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Appendix 5: Topic papers and other supporting documents


This response report contains comments received on Appendix 5: Topic papers and other supporting documents.

Contents

General

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_7959

Wendy Owen

The list of Topic Papers and supporting documents does not match the documents available via the link – there are vastly more than are listed, i.e. 9 Housing documents, 6 Employment/leisure/retail documents, 15 Environment/landscape, 9 Transport/infrastructure.

DLP_442

Don Kent

All my supporting paper documents will be presented at planning application stage and at the next time to comment which I believe is August 2020.

DLP_4315

White Young Green Planning for Standard Life Investments UK Real Estate Fund

See comments on:

  • Tunbridge Wells Borough Retail and Leisure Study (Nexus, April 2017) in respect of Policy ED 10 (Sequential Test and Local Impact Test) and Policy AL/RTW 15 (Land at Knights Park)
  • Energy Policy Viability Report (Currie Brown, September 2019) in respect of Policy EN 3 (Sustainable Design Standards)

DLP_4650

Ann & John Furminger

There are a number of items that have not been consulted on with the local NDP group eg community centre and use of library site, amalgamation of GP practices etc

DLP_6076

Mr C Mackonochie

Borough of Royal Tunbridge Wells Revised Kent HLC (2000) Parish of Capel'

I am surprised that the paper ‘Borough of Royal Tunbridge Wells Revised Kent HLC (2000) Parish of Capel dated October 2016 has not been used as a supporting documents – this may omission may explain various omissions concerning the historic legacy of Capel Parish

Distribution of Development Topic Paper

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_8214

Mrs Suzi Rich

Topic Paper or supporting document title:· Distribution of Development Topic Paper· Green Belt Study· Infrastructure Delivery Plan· Transport Strategy Review: Context and Way Forward including Appendix C: Local Plan Transport Assessment Report 2019 (prepared by Sweco)

Comments on the Distribution of Development Topic Paper

Chapter 2: Settlement Pattern (p.2)

The table at paragraph 2.7 shows Five Oak Green in Group B, the same group as Brenchley, Lamberhust and Goudhurst. This is despite multiple Issues & Options consultation responses that the facilities listed (each with a score) were incorrect. These other villages are considerably larger settlements that Five Oak Green, with significantly more facilities available.

Chapter 3: Development Constraints (p.4)

This chapter considers only designated sites: MGB, AONB, Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. These do not appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the MGB. Development adjacent to a constrained site can have a significant impact on it. This would certainly be the case for AL/CA 1 which borders the AONB and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW1 which includes an area of Ancient Woodland.

Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11)

Paragraph 5.3 outlines key issues identified in the responses to this consultation, including, at bullet point 3 that the “Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town area and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages”. What consideration has been given to this issue when identifying the new settlements at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA3 or Transport Policy TP 6?

Paragraph 5.6 summarises the main outcomes of the consultation for the question relating to the five strategic options for delivery presented in the Issues and Options document. Only 18% ranked Option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as their most preferred approach. It is submitted that this would have been even less if the site/sites now proposed at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 had been identified at that time. Appendix 1 to The Issues and Options Consultation Statement, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website at https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/issues-and-options, lists the Strategy Considerations at Section 5 (p.26-39). It is clear from p.33, that by far the largest level of support was 60% for Option 4 (Growth Corridor led approach). However, p.39 of the same document states that “A level of support was indicated in the Issues and Options responses for a new settlement.” This is misleading. The Consultation Statement goes on to consider the responses to question 10 and 10a relating to preferences for a combination of Options (p.35). The first bullet point states that the responses indicate that it is worth “Exploring further the potential for ‘new settlement growth’, as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options”. The statement is blatantly not true!

Paragraphs 5.7-5.8 cover question 11/11a, which asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough and suggestions for possible locations. It lists the key issues referred to across the response groups, which include:

  • Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links
  • Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)
  • Should be sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion. Should be a stand-alone, self-sufficient development planned as a whole
  • Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.

These views have been completely ignored by TWBC! They should carry weight and should have informed the decision on the strategic site proposals.

Suggestions for a possible location for a new settlement included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure. NOT ONE suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure.

Paragraphs 5.9-5.10 cover question 12/12a, which asked whether all reasonable options for accommodating future development growth within the borough have been considered and identified and if not, what other options should be considered. Respondents suggested that the following options should be considered:

  • Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned
  • Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed
  • Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights. Overall focus on sustainable locations
  • Focus on A21 corridor

Where have these responses been acknowledged in the dLP? Have these options been considered at all?

Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14)

Paragraph 6.2 states “For the second Call for Sites, officers contacted the promotors of sites submitted to the first Call for Sites and identified and then contacted owners of land around settlements (on a ‘without prejudice’ basis) that had not been submitted through the first Call for Sites to enable them to submit sites if they wished. This proactive approach encouraged owners of land that could be suitable for development to submit sites for consideration”. Why were we told by Stephen Baughan at the Capel Annual Parish Meeting that TWBC had no influence on what sites were submitted and that the officers just had to work with what appeared in the Call for Sites!

Paragraph 6.2 also expressly states that the second 'Call for Sites' was undertaken between May and June 2017. In the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017. It was stated “although the call for sites remains open, it will no longer be possible to include any new sites within the site assessment process that is informing the Draft Local Plan (being prepared under Regulation 18) AS THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO ADEQUATELY ASSESS SUCH SITES. (TWBC will continue to accept in order that they may be assessed & potentially included at Reg 19)”. The evidence base persuaded TWBC to opt for Growth Strategy Option 3 (existing urban distribution plus villages) and Option 4 (A21 growth corridor). There was a possibility of Option 5 (new settlement) in the longer term (8 possible sites but 5 not shortlisted including AL/ CA 1). Presumably this underwent a robust process based on robust evidence? This was still the preferred stance March 2018, however in April 2018, there appeared to be a complete change of direction which resulted in the allocation of 60% of the proposed development in the Parish of Capel. Where in the DLP is this new evidence base?

Paragraph 6.56 (p.14) confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green Belt sites. Why not?

When was site 448 (Land at Tudeley) first considered (p.24-30)? Table 2 details TWBC’s Conclusions of the SHELAA and SA on garden settlement options but gives no credible explanation as to why the Tudeley site is considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Neither does Table 3 which details the outcome of TWBC’s Consideration of proposed strategic allocation sites against para 72 of the NPPF. This table is misleading and inaccurate. The site is NOT well located.

Paragraph 6.48 and bullet points (p.38) – how will there be “compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality”?

Comments on the Green Belt Study

The site at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) falls within Broad Areas BA3 and BA4. The ‘Potential Level of Harm to the Green Belt Associated with Release of Broad Areas BA3 and BA4 is ‘VERY HIGH’ (Figure 1.1 (p.8))

Broad Area BA3 is considered to provide a contribution to gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood; extent of openness; distinction between Low and High Weald landscapes. Broad Area BA4 is considered to provide contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and a gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood (Table 4.1 (p.17))

BA3 is assessed as contributing strongly to three out of four of the Green Belt purposes identified by the NPPF. The exception to this is Purpose 4 which is categorised as weak/no contribution but the overall contribution to the Green Belt is assessed to be ‘VERY HIGH’ (Table 6.1 (p.28))

BA4 contributes strongly to purpose 2 and 3 but relatively weak to purpose 1 and 4. Overall its contribution remains ‘VERY HIGH’.

There appears to be a total disregard for the Green Belt allocation that covers the Capel area and the Borough’s own study that was commissioned to identify the contribution of different areas to the purposes of the Green Belt

Neither CA1 nor CA2 are included in the Green Belt Assessment Appendices – why were they not assessed?

Comments on the Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Education

In relation to Secondary Schools, under ‘Current planned provision’ from paragraph 3.71 (p.31-32) it is stated that provision for “One FE expansion of Mascalls Academy for 2021-22” is planned to meet existing needs. Further down p.32 the IDP details ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ have been identified as “Up to eight FE new Secondary School to be provided on land at the garden settlement at Tudeley Village and further expansion of Mascalls Academy at Paddock Wood”. There is no further detail; however, capacity at Mascalls Academy can only be increased by a finite amount due to location constraints. This, therefore, makes the development of 4,000 houses in East Capel (AL / CA 3 and AL / PW 1) unsustainable as many children will be required to travel to the planned new Secondary School at Tudeley.

TWBC acknowledges that there are serious constraints; in the dLP under Policy AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 it states that “Development at this site is subject to the provision of land for the expansion of Mascalls”

As the location of the potential land for expansion appears unknown, the proposed development is therefore unsustainable. The development at East Capel should be removed from the dLP unless there is certainty that sufficient Education provision can be made.

Health

Under the heading ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ at paragraph 3.104 (p.40) it states that “The Council has not been made aware of any specific requirements over the plan period; however, discussions with the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have highlighted potential need for extension of either the Tunbridge Wells Hospital or Maidstone Hospital to serve the West Kent Area over the Plan period”

Under the heading ‘Emergency Services’ at paragraph 3.201 (p.62) it states that “Emergency services for the purposes of this IDP include Police, Fire and Rescue, and Ambulance services” before confirming under the heading ‘Related strategies and evidence’: “None identified at this stage”

Several thousand houses will create huge pressures on every aspect of NHS provision – it is unacceptable to not have identified this need & just refer to a “potential need”. The TW Hospital at Pembury is already at capacity, the site is not capable of being extended, and there is already a serious issue with car parking. Handover times between ambulance & hospital have historically been a scandal due to acute bed shortage.

Please also see my comments in COMMENT BOX 2 under the heading ‘Strategic Objective 5: Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity’

Comments on the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base

Chapter 9: Mitigation Measures

Figure 9-2 shows the ‘Mitigation Interventions Mapped’ (p.142) which shows the proposed routes for the following ‘highway measures’ detailed in Table 9-2 (p.138):

“202 New bypass link of Colts Hill - Reduce congestion at key junctions + match link capacity and link quality to adjoining Pembury bypass standard”

“203 Link road to new Colts Hill Bypass Will remove through highway trips through Five Oak Green”

It is unclear why TWBC believes that people living at Tudeley New Town will need to travel to the Colts Hill Bypass via a link road. They can access Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, London or the South via the A21 which runs almost parallel to the proposed route. To travel West to Paddock Wood or Maidstone, a more sensible route for a link road would be North of the railway line to meet the A228 where it is dualled before East Peckham. Why would anyone need to travel to Colts Hill? A link route following the current proposed route would be disastrous and needs to be removed. The grey blob of an alternative route, shown in most of the publically available maps, connecting the north of AL/CA 1 to Paddock Wood, appears to be missing in this assessment. Why?

It is suggested building the Colts Hill strategic link is vital to delivery of the proposed new developments in Capel. How will this improve connectivity? It will be a faster, polluting road to nowhere unless the congestion on the A264 and the two roundabouts at Pembury can be dealt with (there are no proposals to do so in the dLP and the Hendys development will make this worse). Traffic to the A21 from Paddock Wood will continue to use the B2017. The A228 strategic link has been mooted for the last forty years, initially as a requirement due to the Channel Tunnel! The whole area surrounding Paddock Wood needs a radical holistic solution. The dualling of the A21 was supposedly going to reduce traffic in this area but as TMBC have discovered, through traffic has actually increased in volume in Tonbridge since the “improvement”

[TWBC: See comments DLP_8189-8214 for full representation]

DLP_2490

Mr John Wotton

The proposed distribution of development appears to have been more led by slavish adherence to Government housing targets, a wish to justify building some new roads that have long been desired by KCC and TWBC, and the easy option of dealing with a single willing landowner in the Southborough/Capel area, than by objective assessment of where development should take place. The weighting to be given to particular considerations is not always clear; in several cases it appears inconsistent and judgments appear subjective.

