Town Council Respond To U & I Appeal

At a Full Council meeting last Wednesday the Mayor Cllr Lesley Dyball read out out the folliowing stataement supported by all town councillors:

Swanley Town Council is disappointed to hear the announcement that Sevenoaks District Council will no longer contest the appeal against developers U&I for their 11 storey and several 7 storey buildings for the town centre.

Swanley Town Councillors, and Swanley’s Sevenoaks District Councillors, have always fought against this planning application; but it would appear this was always going to be a David and Goliath battle against this large development.

The Town Council has always strongly supported the principle of the regeneration of Swanley Town Centre, however our concern remains that this represents an over-development of our town, with several inappropriate high rise buildings and the lack of suitable infrastructure to support it.

We held a public meeting in 2017 with over 150 people present to discuss U&Is plans, where town councillors unanimously agreed to recommend an objection to Sevenoaks District Council.

Swanley’s District Councillors then took the matter to the planning committee at Sevenoaks, where they also secured a refusal from other Sevenoaks District Councillors present.

We understand, however, that U&I subsequently challenged the refusal through a public planning inquiry, a rarer but lengthy and costly ‘court style’ process, which involves expert witnesses testifying about the refusal, and requiring the District Council to secure its own expert witnesses to back up the refusal position. 

In preparation for that hearing, over the past year Sevenoaks District Council sought expert planning and legal advice about its prospect of winning the challenge, which regrettably deemed the chances of winning incredibly slim.

Had they lost, they could be responsible for paying all costs for the appeal incurred by both parties, which we understand would have been an extraordinary sum, funded wholly by the local taxpayer.

It is worth noting that Swanley Town Council and Swanley’s District Councillors fought off U&I’s original application in 2016, which included a 13 storey building with even fewer car parking spaces.

We do not believe that U&I intend to re-visit that original proposal, and therefore we are pleased that this scheme is at least not going forward.

Swanley Town Council remains strongly committed to fighting against the hundreds of homes proposed off Beechenlea Lane and at the rear of Lullingstone Avenue in Sevenoaks District Council’s draft Local Plan, as well as opposing other inappropriate sites in and near the town.

We hope to know the the results of Sevenoaks District Council’s consultation in November, but will continue to oppose inappropriate development in all forms as and when they come forward.