2. NUMBER AND TYPE OF UNITS PROPOSED
2.1 Although the number of units has reduced from 32 to 26, there is the same number of bedrooms in the revised proposals and so a similar number of residents. The impact on the local infrastructure remains unchanged from the previous proposals. These impacts are discussed later.
2.2 SDC’s Policy SP5 seeks smaller less than 3 bedroom units. The Planning statement says at 4.4.14 that the proposal will help to increase the proportion of smaller units in SDC’s housing stock policy SP5. However, 18 of the 26 units are 4 bed town houses. Of the 8 apartments within the Manor House itself, 1 is 3 bed and 7 are 2 bed, although it would be difficult to describe them as small units as they are, on average, 117m2 in size, around double the size of an average 2 bed apartment. Our view is that the proposal does not help in any significant way to increase the stock of smaller units.
2.3 The Planning statement suggests as 4.4.15 that the units will be suitable for “older households” and those downsizing. It seems unlikely that 4 bed townhouses arranged over three storeys will appeal to such households. The units are around 130m2 and so are above the UK average house size of 85m2 (and 76m2 for a new build).
2.4 The Planning Statement suggests that the units will contribute to the housing need identified in the Local Housing Needs Survey conducted in the neighbouring parish of West Kingsdown However, an analysis of the needs identified shows only a minority are looking for smaller homes, of which several want bungalows, with others wanting some level of care provision, and West Kingsdown PC are in the process of providing 10 affordable and 3 market houses to help meet that need.
Our view is that the units will not help to meet the identified local need for units for older households looking to downsize.
2.5 In addition, Fawkham is classified in the Settlement Hierarchy as a hamlet, and has around 221 dwellings. Fawkham is in the lowest tier of the Settlement Hierarchy, and as such is unsuitable for much development. It is an unsustainable location: SDC identifies seven facilities and services consider key to sustainability, and states four or more of these as indicating a more sustainable location that may be able to support future development. Fawkham only has two of these key facilities, not four: a village hall and and 0.5 form entry primary school. It does not have the other key facilities: bus transport, rail transport, a doctor, a Post Office or a small store. The 26 units proposed here represent an increase of nearly 12% in the housing stock.
3. HARM TO THE GREEN BELT
3.1 We agree with SDC’s assessment of the previous application that the proposals would have a greater impact on openness than the existing development. We feel the revised application will too.
3.2 We disagree with the assertion made at 4.5.9 of the Planning statement which states that the second limb of NPPF para 145 (g) applies. We do not feel that provision of two affordable houses, off site, should be regarded as sufficient to meet this exception. The proposal seeks to reduce the affordable housing contribution as far as possible, whilst also seeking to use that reduced contribution to apply the second limb of 145 (g). Given that SDC policy is for all developments over a certain size to contribute 40% affordable housing, this proposal is merely complying with that – though in fact it then reduces its contribution from 10 to 2 by requesting offset against the existing buildings, which are in a different use.
3.3 Rather, FPC asserts that the first limb should apply, which requires that the redevelopment of PDL should not have a greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt than the existing development. This proposal does have a greater impact, both in footprint and volume, and the harm under the first limb does not have to be substantial, just greater.
4. INFRASTRUCTURE ISSUES
4.1 Overview of the Fawkham Manor Estate
It will be useful to provide at this point an overview of the “Fawkham Manor Estate”. This was part of a larger estate from medieval times which covered most of the parish of Fawkham, purchased in the late 1800s by the Hohler family, which remained largely intact until 1949 when it was sold to the Billings family. In this response, references to the “Fawkham Manor Estate” should be taken to be the area bound by Manor Lane to the east which is accessed by a private road, named “Fawkham Manor Farm”. Some plots within this estate were sold in the 1960s and now form separate residences. Properties on the estate in addition to Fawkham Manor comprise: The Bungalow at Grange Park Farm, Lot 12, Oakwood House, The Coach House, Stables Cottage, 1 Stables Cottage, Parkwood, Park Field, The Spinney, The Cottage and North Lodge.