Most importantly, in order to give proper regard to paragraph 172 of the NPPF, the impacts on the AONB of TWBC’s policies and allocations need to be assessed using the adopted statutory AONB Management Plan 2019. This paper fails to do so. The paper quotes (at 6.80) Paragraph ID: 8-041-20190721 PPG, which states, “[NPPF} policies for protecting these areas may mean that it is not possible to meet objectively assessed needs for development in full through the plan-making process, and they are unlikely to be suitable areas for accommodating unmet needs from adjoining (non-designated) areas”. I agree, but the Council seems not to have taken this possibility into account in the draft Plan.

I agree with the Council, at 6.89, that the High Weald AONB could not be a suitable location for strategic growth, such as a new or significantly expanded settlement. However, the expansion proposed for Cranbrook & Sissinghurst and Hawkhurst can only be described as “significant”.

6.96 et seq set out the Council’s approach to the tests of exceptional circumstances and the public interest in relation to major development in the AONB. There are in my view important errors in the Council’s approach, which undermine the basis of the allocations for major development within the AONB contained in the Plan and form part of the basis for my objection to certain of these allocations, set out elsewhere in my response.

6.100 states that the particular circumstances of the individual proposals are critical, but in the SHELAA, there is very little of substance on this subject. 6.101 sets out a set of considerations which apply to Tunbridge Wells Borough, but they cannot be regarded as “exceptional”. The Borough is by no means unusual in having a high proportion of its land area comprised of protected landscapes and this is an immutable and enduring aspect of the Borough’s geography, not an exceptional circumstance. Meeting the need for affordable housing for local residents in the Borough is, we accept, in the public interest, but not a consideration that points towards exceptional circumstances, justifying major housing development in the AONB. To the extent that there is a housing shortage in the Borough, this is an ongoing situation which affects the whole country, most acutely the South East region, which has persisted through several reiterations of the NPPF. It is not peculiar to Tunbridge Wells or in any way exceptional.

The assertion of insufficient opportunities to meet housing need elsewhere in the Borough must been seen in the context of unprecedentedly high allocations in this Plan outside the AONB. The discussion of factors relating to the housing market, growth and economic vitality are of general application and in no way indicative of exceptional circumstances.

The extensive discussion of the exhaustion of opportunities for development outside the AONB merely demonstrates that Tunbridge Wells is a case in which it is not possible to meet the OAN, in accordance with the passage from the PPG, quoted above.

Consideration of the opportunities to moderate the detrimental effect of major development in the AONB is something that can properly be considered only in relation to particular sites and proposals, not in general.

In conclusion, I do not consider that the analysis in this Topic Paper provides support for the satisfaction of the paragraph 172 NPPF test for major development in the High Weald AONB in this Borough. 

DLP_6638
DLP_6976
DLP_6263
DLP_6349
DLP_6629
DLP_6698
DLP_6723
DLP_6743
DLP_6767
DLP_6780

Isla Tompsett
Chris Hill
Victoria Settle
Andrew Blamey
Nicky Scott
Alan Bearfield
Nicholas Fogg
Maria Palmieri
Alicia Longley-Coomber
Jenny Fox

TWBC: the following comment was submitted by the list of responders on the left:

Planning Strategy

1) The Council’s Topic Paper “Distribution of Development”, provides an overview of the Issues and Options consultation that was carried out previously. 5.4 and 5.5 of the Topic Paper confirmed that 60% of respondents would like to see housing growth along “growth corridors”, whilst the least favoured options (dispersed growth and semi dispersed growth) attracted the support of just 8% and 1% of respondents.

Given such low support for forms of dispersed growth, it is surprising that the Council has chosen to propose relatively high levels of new housing in small villages such as Lamberhurst. The Council would need to be able to demonstrate that it has reacted appropriately to the consultation feedback so a far greater emphasis on growth in established centres rather than rural locations would be required. Not only would this more closely reflect the feedback from local residents, but also would result in more sustainable patterns of development that would have less reliance on private cars as a means of travel – which surely must be of paramount importance given climate change commitments.

DLP_3950

Mrs June Bell

Topic Paper title: Distribution of Development page 7

The DLP development strategy does not appear to observe this national policy.

Areas of flood risk

3.18 There is policy emphasis in the NPPF (para 155) to steer development, notably housing, away from areas with higher flood risk, defined as being Flood Zone 3. Nearly 7% of the borough is in Flood Zone 3, these areas being mapped on Figure 4 below.

Reason for comment:

AL/CRS 7 has been allocated for 150 dwellings, but it is in an Environmental Agency Flood Zone 3b.

The TWBC Level 1 Strategic Flood Risk assessment (Final Report 2019) Table 13-1 Site Summary assessment – flood risk and spatial datasets has not included this site (site 32)

10 https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/evidence/resources/environment-and-landscape/strategic- flood-risk-assessment

DLP_3948

Mrs June Bell

Topic Paper title: Distribution of Development page 12

The DLP development strategy does not appear to have followed evidence gathered from early consultation with the constituents of the Borough.

Reason for comment:

Issues and Options Consultation Statement 2017 dispersed growth (option 3) was one of the least favoured growth strategies (8%) whereas 60% preferred the Growth corridor led approach. However the DLP development strategy STR 1 has focussed > 1000 new dwellings within 15 years Cranbrook and Sissinghurst parish and surrounding villages which are not in the A21 growth corridor and the A262 link to the A21 is already experiencing >12,000 vehicles per day through Goudhurst and unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles. 

DLP_7960

Wendy Owen

Sections 4.8-4.11: these identify a need for many thousands of square metres of additional retail floor space. This number should be reduced to take account of the many empty retail units in the town centre. This would release more land to housing, saving more sensitive sites which are currently identified for potential development.

Section 6E: table 2 in dismissing some sites provides evidence that developer interest in a site is given undue weight in this process, over environmental and sustainability factors.

Section 6F, table 6.62: notwithstanding our fundamental objection to releasing AL/RTW 18 / site 137 from the Green Belt, the mitigation should include buffering to the south (not north) in order to strengthen the boundary with the Green Belt and the Wealden border.

Section 6I: please refer to our comments in respect of the transport and infrastructure issues relating to AL/RTW 18 / site 137.

Section 6J: please refer to our comments in respect of the sustainability appraisal issues relating to AL/RTW 18 / site 137.

Appendix 1: AL/RTW 18 / site 137: we consider the contribution to purpose 3 – encroachment, and purpose 4 – settings/character/historic towns, should both be rated as ‘strong’, and buffering should be changed as per our comment above.

Appendix 3: AL/RTW 18 / site 137: we consider the setting of the AONB part of the site is poorly related to the urban settlement. It should also be noted part of a Scheduled Monument is in the site. We also dispute that this is the only site suitable for a new secondary school in this part of the borough, having already identified at least one other available site which is not in the AONB.

For these reasons, and the sites we have identified that are not in the AONB, we do not consider the Plan demonstrates that “great weight” has been placed on protecting the AONB (or Green Belt) and consequently the case for exceptional circumstances is not made.

DLP_8149

Ashley Saunders

  1. Chapter 2: Settlement Pattern (p.2): The table at paragraph 2.7 shows Five Oak Green in Group B, the same group as Brenchley, Lamberhust and Goudhurst. This is due to the flawed methodology used by the planning team at TWBC, who were informed by Capel Parish Council (several times, including during the Issues and Options consultation process) that the facilities listed (each with a score) were incorrect, thereby negating the evidence base. Brenchley, Lamberhurst and Goudhurst are considerably larger settlements that Five Oak Green, with significantly more facilities available.
  2. Chapter 3: Development Constraints (p.4): This chapter considers only designated sites: MGB, AONB, Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. These do not appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the MGB. Development adjacent to a constrained site can have a significant impact on it. This would certainly be the case for AL/CA 1 which borders the AONB and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW1 which includes an area of Ancient Woodland.
  3. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraph 5.3 outlines key issues identified in the responses to this consultation, including, at bullet point 3 that the “Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town area and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages”. This does not appear to have been given any consideration when identifying the new settlements at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA3 or Transport Policy TP 6.
  4. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraph 5.6 summarises the main outcomes of the consultation for the question relating to the five strategic options for delivery presented in the Issues and Options document. Only 18% ranked Option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as their most preferred approach. It is submitted that this would have been even less if the site/sites now proposed at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 had been identified at that time, particularly, given that respondees gave great weight to preservation of the MGB. Appendix 1 to The Issues and Options Consultation Statement, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website at https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/issues-and-options, lists the Strategy Considerations at Section 5 (p.26-39). It is clear from p.33, that by far the largest level of support was 60% for Option 4 (Growth Corridor led approach). However, p.39 of the same document states that “A level of support was indicated in the Issues and Options responses for a new settlement.”, a statement that Capel Parish Council asserts is totally disingenuous – 1% could apply here too as showing a level of support (but not much)! The Consultation Statement goes on to consider the responses to question 10 and 10a relating to preferences for a combination of Options (p.35). The first bullet point states that the responses indicate that it is worth “Exploring further the potential for ‘new settlement growth’, as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options”. The statement is blatantly not true!
  5. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraphs 5.7-5.8 cover question 11/11a, which asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough and suggestions for possible locations. It lists the key issues referred to across the response groups, which include:
  • Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links
  • Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)
  • Should be sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion. Should be a stand-alone, self-sufficient development planned as a whole
  • Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.

These views have been completely ignored by TWBC! They should carry weight and should have informed the decision on the proposals for Capel Parish.

Suggestions for a possible location for a new settlement included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure. NOT ONE suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure.

  1. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11-2): Paragraphs 5.9-5.10 cover question 12/12a, which asked whether all reasonable options for accommodating future development growth within the borough have been considered and identified and if not, what other options should be considered. Respondents suggested that the following options should be considered:
    • Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned
    • Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed
    • Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights. Overall focus on sustainable locations
    • Focus on A21 corridor

    Where have these responses been acknowledged in the dLP? Have these options been considered at all?

