Old Powder Mills development on the old Glaxo Smith Kline site

11th July 2014

Application approved by Sevenoaks District Council. 

8th April 2014

Here is the Parish Council's response to the application:

Leigh Parish Council supports this application, subject to the following considerations:
1. that there is no street lighting on the development, or only low-level lighting
2. that an additional six car parking spaces are provided near the children's play area
3. that additional visitor car parking spaces are provided around the development
4. that the B1(a) and B1(b) building be small enterprise units. Owing to the poor transport links, the site is more suitable for enterprise units than office accommodation, and the Parish Council believes that there would be a significant benefit from the reduced traffic flow generated by enterprise units compared with office accommodation.
The Parish Council would like to see the following conditions imposed on any planning approval:
1. that restrictions are imposed as per item 7.2 (page 27) of the Construction Management Plan of the Transport Assessment dated February 2014, namely Vehicular Access, Routeing Strategy, Delivery Strategy and Hours of Operation - the only change the Parish Council request is that there are no HGV movements between 08.00 and 09.30 and between 14.30 and 17.00 in order to reduce congestion for travel to/from primary and secondary schools.
2. that the eight affordable housing units are allocated to Leigh parishioners in the first instance.
3. that the proposed play area and woodland equipment on the site are maintained in perpetuity.
Developer's Contribution:
1. The Parish Council feel very strongly that a large proportion of the developer's contribution is given towards the provision of a new classroom at Leigh Primary School, subject to the approval of the School Governors.
2. The proposed development will have a detrimental impact on the local road infrastructure, and the Parish Council is seriously concerned about the impact of the development's traffic on the surrounding roads. The road being diverted through the new development is welcomed as some traffic will therefore avoid the narrow stretch near The Plough Inn. The Parish Council would like to see a proportion of this contribution being used to improve road safety and traffic flow on Leigh Road, between the Powder Mills' eastern entrance and the railway bridge. This lane is very narrow without pavements and two way traffic is much restricted in places.
3. The Parish Council would like a proportion of the contribution to be used to upgrade the footpath to a cycle route from Powder Mills to Tonbridge, and for the vegetation on this route to be cut at least twice a year.
4. The Parish Council supports the request by local residents that a contribution is given towards improved broadband for the residents of Powder Mills as well as for the proposed development.
5. The Parish Council appreciates that a proportion of the developer's contribution must be given to support health and medical provision but, in our opinion, items (1) and (2) should be treated as the most important and receive a larger proportion.


19th March 2014

The application has been received today, with deadline for comments 08.04.14.  The application reference is SE/14/00487/FUL. For more details, see the planning page of this website.

March 2014

Ashill Developments have submitted the application to Sevenoaks District Council. The application is in the process of being verified and it will be sent to the Parish Council for consultation in due course. 

November 2013

Sevenoaks District Council has received an application for general permitted development to demolish buildings on the site.  The application number is SE/13/03225/DEMNOT: Old Powder Mills, Powder Mill Lane, Leigh - demolition of Building:  All buildings within the site edged red except Building 12, edged yellow on demolition plan.

October 2013

The GSK site is specified in Sevenoaks District Council’s Draft Allocations and Development Management Plan as a site suitable for residential development, with the retention of one building for employment use.   Members of the Parish Council, GSK working party and parishioners met with representatives from Ashill Developments, who are in the process of purchasing the site, in order to discuss their draft proposals.   The scheme currently under discussion is subject to planning approval. 

