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Sevenoaks council back Fort Halstead development plans

By Annabel Rusbridge-Thomas

A controversial plan to develop Fort Halstead has been backed by council planners, despite huge public opposition.

The development would involve the construction of 450 homes - 20% of which would be afforadble housing - and a business park.

Site owner, Armstrong (Kent) LLP hopes to create more than 1,500 jobs in the village which will include a community hall suitable for a nursery, three play areas, a medical facility and pavilion.

An aerial view of the master plan
An aerial view of the master plan

The Defence, Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) currently occupies the area and employs 1,000 people. It aims to complete a relocation to alternative sites by 2018.

A hotel with 80 beds would also be constructed and the fort area and bunkers would be used as a historic interpretation centre.

In 2012, Armstrong (Kent) LLP appointed a professional team to advise on Fort Halstead's future to ensure a 'high quality environment can be created following Dstl's departure.'

Documents made available to the public state Fort Halsted state the development would provide £1.2 million additional expenditure a year in the local economy.

A sketch showing what homes and the open space would look like
A sketch showing what homes and the open space would look like

The proposal has been highly controversial and raised hundreds of objections across Sevenoaks.

Shoreham, Otford, Dunton Green, Knockholt, Halstead and Chevening councils all wrote to Sevenoaks District Council to lodge concerns.

Shoreham Parish Council said members were concerned about the height of some proposed homes and claimed the figure of 20% affordable housing was too low.

Issues developers have faced include potential contamination of the site and complaints about the traffic management plans.

Despite a mass of concerns, council planners have recommended the proposal for approval. They claim the development would bring a number of benefits for residents and the town and is in the public interest.

At previous public events, site owners were told 'this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop something unique' and that the development should host a 'balanced community village with a range of housing'.

The application will be discussed at a development control committee meeting on Thursday, September 10 at 7.30pm.

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