This website has been set up to provide ongoing advice to the Residents of Hartley about the development of a Neighbourhood Plan which will give the Community Legal powers to influence future planning development in the Parish.
WHAT IS A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN?
2,600 Parish Communities in England and Wales have already completed, or are drawing up, Neighbourhood Plans. They are written by local communities and concern the use and development of land as well as containing a vision for the future by addressing planning policies, proposals for improvement of an area and providing new facilities in the Parish. The Neighbourhood Plan would also influence future Sevenoaks Local Development Plans and the need for infrastructure. Once made, it would become part of the Development Plan for Sevenoaks District Council and would be considered in planning decisions. This Legal status is important.
WHY DOES HARTLEY NEED A NEIGHBOURHOOD PLAN?
Hartley is surrounded by the Green Belt, and this is under threat. The Parish Council believes that these green areas must be preserved and the legal powers in a Neighbourhood Plan could prove to be vital.
Most residents will remember 2019 for the massive local support against the Sevenoaks Draft Plan which proposed large scale residential development in the Green Belt. In response to the objections and the lack of infrastructure, the proposal was withdrawn from the Draft Plan. Whilst that Draft Plan was not approved, Sevenoaks DC is now preparing a replacement Plan for consultation with the residents.
THE NEXT STEP
After consulting residents in 2021, the Parish Council was convinced that a Neighbourhood Plan is essential for Hartley. At least 11 Parishes in Sevenoaks are currently working on their Neighbourhood Plans. New Ash Green has almost finalised theirs and our neighbour in Fawkham is at a very advanced stage with their plan. From start to finish, the Neighbourhood Plan will take three to four years to complete and could cost between £15,000 and £35,000. This figure would be offset by a Government Grant. The Parish Council is convinced that this is the right course of action to protect our Village and it proposes to meet any shortfall from reserves. The cost would cover publicity and consultations, and consultancy fees for specialist surveys. Sevenoaks District Council would support the preparatory work by allocating a Planning Officer to give advice, free of charge.
WHAT CAN YOU DO TO HELP?
The key to creating a successful Neighbourhood Plan is listening to the views and ideas of residents for inclusion in the Plan. To do this, a Steering Group consisting of a few Parish Councillors and local residents has been set up to promote the Plan, draft policies and undertake consultations. Three such consultations have taken place - the first in March 2021 which sought the views of residents on the need for a Neighbourhood Plan, the second in October/November 2021 which asked specific questions about residents' views on likes and dislikes about Hartley and the third in late 2023 which sought views on key aspects of the Neighbourhood Plan. From these consultations a set of policies is being produced and consulted.
The Steering Group has been very appreciative of the number of residents who have volunteered to help in a variety of ways with the work of distributing documents throughout the Parish. There are some 2,500 houses in the Parish and their efforts are considerable.