Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category
I’ve just delivered 243 questionnaires to Caling Croft and Farm Holt. The rest will be going out in the next few days to every house in the Parish. Make sure you fill in yours and return it to the collection points set out in my earlier post.
Or fill in the online questionnaire.
The Ash-cum-Ridley Neighbourhood Plan will help to determine where residents live, work and play. It is being produced by the Parish Council and New Ash Green Village Association with help from Sevenoaks District Council. Local councillors are heavily involved in preparing the Plan which will cover the whole of the parish. Our Plan:
- will complement the planning documents for the Sevenoaks area, adding more local detail,
- when finished, will go to an independent examiner and a referendum for approval by the whole community,
- will add more local detail to the documents for the whole of Sevenoaks,
- must be taken into account in planning decisions when it has been approved.
So it really will make a difference.
We are also asking some extra questions to find out what other issues are important for local people, to help us to lobby for better facilities.
We need to ensure that as many people as possible have opportunities to give us their views on what should be in our Plan. As a first step we have developed a questionnaire to seek the opinions of parish residents about our future. It is being delivered to every household in the parish. Please answer it as carefully as you can on behalf of everyone in your household.
Alternatively you may fill in the online version of the questionnaire which is available on the following link:
If you need further paper copies of the questionnaire as a PDF document you may download this file:
If you do not have enough space to write everything on the questionnaire form and if any of your household, including the younger people, have particular interests or concerns, please attach a separate sheet of paper and say clearly which section the comments relate to. If they prefer they could fill in their own online questionnaire using the link above.
Here’s a good news story and a cautonary tale, depending on your viewpoint.
Four fraudsters who conned unsuspecting individuals into buying Green Belt plots with no development potential have each been jailed for six to seven years following an investigation by Trading Standards Officers supported by Sevenoaks District Council planners.
The individuals set up companies called Countrywide Landholdings and Regional Land to sell small plots of Green Belt land in Ash falsely claiming that they could be developed, even though Council planning policies protect Green Belt land from development.
Once planners learnt about the scam they served a legal notice (called an Article 4 direction) which prevented the land from being physically subdivided into small plots by erecting boundary fences. A warning was also posted on the Council’s website highlighting that the land concerned had no development potential. This prompt action prevented unauthorised development from taking place.
The planners also alerted Trading Standards Officers who, with the police, launched a fraud investigation which resulted in the individuals concerned being jailed last month. Council planners provided a witness statement to support the investigation.
The main lesson to be drawn is that the Council is vigilant in protecting the Green Belt throughout the District so do not be taken in by similar frauds. If you own land in the Green Belt and you want to carry out any development, do talk to the Council or one of your councillors because we will be happy to help.
Plans for the new fire station on Chapel Wood Road opposite Beechcroft Farm have been approved by Sevenoaks District Council. Planning permission is granted for the erection of a new single storey fire station, providing garaging for 1 appliance, charging point for a 2nd appliance, with office, training/community room and other ancillary accommodation, external training area, car parking, underground storage tank, lighting, landscaping and fencing. The permission is however subject to 11 conditions. These conditions include a requirement for further details to be submitted for approval to cover the protection of the trees on the site, the method of boundary enclosure and the external lighting scheme. The training facilities on the site can only be used on one evening a week (excluding Sundays and Bank Holidays) and only for a 2-hour period between 7:00pm and 9:00pm on that evening; live fire training is not allowed at any time. These conditions are designed to minimise any adverse impact on local residents and mitigate possible highway concerns.
Of the 27 or so trees on the site, only 5 will have to be removed and most of the other hedging around the edge of the site will be retained along with new planting of native hedgerow species around the site. All the new planting will have to be maintained and replaced if it dies for 5 years until it becomes established.
This permission will now enable the Fire & Rescue Service to proceed with their plans for recruiting a team of firefighters in the area and providing the promised improvements to response times in Ash, New Ash Green and Hartley sometime next year.
The proposal for residential use of the North Ash Manor site was debated at the Council’s Local Development Framework Advisory Group this week. After local councillors attended the meeting to explain to the Group the reasons for not wanting to lose this important employment site in New Ash Green, the members of the Advisory Group voted unanimously to exclude the proposal from the draft Allocations and Development Management Plan.
This is great news for New Ash Green but whilst this battle has been won, the war is not yet over because there may be pressure from Bovis or others to reinstate the residential allocation before the Supplementary Planning Document is finally approved.
If you have been following posts here you will have seen the earlier one about the inclusion of North Ash Manor – the Bovis Homes office in North Ash Road – in the draft Sevenoaks District Council Allocations and Development Management Plan as a potential site for housing redevelopment. The consultation on this took place during the summer and local councillors all made submissions opposing the change of use from employment land. As a fall back position we put forward some suggestions for reducing the impact of any redevelopment. We have also met planning officers to explain our concerns.
A revised draft Plan has now been published and it is being considered by the Council’s Advisory Group on Tuesday 9 October. The revision has taken account of some of our comments. The number of residential units that might be allowed has been reduced from 50 to 30 and there are references to the need to tie redevelopment into the New Ash Green management structure. But the principle of change of use has not been amended. We firmly believe that this site should be retained in office use if at all possible and we are not convinced that Bovis Homes will move if there is no redevelopment potential for the land. So we are continuing to argue as strongly as possible for the site to be removed from the draft Plan so that local employment opportunities can be protected. A paper explaining the importance of the employment site to the village has been sent to all members of the Advisory Group and I hope to attend the meeting next week to explain in more detail if necessary.
The plans for the proposed Ash-cum-Ridley Fire Station have now been published and can be seen on the Sevenoaks District Council Planning Portal. Comments are invited from anyone who has an interest and should be made through the ‘Make a Public Comment’ link in the Planning Portal by 8 October.
I have been told by Kent Fire & Rescue Service that they will be undertaking some surveying and soil sampling on the site at Butlers Place in the coming days.
This is so their architects can start work on reviews, following discussions with local residents, which can incorporate the possibility of the proposed uilding footprint moving and the building height issue being reviewed. In order to do this work out they must carry out topographical surveys. This will involve accurate measuring of houses and roads in close proximity and the tree line etc. The measuring will be carried out using lasers and there will be no need for access to any properties. The contractor may start this work on 7 or 8 June.
Further surveys on the land to determine the suitability of the site from a planning perspective will take place after 17 June. These surveys will require the use of mechanical plant and will take about two days.
These surveys need to be completed to allow KF&RS to review the plans before they can continue discussions with local people in advance of any plans being submitted to Sevenoaks District Council for planning consultations. No decision on the siting of the fire station has therefore been taken at this stage.
The results of the first round of Portas Pilot bids were announced today and unfortunately New Ash Green were one of the 359 bids that were unsuccessful. All is not lost, however, and we will have another chance in the summer. We will be looking to see if we can improve our bid by then.
Dartford and Margate were amongst the 12 successful towns so Kent actually had more than its fair share but I suspect New Ash Green may have lost out by having similar problems, and being close to, Dartford although as a smaller place we possibly had demonstrated less potential for big improvements. Full details are at this link.
Also there are a few encouraging signs of new life in our shopping centre with at least one, and maybe more, new shops opening. And the District Council is still working hard to improve the management of the centre so we are hopeful of the beginnings of a turnaround.
Kent Fire and Rescue Service have published more information about their proposals for a fire station on their website, including some indicative illustrations (which are still subject to change).
See this link.
There is also a website setting out the arguments against building the fire station on the land at Butlers Place that is owned by KF&RS. This includes an opportunity to vote for or against the fire station on that site. Click here to go to the site.