A view of Horton Kirby from the church tower
VILLAGES DESIGN STATEMENT
Published in 2005
A225 (north to
A225 (north to
1. A Village Design Statement (VDS) is a document designed as guidance for everyone concerned with the appearance of their local environment. It is produced by members of the local community for use by planners, developers, local councils and individuals submitting planning applications. Village Design Statements provide a way of ensuring that any new development is designed in sympathy with the local characteristics valued by people who live in the area covered by the Statement.
Village Design Statements are the outcome of an initiative taken in 1996 by the
Countryside Commission. Page 4 of their advisory
a) to describe the distinctive character of the village and its surrounding countryside
b) to show how character can be defined at three levels, namely:
i the landscape setting of the village
ii the shape of the settlement
iii the nature of the buildings themselves
c) to draw up design principles based on the distinctive local character
d) to work in partnership with the local planning authority in the context of existing local planning policy, and to influence future policies.
3. Producing a VDS enables us to
say what makes Horton Kirby and
4. Change is brought about not only by new building developments, both commercial and residential, but also by smaller day-to-day alterations to homes and gardens, workplaces, open spaces, paths, walls and hedges; alterations which can affect the look and feel of each village.
5. This Design Statement therefore provides guidance for anyone considering such development, however large or small, in the Parish. It is a source of ideas to help form an awareness of local building styles and other visual elements which will be sympathetic to our two villages. The Statement is not intended to stifle innovative and imaginative proposals tailored to the needs of the area. We are not hostile to new development; rather, we hope to instigate an awareness of, and an interest in, managing change.
6. It is intended for:
7. The Design Statement was produced by a team of local residents, comprising:
with valuable assistance from:
o a representative from the Kent Crime Reduction Unit
o the local youth club
the Horton Kirby and
also with financial aid from:
8. The VDS is the result of public consultation involving the parish, including:
o a project undertaken by local school children
9. This Village Design Statement contains two elements:
THE PARISH OF HORTON KIRBY AND
HISTORY AND LANDSCAPE.
Drays Cottages, Horton Kirby The Mill & Chimney from New Road,
The Parish of Horton Kirby and
11. The valley itself still retains its rural character, despite modern additions, or intrusions, such as the railway line in the nineteenth century which gives the area the imposing landmarks of the railway embankment and viaduct, as well as the site of the former paper mill. This is now a diversified industrial area which is due to be redeveloped. The paper mill chimney, a listed building, is a prominent landmark, often glimpsed from some miles outside the parish. The twentieth century brought electricity supply pylons, some street lighting, and further small-scale industrial development.
Nevertheless, the two villages are in a valley which is still attractive, away
from main arterial routes, and separated by open fields and farmland. Some
larger fields are claimed to be of Roman origin: all but obliterated remains of
Roman villas have been found north of
13. A plantation of trees - the Hundred Year Wood - was planted in 1994 to commemorate one hundred years of the Parish Council's existence. It is situated immediately east of the A225 Dartford to Sevenoaks road.
14. A rich variety of wildlife is found in the area because of the diversity of habitats, including the river, lakes, fields and woods.
15. The two villages share some facilities, such as the primary school, village hall, parish church and local shops.
Horton Kirby from Skinney Lane, looking towards Farningham Woods
16. The most obvious difference
between Horton Kirby and
17. Several approach roads to Horton Kirby add to the country feel of
the area. The village appears in the distance, surrounded by fields, as one
18. Horton Kirby is a village of great antiquity, containing Roman remains, Saxon burial grounds, and the remains of a Norman castle now incorporated into the farmhouse of Court Lodge Farm (itself of mainly eighteenth-century construction). The village is listed in the Domesday Book.
19. One major historic building in Horton Kirby is Franks Hall. Rebuilt during the late Tudor period on its present site on the west bank of the River Darent, south of the village, by one Lancelot Bathurst, it replaces an earlier mediaeval building on the east bank. Remains of this earlier establishment can be seen in bumps and dips in Franks Field. A Grade 1 listed building, Franks Hall was purchased in 1980 by Findlay Publications, a publishing firm, and after a major restoration programme it serves as their offices. The grounds surrounding the Hall have the status of listed gardens.
St Mary’s Church The Street, showing a period dwelling during refurbishment
20. The parish
21. What is noticeable about
Horton Kirby is the lack of any shops. A little supermarket, a post office, a
hairdresser’s and a butcher's shop all closed many years ago, leaving no retail
facility to serve as a social focus for the village. Old photographs show
several shops, including one that sold furniture. Changes in retailing during
the twentieth century saw these shops disappear one by one. In spite of this
lack of facilities, Horton Kirby is popular as a residential area; and its
centre has gone decidedly up-market in recent years. Some older houses have
undergone major refurbishments, and one modern house, Old Garden Cottage, has
been built in keeping with earlier styles. In addition, a new development of
22. Some modern roads, such as
23. The construction of
There has been conversion of farm buildings to residential use, notably
Eglantine Farm in
Horton Kirby still retains working farm buildings, most notably in Court Lodge
Farm, although some of them now contain workshops and industrial units. The
barns at the junction of
Court Lodge Farm and buildings
26. A legacy from Horton Kirby's agricultural past is the number of fields within the confines of the village itself. The village is almost bisected by these fields on the south side of Bull Hill and the north side of The Street, in Court Lodge Farm. These provide a valuable encroachment of rurality in the surrounding residential development.