Ashill Developments was formed over five years ago and specialises in developments on brown field sites. The company is committed to public consultation and is keen to create positive relationships with the community.   A plan has been drawn up for the creation of a wholly residential development comprising 77 dwellings, with a mix of the following units: 9 x two bedroom houses, 30 x 3 bedroom houses, 26 x 4 bedroom houses and 12 x 5 bedroom houses.  Included in this number are 11 affordable shared ownership houses.  The plan includes the removal of the building that SDC wished to see retained for employment use, but does adhere to the 25 dwellings per hectare requirement.  The plan shows a variety of unit design, some terrace and mews style, some semi-detached and some detached dwellings. The proposed development is using the footprint of the existing buildings only, and open spaces and green buffer zones have been incorporated to integrate the scheme into the surrounding countryside. Many of the properties will enjoy views of the countryside, the existing woodland and the river to ensure that the development retains its rural feel. Entrance to the site will be via two of the three existing access points, including the access created by GSK for HGVs and emergency use on the western side of the site onto Powder Mill Lane.   The third existing access point to the site will only be used for pedestrian and cycle access.   Ashill Developments believe that only traffic heading for Leigh village will use the western access, other traffic heading for Hildenborough and Tonbridge will use the northern access. The draft plans show a small re-alignment of the carriageway at the western access to accommodate bus lay-bys with a proposed new bus stop at this point.  The existing bus stop on Leigh Road to the north of the site will remain in use.

 Of course, there will be disruption during the demolition and construction of the proposed new dwellings but Ashill Developments have assured us that this will be kept to a minimum.  Nearly all the traffic during this phase of the development will be HGVs which will use the western access onto Powder Mill Lane.  If planning permission is gained, the scheme includes the crushing of slabs on site and the re-use of this material as part of the development. This will save additional HGV traffic movements.  There will be no work on site during the weekends both for demolition and construction.   As part of the planning process, a Construction and Demolition Traffic Management Plan will need to be submitted and agreed by Sevenoaks District Council.  The developers are working with the drainage authorities to ensure that the current drainage systems are adequate for the proposed new development.

 It is early days and the proposal, as detailed above, is subject to planning approval.  As part of the planning process, Kent County Council Highways will be consulted about the impact of the development on the road network, including the proposed use of the two access points.  The Environment Agency and the Parish Council will also be consulted, so please let the Parish Council know if you have any comments either in favour of, or objecting to, the proposals.   Ashill Developments hope to submit their planning application to Sevenoaks District Council at the end of November.   Please keep an eye on the Parish Council’s website, www.leighkent.org.uk, which will be kept up-to-date as more details of the proposal emerge.

 Ashill Developments are keen to engage with the local community and are holding a public exhibition on Wednesday 6th November at the barn in The Plough Inn from 4pm to 8pm.  Please do pop in sometime during that time to see the proposed scheme and to ask any questions to the developers or to members of the Parish Council.

February 2013

The Allocations and Development Management Plan including the allocation for GSK was considered by the Local Development Framework Advisory Group at Sevenoaks District Council on the 31st January, and then their Cabinet on the 7th February.  The agenda papers for the LDF Advisory Group meeting are on the SDC website (www.sevenoaks.gov.uk) and say:

Design and Layout:
‘Building 12’ shown on the accompanying map should be retained for employment use with the remainder of the site laid out as residential development in a mix of unit types.

Any proposal for residential development that does not include the retention of ‘Building 12’ would need to justify the loss of employment in line with Policy SP8 of the Sevenoaks Core Strategy. Any redevelopment is restricted to the replacement of the existing ‘footprint’ of buildings at the site within the boundary shown on the accompanying map. The existing residential units outside of the secure element of the site should be retained and are not included within the formal allocation. The development should have no greater impact on the openness of the Green Belt and must take into account the character of the countryside in this location, with a reduction in the scale and height of the buildings. New housing should generally not exceed two storeys in height. The site is partially covered by Flood Zone 3B shown on the accompanying map. No residential units should be located within this area. Part of the site contains the remains of a gunpowder manufacturing facility dating back to 1811, as such the site is listed in the English Heritage document ‘Monument Protection Programme: Gunpowder Mills’ (1998), where it is assessed as ‘not of schedulable quality but undoubtedly of regional value’. Redevelopment proposals should be designed in a manner that respects the historic nature of the site and preserves archaeological interest. The Powder Mill area is a remote rural settlement with few amenities and poor accessibility. Due to the limited sustainability of the location, site constraints and the character of the surrounding hamlet in which it is situated the site should be developed at a low density (e.g. 25dph).

