The White Hart Estates area continues to be an area where houses are constantly upgraded resulting in a steady flow of Planning Applications.  The majority of Applications conform to our agreed Planning Principles and add to the pleasant character of the area.

A small number of Planning Applications prove contentious – both to immediate neighbouring residents and to WHERA itself.  Such Applications often involve developers who are seeking to build one or more houses which are too large for the site and therefore propose a lack of balance in the local street scene and are often detrimental to the character of the area.

The objective of WHERA's planning principles (shown separately) is to retain the pleasant and open nature of this residential area and, where possible, to enhance the harmony and balance of the area, keeping and improving the visual amenity.

In order to preserve the character of the area it is always a good idea to consult with your neighbours – front, side, and to the rear – before submitting a planning application.

Please see the Planning Principles article for further information about how planning applications are viewed by us and assessed by the Sevenoaks District Council. To examine an application in detail please see guidance below.

For those who may not be familiar with planning issues we set out below some of the main considerations when planning applications are assessed.

  • Street Scene– This is the view that a person has travelling up or down the road where you live. Applications are assessed as to whether they respect, not distort, the area – for example by size, bulk, scale, height of proposal and effect on visual amenity.

    Examples would be whether the general building line is respected as an important part of the open nature of our area is the fact that houses are generally well set back from the road and pavement.  This is also set out in the covenants imposed by the Sevenoaks Land Company (part of the Sackville Estates) – the original owners of the land - to which all properties are subject individually.  These covenants set out the sense of a pleasant and open residential space and are very relevant today.

  • Character of the Area– this represents the open, almost rural, character which we as residents appreciate.  The environment is not urbanised as in a London suburb and houses generally have reasonable space between their side boundaries and are not “hugger mugger”.  This is an essential part of keeping an open and spacious feel to the area.

    WHERA participated fully in the Sevenoaks Residential Character Area Assessment, sponsored by Sevenoaks District Council, which resulted in a new Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) which was adopted by the Council in 2012. This included the White Hart Estates Area as a particular character area (G01 Formal Avenue) and will be used by the planning authorities in their assessment of planning applications in relation to the stated character of the area.  The White Hart Estates area is bounded on three sides by Conservation Areas including Sevenoaks Common and Knole Park and has a number of Protected Woodlands within its boundary.

  • Bulk, Size, Scale and Height – these are obvious considerations but often ignored by applicants. The White Hart Estates residential area is characterised by detached houses which are not overbuilt / overdeveloped so that they sit comfortably on their plots with adequate layout and density.  Ridge heights are a particularly sensitive issue together with retaining the typically Kentish look of adequately sloping roofs (the catslide roof is a particular feature). Proposals which are overbearing and dominant are very obvious and should be avoided.
  • Design – Fit with the local environment is important together with the overall design including quality of materials (eg bricks, tiles, rendering, windows and doors) and items such as the pitch of roofs.
  • Amenity – This covers both visual amenity – the ability of the resident to enjoy their surroundings and the nature of their locality – and the privacy which most of us take for granted.  Privacy covers the ability not to be overlooked, as well as protection from such issues as noise and loss of light.  Some examples have occurred recently where residents have intruded into the privacy of neighbours – for instance by cutting down screening trees or producing plans which are overbearing and have a dominant overlooking view of their neighbours. These situations should be avoided.
  • Landscaping – Substantial development of houses in this area with its mature trees and vegetation and proximity to Sevenoaks Common and Knole Park requires a sensitive approach to using land which is part of our heritage environment.  It is also full of wildlife using the openly natural area as a migratory route to and from Sevenoaks Common. Thus it is advised that any substantial development should have a detailed and accurate landscape plan in which mature trees and vegetation are retained as far as practically possible and, additionally, the natural landscape enhanced with new plantings.  This is a particularly important consideration when planning front gardens and not overpaving the front garden for vehicle parking and thereby depriving it of wildlife. Ecological surveys have been called for – particularly in respect of houses near Sevenoaks Common.
  • Water– Water conservation, adequate drainage and avoidance of pollution are essential aspects of any development.  Bath, shower and toilet facilities associated with including additional bedrooms have increased in redeveloped properties which means that the drain systems for foul sewerage have to be able to cope with the extra load. The drain infrastructure is elderly throughout the White Hart Estates area and there are an increasing number of very unpleasant overflows which occur through blockage and overuse/lack of capacity. Residents are asked to bear this in mind when considering their facility requirements.

    In terms of conservation well planned development will include soakaways for (often increased) water fall from roofs and permeable surfaces for new driveways. The use of water butts is advised to save water.

  • Construction Issues – Everyone recognises that it is inevitable that construction in progress will cause some disturbance.  However, it is the responsibility of the owner of the property to ensure that construction takes place in a considerate and tidy manner and that dust and noise are kept to a minimum.

-          Driveway crossovers are the responsibility of the house owner, so, if they become damaged during construction, the pavement area must be made safe or properly diverted for pedestrians, and the crossover repaired as soon as possible during or post construction to the standards and material strengths set out by Kent Highways.

-          Construction traffic should not park on pavements or grass verges for obvious reasons and to preserve the infrastructure and pleasant appearance of the neighbourhood.  This also applies to residents and their visitors as there is adequate parking space on the drives of most properties.

-          All building materials must remain within the curtilage of the construction site and not on verges or pavements so that they do not obstruct the pavement, verge or road. Similarly, where at all possible, skips should be placed inside boundaries to avoid roads becoming “skip alleys” and thereby maximise road and pavement safety.

-          Gullies at the side of the road can become blocked with a combination of builders’ rubble, cement, and gravel.  Kent Highways clear the sludge from gullies on a timed rotational basis and the cooperation of householders with their builders to reduce/eliminate these blockages is requested.

The majority of these points are a mix between the objectives of householders, professional planning help, and, above all, a good measure of common sense applied to the area where you live.  Controversy can usually be avoided by careful thought in working up plans together with local neighbours and giving consideration to the environment in the area that has developed over many years.

WHERA examines each planning application submitted in the White Hart Estates area and has reasonable experience in looking at most of the planning issues arising in our area. Please see the Planning Principles article next for further information.

The Sevenoaks Local Plan (Policy EN1) sets out formally the policies by which the Planning Authorities in the District operate. This is available for public inspection at the Council Offices.

To examine a planning application in more detail one may apply at the Sevenoaks District Council offices in Argyle Road or look at a computer record on the Council website at www.sevenoaks.gov.uk by entering the address or the allocated Sevenoaks reference in the box shown on the home page.

 

 

 

 

 

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