Public Open Session - Sundridge Plan
Monday, 16th October, 2017
Please click here to view the draft Sundridge Community Development Plan
Chairman of the Parish Council, Cllr. John Evans, welcomed a packed house of over 160 people to Sundridge Village Hall, who had come to hear details about the idea to regenerate parts of the village. Cllr Evans also welcomed KCC Cllr. Nick Chard, SDC Cllrs. Robert Piper, James London and Anna Firth, Katie Miller from A.O.N.B., together with representatives from Sundridge Medical Centre and Sundridge and Brasted Primary School. He also expressed the Parish Council’s thanks to Duncan Parr, Richard Reid and Dean Gregory for the voluntary work they had already put in to get us to this stage with the concept.
Cllr. Evans then proceeded to outline the current situation and the reasoning behind the idea. At the moment, no planning permission has been sought, no plans drawn up - other than the preliminary sketch distributed at the meeting. The idea has, however, been entered into SDC’s “Call for Sites” and the recent Local Plan.
The Parish Council has included in this idea the possibility for the relocation of Sundridge and Brasted Primary School, Sundridge Medical Centre, the Village Hall, Sundridge and Brasted Social Club, including the Bowls Club, and the Recreation Ground and Pavilion, even though some of these are not owned by the Parish Council and that the owners may not decide to participate in the scheme. However, the Parish Council has endeavoured to co-ordinate the private landowners’ own plans regarding the long-term pursuit of planning permission for their land, hence giving the project a greater chance of fruition.
The Parish Council is acutely aware of the constraints surrounding planning permission, the land falling within the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the Green Belt. It is also within Zones 2/3 of the Environment Agency’s flood risk, straddling the River Darent, and within the curtilage of the historic parkland of a Grade 1 listed building - Radnor House School. However, it is hoped that these problems can be surmountable, given sympathetic design, strategic location, appropriate engineering and, above all, community need.
Everyone is well aware of the current problems in the village. Dominated by the A25, it resembles a racetrack for all points east and west, for access to the M25 and nearby supermarkets, where speeding has become endemic. Car parking is a major headache, with cars forced onto pavements or squeezed into spaces with no regard for local residents. Chevening Road and Church Road parking have become almost impassable at times of the school run and the crossroads are ever more congested.
In terms of the Parish Council’s assets, the Village Hall has become increasingly dilapidated, despite the recent cosmetic internal painting, which will need addressing in the near future. The Social Club is shared on a 50-50 basis with Brasted PC as a result of a bequest many years ago. The building is a similar age to the Village Hall and is therefore in equal need of structural improvements. The Bowls Club encompasses a set of asbestos sheds. Both these facilities rely on a private landlord for parking. The Recreation Ground and, in particular, the Pavilion are in constant need of maintenance as a result of their isolation - frequent vandalism, dog fouling and littering - not to mention the single purpose sports’ facility.
We have also had indications of support and declarations of interest in the scheme from other significant institutions in the village. Sundridge and Brasted Primary School’s play facilities are restricted and, with the site being adjacent to a busy road, car parking and congestion are major issues. The school is at capacity with no room for expansion, despite being 200% over-subscribed. With Ide Hill and Chevening Primary Schools being in similar predicaments, local residents are having to drive to Sevenoaks for school places, thereby adding to the congestion issues. Sundridge Medical Centre are also very near to capacity, with very limited parking. Their building is also far from fit for purpose in the 21st century.
Therefore, the Parish Council has put forward this concept for consideration. The scheme presumes that KCC would sell off the current school site for development and cover the relocation costs. Again, the Medical Centre would sell its current site and relocate itself. The Parish Council would look to sell the Village Hall site for development and, in conjunction with Brasted PC, would look to sell the Social and Bowls Clubs for development. With them in tandem, added to the demolition of the pavilion, this would allow for the creation of a multi-functional facility at the Rec, incorporating the needs of the community by providing a Village Hall, Social Club and Community Centre, as a realistic proposition. There are absolutely no plans to close the Social Club. In fact, it is envisaged that all three assets would continue as now until the replacement is built and functioning.
Integral in the scheme to address housing needs is the provision of a small community development of affordable housing and small businesses in a rural location, that create a community feel within the current village area. By providing ample parking for all the amenities, another issue in the village is alleviated. With regard to the A25 speed issue, creation of new access for the school and sporting facilities would require some form of traffic calming measures. This could also incorporate improved drainage for the surface water accumulation on the A25. In terms of the existing sports’ ground at the Rec, it would make sense to explore funding to upgrade to a multi-sport facility.
The Parish Council freely accept that this may prove to be a pipe dream. However, we are hoping that everyone appreciates that the time has come to do something. Sundridge has had nothing for years, so we are looking for the community to rally and convey to the planners and authorities that there is overwhelming support for the need for change. Unless we promote a community scheme along the proposed lines, we risk losing what little identity we have left and also outgrowing our facilities. This village offers little enough to existing residents, let alone attracting a whole lot of new ones! Therefore the purpose of the meeting is to enable us to take charge of our future.
Questions were then taken from the floor and comments in favour, as well as villagers with certain reservations, were expressed. Finally, an overwhelming show of hands in support empowered the Parish Council to progress the scheme.