  2. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.2 states “For the second Call for Sites, officers contacted the promotors of sites submitted to the first Call for Sites and identified and then contacted owners of land around settlements (on a ‘without prejudice’ basis) that had not been submitted through the first Call for Sites to enable them to submit sites if they wished. This proactive approach encouraged owners of land that could be suitable for development to submit sites for consideration”. This is contrary to the information provided by TWBC to Capel Parish Council and residents of Capel Parish during the Annual Parish Meeting that TWBC had no influence on what sites were submitted and that the officers just had to work with what appeared in the Call for Sites!
  3. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.2 also expressly states that the second 'Call for Sites' was undertaken between May and June 2017. In the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017. It was stated “although the call for sites remains open, it will no longer be possible to include any new sites within the site assessment process that is informing the Draft Local Plan (being prepared under Regulation 18) AS THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO ADEQUATELY ASSESS SUCH SITES. (TWBC will continue to accept in order that they may be assessed & potentially included at Reg 19)”. The evidence base persuaded TWBC to opt for Growth Strategy Option 3 (existing urban distribution plus villages) and Option 4 (A21 growth corridor). There was a possibility of Option 5 (new settlement) in the longer term (8 possible sites but 5 not shortlisted including AL/ CA 1). Presumably this underwent a robust process based on robust evidence? This was still the preferred stance March 2018, however in April 2018, there appeared to be a complete change of direction which resulted in the allocation of 60% of the proposed development in the Parish of Capel. Where in the DLP is this new evidence base? The map that covered Capel identified two small sites in Tudeley (site ref 177/178, approx. 2ha in area) and only parcel 142 to the East of Five Oak Green BUT NOT parcels 309,310, 311,312,314 and 317 and AL/CA 1 all of which fall in Capel Parish. It is also of concern that key documents forming the previous evidence base such as the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017 are no longer accessible on the TWBC website.
  4. Why was there no assessment of the landscape outside the AONB or biodiversity outside of designated nature conservation sites? Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.56 confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green Belt sites.
  5. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy: Figure 5 (p.21) details a map of garden settlement options within the Borough (taken from the Sustainability Appraisal). Table 2 (p.22-24) outlines TWBC’s conclusions from the SHELAA and SA on each of these options. Location 3 is shown somewhere just north of Frittenden. Table 2 states that this location was not considered by the SHELAA as it was not submitted in ‘Call for Sites’. However, on a map shown to Parish Chairs in March 2018, three sites were shortlisted for appraisal, Paddock Wood, Horsmonden & the Frittenden site. There were five other sites including AL / CA1 which had NOT been shortlisted. The change in approach is suspicious and requires further explanation by TWBC.
  6. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.24-30): There is no clarity as to when site 448 (Land at Tudeley) was first considered. Why not? Was it a late arrival in the second call for sites or even later? Did TWBC officers approach the landowner as previously commented on above? Is this why there is a lack of a proper feasibility study for this site? Table 2 details TWBC’s Conclusions of the SHELAA and SA on garden settlement options but gives no credible explanation as to why the Tudeley site is considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Neither does Table 3 which details the outcome of TWBC’s Consideration of proposed strategic allocation sites against para 72 of the NPPF. This table is misleading and inaccurate. The site is NOT well located.
  • Table 3 states “The site is served by the Capel primary school adjacent to its eastern edge” but Capel Primary School is NOT adjacent to the edge of the site proposed under AL/CA 1.
  • Table 3 also refers to essential infrastructure being “the creation of up to eight FE secondary education at the Tudeley and Capel/Paddock Wood area, including securing land (through the development of the Tudeley site) for a secondary school (under policy AL/CA2) which is within walking and cycling distance of the settlement”. TWBC has not considered that residents of Tudeley New Town might prefer a grammar school in Tonbridge or a religious school in RTW  (moving from London just for our great schools is the norm) thus adding to the traffic chaos. Planners cannot dictate parental choice!
  1. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.38): Paragraph 6.48 and bullet points. There is no indication of what the “compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality” could be or how they would be achieved. It is hard to imagine how virgin countryside can be improved on.
  2. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.42): Paragraphs 6.61-6.63 (including the table) provide a summary of proposed site allocation policies in the Local Plan that contain land currently within the Green Belt (There is more detail at Appendix 1 to the Distribution of Development Topic Paper which contains TWBC’s Assessment of Green Belt sites from p.70-80). It appears from the table that the site being proposed for a ‘secondary school’ (AL/CA 2) will not be removed from the Green Belt. This is despite there being a proposal for inappropriate development in the form of an 8FE Secondary School. This is totally incorrect and the 32.33 hectares in question MUST be included in the total loss to MGB.

I considers that, without a Garden Village and/or New Settlement Feasibility Study, the proposal for two large developments modeled on those principles is unsound. There is no evidence base that either of the sites is sustainable. It would appear that TWBC has taken shortcuts and easy options to produce this dLP thereby making it unsound.

DLP_569

Lee Prebble

Introduction

I am not a resident of Tunbridge Wells Borough but live near to the Borough boundary with Tonbridge. I do visit the Borough on a regular basis and enjoy the significant benefits of the countryside and Green Belt that should both be protected and enhanced as required by National Planning Policy. 

The Draft Local Plan documents produced are vast and complex. As an individual I do not have the time and resources to examine each and every part and policy in detail. I have, therefore, concentrated on consideration of two particular aspects of the Draft Plan that concern me most (the proposed development at Tudeley and the proposed secondary school on land in west Capel). That is not to say that I support other policies in any way. Indeed, I am aware of some of the concerns of others and agree with many of them. 

I may also add that I am a retired member of the Royal Town Planning Institute and have some considerable experience of the production of local plans. I have to say that I would not be at all happy to put documents like these to the public. In essence, I consider the approach has been shoddy and the output both dubious and faulty in many respects. I would go so far as to say I would be ashamed to have these as part of my legacy. 

My comments are in relation to three documents: the Distribution of Development Topic Paper; the Sustainability Appraisal and the Draft Local Plan. 

Distribution of Development Topic Paper

  1. The section on development constraints (section 3) considers only designated sites: GB, AONB, identified Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. None of these appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the GB. There should have been a proper review to establish whether these designations should be retained or, indeed, added to. The Topic Paper is deficient and unsound in these respects. 
  2. The constraint effect of the designations appears to be considered as ending at the boundary of the designated land. This is an incorrect approach. Development adjacent to a designation can have a significant impact on it. The setting of Listed Buildings is a common example of a significant planning consideration. The setting of the AONB and other designations should be carefully considered and taken into account. I suggest that if one drives along the B2107 between Tudeley and Tonbridge it is very difficult to differentiate between one side of the road and the other in terms of the contribution to the natural beauty of that part of the countryside. Indeed the spectacular views to the north would suggest that that land might be the most likely candidate for protection – precisely where significant destructive development is proposed. The failure to consider the impact on designated land by development adjacent to it in a proper manner makes the document unsound. 
  3. As well as there being no assessment of, for example, the landscape outside the AONB, there is no assessment of the biodiversity outside of designated nature conservation sites. Para 6.56 confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green Belt sites. It is totally unacceptable practice to identify land for development without undertaking a comprehensive exercise to understand the existing value and contribution of that land to the local ecosystem. The Paper is unsound in this respect. 
  4. There is no assessment of the visual impact of developments. Landscape impact is not the same as visual impact. The lack of any assessment of the visual impact makes the approach of the Council unsound. 
  5. I note that in section 4 housing needs are based on 2014 figures. I am aware that others are commenting on this in more detail but it is, in my view, unsound not to be basing the proposals on a more up to date assessment.  
  6. In section 5, a key issue identified in the Issues and Options consultation was: 

    Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town areas and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages.

    It is unclear whether this is given any weight in overall considerations when identifying the new settlement. The lack of clarity in relation to this aspect and the approach to the required balancing exercise makes the document unsound. 

  7. Only 18% of respondents gave option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as the most preferred approach. The suggestion appears to be that their mixed approach has a fair amount of support but, dare I say it (?), it sounds like the way that Brexit was sold without actually explaining what it actually meant. How much support would a new settlement have had if the site had been identified? The approach is unsound. 
  8. The Topic Paper states:

    Question 11 asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough providing for future development needs. Key issues referred to across the response groups included:

    Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links

    Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)

    Should be sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion. Should be a stand-alone, self sufficient development planned as a whole

    Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.

    There is no apparent recognition of these points. The lack of clarity in this respect makes the document unsound. 

  9. The Topic Paper goes on: 

    Question 11a then asked for suggestions for the location of a new settlement. Responses included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure.

    It appears that no one suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure yet that is the preferred option. It cannot be claimed that there was any actual support for a new settlement at Tudeley and a new secondary school on isolated land in the countryside.

  10. The Topic Paper also states: 

    Question 12a: If no, please set out what other options for accommodating future development growth within the borough you think should be considered. A summary of responses included:

    Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned

    Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed

    Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights. Overall focus on sustainable locations

    Focus on A21 corridor.

    Again there was no apparent support for the developments proposed for western parts of Capel parish yet that is an unexplained key element of the Council’s preferred option.

  11. In section 6 it is not clear when the Tudeley sites were first mooted. Presumably in the second call for sites? So these very significant developments involving Green Belt land have not come from the views of the public but from the self-interest of a large landowner. It cannot be claimed that there is any public support for the development of these sites. Public views have not been sought until the production of the Draft Plan and in this respect the approach of the Council is unsound. 
  12. Table 2 gives no explanation as to why the Tudeley sites are considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Table 3 does not mention this. In fact, they are not well located for very many reasons. As a result the Council’s approach is unsound. 
  13. Table 3 refers to Capel Primary School be adjacent to the edge of the Tudeley site. It is nothing of the sort. It is separated physically and there is no current safe and segregated pedestrian link. The Council appears to have given weight to an incorrect fact and therefore the approach is unsound. 
  14. The proposed secondary school is said to be within walking and cycling distance of the proposed Tudeley settlement. There is no indication of the route that cyclists or pedestrians will take. If the local roads and geography are actually taken into consideration, it is simply unrealistic to expect pupils and staff to walk or cycle to the proposed secondary school site. The failure to recognise this makes the Council’s approach unsound. 
  15. There appears to be no indication of what the compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality might be. If a judgement is to be made to include a site the realistic compensation must be defined and achievable or carry no weight whatsoever. Clearly, in this instance, the absence of any detail means that no weight should be given to claimed benefits of compensatory improvements. 
  16. Site AL/CA2 is said to remain in the Green Belt despite a massive proposal for inappropriate development in the form of an 8FE Secondary School. This should be added to the realistic total of loss to GB. The failure to recognise this loss makes the Council’s approach unsound. 
  17. This Topic Paper has formed the basis for decisions that have led to the development of the Draft Local Plan yet, for the reasons set out above, it is fundamentally flawed and unsound. It appears that the Topic Paper has been produced as a desk exercise. There appears to be no evidence that anyone actually visited the sites under consideration. Proper consideration has not been given to significant and relevant planning matters. This means that the Draft Local Plan is equally unsound.

DLP_3727

Capel Parish Council

  1. Chapter 2: Settlement Pattern (p.2): The table at paragraph 2.7 shows Five Oak Green in Group B, the same group as Brenchley, Lamberhust and Goudhurst. This is due to the flawed methodology used by the planning team at TWBC, who were informed by Capel Parish Council (several times, including during the Issues and Options consultation process) that the facilities listed (each with a score) were incorrect, thereby negating the evidence base. Brenchley, Lamberhurst and Goudhurst are considerably larger settlements that Five Oak Green, with significantly more facilities available.
  2. Chapter 3: Development Constraints (p.4): This chapter considers only designated sites: MGB, AONB, Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. These do not appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the MGB. Development adjacent to a constrained site can have a significant impact on it. This would certainly be the case for AL/CA 1 which borders the AONB and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW1 which includes an area of Ancient Woodland.
  3. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraph 5.3 outlines key issues identified in the responses to this consultation, including, at bullet point 3 that the “Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town area and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages”. This does not appear to have been given any consideration when identifying the new settlements at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA3 or Transport Policy TP 6.
  4. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraph 5.6 summarises the main outcomes of the consultation for the question relating to the five strategic options for delivery presented in the Issues and Options document. Only 18% ranked Option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as their most preferred approach. It is submitted that this would have been even less if the site/sites now proposed at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 had been identified at that time, particularly, given that respondees gave great weight to preservation of the MGB. Appendix 1 to The Issues and Options Consultation Statement, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website at https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/issues-and-options, lists the Strategy Considerations at Section 5 (p.26-39). It is clear from p.33, that by far the largest level of support was 60% for Option 4 (Growth Corridor led approach). However, p.39 of the same document states that “A level of support was indicated in the Issues and Options responses for a new settlement.”, a statement that Capel Parish Council asserts is totally disingenuous – 1% could apply here too as showing a level of support (but not much)! The Consultation Statement goes on to consider the responses to question 10 and 10a relating to preferences for a combination of Options (p.35). The first bullet point states that the responses indicate that it is worth “Exploring further the potential for ‘new settlement growth’, as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options”. The statement is blatantly not true!
  5. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraphs 5.7-5.8 cover question 11/11a, which asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough and suggestions for possible locations. It lists the key issues referred to across the response groups, which include:
  • Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links
  • Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)
  • Should be sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion. Should be a stand-alone, self-sufficient development planned as a whole
  • Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.

