Planning Application 2015

Master Plan

We have recently submitted a planning application, jointly with the Diocese of Rochester, to Sevenoaks District Council. Because there is a great deal of interest in these plans, we want to make it as easy as possible for people to see what we have applied to do, and to ask any questions.

On the right, you will see the master plan. If you would like to see other drawings from the application, click on the master plan to begin a slideshow. If you do not have Javascript enabled in your browser, we have another webpage that links to these drawings so you can view them.

The full application is available on the website of Sevenoaks District Council. If you have any questions, we would love you to get in touch. We have a contact form that will enable you to e-mail the vicar and the PCC Secretary.

What buildings are in the planning application?

The application is to build a new parish hall on the site of the old one, and to build a new vicarage at the opposite end of the field in which the hall is situated.

What’s wrong with the existing vicarage?

The existing building, while a fine house, is overly large and expensive to heat and maintain. Its age means that it needs significant investment, which neither the Diocese nor the PCC can afford.

Can’t the diocese buy rather than build a new one?

In theory, yes—vicarages don’t have to be built from scratch. However considerable time was spent a few years back looking for houses that met, or could be adapted to meet, the Church of England’s detailed requirements for a vicarage. The few candidates, were either prohibitively expensive, or the adaptions required would be. Costs were over a million pounds.

Isn’t doing all this work at once a bit grand?

Theoretically, the hall and vicarage could have been designed separately. However a single architect can design one scheme, with both buildings, subservient to the Grade II* listed church building, respecting the vernacular of the conservation area.

Having one large project allows some costs to be shared. Also (see explained below), the vicarage project is part of the funding strategy for the parish hall.

What about the loss of green space?

The meadow to the west of the previous hall is useful for parish events, and has attractive wildflowers and other features to which people are attached.

The architects have been asked to maximise the green space between the hall and vicarage. Some of the space lost to the new vicarage is currently overgrown, and will actually be recovered, as the new hall will be further to the east of the existing one.

How does this differ from the previous planning application

We submitted a planning application in February 2013, which was refused by the District Council. We have used the feedback from that, and a previously unusable access route, to make the plans better

  • Previously, the only access route for vehicles was across an unused portion of churchyard. Our new plans cross the existing village car park instead. Entering the field at a different point has forced a few other small changes to the layout.
  • The District Council was most concerned about the parish hall—the roof apex was too high, and it was too near a yew in the corner of the field. The hall has been moved to stay clear of the yew’s roots, and a cat-slide roof lowers the apex.
  • The 2013 plans also included social housing in the current vicarage garden. These new homes have been removed from the plans entirely

How is all this to be funded?

The Diocese will pay for the new vicarage by selling the current vicarage once everything is completed.

The PCC already has 4 sources of funding for the parish hall. (i) We have been given significant legacies and other donations. (ii) We own the field in which the hall is sited; the Diocese will buy part of it for the new vicarage. (iii) if the current vicarage sells for more than the construction costs of the new one, 50% of any profits go to the PCC; (iv) the old hall had buildings insurance; this only covered the cost of building a new hall to match the old one, but everything helps.

The remaining costs for the parish hall would be met by applying to grant-making bodies, inviting local residents to contribute, and other fund-raising activities.

Should I contact Sevenoaks District Council?

The planning application number is: 14/03914

All the documents in the planning application can be viewed on the SDC website.

You can, of course, contact SDC whatever your views about this application. However, if you feel able to write in support, please do so, as we would greatly appreciate this. You can do so online if that’s easiest — they have a comments section on the planning website. The deadline is Wednesday 21st January.

If you have questions about the application, please ask us.