Local campaigns

Most of our locally-based clients want more than just sound town planning advice. They look to Green Balance to guide them not only on what they say on planning issues but on how they say it, who else to involve, other action to take, and how they manage the whole project through to a successful conclusion. We understand how local organisations function, their financial constraints, and how to divide responsibilities, so we can work co-operatively together. Some examples are summarised below.

Planning application for a block-making factory in the Green Belt

Green Balance acted as expert witness for Wrotham Parish Council at a public inquiry into a proposal to expand this factory on the edge of Borough Green in Kent, at the foot of the North Downs scarp.  Kent County Council supported the development largely because the developer promised to pay for the adjacent Borough Green bypass.  Green Balance advised on the scope of the evidence needed at the inquiry, suitable witnesses and how to handle the promoters’ likely arguments.  The scheme fell – mid-inquiry – on a technicality, resulting in the exceptionally unusual outcome of the Parish Council being awarded its entire costs at an inquiry where the application had been ‘called-in’ for the Secretary of State’s decision.

Site of the proposed block-making plant seen from the North Downs above Wrotham. The Borough Green bypass would have taken a line close to the nearer marked boundary.

New school in the Green Belt

The residents of north Tonbridge, Kent faced an application for a new school at Greentrees Farm in the Green Belt.  Green Balance showed that the proposal did not meet the tests for allowing development in the Green Belt, that it ignored that the site was best and most versatile agricultural land, that it was susceptible to flooding, and that surface water and foul water from the site could not realistically be accommodated.  The application was withdrawn in June 2015 and the school is now expected to share a superior site in south Tonbridge already safeguarded for another school's expansion.

Greentrees Farm on the north edge of the built-up area of Tonbridge, Kent, designated Green Belt and successfully protected from a Kent County Council school.

Housing challenge to village 

In 2014 Circle Housing Association required their tenant pensioners at St George's Court, Wrotham, Kent to move out of their social rented flats to accommodation it provided elsewhere, so that it could redevelop the 1 hectare site.  Under a planning application in 2015, the 56 flats, warden's flat and communal hall would be demolished.  They would be replaced by 60 dwellings entirely for younger households with just 20% guaranteed at 'affordable' rents.  Green Balance assessed the scheme for Wrotham Parish Council, including revised proposals in 2016 intended to have less impact and, later, raise the proportion of affordable rents to at least 40%.  Tonbridge & Malling BC officers recommended approval but councillors refused the application.  Circle lodged an appeal.  At the Hearing in June 2017 Green Balance, for the Parish Council, led the case against the proposal, arguing principally that the scheme was a substantial over-development of the site, had an over-bearing design, and would cause the loss of mature trees around the site which contributed greatly to local character.  Additional traffic would be generated, also contrary to adopted planning policy.  The Inspector broadly agreed and dismissed the appeal.

St. George’s Court, Wrotham: 56 flats for elderly people in an attractive environment.St. George’s Court, Wrotham: 56 flats for elderly people in an attractive environment.

Meanwhile, Circle had lodged an application with the Upper Tribunal to lift the covenant on the site restricting its use to an old persons warden scheme.  Green Balance provided an expert witness statement on planning to challenge the application, again for the Parish Council.  After the planning appeal failed, Circle withdrew its Court application and was required to pay the Parish Council's costs.

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