These views have been completely ignored by TWBC! They should carry weight and should have informed the decision on the proposals for Capel Parish.

Suggestions for a possible location for a new settlement included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure. NOT ONE suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure.

  1. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11-2): Paragraphs 5.9-5.10 cover question 12/12a, which asked whether all reasonable options for accommodating future development growth within the borough have been considered and identified and if not, what other options should be considered. Respondents suggested that the following options should be considered:
    • Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned
    • Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed
    • Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights. Overall focus on sustainable locations
    • Focus on A21 corridor

    Where have these responses been acknowledged in the dLP? Have these options been considered at all?

  2. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.2 states “For the second Call for Sites, officers contacted the promotors of sites submitted to the first Call for Sites and identified and then contacted owners of land around settlements (on a ‘without prejudice’ basis) that had not been submitted through the first Call for Sites to enable them to submit sites if they wished. This proactive approach encouraged owners of land that could be suitable for development to submit sites for consideration”. This is contrary to the information provided by TWBC to Capel Parish Council and residents of Capel Parish during the Annual Parish Meeting that TWBC had no influence on what sites were submitted and that the officers just had to work with what appeared in the Call for Sites!
  3. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.2 also expressly states that the second 'Call for Sites' was undertaken between May and June 2017. In the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017. It was stated “although the call for sites remains open, it will no longer be possible to include any new sites within the site assessment process that is informing the Draft Local Plan (being prepared under Regulation 18) AS THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO ADEQUATELY ASSESS SUCH SITES. (TWBC will continue to accept in order that they may be assessed & potentially included at Reg 19)”. The evidence base persuaded TWBC to opt for Growth Strategy Option 3 (existing urban distribution plus villages) and Option 4 (A21 growth corridor). There was a possibility of Option 5 (new settlement) in the longer term (8 possible sites but 5 not shortlisted including AL/ CA 1). Presumably this underwent a robust process based on robust evidence? This was still the preferred stance March 2018, however in April 2018, there appeared to be a complete change of direction which resulted in the allocation of 60% of the proposed development in the Parish of Capel. Where in the DLP is this new evidence base? The map that covered Capel identified two small sites in Tudeley (site ref 177/178, approx. 2ha in area) and only parcel 142 to the East of Five Oak Green BUT NOT parcels 309,310, 311,312,314 and 317 and AL/CA 1 all of which fall in Capel Parish. It is also of concern that key documents forming the previous evidence base such as the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017 are no longer accessible on the TWBC website.
  4. Why was there no assessment of the landscape outside the AONB or biodiversity outside of designated nature conservation sites? Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.56 confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green Belt sites.
  5. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy: Figure 5 (p.21) details a map of garden settlement options within the Borough (taken from the Sustainability Appraisal). Table 2 (p.22-24) outlines TWBC’s conclusions from the SHELAA and SA on each of these options. Location 3 is shown somewhere just north of Frittenden. Table 2 states that this location was not considered by the SHELAA as it was not submitted in ‘Call for Sites’. However, on a map shown to Parish Chairs in March 2018, three sites were shortlisted for appraisal, Paddock Wood, Horsmonden & the Frittenden site. There were five other sites including AL / CA1 which had NOT been shortlisted. The change in approach is suspicious and requires further explanation by TWBC.
  6. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.24-30): There is no clarity as to when site 448 (Land at Tudeley) was first considered. Why not? Was it a late arrival in the second call for sites or even later? Did TWBC officers approach the landowner as previously commented on above? Is this why there is a lack of a proper feasibility study for this site? Table 2 details TWBC’s Conclusions of the SHELAA and SA on garden settlement options but gives no credible explanation as to why the Tudeley site is considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Neither does Table 3 which details the outcome of TWBC’s Consideration of proposed strategic allocation sites against para 72 of the NPPF. This table is misleading and inaccurate. The site is NOT well located.
  • Table 3 states “The site is served by the Capel primary school adjacent to its eastern edge” but Capel Primary School is NOT adjacent to the edge of the site proposed under AL/CA 1.
  • Table 3 also refers to essential infrastructure being “the creation of up to eight FE secondary education at the Tudeley and Capel/Paddock Wood area, including securing land (through the development of the Tudeley site) for a secondary school (under policy AL/CA2) which is within walking and cycling distance of the settlement”. TWBC has not considered that residents of Tudeley New Town might prefer a grammar school in Tonbridge or a religious school in RTW  (moving from London just for our great schools is the norm) thus adding to the traffic chaos. Planners cannot dictate parental choice!
  1. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.38): Paragraph 6.48 and bullet points. There is no indication of what the “compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality” could be or how they would be achieved. It is hard to imagine how virgin countryside can be improved on.
  2. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.42): Paragraphs 6.61-6.63 (including the table) provide a summary of proposed site allocation policies in the Local Plan that contain land currently within the Green Belt (There is more detail at Appendix 1 to the Distribution of Development Topic Paper which contains TWBC’s Assessment of Green Belt sites from p.70-80). It appears from the table that the site being proposed for a ‘secondary school’ (AL/CA 2) will not be removed from the Green Belt. This is despite there being a proposal for inappropriate development in the form of an 8FE Secondary School. This is totally incorrect and the 32.33 hectares in question MUST be included in the total loss to MGB.
  3. Capel Parish Council considers that, without a Garden Village and/or New Settlement Feasibility Study, the proposal for two large developments modeled on those principles is unsound. There is no evidence base that either of the sites is sustainable. It would appear that TWBC has taken shortcuts and easy options to produce this dLP thereby making it unsound.

DLP_3826

Government Team
Natural England

As acknowledged in the topic paper, some 70% of Tunbridge Wells Borough lies within the High Weald AONB. Considering the level of protection afforded to the AONB, there are particular challenges for plan making where a protected landscape forms a large proportion of a plan area. Nevertheless, the AONB must still be protected and enhanced. 

We agree that sensitively designed development need not be ruled out within the AONB (3.11) however any development proposed in the AONB needs to be limited in scale. Natural England does not support the principle of major development within the AONB. Whilst we generally agree with the approach to identifying major development sites as provided in Appendix 2 of the Topic Paper, we consider this approach as a tool for the identification of such sites. The approach does not indicate that a site is appropriate for development with regards to both local and national policy regarding development within protected landscapes. 

Section 6.13 indicates the overall strategy for the pattern and scale of development proposed in this plan. We agree that development potential should be maximised outside of the AONB, and a robust evidence base should support this approach. We refer to NPPF para 11, which states that protected areas including AONBs provide a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area. With reference to approach 6, all development needs to be considered against national policy, and this should include strategic and non-strategic development. 

We welcome the Council’s views that development with a significant impact on the AONB is unlikely to be supported (6.85) and that the AONB is not a suitable location for strategic growth (6.89). Given these views, we are therefore very concerned that the development strategy for this plan includes 17 allocation sites considered by the Council to be major development. Natural England considers that the proposed distribution of development, namely the quantum of development within the AONB is not a sustainable solution, and does not align with national planning policy affording the highest level of protection to designated landscapes, nor the aims of the High Weald Management Plan, to which your authority is a signatory. We therefore do not agree with the summary finding that the plan is proposing ‘ as much development as could be sustainably accommodated’; the amount of development proposed within and in the setting the AONB is not considered sustainable due to the significant landscape impacts and harm to the purposes of designation of the AONB. 

At this stage Natural England’s comments on individual allocations are limited by the information currently available (See Appendix 3). We welcome the commitment to provide detailed landscape and visual impact appraisals for the proposed major development sites in the AONB prior to the Regulation 19 consultation. Following submission of this information we will be able to provide further advice on individual allocation sites.

DLP_3512

High Weald AONB Unit

Paragraph 172 of the NPPF requires that “great weight’ be given to conserving and enhancing the landscape and scenic beauty” in AONBs, “which have ‘the highest status of protection in relation to these issues”. In order for great weight to be given, the impacts of TWBC’s policies on the AONB need to be properly assessed using the statutory AONB Management Plan.

It is our view that TWBC does not give proper regard to impact on the AONB in the DDTP as required by NPPF, Para 172 and Section 85 of the CROW Act 2000 for the following reasons:

  • Sensitive historic settlements within the AONB are being treated like rural towns for the purposes of development. There are inconsistencies between the groupings of settlements based on population (Appendix 4, p.114) and the classification of settlements into a settlement hierarchy (Para 2.4) and groupings based on sustainability (Para 2.8). The settlement hierarchy (Para 2.4) places Cranbrook and Hawkhurst (both in the AONB) within a ‘Small Rural Town’ settlement group alongside Paddock Wood; Pembury and other AONB settlements sit within ‘Villages’. However, Appendix 4 clearly lists Hawkhurst as having a population < 6000 alongside Speldhurst which is included in the settlement hierarchy as a village. No evidence is included as to why Hawkhurst is considered a town for planning purposes.
  • Settlements are grouped on the basis of levels of sustainability in Para 2.8. It is odd that while smaller settlements have been separated into 4 groups (B-E), the larger villages and small towns have been placed in a single group - Group A. Group A is supposedly only marginally less sustainable than Royal Tunbridge Wells yet it includes - alongside Paddock Wood (a small town on the fast railway line to London) - villages such as Hawkhurst within the AONB and with no direct access to a train station and no secondary schools; and a small town (Cranbrook) within the AONB which is 6 miles from a railway station. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the smaller towns and larger village shave been lumped in this one group in order to help justify the large housing allocations made around them.
  • Para 3.11 states that TWBC accept that strategic-scale urban extensions, would ‘almost certainly not be appropriate’ in the AONB under national policy, and that the statutory purpose of conserving and enhancing the AONB is ‘likely to limit its capacity to absorb new development’. However, the local plan policies make no distinction between the proportion of housing allocation made to the borough as a whole, and that made to the two key High Weald AONB settlements targeted for housing. The current district-wide allocation of 14776 represents approx. 13 houses/ 100 head of population. Similarly, the allocations within the AONB in Cranbrook and Benenden ward, and Hawkhurst and Sandhurst ward also represent 13 houses/ 100 head of population, respectively. This is inconsistent with the local plan/s stated policy.

AONB and major development (Appendices 2 and 3)

We welcome TWBC setting out the principles (Appendix 2) relating to the definition of major development in the AONB as required by Footnote 55, however, the method for assessing factors, particularly ‘AONB impact’, is muddled and unclear.

The method proposed blurs the distinction between assessment of adverse impact on the purposes of the AONB, and the planning officer’s judgement on whether effects could be avoided by policy compliance. This is neither clear nor transparent and gives the impression of trying to avoid scrutiny. These steps need to be separated, in order that soundness and compliance with Footnote 55 can be assessed.

