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Like a new droplet of water introduced into a lake - the ripple of change begins...

Sevenoaks Residents Association

Just as there is political turmoil erupting nationally, local people have been unhappy with how main party politics is impacting on their personal lives. When I resigned as Chairman of the Sevenoaks Conservative Association, I was free to start talking to residents in an open and truthful way – to work with them, understand their concerns as a resident rather than a political machine. I formed Sevenoaks Residents Association (SRA) to be in direct opposition to the political parties that work on their own agendas rather than take into account the voices of residents.

Sevenoaks, The Garden of England, is under threat of losing its Green Belt to waves of development that is likely to have a direct effect on our environment and countryside. Often these developments are not accompanied by robust infrastructure resulting in a detrimental drain on schools; roads or medical services.

In Surrey, independent Councillors have made great inroads campaigning with residents to save their Green Belt. The Oxted and Limpsfield Residents Group (OLRG) had three additional independent Councillors elected at the last local election adding to their one existing OLRG Councillor and are already making a balanced impact on the outcome of Council committee votes in support of residents. The OLRG Councillors are linked with 5 other independents forming a group of 9 on Tandridge District Council. The difference they have already made is in the report below.

The following was reported by OLRG:-

On the 7th March, the Moorhouse planning application, was refused.

Tandridge District Council's Planning Committee voted to refuse the Moorhouse planning application because of significant harm to the openness and visual amenities of the Green Belt due to the bulk, scale and mass of the scheme with insufficient very special circumstances that would clearly outweigh the identified harms. This would be contrary to the provisions of Policies DP10 and DP13 of the Tandridge Local Plan Part 2: Detailed Policies (2014) and the National Planning Policy Framework.

The vote was carried by six to five. Three Conservatives and the three Independents on the committee voted for the refusal motion; three Conservatives and the two Liberal Democrats on the committee voted against it.

However, the motion to refuse put forward by Independent Councillors was split into two by the Conservative administration and the second part of it concerning the harm to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty was voted down, with two of the Conservative Councillors changing their vote and not supporting this part of the motion.

It seems wholly inconsistent to decide that the development would harm the Green Belt but then decide that it would not harm the Surrey Hills AONB. This suggests that the Council's administration have in effect passed the final decision on Moorhouse to the Local Plan Inspector. In their Local Plan, they are proposing removing Moorhouse from the Green Belt.

Before the meeting, Tandridge Council's Planning Department recommended that the application should be permitted prompting dozens of residents to attend the meeting in protest.

The application, from developers Roxhill acting on behalf of the Titsey Estate, is for a super-sized DPD parcel distribution centre on the Moorhouse site which is next to the Grasshopper pub on the A25 between Limpsfield and Westerham.

There were hundreds of objections to it from residents on the grounds that it was inappropriate development in the Green Belt and in the Surrey Hills AONB and that the development would generate huge and unacceptable levels of increased traffic.

SRA will aim to work with residents; elected independents; parish councils and community projects to bring beneficial change to Sevenoaks. It will run a number of campaigns aimed at supporting the most important issues to residents. It is imperative that independents made up of residents who live in their wards are elected to offer an alternative voice to that of main political parties.

Independents are residents who are unreservedly free to campaign together with other residents to protect the Green Belt, environment, for reliable transportation or extra funding for our schools striving to build communities, towns and villages to be proud to live in. OLRG are putting up three more additional candidates, who would have made all the difference in the Moorhouse vote. There are also a number of other independents standing this May around Tandridge District. Remember they started with one and look where they are now…

SRA will be looking to field candidates onto the district council at the next elections. However, in the meantime I am working with Steve Nash, another independent nominated for the ward of Brasted, Chevening and Sundridge as we concentrate on trying to win two of the three seats available. Steve has also recently been elected with me onto the Parish Council of Sundridge with Ide Hill. We are both proud and honoured to have been nominated by the residents in the ward we live in to stand as independents for Brasted, Chevening and Sundridge. We will endeavour to work for the ward as a whole between us if successful - what affects our ward affects us.

Please support Sevenoaks Residents Association help it to grow into an organisation that brings change and unity to Sevenoaks. Take a look at our website; follow us on twitter @7OaksResidents and on Facebook @7OaksResidentsAssociation.