Landscape: The woodland area and habitats that surround the site should be protected and enhanced, through a management strategy to be developed in conjunction with the local community, which should provide appropriate levels of public access. Open space and green buffer zones should be incorporated into the development site, to assist its integration with the surrounding countryside. The water features to the south of the site and the area adjoining the footpath to the north should be enhanced and overlooked by new housing (except adjoining ‘Building 12’).  The provision and connectivity of green infrastructure should be enhanced, including the protection and enhancement of biodiversity, and improvements to the Public Right of Way network.

Access: Any redevelopment of the site will be contingent on the inclusion of accessibility improvements, which will be required as part of any planning application, to improve the sustainability of the site. A Transport Assessment would be required to confirm that the development would not have an unacceptable adverse impact on the local and strategic road networks and would be sustainable in respect of the location, uses and quantum of development. Both north and west existing access points to Powder Mills Lane should be maintained to ensure an acceptable ‘dry escape route’ in the event of severe flooding. The public footpath should be retained and the network through the site enhanced.

Infrastructure: Contributions to CIL will be required. This should facilitate contributions to mitigate impacts of the development on local infrastructure, including education. In relation to remediation, a small number of localised areas of contamination have been identified within the site. Any redevelopment permission will be conditioned to require further assessment and/or remediation of these areas. This will not preclude development opportunities on this site.

Delivery: the owner (GSK) is promoting the site for redevelopment.

Gross Area (Ha):            3.3 
Net Area (Ha):                2.4 (reduction related to building 12 and ancillary parking and functional flood plain)
Housing capacity:          60 (@ 25 dwellings per hectare)
Phasing:                         0-5 years (2012-2016)



The Parish Council has been working closely with Sevenoaks District Council over recent weeks to consider the future use of the Glaxo Smith Kline site in Powdermills Sevenoaks District Council first considered the site in 2009 when GSK announced that they were going to close down their operation on the site in Powdermills. SDC commissioned an independent report by URS for an unbiased view on whether the site would be reused by a research & development company or, failing that, by any other company offering employment. The report tested the five key options:

1. do nothing
2. have a complete re-use of the site
3. consider using the site for half employment and half residential
4. consider using building 12 for employment use, and the remainder as residential
5. consider complete residential use.

The preferred option was (4) above, and SDC then commenced a public consultation, which ended in mid-May. Nineteen responses were received by SDC relating to this site.  Originally, SDC officers had hoped to present their recommendations to the Council during the summer, but due to the number of responses received, they have now extended their period of engagement and will present their recommendations in September.  SDC officers have agreed that Leigh Parish Council could form a working party to consult residents about the preferred options for the site.  The working party comprises of four members of Leigh Parish Council plus the Clerk, one member of Hildenborough Parish Council and eight residents from the Powdermills/Hunter Seal area.  The working party has now met three times, and the notes of these minutes are below.

The GSK working party has agreed that the best way to consult with the residents is to circulate a short survey. This is being distributed at the end of July, and responses are required as soon as possible or by 9th August at the latest.  You can see the survey below.   Kent County Council Highways has suggested that, if development on the site is approved, certain highway improvements will be necessary, such as (i) road widening in two places along Leigh Road, and (ii) all traffic using Leigh Road be directed through the GSK site to avoid the narrow lane at The Plough Inn. This would involve opening up the western works access to the site. You can view the map showing these suggestions below.

The Parish Council has a very tight timescale to consult residents and draw up a report setting out their preferences for the future use of the site.  If you would like to complete a survey, please download and email/post it to the Clerk or hand it to any member of the Parish Council or GSK working party, or drop into the returns box in Leigh village shop. If you would like to discuss the proposals, please contact the Clerk. 

GSK notes of meeting 26th June 2012
GSK notes of meeting 9th July 2012
GSK notes of meeting 23rd July 2012
GSK notes of meeting 20th August 2012

GSK survey

GSK survey results

GSK suggested highway improvements

Parish Council/Working Party report to SDC

SDC response to Parish Council/Working Party

Parish Council/Working Party response 24.09.12 

SDC report to Allocations & Development Management Plan LDF Advisory Group 09.10.12