In our view the assessment of adverse impact should not take into account policy compliant development. Policy compliance is dependent upon a number of factors in the future, negative impact will be immediate and in many case irreversible. The example given, that the negative effects of development on ancient woodland can be largely avoided by a buffer and woodland management is not supported by evidence 8 [https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/43620/impacts-of-nearby-development-on-theecology-of-ancient-woodland.pdf].

The table setting out the criteria for High, Medium and Low impact (para.21, p.83) demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the AONB Management Plan. Impact on the AONB is not a simple numbers game. The natural beauty of the AONB is a compilation of the core components at a landscape scale. The number of core components on any one site within that landscape is dependent upon location, geography and scale. Destruction of a single component may impact on the coherence of the whole.

NPPF, para 172, states that – “great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing the landscape and scenic beauty” in AONBs. The ‘what’ is described in the Statement of Significance and is based on core components of character (AONB Management Plan, p. 23). The ‘how’, i.e. the conserving and enhancing, is set out in the management plan policy objectives and actions. The method of assessing AONB impact in the DDTP Appendix 2 does not consider the impact of development on management plan policy objectives, and this is reflected in the limited and partial conclusions for each site set out in Appendix 3. This method is not fit for purpose. Neither the ‘Scale’ formula nor ‘Setting’ scale takes into account the distinctive characteristic of High Weald Settlement, namely its dispersed historic character, which is vulnerable to any increase in the size of later medieval villages that leads to coalescence between villages and their surrounding farmsteads, or between adjacent farmsteads.

We question why the AONB Unit, who are funded by TWBC to provide expert advice on the AONB were not consulted on the method of AONB impact assessment (Appendix 2), or the assessments themselves (Appendix 3). The first we have seen of it has been the public consultation. In our view many of the impact assessments made are inconsistent and not justifiable.

It is understood that the justification for allocating major development sites in the AONB is contained in paragraph 6.101 of the Topic Paper and the table within it. This consists of considering tests a and b) of paragraph 172 of the NPPF – i.e. “a) the need for the development, including in terms of any national considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy”; and “b) the cost of, and scope for, developing outside the designated area, or meeting the need for it in some other way”. However, it misses out the over-arching context of these tests, which is that “Planning permission should be refused for major development other than in exceptional circumstances, and where it can be demonstrated that the development is in the public interest”.

The arguments put forward in the Topic Paper under test a) relate to the housing need for the borough, the high affordability ratio and unsubstantiated claims that housing supports the local economy. In southern England high levels of housing need/demand are the rule rather than the exception, and the public interest must also take into account the value that people place on nationally important landscapes. To justify major development in an AONB on the basis of meeting objectively assessed housing needs for the local planning authority area is a circular argument at plan-making stage because the impact of the scale and distribution of development on the AONB should be taken into account in deciding the level of housing provision. If such levels can only be achieved by allocating major development, which by definition will have “a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated” then this is a good indicator that the impact on the AONB provides “a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area” (NPPF paragraph 11). The affordability arguments are based on the incorrect assumption that increasing the supply of housing will reduce house prices. This has been disproved by robust evidence (See ‘Tackling the UK housing crisis: is supply the answer?’ Ian Mulheirn August 20199). If TWBC genuinely wants to tackle affordability of housing in the AONB it should be supporting community-led housing schemes for 100% affordable housing, not increasing the supply of open-market housing which is beyond the reach of most local people.

Under test b) the Topic Paper asserts that ‘the scope for developing outside the AONB has been fully realised”. It also states that ‘the merit of alternatives at each settlement are considered as part of the site assessments’. The evidence used for both is the SHELAA and the Sustainability Appraisal. However, it is understood that every site considered ‘suitable, available and achieveable’ in the SHLAA has been allocated in the Local Plan. There is therefore no difference to the way that the scope for developing has been considered inside and outside the AONB, the Local Plan effectively maximises the development potential in both in an attempt to meet the ‘objectively assessed need’ for the borough.

Test c) – an assessment of “any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated” appears to be incorporated within the assessment tables in Appendix 3, which mixes this in with an assessment of whether sites are considered to be ‘major development’. The methodology for the latter is set out in Appendix 2. This combination of assessments is confusing, not least because whilst test c) clearly includes the extent to which detrimental effects could be moderated, the NPPF definition of major development is “a matter for the decision maker, taking into account its nature, scale and setting, and whether it could have a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated or defined”. The word ‘could’ in this definition is significant as it signifies a potential to have an adverse impact, regardless of whether this potential is capable of being mitigated. It is considered therefore that the methodology in paragraph 17 of Appendix 2 is flawed because it states that ‘consideration would be given as to whether effects could be avoided through applying buffers or policy’. Whilst such measures may affect whether major development is justified under test c) they should not affect whether it is considered to be major development at all.

Paragraph 19 of Appendix 2 is also flawed because it states that a significant adverse impact on the AONB does not necessarily mean that a development should be considered ‘major’. This is a nonsence as the NPPF definition quoted above makes it clear that development is major if it could have a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated. Since the area has been designated for its natural beauty any significant adverse impact on the components of that natural beauty will constitute a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated. 

It is recommended that the justification for major development in the AONB is separated out from assessment of whether sites should be considered major or not. Notwithstanding this the High Weald AONB Unit does not agree that the levels of development proposed within the AONB or the major development sites allocated have been justified under paragraph 172 of the NPPF.

Appendix 3 – Assessment of AONB Sites

As stated above, Appendix B should confine itself to matters which relate to whether development is major or not according to the NPPF definition and should not stray into possible mitigation measures, justification for the development in economic terms or make spurious claims of AONB ‘opportunities’ or ‘benefits’, none of which are properly evidenced. Subjective judgements of landscape quality should also not be used to justify enhancements claimed by the development. For example development of 270 dwellings and a school at Spratsbrook (RTW18, Site 137) suggests that the site has a ‘poor edge to settlement’ and a ‘strong landscape structure of containment’ and that through the development the landscape can be ‘reinforced’ and provide a ‘strong edge to settlement’. These are opinions about aspects of visual experience which are not relevant to impact on the AONB. Impact on the AONB should be judged against the Statement of Significance and supporting chapters set out in the AONB Management Plan. We have the following site specific comments:

RTW12 – Land adjacent to Longfield Road – agree that this is major development

RTW13 – Land at Colebrook House – agree that this is major development

RTW18 – Spratsbrook Farm – agree that this is major development

RTW23 – North of Hawkenbury Recreation Ground – disagree that this is not major development. The policy proposes a new sports hub with standing/seating for supporters and other ancillary structures. The policy is not specific about the amount or scale of such built development therefore it could have a significant adverse impact on the AONB

SO3 – land at Mabledon – agree that this is major development. Claims about ‘substantial AONB benefits’ are not evidenced and should be removed from this assessment.

SO4 –Mabledon House – disagree that this is not major. The assessment states this will focus on existing buildings but the policy allows redevelopment for a large hotel, spa and conference facilities. Proposed mitigation and improvement to heritage assets may justify major development but does not mean that it not major.

CRS4 – Turnden – agree that this is major development – potential mitigation measures should not be included in this assessment, see comments on allocation about reference to land ‘having no function’

CRS6 – Gate Farm, Hartley – agree this is major development. Comments about poor landscape management should be removed as there are better ways to address this that do not involve building all over it.

CRS7 – agree that this is major development. ‘Visual containment’ is not relevant to AONB impact and the site does not have good connections to the town.

CRS9 – Crane Valley – see comments on proposed allocation. This is major development.

HA1 – Hawkhurst Golf Course – agree that this is major development. No evidence that a bypass will improve traffic in village centre, current planning application transport evidence only says it won’t have a severe impact on it.

HA2 – Noted but TWBC has recently approved an application for 43 retirement apartments on this site which was considered to be major development and is likely to override this allocation. HA4 – Fowlers Park – agree that this is major development. Subjective comments about settlement edge and potential mitigation measures are not relevant to assessment of whether this is major development. HA6 – Copthall Avenue - agree that this is major development. Subjective comments about settlement edge and potential mitigation measures are not relevant to assessment of whether this is major development.

HA8 and HA9 – agree that taken together these would be major development but may also be major individually. So called ‘visual containment’ and limitation of opportunities for employment extensions are not relevant to assessment of whether this is major development.

HA10 – Limes Grove – not clear whether this is major development as no indication of the scale of any buildings or the amount of floorspace envisaged.

BM1 – Maidstone Road, Matfield Cross – agree that this is major

BM2-4 – somewhere the cumulative impact of all these developments needs to be considered. The addition of up to 150 dwellings on a village as small as Matfield has to be considered as major development even if the sites cannot be directly viewed from each other. Also the scale of BM2 and BM3 is identified as substantial and very substantial respectively (12.93% and 25.86%) which would indicate that they are individually major development

LA2 – Misty Meadow – disagree that this is not major development. The impact of this many homes on the settlement pattern is likely to be severe as it could only be accommodated as a backland culde-sac. Therefore it could have a significant adverse impact on the AONB.

PE1, PE2 and PE3 – agree that these are major development in combination but also likely to be individually given their number of units. Assessment should focus on impact on AONB objectives and components not on any perceived degradation of the land from the proximity of the A21.

PE6 – agree that this is major development. Safeguarded sites – whilst it can be argued that these are not allocations but rather exclusions from alternative uses, and therefore do not need to be assessed as major development, they are not specific about the scale of potential development and may therefore become major development once the details are known (for instance the hospice at PE4 and the school at SP2).  

DLP_2790

Mrs Karen Langston

With specific reference to appendix 2 and appendix 3, I challenge the assessment of two of the four allocated sites in Matfield as to whether or not development on them would be considered ‘major’. Currently, only AL/BM 1 is assessed as ‘major’. I strongly argue that sites AL/BM 2 and AL/BM 3 should also be ‘major’ in AONB terms.

The relative scale of BM 2 is ‘substantial’, therefore, according to the banding used for assessment, development on the site is, “Very likely to be ‘major’ unless other factors more favourable.” The relative scale of BM 3 is ‘very substantial’, meaning that development on the site is “almost certainly going to be ‘major’.” (Distribution of Development Topic Paper, Appendix 2, paragraph 11)

Due to the sensitive location of BM 2, which lies within the AONB, adjacent to a Conservation Area, associated with a Listed Building and local heritage asset and outside of the existing LBD, I argue that the setting and adverse impact on the AONB should also play a significant role in the determination of the site, as per NPPF footnote 55. These factors, coupled with the ‘substantial’ relative scale of any development should warrant a determination of ‘major’.

Site BM 3 is within the AONB, outside the existing LBD, adjacent to ancient woodland, on undeveloped BMV agricultural land with economic and other benefits that the NPPF “expects local planning authorities to take into account.” (Draft Local Plan, paragraph 6.227) Considering the relative scale of development on this site would be ‘very substantial’ and, accordingly, it would “almost certainly” be determined as major, I strongly argue that its assessment should be reviewed and a designation of ‘major’ be considered.

