Sevenoaks set to slash green belt release and homes target in draft local plan

A Kent council is set to drop eight out of 12 green belt sites that had been earmarked for development in its emerging local plan, which would leave it meeting only 70 per cent of its housing need.

Sevenoaks: local plan consultation. Image by J.Hannan-Briggs, Geograph
Sevenoaks: local plan consultation. Image by J.Hannan-Briggs, Geograph

A meeting of the council’s planning advisory committee yesterday accepted the recommendation of officers to drop the eight sites, which were among 12 green belt sites included in a consultation on the first draft of its local plan in July.

The eight sites would have provided 3,870 of the 13,400 homes between 2015 and 2035 proposed in the earlier version of the draft document.

The decision now leaves the council, which is 93 per cent green belt, well short of the 13,960 homes required by the government’s new standard housing need methodology.

The 13,400 homes target in the July version equated to an average of 670 homes a year, a level four times higher than the council's current core strategy.

Robert Piper, the council’s cabinet member for planning said: "Government told us we need to plan for up to 14,000 new homes up to 2035.

"However, Sevenoaks District is overwhelmingly in the green belt, restricting where new homes can be built.

"We have carried our extensive consultations and listened carefully to our residents and followed a rigorous, consistent process.

"Based on all of the evidence, we are proposing to deliver 70 per cent of the new homes sought by government as we are determined to do all we can to protect the much loved and treasured green belt."

If the committee’s decision is endorsed by the council’s cabinet next month, three green belt sites retained in the latest version of the plan would be allocated for 1,190 homes.

Another site for 2,500 homes would be identified as a "broad location for growth", with further consideration given to its release from the green belt when the plan is next reviewed between 2020 and 2025.

The council said it received about 8,500 comments on the draft local plan from approximately 6,000 organisations and individuals.

In June, Tandridge Council in Surrey submitted a local plan outlining proposals for 6,100 homes, just 65 per cent of its housing need requirement of around 9,400.

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