Fate of Pedham Place Still Hangs in the Balance
24th September 2018
The potential development of the Pedham Place site, has been without doubt one of the most talked about subjects over recent weeks, but it does not look like the conversation will end anytime soon, as the final version of the Local Plan is not set to be formally adopted by Sevenoaks District Council until late 2019.
After attending one of the recent consultation meetings, held at both Eynsford and Farningham's village halls, I was staggered by the number of residents who attended to either provide their support or voice their objections over the proposed development of this site. Whilst I admired the way the Sevenoaks District Council representatives remained relatively calm, under what was at times ferocious questioning by members of the public, I was disappointed by the lack of information to hand. Any line of questioning I pursued about the development with the representatives, was met with reference to one of many online consultation documents that weren't available at the meeting. In my personal opinion, I feel that more could have been done by Sevenoaks District Council to raise awareness about the consultation much earlier in the process, particularly given that a large proportion of our residents do not have access to social media, thereby giving them more time to consider the proposals in more detail for what is a significantly large development proposal with far reaching impact on the surrounding area.
It would also seem that Sevenoaks District Council are struggling under the volume of comments and concerns being raised by residents and various organisations, as despite the draft consultation being closed on their website, they are still processing comments made prior to the deadline date.
Now that the consultation has closed, I have taken some time to read through many of the comments online, and it would appear that the vast majority of residents who responded are against the site being considered for development. Organisations that have also voiced their objections include; Swanley Town Council, Kent Downs AONB and many of the surrounding parish councils, of which Eynsford is one of them. Many of you objected against the potential loss of AONB land; that the land did not fit the green belt 'exceptional circumstances' criteria, along with concerns over the detrimental impact on infrastructure, such as; medical and social care services, emergency services, schools, traffic and road congestion and the lack of adequate utilities, which was also raised as a major concern by Thames Water.
Unfortunately, the fate of Pedham Place is far from being decided yet, as the Planning Policy Team at Sevenoaks District Council, will now spend the next few months considering all comments, with the aim of publishing the final version of the Local Plan by the end of 2018, which will in turn be submitted to the Government's Planning Inspector around Spring 2019.
It will be down to the Planning Policy Team to decide if the final version of the plan, may or may not include the Pedham Place site. If they do decide that the site should remain in the final version of the plan, then there will be further opportunity for members of the public and developers to have their say, during a public examination and a further six week consultation period, details of which will be available on the Sevenoaks District Council website closer to the examination date.