DLP_1631

Maggie Fenton

Distribution of Development Topic Paper for Draft Local Plan

  1. Under (Section 2) Settlement Pattern, within Table 2.7 Five Oak Green has been put into Group B, the same as Brenchley, Lamberhurst and Goudhurst. This has been due to the flawed methodology used by TWBC who were informed by the parish council (several times) that the facilities listed (each with a score) were incorrect, thereby negating the evidence base. TWBC refused to alter to the data

    1.Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links

  2. The section on development constraints (section 3) considers only designated sites: MGB, AONB, Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. These do not appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the MGB. Development adjacent to a constrained site can have a significant impact on it. Why are there no new assessments?
  3. 2 page 14. “For the second call for sites, officers contacted the promoters of sites submitted in the 1st call for sites & identified & then contacted owners of land around settlements (on a “without prejudice basis”) that had not been submitted ...to enable them to submit sites if they wished. This proactive approach encouraged owners of land that could be suitable for dev. to submit ...” This does not sit well when Capel residents were told that TWBC had no influence on what sites were submitted & they just had to work with what appeared in the Call for Sites!
  4. The second call for sites ended in June 2017. In the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017. It was stated “although the call for sites remains open, it will no longer be possible to include any new sites within the site assessment process that is informing the DLP (Reg 18) AS THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO ADEQUATELY ASSESS SUCH SITES. (TWBC will continue to accept in order that they may be assessed & potentially included at Reg 19) The evidence base persuaded the Council to opt for Growth Strategy Option 3 (existing urban distribution plus villages) & Option 4 (A21 growth corridor). Poss of new settlement option 5 longer term (8 possibles but 5 not shortlisted including CA1) This was still the preferred stance March 2018, however April 2018 complete change of tack to allocating 60% of new development in the Parish of Capel. Where in the DLP is this new evidence base? The map that covers Capel identifies two small sites in Tudeley (site ref 177/178, approx. 2ha in area) and only parcel 142 to the East of Five Oak Green BUT NOT parcels 309,310, 311,312,314 and 317 and CA1 all of which fall in Capel. It is also of concern that key documents such as the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017 is no longer accessible on the TWBC website.
  5. There is no assessment of the landscape outside the AONB; biodiversity outside of designated nature conservation sites. Para 6.56 confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green belt sites.
  6. (section 5) The Issues and Options consultation identified a key issue being: Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town area and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages. This does not appear to have been given any consideration when identifying the new settlements.
  7. Only 18% gave option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as the most preferred approach. How much support would a new settlement have had if the site/sites had been identified (especially as respondees gave great weight to preservation of the MGB)? Under Appendix 1 to the consultation statement, Section 5 lists the strategy Considerations. By far the largest level of support was 60% for Option 4 (Growth Corridor led approach) “A level of support was indicated in the I&O responses to a new settlement” This is a totally disingenuous statement – 1% could apply here too as showing a level of support (but not much)! In consideration of Q10 & Q10a received in preparation of the DLP “Exploring further the potential for a “new settlement growth” as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options” is blatantly not true.
  8. Question 11 asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough providing for future development needs. Key issues referred to across the response groups included:
  9. Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)
  10. Should be a sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion.
  11. Should be a stand-alone, self sufficient development planned as a whole
  12. Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.

These views have been completely ignored but should and must carry weight

  1. Question 11a asked for suggestions for the location of a new settlement. Responses included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure. It appears that NOT ONE suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure such as CA1, CA2 and PW1.
  2. Question 12a: If no, please set out what other options for accommodating future development growth within the borough you think should be considered. A summary of responses included:

Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned ·

  1. Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed
  2. Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights.

3.Overall focus on sustainable locations & focus on the A21 corridor.

One again these view have not been considered

  1. (section 6) There is no clarity as to when the Tudeley CA1 & CA2 sites were first considered. Why not? Were they late arrivals in the 2nd call call for sites or even later? Did TWBC officers approach the landowner as previously commented on above? Is this why there is a lack of a Feasibility study for this site?
  2. Table 2 gives no explanation as to why the Tudeley sites are considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Table 3 does not mention this. They are not well located, in fact they are extremely badly located due to the constraints surrounding them,
  3. Table 3 refers to Capel Primary School be adjacent to the edge of the Tudeley site. It is NOT!
  4. The proposed secondary school is said to be within walking and cycling distance of the proposed Tudeley settlement. It is likely that many of the new residents of Tudeley New Town might prefer a grammar school or a religious school in RTW (moving from London just for our great schools is the norm)  thus adding to the traffic chaos. Planners cannot dictate parental choice! High car use looks entirely likely.
  5. There is no indication of what the compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality could be or how they would be achieved.
  6. It appears that Site AL/CA2 will remain in the Green Belt despite being a proposal for inappropriate development in the form of an 8FE Secondary School. This MUST be added to the total of loss to MGB which it doesn’t appear to have been.
  7. Under E) Consideration of a new settlement, Table 2 shows Location 3 to be somewhere just north of Frittenden & states that this site was not entered in the call for sites & thus did not become available for appraisal. However on a map shown to Parish Chairs in March 2018, 3 sites were shortlisted for appraisal, Paddock Wood, Horsmonden & the Frittenden site with 5 other sites including CA1 NOT
  8. Without a Garden Village/or New Settlement Feasibility Study the proposal for 2 large sites modeled on those principles is unsound. There is no evidence base that either of the sites are sustainable. It would appear that TWBC have taken shortcuts and easy options to produce this DLP thereby making it unsound.
  9. The New Garden Village Feasibility study commissioned by TWBC in March 2018 (presumably of the 3 sites shortlisted) is not available for public scrutiny as it was apparently ‘not finalized’. There is therefore no detailed evidence to support either of the Tudeley sites nor PW1 which is ‘to be modeled & master planned on garden village principles”
  10. As of the 13th March 2018 the preferred growth strategy figures were:

Expected share % of preferred growth Strategy:

  • RTW/Southborough 13% 1,291
  • PWood 40% 3,879
  • Cranbrook 6% 540
  • Hawkhurst 7% 684
  • Villages & rural areas 3,268

Core Strategy

  • RTW/Southborough 7% 4,500
  • PWood 10% 600
  • Cranbrook 5% 300
  • Hawkhurst 4% 240
  • Villages 6% 360

Strategy Options presented in Issues / Options consultation document

Option 1: Focused growth - as per existing strategy
Option 2: Semi dispersed growth - specific rural settlements
Option 3: Dispersed growth - majority rural settlements
Option 4: Growth corridor - growth related to improved A21
Option 5: New settlement - “garden village” concept settlement
Based on evidence studies, Interim SA and site assessments the Preferred Strategy is a combination of:
Option 3 (Existing distribution plus villages)
Option 4 (Growth Corridor)
Possibility of a 
New Settlement (Option 5) will also be referred to for longer term period of Plan and beyond

Villages with growth exceeding 150 dwellings over the Plan Period

  • Pembury: 1,345 units. All sites in Pembury are Green Belt sites
  • Horsmonden: 529 units.
  • Five Oak Green: 440 units. All sites in Five Oak Green are Green Belt sites
  • Sissinghurst (including Wilsley Pound): 229 units
  • Benenden: 218 units
  • Matfield: 156 units

Further assessment will filter out more sites - there will be a reduced number of sites to deliver the growth

Despite the above evidence base & the assertion “there will be a reduced number of sites to deliver growth” and a preferred strategy of Option 3 & 4, why was there then a move in April 2019 to Growth Strategy Option 5 & the inclusion of two extra enormous sites, resulting in Capel Parish being allocated 60% of the supposed housing need?? 

440 houses for Five Oak Green was an unsustainable option too not least given the lack of facilities in the village.

KCC Highways appear to understand this although TWBC do not. The application by TWBC Estates for 16 houses (including affordable homes) at Sychem place TW/18/03797/OUT was strongly objected to by Highways (disappointingly TWBC decided to then reduce the number of dwellings to five large executive homes, which was approved, which if built will remain unsold!)

“The highway authority has previously advised the LPA that the site is considered unsuitable for development as part of a plan lead approach due to a lack of key facilities in the village which will result in car borne trips’.

DLP_4222

Tunbridge Wells District Committee Campaign to Protect Rural England

In general we are impressed by the great efforts that have clearly been made to gather all the relevant evidence, during a time when the Government kept moving the goalposts. 

Most comments that we make relating to the topic papers and other supporting documents are made in our comments on policies.  However, we make the following additional comments: 

Distribution of Development Topic Paper

The proposed distribution of development appears to us to have been more led by slavish adherence to Government housing targets, a wish to justify building some new roads that have long been desired by KCC and TWBC, and the easy option of dealing with a single willing landowner in the Southborough/Capel area, than by objective assessment of where development should take place.  The weighting to be given to particular considerations is not always clear; in several cases it appears inconsistent and judgments appear subjective. 

Most importantly, in order to give proper regard to paragraph 172 of the NPPF, the impacts on the AONB of TWBC’s policies and allocations need to be assessed using the adopted statutory AONB Management Plan 2019.  This paper fails to do so. The paper quotes (at 6.80) Paragraph ID: 8-041-20190721 PPG, which states, “[NPPF} policies for protecting these areas may mean that it is not possible to meet objectively assessed needs for development in full through the plan-making process, and they are unlikely to be suitable areas for accommodating unmet needs from adjoining (non-designated) areas”. We agree, but the Council seems not to have taken this possibility into account in the draft Plan. 

We agree with the Council, at 6.89, that the High Weald AONB could not be a suitable location for strategic growth, such as a new or significantly expanded settlement. However, the expansion proposed for Cranbrook & Sissinghurst and Hawkhurst can only be described as “significant”. 

6.96 et seq set out the Council’s approach to the tests of exceptional circumstances and the public interest in relation to major development in the AONB. There are in our view important errors in the Council’s approach, which undermine the basis of the allocations for major development within the AONB contained in the Plan and form part of the basis for our objection to many of these allocations, set out elsewhere in our response. 

6.100 states that the particular circumstances of the individual proposals are critical, but in the SHELAA, there is very little of substance on this subject. 6.101 sets out a set of considerations which apply to Tunbridge Wells Borough, but they cannot be regarded as “exceptional”. The Borough is by no means unusual in having a high proportion of its land area comprised of protected landscapes and this in an immutable and enduring aspect of the borough’s geography, not an exceptional circumstance. Meeting the need for affordable housing for local residents in the Borough is, we accept, in the public interest, but not a consideration that points towards exceptional circumstances, justifying major housing development in the AONB. To the extent that there is a housing shortage in the borough, this is an ongoing situation which affects the whole country, most acutely the South East region, which has persisted through several reiterations of the NPPF. It is not peculiar to Tunbridge Wells or in any way exceptional. 

The assertion of insufficient opportunities to meet housing need elsewhere in the Borough must been seen in the context of unprecedentedly high allocations in this Plan outside the AONB. The discussion of factors relating to the housing market, growth and economic vitality are of general application and in no way indicative of exceptional circumstances. 

The extensive discussion of the exhaustion of opportunities for development outside the AONB merely demonstrates that Tunbridge Wells is a case in which it is not possible to meet the OAN, in accordance with the passage from the PPG, quoted above. 

Consideration of the opportunities to moderate the detrimental effect of major development in the AONB is something that can properly be considered only in relation to particular sites and proposals, not in general. 

In conclusion, we do not consider that the analysis in this Topic Paper provides support for the satisfaction of the paragraph 172 NPPF test for major development in the High Weald AONB.

DLP_4668DLP_4674

Mandy CornickSue Ashe

TWBC: the following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

Proposed Development of 30 houses at Misty Meadow Farm, Furnace Lane, Lamberhurst 

I write regarding the draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal (together with other background topic papers), particularly with regard to the Council’s proposed housing strategy, the suitability of Lamberhurst to accommodate additional dwellings, and the proposed allocation of a site at Misty Meadow Farm on the south side of Furnace Lane, Lamberhurst for around 30 dwellings (site reference AL/LA2). 