One field in particular, Westminster Field, is a valuable communal asset.
Access from the village centre is across a bridge over the River Darent at
29. Horton Kirby contains the primary school which serves both villages. It includes a substantial school playing field which has, in one corner, a small public access playground for children. The buildings were designed by John Poulter in the 1960s.
30. There are two public houses in Horton Kirby: The Fighting Cocks which is in The Street and has a garden leading down to the river; and the other public house, The Bull, in Lombard Street, which is situated on the eastern side of the village and has a rear garden with a view west across the valley. Both buildings are mature and accepted as compatible with their immediate surroundings.
The Fighting Cocks, in The Street The Bull, in
Road signs consist mainly of a number of 30mph repeaters, mostly along
32. The roads are of varying widths and many have no pavements, as befits the rural nature of the area. Unfortunately this rural impression does not apply to all roads as many are congested with parked cars, making the passage of buses and emergency vehicles very difficult at times.
The Railway Viaduct (and The Bridges Public House).
33. South Darenth is noticeably different from Horton Kirby, a
difference which is beneficial to both villages. In 1700, it consisted solely
of a few scattered farms, two flour mills and a forge. The coming of the paper
mill, followed by the railway, influenced the way the village was to develop.
Some places, such as
34. The site of the former paper
mill, probably established in 1820, is the largest industrial complex in the
village. The boiler house chimney was one of two constructed in the Victorian
era, and it dominates the village as well as being a significant landmark in
the area. In the questionnaire undertaken by the Design Team, it was the most
popular sight in
The Paper Mill
35. The sole paper-making use of the mill had been superseded in recent years by the development of a number of workshops and offices (in contrast to Westminster Mill in Horton Kirby, which has been demolished). These workshops and offices remain in industrial and commercial use, providing important local employment, although the paper mill itself has now closed, and there are plans to develop this site. Employment aspects are important to the village, and they should be encouraged with any new development of the site.
36. There is a small engineering
37. Older dwellings are clustered
near the mill, being mainly terraced houses of
Perseverance Place, East Hill
Extensive house building, bringing a decidedly urban element into the village,
has taken place to the north of East Hill in the late twentieth century. Roads
such as Paddock Close, Coopers Close, The Grange and Towers Wood were created
on what, in a map of 1896 (reproduced in the book “Horton Kirby and South
Darenth: Pictures and Memories of 100 Years 1894-1994”, published by the Parish Council in 1994) were open
fields. Prefabs built there after the Second World War were demolished to make
way for this more recent residential development. Accommodation for the elderly
was built in the 1990s, centred on
Montgomery Road flats, East Hill
39. To the south-east of
Northwards from the village centre are some exclusive residences such as
Giffords, Avenue House and Paddock Cottage. Giffords, a Grade 2 listed
residence, stands in its own park-like grounds. Avenue House is an eighteenth century
Grade 2 listed building situated well back from
41. The White House, at the bottom of Holmesdale Hill, is a former farm house (the last of three formerly in the village). It is now a private residence.
42. South Darenth is more compact
than Horton Kirby, with well-delineated boundaries to the north, east and
south, where the railway viaduct defines its border. Its western limit merges
with Sutton-at-Hone. The doctors' surgery in
43. The main feature of
44. These outlets give the village a more lively sense of community, in contrast
to Horton Kirby. One actually meets local people in these shops. In the replies
to the questionnaire, the most frequent reason people gave for staying in
45. The river Darent, an attractive
feature of the village, runs parallel to the road, past the shops, and
The River Darent
There are three public houses in
The Jolly Millers
47. There is a local fire station at the bottom of
Most roads are standard two-lane carriageways with pavements. A few are without
pavements, while others are single-lane with passing spaces. On-road parking
causes problems, especially on the bus routes. An unsuitable car park for
49. Street furniture consists of standard street lighting columns of varying effectiveness. Litter bins are in recreational areas and the village centre. Road signs are of standard type. As well as the attractive Village Sign there is a clutter of street furniture at the bottom of East Hill: an uncoordinated collection of road signs, litter bins, notice board, parking sign and lamp post.
50. Boundaries for residential and industrial buildings are varied, being a mixture of cast iron railings, wooden picket fencing, brick or pebble-dash walls, while some buildings are without boundary walls or fences.
