At the December 2020 meeting, Fawkham Parish Council (FPC) agreed to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan for Fawkham.

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

A Neighbourhood Plan sets out a community’s vision for their area and puts policies in place that will shape the future. It is a tool that gives communities statutory powers to help shape their local area.A Neighbourhood Plan is:

  • A legal document that sets out planning policies for the local area – planning policies are used to decide whether to approve planning applications
  • Written by the local community, the people who know and love the area, rather than by Sevenoaks District Council
  • A powerful tool to guide future development.

It is about the use and development of land, and it is up to those preparing it to decide on its scope and content. It can include a future vision for Fawkham on a range of issues which really matter to us, which could include environment, housing, community facilities, transport, heritage, recreation, open space, and employment.

Key to creating a Neighbourhood Plan is listening to the community to make sure it contains what Fawkham wants and needs: it is a community-led plan.
                                                                                                                                                                                        A Neighbourhood Plan cannot stop development: it must support the strategic needs set out in the Local Plan. This means it cannot prevent development identified in the Local Plan. The draft Local Plan allocates two housing sites in Fawkham: Fawkham Business Park with 31 units and Grange Park Farm with 32 units, although the future of that plan is currently unknown. Housing developments are also proposed at Salts Farm depot (26 units) and Fawkham Manor hospital (32 units).

Why is it a good idea?

  • It gives us a say in what new development looks like: A plan can shape and guide development by creating criteria on layout, design, materials, character, gardens and parking requirements or deciding on infrastructure priorities. This means things like the number of car-parking spaces could be linked to number of bedrooms, or having native hedges rather than fences, or a preferred mix of housing-types, such as for people downsizing and wanting to stay in Fawkham.
  • It allows us to say what green spaces we would like to protect: A plan can identify areas for protection such as open spaces valued by the community or green spaces that meet Local Green Space criteria set out in national policy. This means the plan can direct development away from certain locations.
  • It gives us a legal say in local planning matters: Once made, a Neighbourhood Plan will become part of the statutory development plan for Sevenoaks District Council. This statutory status is important. Developers can only go against the policies in a Neighbourhood Plan if they are able to convince a Planning Enquiry that the policy should be set aside.

During the village survey in 2019, you told us what you liked about living in Fawkham – and what you didn’t – and made some suggestions for improvements.  The findings of the survey led the us to believe that a Neighbourhood Plan would be a good idea. The Local Plan consultations showed us the power of community engagement and what we can achieve if we work together. It also demonstrated that there is a real desire in the community to protect the Green Belt and our natural surroundings. This is another reason why we think creating a Neighbourhood Plan would be a good idea.

How long will it take?

Making a Neighbourhood Plan is a long process. It’s likely to take 12-18 months to do the bulk of the work in pulling the plan together, and then similar amount of time to go through the processes required to finalise it, which include an independent examination and a formal referendum vote by those on the electoral roll for Fawkham, with 50% saying yes required to “make” the Plan.

The work started in January 2021 with the first steps of  setting up the the project and beginning to build the evidence base by reviewing existing information and developing further, more localised evidence.

How can we get involved?

A Neighbourhood Plan is most successful if all the community engages with it and we hope that face-to-face community engagement, such as drop in sessions and workshops, will be possible in the near future. This will mean that the plan will reflect  what the community wants and needs.

The evidence gathered and the outcomes of community engagement will lead to the development of a vision for Fawkham and policies to support that. There will be further community engagement and feedback on the proposals.

Please do get in touch if you have the skills, experience, time and, most importantly, the willingness to help by joining our Steering Group or by joining a working group looking at a particular topic, such as environment, biodiversity, infrastructure, housing or urban design.

Please do contact us if you have any thoughts, comments or queries.

 

Preparing a Neighbourhood Plan is your chance to shape the future of Fawkham.

If you’d like to find out more about Neighbourhood Plans, you can visit:

How to shape where you live: Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) in association with National Association of Local Councils:

or

Neighbourhood Planning: brought to you by Locality