Cllr Robert Piper
Council Offices
Argyle Road
Sevenoaks
Kent
TN13 1HG

Sunday 11 September 2016

Swanley Village Residents Association response to call for sites listed at SDC Meeting of Planning Advisory Committee 21 June 2016


The Swanley Village Residents’ Association met Tuesday 21 June 2016 for an initial discussion of the implications of development or change of use for the sites within the ambit of the village. We agreed to consult with Swanley Village residents and elicit their views prior to submission of this response. The letter, a copy of which is attached, was distributed to all villagers by hand and was also posted on the SwanleyVillage.com website.

The Residents’ Association met again Monday 15 August 2016 and agreed that I should write to you at an early stage in order that the views of villagers are considered as part of the Green Belt and development assessment.

Individual comments are listed against each site later in this letter, but there are some general comments expressed by residents in conversations, letters and by email that provide a context for the village as a whole:

1) There was broad support for appropriate and some affordable housing development in the village. Sympathetic small housing developments in Hotham Close (25 units), The Staples (5 units) and Hogs Orchard (5 units) built nearly 20 years ago, are considered to have had a positive impact on the village. Only one letter objected to any further growth of the village.

2) Swanley Village is considered to have its own identity and character which is very much defined by the green space which surrounds it and the Conservation Area at its centre. All the roads that enter the village are single track at some point: Highlands Hill, School Lane, Beechenlea Lane, Button Street and Ship Lane.

3) To broaden any of the roads into the village would generate an increase in through-traffic using roads as a ‘rat run’ to avoid congestion on M25 and in Swanley. This would make the roads more dangerous (and less accessible) for pedestrians. It would also increase parking on narrow pavements in the Conservation Area, increasing the isolation of elderly or disabled Villagers, unable to risk walking in the road.

4) None of the roads has pavement for more than a short stretch which means that the network of footpaths across fields and open spaces are an important aspect of village life. The footpaths enable villagers to access the conurbations of Hextable and Swanley safely. They are therefore not just recreational, but practical, safe, pedestrian routes to shops, services and public transport (none of which enters Swanley Village).

5) Much of the Green Belt in and surrounding the village has been actively farmed over many years by a number of local families. In recent years Watts Farms (one of the biggest growers and distributors of fresh salad vegetables in the South East) has established itself at the Farningham end of Button Street and farms much of the surrounding land. There is local demand for all good agricultural land.

The individual sites considered by SVRA are as follows:

Key:
a) Site number
b) Site description
c) Number Units
d) Green Belt, Conservation Area, character and historic value considerations
e) Comment

a) H04
b) Harringtons Nursery, Highlands Hill, Swanley
c) 53
e) Currently light industrial use
e) No objections received from Swanley Villagers

a) H010
b) Old Forge Yard
c) 16
d) Adjoins Conservation area
e) Currently light industrial use
e) No objections received from neighbours
e) Narrow access onto Swanley Village Road in Conservation Area

a) H054
b) Highlands Hill/School Lane
c) 40
d) Agricultural land
d) Green Belt
d) Adjoins Conservation area
e) Loss of prime agricultural land
e) Loss of green space as part of rural village character adjoining Conservation Area
e) Numerous objections from Villagers whose houses overlook this green space

a) H084
b) Land between Archer Way and Railway Line Swanley
c) 359
d) Green Belt
d) Eradication of important green wedge between Swanley Village and Swanley, merging town and village
d) Agricultural land in existing use
d) Affecting adjoining Swanley Village Conservation Area
e) Footpaths accessing Swanley without walking on dangerous roads
e) Recreational footpaths around the village
e) Strong and vehement villager objections to change of use for this land
e) Widening Beechenlea Lane to provide access for such a large development would cause significant additional traffic and have a detrimental effect on Swanley Village

a) H0159
b) West of Highlands Bungalow
c) Green Belt
d) Adjoins Conservation area
e) Currently used for horses
e) Risk of encroaching on green wedge between Swanley Village and Swanley (see H084)

a) H0188
b) Beechenlea Lane to South East of railway line
c) 400
d) Green Belt
e) Not used as agricultural land
e) Recreational usage with footpaths
e) Widening Beechenlea Lane to provide access for such a large development would cause significant additional traffic and have a detrimental effect on Swanley Village

a) H0195
b) Olympic and land to rear
c) 178
d) Green Belt
e) Recreational community facility

a) H0196
b) Land West of Beechenlea
c) 30
d) Green Belt
e) Recreational usage

a) H0197
b) Land rear of West View Road
c) 15
e) Loss of playing field in built up area


Thank you for taking the time to read and consider the views in this letter.
Yours sincerely

Bob Wallis
Chair, Swanley Village Residents Association
 

 

 

Swanley Village Residents' A ssociation                                    23 June 2016

 

Dear Swanley Villager

You are most likely aware that there is a shortage of new housing in this country and that the government has been encouraging local councils to free up land where developers can build new houses. Sevenoaks District Council has to increase significantly the number of units it builds to 3,000 over the next ten years. In order to achieve this SDC has asked landowners to put forward land they believe is suitable for development and has now started the process of assessing the merits of the land which has been offered.

The Residents’ Association became aware that a number of these sites are in and around Swanley Village and Cllr Tony Searles kindly attended a meeting 21 June to explain what is happening. The list of potential sites across the district has been published online on the www.sevenoaks.gov.uk website under: Planning Advisory Committee Tuesday, 21st June, 2016 7.00 pm. You can also follow this link to a list of proposed sites: http://cds.sevenoaks.gov.uk/mgAi.aspx?ID=7328#mgDocuments    (yes I wish it were simpler too!).

The sites (with the number of units in brackets) are:

Old Forge Yard                                                                                                                                                  (16)
Land at the corner of Highlands Hill and School Lane                                                                       (40)
Land west of Highlands Bungalow, Highlands Hill                                                                            (10)
Land between Beechenlea Lane and railway line behind Downsview Primary School    (400)
The Olympic and land to rear                                                                                                                     (178)
Land west of Beechenlea Lane, opposite The Olympic                                                                   (30)
 Playing field land rear of West View Road                                                                                          (15)
Harringtons Nursery                                                                                                                                       ( 53)

The local context of this is that development and regeneration in Swanley town centre is at a more advanced stage and that U&I is soon likely to submit plans for over 500 apartment units, plus car parking and a hotel, with upgrading of the station now it is in the Oyster zone. This will make a significant contribution to SDC’s target, but we should expect some development in our vicinity too.

None of these proposals is anywhere near the stage of submitting a ‘planning application’ but the Residents’ Association would like to hear your views about the prospect of residential building in these areas. It is the broader issues of regeneration and opportunity for local housing as well as encroachment on Green Belt, encroachment on a Conservation Area, merging of one town into another, preservation of the historic character of a place that we’d like to hear about. It is too early to discuss access, schools, services etc.

The Residents’ Association will write to SDC Planning and would like to reflect the full spectrum of opinions in the village. You are also welcome to make your views known directly to the contact address on SDC website.
Please email your comments to me at    SwanleyVillageRA@outlook.com     and include your name and address. I will not publish your details but need to verify that you are from the village. If you prefer to write please drop your letter through my door at 5 Hogs Orchard.

Yours faithfully                                    Bob Wallis                                   Chair, Swanley Village Residents’ Association