Steering Group Minutes 16/12/09


Penshurst Village Project
Minutes from 16 December 2009
Project Group Attendees:
David Geal                  Penshurst Parish Council
Dianne Broad              Penshurst Parish Council
Rob Sellings                Penshurst Parish Council
Angela Hill                   Penshurst Parish Council
Roy Horsford             Penshurst Parish Council
Caroline Lingham        West Kent Leader
Bill Hughes                  Smiths Gore
Andy Stronghill            Penshurst Estate
Janet Ranson              West Kent Housing Association
Connie Burgess          Warders Medical Centre
Graham Kirby             Warders Medical Centre
Tessa O’Sullivan         Rural Housing Enabler, AWCiRK
Jim Sperryn                Sevenoaks District Council
Liz Crockford              Sevenoaks District Council
Evelyn Divall               Penshurst Parish Council
Marie Gilbert               PCT
Hayley Baldock          Sevenoaks District Concil
1.    Background to the village project
Parish housing needs survey carried out in January 2009. Highlighted need for 11 new affordable homes. Parish walkabout undertaken. Land adjacent to Forge Garage selected as preferred site. Land in ownership of the Penshurst Estate.   Parish has other needs, e.g. appropriate doctors’ surgery, better village car parking and modern public WC’s. Land adjacent to Forge Field may, potentially, be able to accommodate all the various needs of the Parish.
As site is in Green Belt, fundamental presumption against any development unless “very special circumstances” can be demonstrated. Development of site carries risks, including significant upfront capital outlay in preparation of demonstration of “very special circumstances”. Penshurst Estate and WKHA in discussion re. sharing of risks.
Remit is to explore the capability of the site and take the project forward to submission of a full planning application.
2.    Overview of the site
BH explained the site would continue in the freehold ownership of the Penshurst Estate, with long leases being granted to WKHA and the PCT. Key elements of bringing the project forward on the site are, timing and design.
The Penshurst Estate, in collaboration with WKHA, have appointed Smiths Gore (Lee Scott and David Shaw) to work up a detailed brief for the project and a design for the site. A sympathetic design is of utmost importance.
The Smiths Gore design team will be liaising with the major stakeholders during January (i.e. Parish Council, WKHA, PCT, SDC – Housing and Planning, KCC Highways, Penshurst Primary School, Environment Agency). Discussion around a public exhibition in Penshurst in the late Spring – LC commented this event could be used to undertake a 2nd stage housing needs survey.
The extent to which the site is capable of delivering the various elements of the project will become clear through this process.  The ambition is to submit a planning application for the site in the late Spring/early Summer.
3.    Threats to the project
Design, in terms of sympathetic nature of buildings and layout, mitigating flood risk and highways. Action, Smiths Gore design team to prepare.
Availability of funding for all elements of the project, but particularly capital funding in relation to the doctors’ surgery and affordable housing. Action, GK to seek advice from PCT. JR to flag up potential affordable housing scheme with Homes & Communities Agency.   
The issue of ongoing revenue costs, e.g. for maintainance of common parts, needs to be addressed and resolved. Action, BH to consider.
“Very special circumstances” to be adequately demonstrated. Action, Smiths Gore design team to prepare.
Potential for conflicting aspirations of stakeholders. Particular attention needs to be paid to future dialogue with the Village Hall Committee. Action, Penshurst Project Steering Group to be formed to manage aspirations. Steering Group to comprise BH, AS, JR, JS, LC, CB, GK, representative from the PCT (GK to advise please), and 3 Parish Councillors (RS, DG and DB).
TO, CL, Smiths Gore design team and others to be invited to attend as needed.
4.    West Kent Leader
CL explained WKL project is part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) with funding available up to December 2013. The funding is provided through the European Union and DEFRA.   Generally, the maximum level of funding available is £50,000 per project, with match funding required from the applicant (this could possibly include the provision of the land). However, as a community based project there would be greater flexibility in the grant level available, but it is essential to see commitment from the local community themselves. Full details are available on the website,
CL to discuss project with SEEDA as it would certainly appear to meet several objectives of the West Kent Leader programme as well as the wider RDPE objectives. There may be potential to take forward as a major project beyond the scope of the West Kent Leader programme, whereby higher level of funding and reduced requirements for match funding could apply. Action, CL to liaise with SEEDA and report back to Steering Group.
