed building.

A locally listed building is one which is included in a record approved by the local planning authority. Its existence in that list will become a material planning consideration if a planning application affecting that building is made. The building will therefore have greater protection from redevelopment than would have been the case had it not been on a local list, albeit to a lesser degree than if it were nationally listed.

Any building listed locally is regarded as a “heritage asset” in the Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

Local authorities in a number of towns and cities have prepared such lists of buildings important for their architectural or historic value, often in conjunction with local voluntary organisations such as civic societies. And now Sevenoaks will have its own, primarily through the efforts of The Sevenoaks Society, which is compiling the list on behalf of Sevenoaks District Council. The production of a Local List is part of the Council’s Core Strategy, and once completed and officially approved by the Council it will have the status of a Supplementary Planning Document, as part of the authority’s Development Plan.

A Sevenoaks Local List

The task is a considerable one. Sevenoaks is an area with many buildings which may be deemed to be important in one way or another. Possible candidates have to be identified, researched and recorded, and the final list drawn up. Selection is based on a range of objective criteria, including age and rarity, historic interest and architectural value; as well as buildings, the list may include other heritage assets such as street furniture or other structures (eg post‐boxes, watertroughs etc).

The process began in autumn 2013 and will be completed in 2017. The first tranche was handed over to Sevenoaks District Council who will be preparing it for public consultation in the last quarter of 2016.

A Steering Committee, research team and Selection Panel have been established, and survey volunteers recruited to conduct the field‐work. The Town Council has provided regular financial support, and The Society works closely with both Councils as well as other bodies such as the Sevenoaks Conservation Council. Guidance and training are provided to the survey teams.

As well as recruiting field‐workers from amongst our membership, The Society is actively involving local historians, architects, and surveyors, Town and District Councillors for particular areas, and anyone else who may contribute in some way to the exercise. Community involvement is essential, and local voluntary organisations and resident associations are encouraged to participate in various aspects, such as providing information about their locality and photographing buildings included in the list. (See our contact details at the end if you feel you can help).

Research entails the collection and scrutiny of data from a wide variety of sources, including for example Conservation Area Appraisals and Management Plans, and other records provided by the District Council.

The scope of the project is limited to the area covered by the Sevenoaks Town Council. The town has been divided into smaller, more manageable areas such as wards or neighbourhoods. Feasibility exercises to test the suitability of the selection criteria have been carried out in London Road and St Johns Road. It is estimated that about 3000 properties will be need to be researched and surveyed. A pilot exercise was conducted in October 2013 to help establish how much research information will be needed for the survey teams and how the selection criteria would work in practice.

Selecting the Buildings

Once the fieldwork has been completed, and the data collated, verified and assessed, a list of nominated buildings will be submitted to the Selection Panel, comprising six members with the necessary expertise and representing community interest. The Panel will then decide which merit being included in the Local List. This validation process will be followed by a period of consultation under the auspices of the District Council, including consultation with the owners and occupiers of the buildings identified, together with a procedure for dealing with any objections that may be raised by them. The final list will then be formally ratified by the Council, issued as a Supplementary Planning Document and made available for public access.

The local listing exercise provides a valuable opportunity for a productive partnership between local voluntary organisations, the community and the District Council, resulting in an agreed list of significant buildings that are important for the character and heritage of the town, and helping to achieve key planning objectives at national and local levels. The project has attracted the interest of others in the region: “Protect Kent”, the Kent branch of CPRE, through its Historic Buildings Committee is seeking to encourage people in other areas of the county to emulate the initiative.

Help Needed

In order to be successful, the exercise involves a significant number of volunteers and relevant expertise. And once compiled the List will need to be kept under review and up‐dated
where necessary. Any offers of assistance in any capacity would be very much appreciated. So anyone who thinks that he or she would like to help in the exercise in any way should get in touch with David Gamble on 01732 458898 or gamble@riskrisk.com.

More details of the process of Local Listing are to be found in English Heritage’s ‘Good Practice Guide for Local Heritage Listing

For more information on the national listing of Grade 1 and Grade 2 buildings and the various building plaque schemes, click here for a note on their relevance to Sevenoaks.