It is for Sevenoaks District Councillors to adopt the Local Plan and they are consulting on the details.
I want to make clear that I am not in favour of building new houses on our Green Belt. Indeed I have continued to object to the 14,000 total of new houses that the government proposes: it’s unachievable without breaching a significant amount of Green Belt land. I will continue to urge the Communities Secretary James Brokenshire, to reconsider.
I am aware that Sevenoaks Hockey Club and Sevenoaks Rugby Club (where I am a Vice-President) need more pitches, and I support both of them. But this should not be interpreted as support for any particular new housing proposal.
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon visited Sevenoaks Hospital and its Minor Injuries Unit on Friday 22nd June. He met duty nursing staff and senior management. With representatives of NHS Property estates he inspected the new £500,000 upgrade of the hospital parking and drainage on both sides of the road.
Sir Michael said: “Sevenoaks Hospital is here to stay. Investment on this scale shows confidence in its long-term future, especially when the Minor Injuries Unit has never been busier. The unit is now being used by over 17,000 people a year. Almost every family in the district must have had some-one use it recently.”
The West Kent Clinical Commissioning Group is holding a public meeting at the Stag Theatre at 1.30pm on Tuesday 3rd July on its ideas to adapt the hospital into a “local care hub. Sir Michael added: “whatever they propose, we will not accept any cut in the services currently provided.”
In light of the housing target set by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government in Sevenoaks, Sir Michael wrote to the Housing Minister, James Brokenshire, urging him to reduce the unsustainable and unrealistic target: Sevenoaks is 93% Green Belt and 6% Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, making it one of the hardest hit by the new target.
Sir Michael said: “The Government’s housing target for Sevenoaks is just unrealistic and I have urged the Housing Ministry to reconsider. I have always pledged to protect the Green Belt and I will continue to do so. My hope is for a balance between the need to provide some new and affordable housing for the next generation on one hand, and protecting our villages from intrusive development on the other.”
Michael has welcomed the Sevenoaks District Council’s Local Plan survey: an important planning policy which says what can be built and where, as well as what should be protected up to 2035.
The survey, sent to every household in the district, is the first step to forming the new Local Plan. It asks residents for their opinions on early suggested options for dealing with anticipated issues the district will face.
In a comprehensive set of responses, the Sevenoaks MP indicated that he supports the Council’s overall strategy to promote housing choice for all whilst maintaining Green Belt protections.
‘Only 15 per cent of housing here is affordable’, he wrote. ‘Older generations need options to downsize and younger; economically-active families need a chance to move in.’
The local MP supported the District Council’s approach to promoting environmentally-friendly improvements, but cautioned against developing renewable sites that diverge from the historic aesthetic of the district.
Michael said: ‘The Plan recognises that both ambition and caution are required to deliver for the next generation. Residents must decide how best to solve the challenges we face. I will continue to work with the Council.’