In terms of the Penshurst Village project, all elements would be appear to be eligible for consideration except the affordable housing. An expression of interest can be submitted which will enable the eligibility of the project to the tested. Action, Smiths Gore design team to submit an expression of interest.
5.    Affordable Housing
JR circulated a prepared paper which is also attached to the Minutes.
The affordable housing will be part funded by the Homes & Communities Agency and by WKHA. With the anticipated squeeze on public sector funding, it is important the project is taken forward as quickly as possible.
All affordable homes are now advertised through Kent Homechoice
(link potential tenants have to bid to be considered for the available homes. 
Subject to need, the affordable housing may comprise just rented accommodation or a combination of rented and shared ownership accommodation. Affordability in the Penshurst area may lead to all rented provision.  There is also scope at this stage to design in disabled-adapted accommodation. The question of caretaker’s accommodation – ownership and management needs to be determined.
Action, JR to liaise with TO and the Parish Council re. the exact tenure mix and unit sizes to be provided. The Parish Council to advise JR if they are aware of any household with a disabled family member living in unsuitable accommodation and JR to design in accordingly. JR and BH to liaise re. additional accommodation needs of any resident caretaker.
6.    Medical centre/doctors’ surgery
The surgery services an area of 35 square miles.  The surgery currently operates out of rooms at the Village Hall. Totally inadequate and non DDA compliant.  The surgery provides one full time doctor. Currently all minor procedures have to be referred to Tonbridge. It is acknowledged how important a thriving and modern medical facility is to the local area.
The PCT would fund the development of the new medical centre. There are funding constraints but there appears to be funding available at present. However it is recognized how important it is for the project to be taken forward as quickly as possible.
CB advised specific space standards are laid down. These requirements have already been passed onto the Smiths Gore design team.   The medical centre would provide 1 x nurses room and 2 x doctors’ rooms. This would enable minor procedures to be carried out on site.
7.    Initial Site Plans
Three plans were circulated and collected back in. Confidential at present. No external consultation undertaken.
Plan 1. Existing site appraisal. Shows properties at Star House, Kimberley Cottage and Forge Close overlook the site. Indicative flood plain shown but requires further scrutiny.
Plan 2. Creation of open space between main road and developed part of site. Creates entrance to village, crossing point to school and can be used to manage speed of traffic. RS advised traffic levels and speed are major issues. Two separate surveys of traffic between 8am and 9am identified 500+ and 600+ car movements. Any speed management measures need to be located well before the site.
Plan 3. Potential layout and configuration of buildings. Six affordable houses shown. JR advised houses need to be provided without garages. Medical centre with dedicated car parking. Gated entrance to development? Caretaker’s lodgings? Set down parking. General car parking with permeable surface and WC’s to rear of houses and medical centre. 
JS did not identify any immediate concerns, but advised input of Highways Agency absolutely essential. Action. Smiths Gore design team to develop plans following consultation with stakeholders.
8.    Next steps
The Smiths Gore design team are taking the project forward and have been given 5 – 6 weeks to undertake further work. 
It was agreed the Penshurst Project Steering Group (see Minute No. 3) should meet again at the end of February/beginning of March. WKHA happy to host again.  Meeting arranged for 4 March 2010 at 10am, WKHA offices.
9.    Any other business.
RH advised he (as a local land owner) had been contacted by the Beckett Trust re. development of new affordable housing. LC advised she had forwarded the results of the parish housing needs survey to the Trust but had had no further contact. It is acknowledged the Parish, with the support of the District Council, are working with WKHA as the preferred housing association partner. LC suggested if RH has further contact from the Trust, they be referred to her.

DB queried whether the project is to remain secret. Following discussion, it was agreed there was no reason for the project to remain secret. It was agreed the Parish Council was best placed to decide when and how the project should be made public knowledge.NB, the Smiths Gore design team discussed this matter with the Penshurst Estate after the meeting.   Ideally, they suggest the project should be kept confidential until after the next meeting of the Penshurst Project Steering Group on March 4th. This will provide the Smiths Gore design team with the opportunity to discuss the proposals with the main stakeholders.
Ended 11.50am.