51. Dean Bottom is the parish's least-known settlement; a small group of houses unobtrusively located in the east of the parish. There were once farm buildings here, but most have disappeared.
52. The major outlying areas in the parish still retain the characteristics of the previous centuries: farm land, common land, woodland and river. Most building construction up to the nineteenth century related to the area's main occupation of agriculture, but much twentieth-century development has been urban and industrial. Covered by Green Belt legislation as it may be, this land merits active protection. Photographs taken early last century show an uncluttered landscape; the century itself added its own overlay of development, and the new century may well continue this process.
In conclusion, changes should be managed to the advantage of all who live and work here.
This is a selection of artwork from the children who took part in the school project on the parish. It is included as some of these children will be future adult residents here, and their views should remind us that we are trying to maintain the quality of the environment for them as well as for ourselves.
1. The land between the villages is an important space - it serves to emphasise the two separate communities, and, with the fields within Horton Kirby, is a major factor defining the rural character of the parish. Local opinion and support should be consulted when necessary to involve people in retaining this rural environment. Although protected by both the Local Plan and by Green Belt Legislation, the parish as a whole deserves a watching brief, as unsuitable developments have occurred in the past. The open spaces, although designated as Green Belt, have been nibbled at, with such developments as stables and mobile homes. These serve as a warning that vigilance must be maintained
2. The boundaries of the two villages should be kept clearly defined, and, if need be, defended by political and legal means.
Preservation of Wildlife Habitats
3. Local landscape characteristics should be taken into account in any new proposals for building development, through involvement with parish residents.
4. The churchyard of St. Mary's church has, in some areas, been
deliberately left untouched by garden machinery in order to encourage wildlife.
Other areas could receive the same treatment. Footpaths, for instance, should
be positively preserved and maintained, including gates and stiles, since such
maintenance may lead to suggestions from people for areas to be left for wildlife
and flower havens. Discussions could be undertaken leading to a positive
programme of tree and hedgerow planting in both open and built-up areas to help
replace lost trees and hedges, as for example, the hedgerow planting in
5. The fishing lakes, according to The Villagers’ Gardening Club, form the basis of a wildlife conservation area, which encourages birds and other animals into the area. As the Hundred Year Wood develops, it too will encourage wildlife, and some way of signposting this Wood perhaps should be considered.
wildlife habitats must be protected at all costs, and provision made in every
new development for environmentally-friendly habitats to enable the existing
wildlife, including kingfishers, coots, moorhens,
7. Street furniture and road signs should be looked at critically and proposals for improved designs - or at least less-cluttered arrangements - put to the appropriate bodies. The postboxes should be preserved.
Electricity pylons and mobile telephone masts
8. Electricity pylons and overhead lines are unsightly and efforts should be made in the future to have lines placed underground. All attempts to site mobile telephone masts close to residential areas or schools should be resisted.
Electricity pylons dominating the open spaces between the villages
Parking of vehicles
9. Parking needs addressing. Some parking, such as at Kingfisher Place in South Darenth, at Lombard Street in Horton Kirby and at the school at dropping-off and collection times, is highly inconvenient to through traffic (particularly buses), and potentially dangerous for pedestrians and emergency vehicles. Sufficient space should be provided in any new development for garages and off-road parking of vehicles immediately adjacent to each property. Imaginative ideas for off-road parking should also be considered for new developments.
Parked cars outside
10. Light pollution at night should be minimised without compromising safety or security. Lights should be white, without glare, and directed downwards. High pressure white light, following the Institution of Electrical Engineers' guidelines, is preferred for street lighting. Low energy, low intensity time-controlled lighting should be encouraged for both street lighting and for household security lights. The village atmosphere should be preserved by a policy of no all-night lighting.
11. Where new construction is carried out, the developer should maintain the density standards in accordance with current Planning Guidelines, including maintaining adequate open spaces between buildings, thus preserving the varied views in the two villages.
12. There are few places in both villages where building
development can take place. Where further development can be undertaken, the
developers should take account of traditional materials, including
Kent Peg Tiles, Old School Cottage, Horton Kirby
Kent Peg Tiles, Old School
Cottage, Horton Kirby
Window, white paint and pantiles,
Flint, brick and white paint,
The Street, Horton Kirby
13. New extensions and additions should also add a positive element to both the parent building and the surroundings. The materials used should reflect local building materials and styles.
Street, Horton Kirby
Boundary walls and fencing
14. The installation of boundary fencing or walling sympathetic to local practice should be encouraged around gardens and private areas, even when some gardens are adapted to the modern practice of parking cars off-road.
Commercial or industrial development
15. The design or conversion of commercial or industrial buildings should reflect local materials and character, especially the cobbled streets in the paper mill industrial area. The size of existing buildings should not be exceeded in any new development.
In conclusion, it is hoped that the reader now has an improved appreciation of the special characteristics of Horton Kirby & South Darenth.
HK&SD landmark Mill Chimney and Viaduct