Sevenoaks Local Plan Update

IPS have previously represented Edenbridge Town Council throughout Sevenoaks District Council Local Plan Examination in Autumn 2019. Edenbridge Town Council had concerns about the number and nature of new housing sites allocated beyond those which had been agreed by the Town Council. IPS were engaged to assist the Town Council in attempting to make the Sevenoaks Plan sound.

However unfortunately for Sevenoaks a more fundamental failing in the preparation of the Local Plan became apparent.  The Plan’s failure to meet the Duty to Co-operate was flagged by IPS amongst others at the hearings.

Sevenoaks District Council lodged an appeal against the Local Plan Inspector’s findings about their failure to comply with the Duty to Cooperate and the Inspector’s recommendation that the plan be withdrawn. In November 2020 Mr Justice Dove in the High Court said that there was ‘no substance whatsoever’ in claims that the Inspector’s decision was irrational.

Sevenoaks then lodged an appeal against this Judgment in December 2020 and in early April 2021 the Court of Appeal Lady Justice Macur agreed that both Sevenoaks’s grounds of appeal were ‘unarguable’.

The Sevenoaks District Council website in April 2021 stated: ‘While the existing Local Plan and national planning guidance will continue to be used to protect our natural environment and help decide planning applications, we will be speaking with the Secretary of State to put forward a strategy that ensures a new Local Plan can be put in place as soon as possible’.

In accordance with the Inspectors’ findings, the Sevenoaks District Council Local Plan will thus be withdrawn and a new local plan will progress. We will continue to monitor the progress with the new Local Plan and work with Edenbridge Town Council to ensure that a robust planning strategy is secured for the locality.

Lesson learnt

Local Plan preparation is a long and complicated task for any local planning authority. IPS has an extensive level of expertise on this subject and can offer advice and assistance to any party who is seeking to achieve a sound and successful outcome with a robust and well evidenced adopted statutory local plan at the end of the exercise.