More than 200 people took the opportunity to view the latest proposals to relieve congestion and build approximately 600 new homes, including affordable homes to help local people get on the housing ladder, at a public exhibition in Westerham.
The proposals would also see improvements to the public realm and parking in the town centre and for the GP surgery and Primary School.
The team behind the Which Way Westerham scheme is seeking to have the proposals included in Sevenoaks District Council’s draft Local Plan for the period to 2035, and the exhibition held in the Kings Arms in the town centre on Friday and Saturday (January 26 and 27) updated local people on the latest thinking.
If included in the draft Local Plan, allocations would be allowed for approximately 600 homes across three development areas, a new small business estate, and a relief road to take through traffic away from Westerham town centre, all on land owned by the Squerryes Estate.
25.2ha (62.2 acres) of new Common Land would be designated within the Green Belt that would be open to the public for use and protected from development in perpetuity.
Both the new Common Land and a further 25.1ha (62 acres) of Green Belt land would benefit from the extensive environmental enhancements needed to deliver the Kent Downs AONB Management Plan 2014-19 for the Westerham area.
To achieve this 21.53ha (53.2 acres) of land would be released from the Green Belt for housing and employment uses – equivalent to just 4% of the Green Belt around Westerham. Additionally 3.8ha (9.4 acres) of Green Belt land would be required for the corridor for the relief road, which is identified as essential infrastructure.
Henry Warde of Squerryes Estate said: “The release of the Green Belt land proposed is justified by the exceptional circumstances that exist for the WWW proposals – the need for the housing, the need for the relief road, the ability to take a comprehensive approach to the town, the single land ownership that makes delivery possible and the wide range of social, environmental and economic sustainability benefits that the proposals generate for the long term preservation of the historic town.
“We are delighted that local residents and business owners have taken the opportunity to come and view our vision for the town and talk to us about it.
“Throughout 2017 we have listened carefully to all comments on our proposals and have taken them into consideration as we have worked with a team of expert consultants to develop our master plan.”
Robert Rummey of Rummey Design, who have been developing the master plan said: “This public exhibition has helped us present our detailed plans, our case for inclusion in the draft Local Plan, and the substantial evidence that supports it, to the people of Westerham for the first time.
“We believe local people should have access to all the information and evidence available to help shape their views on our proposals, which have evolved considerably since they were first discussed at Westerham Town Council’s public meeting in May of last year.”
The master plan for Which Way Westerham is now being finalised before submission to SDC for consideration for inclusion in its draft Local Plan.
A full set of final reports will be provided to SDC in February, and it is expected they will be made available to the public.
If it is accepted into the plan, SDC will carry out its own consultation into the next stage of its draft plan in the spring of 2018 when local residents will be able to submit their comments.