Planning Strategy

  • The Council’s Topic Paper “Distribution of Development”, provides an overview of the Issues and Options consultation that was carried out previously. 4 and 5.5 of the Topic Paper confirmed that the most preferred option for housing growth was for a “growth corridor led” approach (60% of respondents), whilst the least favoured options (dispersed growth and semi dispersed growth) attracted the support of just 8% and 1% of respondents.

Given such low support for forms of dispersed growth, it is surprising that the Council has chosen to propose relatively high levels of new housing in small villages such as Lamberhurst.  For the Council to be able to demonstrate that it has reacted appropriately to the consultation feedback, a far greater emphasis on growth in established centres would be required.  Not only would this more closely reflect the feedback from local residents, but also would result in more sustainable patterns of development that would have less reliance on the private motor car as a means of travel – which surely must be of paramount importance given climate change commitments. 

  • With regard to the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and the Sustainability Appraisal, I am concerned at the lack of consistency in how sites have been appraised (and then accepted or rejected) and the subjective nature of the assessment. Certain sites have been rejected for being detached from the limits to built development (LBD) boundary, but then other comparable sites have been included.  Similarly, some sites have been accepted despite comments such as “slight negative scores most reflect dependency on private car use”, whilst other sites have been rejected outright for the same reason.  There does not appear to be an accurate quantifiable methodology used that measures settlements and sites in a consistent manner.

DLP_6457

Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council

  1. RESPONSE TO THE “DISTRIBUTION OF DEVELOPMENT” TOPIC PAPER FOR DRAFT TWBC LOCAL PLAN

The Parish Council firmly believe that the distribution of development assumptions that underpin the draft TWBC Local Plan strategy are wrong, as follows:

  • Cranbrook is a small town and Sissinghurst a village. Neither can be described as an urban area.
  • A large proportion of the Parish (62%) is within the AONB , a nationally protected landscape area.
  • To place Cranbrook and Sissinghurst in the same category as the urban area of Tunbridge Wells is clearly the wrong way to approach this local plan process.
  • TWBC need to review this distribution policy, especially as only 8% supported this categorisation in the previous consultation (ref: p.34 Appendix 1 to the Consultation Statement for the Draft Local Plan Regulation 18 Consultation September 2019)

Given the lack of support for the distribution approach at the previous stage of the local plan preparation, how can TWBC continue with this strategy at Reg 18 stage? 

para. 6.7 and 6.9

This background paper sets a threshold of 10 minimum for site allocations but why was the threshold set so high? A typical threshold for minimum units is just 5 or 6 homes, allowing smaller sites to be considered. This is in line with NPPF para. 68 that states that small and medium sized sites can make an important contribution to meeting the housing requirement of an area and are often built-out relatively quickly. Why has TWBC taken a different approach?

The SHEELA contains many sites of this scale across the Borough that have not been allocated because of the artificially high threshold imposed by the draft TWBC LP.

Smaller sites can often be built out quicker than large sites and can be delivered by non-mainstream developers e.g. CLT, housing cooperatives and so on. Setting a high threshold will tend to rule these organisations out of the picture, thereby concentrating risk on a few larger players, rather than spreading risk more widely. Neighbourhood plans tends to favour a strategy based around smaller sites, more widely distributed. This threshold also undermines neighbourhood planning. Smaller sites also allow for smaller developments that give a greater opportunity to build more sustainably and of better quality than 'mass produced' developments.

Cranbrook and Hawkhurst together (both in the AONB completely) are taking the same numbers as Tunbridge Wells and Southborough combined (not in the AONB) – this cannot be right when considered against:

  • para 172 of the NPPF – “Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues” 
  • para 11 b) I and ii – this allows for a discount to be applied when seeking to meet OAN housing figures when in locations with protected areas (e.g. AONB) or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development. 

p.33 footnote 19

We consider this to be a major error on the part of TWBC as it has defined the “urban area” for planning purposes as the main urban area of Royal Tunbridge Wells and Southborough, together with the larger rural settlements of Paddock Wood, Cranbrook, and Hawkhurst.

How can it be that smaller settlements of Cranbrook and Hawkhurst, both deep within the AONB, can be given the same urban status as Royal Tunbridge Wells and Southborough?

This is critical because the definition of “urban area” then leads directly to a strategy that maximises development within existing built up areas and optimised densities. While this strategy of maximisation and optimal density may be appropriate in genuine urban areas such as Royal Tunbridge Wells, it cannot be considered appropriate for rural communities in nationally protected landscape areas. It is from this mistaken assumption that much disturbing content of the draft TWBC LP follows. Correct this assumption (i.e. Cranbrook and Hawkhurst will not be subject to the maximisation strategy) and a whole different approach is possible.

[TWBC: see full response].

DLP_6425

Hawkhurst Parish Council

Response to the “Distribution of Development” Topic Paper for Draft TWBC Local Plan

The Parish Council firmly believe that the distribution of development assumptions that underpin the draft TWBC Local Plan strategy are wrong, as follows:

Hawkhurst is a village, not an urban area. Not only is Hawkhurst a village, but a village in the AONB, a nationally protected landscape area. Cranbrook and Hawkhurst together (both in the AONB) are taking the same numbers as Royal Tunbridge Wells and Southborough combined– this cannot be right when considered against:

  • para 172 of the NPPF – “Great weight should be given to conserving and enhancing landscape and scenic beauty in National Parks, the Broads and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection in relation to these issues”
  • para 11 b) I and ii – this allows for a discount to be applied when seeking to meet OAN housing figures when in locations with protected areas (e.g. AONB) or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development.

DLP_7233

DHA Planning for Notcutt Nurseries Ltd

Distribution of Development Topic Paper

The purpose of the Distribution of Development Topic Paper (herein ‘the Topic Paper’ or ‘the Paper’) is to explain the background to the proposed Development Strategy. This includes the consideration of development potential in the Green Belt (Chapter 6(F)).

The Topic Paper makes clear that the Council considers there to be exceptional circumstances to alter Green Belt boundaries, in order for the Local Plan to meet identified needs. This includes ‘Areas providing opportunities for delivering key infrastructure’, with land adjacent to the Tunbridge Wells Hospital at Pembury used as an example.

At paragraph 6.62 of the paper, the Council state that the approach for each allocation has taken into account the outcomes of the Green Belt study at a site specific level as well the usual assessment of planning opportunities and constraints.

In this respect, the Council conclude that there are exceptional circumstances to release Green Belt - having regard to constraints, development needs and the lack of reasonable alternatives - and then go on to consider whether specific sites are suitable to deliver development to meet identified needs.

The assessment followed a three stage process, with the Green Belt study assessing both broad locations (Stage 1) and smaller parcels of land (Stage 2). This was followed by a detailed assessment of individual sites.

The finer grained assessment undertaken by TWBC included the following:

  • An analysis of the percentage of the site in the Green Belt;
  • A review of the outcomes of the Green Belt study (Stage 1 and 2) to determine what contribution the site allocations make towards the Green Belt criteria;
  • A review of the outcomes of the Green Belt study (Stage 1 and 2) to determine the existing boundary strength and if this can be improved and made more permanent through development opportunities;
  • Review against the beneficial uses of green belt and what possible contributions development included in a proposed allocation can make to green belt objectives.

Section 3.4 of this representation summarises the conclusions of the Stage 1 and 2 Green Belt study, however it is our view that they cannot all be reasonably applied to the Garden Centre site in isolation.

Further, we consider that the woodland to the north west of the Garden Centre is a strong and defensible boundary that will endure beyond the plan period. This boundary could also be strengthened as part of wider proposals for redevelopment.

The above matters aside, the Topic Paper goes on to list the proposed site allocation policies in the plan and provides a summary of the development type and whether it is proposed to remove it from the Green Belt. A summary of mitigation is also provided and attempts to rationalise the policy approach.

However, a number of allocated sites are proposed to remain in the Green Belt despite being allocated for development, and the rationale section does not explain why this is the case.

In our view, it is entirely illogical to identify sites for future development or infrastructure provision and then decide not to remove the land from the Green Belt when exceptional circumstances have been fully evidenced and justified through the plan making process.

Taking the above into account, AL/PE 6 should be removed from the Green Belt to provide certainty that the required infrastructure can be delivered. At the very least, the Garden Centre should be removed from the Green Belt on the basis that it no longer contributes to the five purposes of Green Belt. 

[TWBC: see full representation. See also Comment No. DLP_7216 (Policy AL/PE 6)].

DLP_6528
DLP_6564

G and J Moger
Lesley Young

TWBC: the following comment was submitted by the list of responders on the left:

Draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal

We write regarding the draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal (together with other background topic papers), particularly with regard to the Council’s proposed housing strategy, the suitability of Lamberhurst to accommodate additional dwellings, and the proposed allocation of a site on the south side of Furnace Lane, Misty Meadow, Lamberhurst for around 30 dwellings (site reference AL/LA2). 

Planning Strategy

  • The Council’s Topic Paper “Distribution of Development”, provides an overview of the Issues and Options consultation that was carried out previously. 4 and 5.5 of the Topic Paper confirmed that the most preferred option for housing growth was for a “growth corridor led” approach (60% of respondents), whilst the least favoured options (dispersed growth and semi dispersed growth) attracted the support of just 8% and 1% of respondents. 

Given such low support for forms of dispersed growth, it is surprising that the Council has chosen to propose relatively high levels of new housing in small villages such as Lamberhurst.  For the Council to be able to demonstrate that it has reacted appropriately to the consultation feedback, a far greater emphasis on growth in established centres would be required.  Not only would this more closely reflect the feedback from local residents, but also would result in more sustainable patterns of development that would have less reliance on the private motor car as a means of travel – which surely must be of paramount importance given climate change commitments.

  • With regard to the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and the Sustainability Appraisal, concern is expressed at the lack of consistency in how sites have been appraised (and then accepted or rejected) and the subjective nature of the assessment.  Certain sites have been rejected for being detached from the LBD boundary (“limits to built development”), but then other comparable sites have been included.  Similarly, some sites have been accepted despite comments such as “slight negative scores most reflect dependency on private car use”, whilst other sites have been rejected outright for the same reason.  There does not appear to be an accurate quantifiable methodology used that measures settlements and sites in a consistent manner.

Conclusions

The general approach taken to the provision of housing (including relatively large allocations of housing on individual sites in small villages) is contrary to the consultation responses provided in the preparation of the draft Local Plan. 

Lamberhurst is a small rural village with very limited services and accessibility. Proposals for 60 houses within the village (policy STR/AL1) cannot be supported by existing infrastructure and will by heavily reliant on the private motor car.  Focusing development in established urban areas that have more services and public transport is a far more appropriate method of increasing housing land supply whilst acknowledging climate change commitments. 

The proposed allocation of 30 houses on Furnace Lane (Policy AL/LA2) will have a major impact on the appearance of the AONB, with no exceptional circumstances to justify such an allocation in such a highly visible location. Development would naturally be suburban in appearance (including vehicular access arrangements) that would detract from the rural character of the village. This would be exacerbated by the site’s location away from the centre of the village.  A far better approach (and notwithstanding our objection to 60 houses being proposed for the village) would be to provide for windfall development within the village, and for the emerging Neighbourhood Plan to identify smaller sites for more appropriately scaled schemes that would respect the AONB.

Our Parish occupies one of the most dramatic areas in the High Weald AONB with views across ancient landscapes that are enjoyed by residents and visitors alike. Protecting this unique landscape is important to our community.

