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NO Hartley Expansion group set up to fight 800 homes plan

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Campaigners are gearing up to stop an 800 home development from being built between Gravesend and Dartford.

Concerned residents have come together to fight the plan, which seeks to build the homes on Green Belt land in Fawkham and Hartley.

The NO Hartley Expansion (NHE) group is hoping to get the large development removed from the Sevenoaks Local Plan when it is considered by the council on November 22.

A map showing the sites of the two proposed developments
A map showing the sites of the two proposed developments

So far they have spread the word by putting up banners, handing out leaflets and holding meetings for residents to learn more about the development.

Margaret Bown, of Hartley, started working with the group in August.

"The members of NO Hartley Expansion have had to learn a huge amount very quickly about the Local Plan process and the national planning policies in order to defend our villages against this monstrous development and the developer-led planning approach," she said.

"These are real people, serving their own communities, who deserve to be heard. We are determined not to be ignored.

"Using Green Belt sites submitted by landowners rather than actively seeking suitable Brownfield sites is unacceptable.

"Building an estate of 800 houses, with new access roads from Fawkham and Hartley would have a devastating impact on these villages and change the character of the area completely.

"Our roads will not cope with an estimated 1,600 extra cars and local pollution levels will rise.

Hartley and Hodsoll Street councillor James Gaywood
Hartley and Hodsoll Street councillor James Gaywood

"Our doctors are struggling with the nationwide shortage of available staff and it takes 4-5 weeks to get an appointment now, without a huge increase in the local population.

"Darent Valley Hospital is also struggling.

"I am passionate about preserving our village way of life and our countryside."

Sevenoaks council held a consultation on the plans for residents to go along to raise concerns and ask questions.

It resulted in nearly 2,000 comments being submitted, all of which were printed by NHE and presented to councillor for Hartley and Hodsoll Street, James Gaywood who objected to the development on the Draft Local Plan consultation.

Mrs Bown, 63, added: "Our aim was for the actual volume of objections to be clearly visible to the members of the council.

"The comments, wrapped in a green ribbon to represent the Green Belt, were accompanied by a letter from NHE, detailing the justified and numerous complaints."

"Building an estate of 800 houses, with new access roads would have a devastating impact on these villages and change the character of the area completely" - Margaret Bown

Ideas in the Local Plan for the area also include a medical centre, the relocation of two schools, a country park, and new sports facilities.

Sevenoaks Council spokesman Daniel Whitmarsh said: "The Government has told us we must plan for nearly 700 new homes in the district every year up to 2035 to meet our future housing needs together with community infrastructure improvements.

"To help achieve this, landowners put forward sites for new housing, schools and other facilities and, over the summer, we consulted on the most suitable sites.

"We received over 8,500 comments and our planning policy team are currently considering and analysing every one of them.

"Our planning advisory committee will consider the comments and any proposed changes to the Plan at its meeting on 22 November and our Cabinet are expected to consider the final draft of the Plan when it meets on 6 December.

"There will then be a six-week consultation known as a ‘Regulation 19 Publication’ before the plan is submitted to the planning inspector, who will consider all the comments before making the final decision to approve the Plan at a public examination in 2019.

"Residents can also ask to speak at the examination."

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