DLP_7289

Miranda Hungerford

Draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal

We are writing to you to register our concerns and objections to the following:

  • the draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal (together with other background topic papers), particularly with regard to the Council’s proposed housing strategy
  • the suitability of Lamberhurst to accommodate additional dwellings
  • the proposed allocation of a site on the south side of Furnace Lane, Lamberhurst for 30 dwellings (site reference AL/LA2).

Planning Strategy

1) The Council’s Topic Paper “Distribution of Development”, provides an overview of the Issues and Options consultation that was carried out previously. 4 and 5.5 of the Topic Paper confirmed that 60% of respondents would like to see housing growth along “growth corridors”, whilst the least favoured options (dispersed growth and semi dispersed growth) attracted the support of just 8% and 1% of respondents.

Given such low support for forms of dispersed growth, it is surprising that the Council has chosen to propose relatively high levels of new housing in small villages such as Lamberhurst.  The Council would need to be able to demonstrate that it has reacted appropriately to the consultation feedback, so a far greater emphasis on growth in established centres rather than rural locations would be required.  Not only would this more closely reflect the feedback from local residents, but also would result in more sustainable patterns of development that would have less reliance on private cars as a means of travel – which surely must be of paramount importance given climate change commitments.

Conclusions

The general approach taken to the provision of housing (including relatively large allocations of housing on individual sites in small villages) is contrary to the consultation responses provided in the preparation of the draft Local Plan. 

Lamberhurst is a small rural village with very limited services and accessibility. Proposals for 60 houses within the village (policy STR/AL1) cannot be supported by existing infrastructure and will be heavily reliant on the private motor car.  Focusing development in established urban areas that have more services and public transport is a far more appropriate method of increasing housing land supply whilst acknowledging climate change commitments. 

The proposed allocation of 30 houses on Furnace Lane (Policy AL/LA2) will have a major impact on the appearance of the AONB, with no exceptional circumstances to justify such an allocation in such a highly visible location. Development would naturally be suburban in appearance (including vehicular access arrangements) that would detract from the rural character of the village. This would be exacerbated by the site’s location away from the centre of the village.  A far better approach (and notwithstanding our objection to 60 houses being proposed for the village) would be to provide for windfall development within the village, and for the emerging Neighbourhood Plan to identify smaller sites for more appropriately scaled schemes that would respect the AONB. 

DLP_7396

Andrew Ford

Paragraph 172 of the NPPF requires that ‘great weight’ be given to conserving the landscape and scenic beauty in AONBs, who have ‘the highest status of protection in relation to these issues’. In order for great weight to be given, the impacts of TWBC’s policies on the AONB need to be properly assessed using the statutory AONB Management Plan.

It is our view that TWBC does not give proper regard to impact on the AONB in the DDTP as required by NPPF, Para 172 and Section 85 of the CROW Act 2000 for the following reasons:

  • Sensitive historic settlements within the AONB are being treated like rural towns for the purposes of development. There are inconsistencies between the groupings of settlements based on population (Appendix 4, p.114) and the classification of settlements into a settlement hierarchy (Para 2.4) and groupings based on sustainability (Para 2.8). The settlement hierarchy (Para 2.4) places Cranbrook and Hawkhurst (both in the AONB) within a ‘Small Rural Town’ settlement group alongside Paddock Wood; Pembury and other AONB settlements sit within ‘Villages’. However, Appendix 4 clearly lists Hawkhurst as having a population < 6000 alongside Speldhurst which is included in the settlement hierarchy as a village. No evidence is included as to why Hawkhurst is considered a town for planning purposes.
  • Settlements are grouped on the basis of levels of sustainability in Para 2.8. It is odd that while smaller settlements have been separated into 4 groups (B-E), the larger villages and small towns have been placed in a single group - Group A. Group A is supposedly only marginally less sustainable than Royal Tunbridge Wells yet it includes - alongside Paddock Wood (a small town on the fast railway line to London) - villages such as Hawkhurst within the AONB and with no direct access to a train station and no secondary schools; and a small town (Cranbrook) within the AONB which is 6 miles from a railway station. It is difficult to avoid the conclusion that the smaller towns and larger village shave been lumped in this one group in order to help justify the large housing allocations made around them.
  • Para 3.11 states that TWBC accept that strategic-scale urban extensions, would ‘almost certainly not be appropriate’ in the AONB under national policy, and that the statutory purpose of conserving and enhancing the AONB is ‘likely to limit its capacity to absorb new development’. However, the local plan policies make no distinction between the proportion of housing allocation made to the borough as a whole, and that made to the two key High Weald AONB settlements targeted for housing. The current district-wide allocation of 14776 represents approx. 13 houses/ 100 head of population. Similarly, the allocations within the AONB in Cranbrook and Benenden ward, and Hawkhurst and Sandhurst ward also represent 13 houses/ 100 head of population, respectively. This is inconsistent with the local plan/s stated policy and

AONB and major development (Appendices 2 and 3)

We welcome TWBC setting out the principles (Appendix 2) relating to the definition of major development in the AONB as required by Footnote 55, however, the method for assessing factors, particularly ‘AONB impact’, is muddled and unclear.

The method proposed blurs the distinction between assessment of adverse impact on the purposes of the AONB, and the planning officer’s judgement on whether effects could be avoided by policy compliance. This is neither clear nor transparent and gives the impression of trying to avoid scrutiny. These steps need to be separated, in order that soundness and compliance with Footnote 55 can be assessed.

In our view the assessment of adverse impact should not take into account policy compliant development. Policy compliance is dependent upon a number of factors in the future, negative impact will be immediate and in many case irreversible. The example given, that the negative effects of development on ancient woodland can be largely avoided by a buffer and woodland management is not supported by evidence[1].

The table setting out the criteria for High, Medium and Low impact (para.21, p.83) demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the AONB Management Plan. Impact on the AONB is not a simple numbers game. The natural beauty of the AONB is a compilation of the core components at a landscape scale. The number of core components on any one site within that landscape is dependent upon location, geography and scale. Destruction of a single component may impact on the coherence of the whole. 

NPPF, para 172, states that - ‘great weight should be given to conserving the landscape and scenic beauty’ in AONBs. The ‘what’ is described in the Statement of Significance and is based on core components of character (AONB Management Plan, p. 23). The ‘how’, i.e. the conserving, is set out in the management plan policy objectives and actions. The method of assessing AONB impact in the DDTP Appendix 2 does not consider the impact of development on management plan policy objectives, and this is reflected in the limited and partial conclusions for each site set out in Appendix 3. This method is not fit for purpose.

Neither the ‘Scale’ formula nor ‘Setting’ scale takes into account the distinctive characteristic of High Weald Settlement, namely its dispersed historic character, which is vulnerable to any increase in the size of later medieval villages that leads to coalescence between villages and their surrounding farmsteads, or between adjacent farmsteads.

We question why the AONB Unit, who are funded by TWBC to provide expert advice on the AONB were not consulted on the method of AONB impact assessment (Appendix 2), or the assessments themselves (Appendix 3). The first we have seen of it has been the public consultation. In our view many of the impact assessments made are inconsistent and not justifiable.

The conclusions to the assessment of AONB sites in Appendix 3 stray into justification for the development in economic terms or make spurious claims of AONB ‘opportunities’ or ‘benefits’, none of  which are properly evidenced. The conclusions appear to attempt to address the sequential major development test required by NPPF, Para 172, although in an inconsistent manner. However, it is not made clear whether Appendix 3 is indeed intended to be an assessment of AONB sites in line with the major development test required by the NPPF, Para 172, or whether it is restricted to determining whether a proposal is ‘major development’ as required by Footnote 55. If the latter, then the sequential ‘tests’ required by Para 172 for those sites that are identified as potentially ‘major’, appears missing from the suite of Local Plan documents. 

Subjective judgements of landscape quality are being used to justify enhancements claimed by the development. For example development of 270 dwellings and a school at Spratsbrook (RTW18, Site 137) suggests that the site has a ‘poor edge to settlement’ and a ‘strong landscape structure of containment’ and that through the development the landscape can be ‘reinforced’ and provide a ‘strong edge to settlement’. These are opinions about aspects of visual experience which are not relevant to impact on the AONB. Impact on the AONB should be judged against the Statement of Significance and supporting chapters set out in the AONB Management Plan.

[[1] https://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/media/43620/impacts-of-nearby-development-on-the-ecology-of-ancient-woodland.pdf

DLP_7343

Campaign to Protect Hawkhurst Village

Distribution of Development Topic Paper 

Paragraph 5.5 records that the most preferred option at the Issues and Options stage was Option 4 (Growth Corridor) obtaining 60% support. 

The most preferred combination was Option 5 and Option 4 – receiving 47%.  This was the option also recommended in the Interim Sustainability Appraisal. 

Instead the Council has pursued Option 5 in combination with Option 3 – which only received 8% support at the Issues and Options stage. 

Paragraph 6.85 provided that the Council takes the view that where development is considered likely to cause significant harm to the defining character of the AONB then it is very unlikely to be supported.  

The Council’s proposed allocations in Hawkhurst directly contradict this approach.  The Council’s own Landscape Sensitivity Analysis provides that the Hawkhurst Golf Course site is of high sensitivity and cannot accommodate anything other than small scale development.  Instead the Council is proposing the largest ever single release of AONB land in the England.

Paragraph 6.146 – records that Option 3 in the Interim Sustainability Appraisal was less positive than the other options.  Yet this is the option that has been pursued in part.  

DLP_7490
DLP_7531

Freya Alder
Ruth Murphy

TWBC: the following comment was submitted by the list of responders on the left:

Draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal

We write regarding the draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal (together with other background topic papers), particularly with regard to the Council’s proposed housing strategy, the suitability of Lamberhurst to accommodate additional dwellings, and the proposed allocation of a site on the south side of Furnace Lane, Lamberhurst for around 30 dwellings (site reference AL/LA2). 

Planning Strategy

  • The Council’s Topic Paper “Distribution of Development”, provides an overview of the Issues and Options consultation that was carried out previously. 4 and 5.5 of the Topic Paper confirmed that the most preferred option for housing growth was for a “growth corridor led” approach (60% of respondents), whilst the least favoured options (dispersed growth and semi dispersed growth) attracted the support of just 8% and 1% of respondents.

Given such low support for forms of dispersed growth, it is surprising that the Council has chosen to propose relatively high levels of new housing in small villages such as Lamberhurst.  For the Council to be able to demonstrate that it has reacted appropriately to the consultation feedback, a far greater emphasis on growth in established centres would be required.  Not only would this more closely reflect the feedback from local residents, but also would result in more sustainable patterns of development that would have less reliance on the private motor car as a means of travel – which surely must be of paramount importance given climate change commitments. 

Conclusions

The general approach taken to the provision of housing (including relatively large allocations of housing on individual sites in small villages) is contrary to the consultation responses provided in the preparation of the draft Local Plan. 

Lamberhurst is a small rural village with very limited services and accessibility. Proposals for 60 houses within the village (policy STR/AL1) cannot be supported by existing infrastructure and will by heavily reliant of the private motor car.  Focusing development in established urban areas that have more services and public transport is a far more appropriate method of increasing housing land supply whilst acknowledging climate change commitments. 

The proposed allocation of 30 houses on Furnace Lane (Policy AL/LA2) will have a major impact on the appearance of the AONB, with no exceptional circumstances to justify such an allocation in such a highly visible location. Development would naturally be suburban in appearance (including vehicular access arrangements) that would detract from the rural character of the village. This would be exacerbated by the site’s location away from the centre of the village.  A far better approach (and notwithstanding our objection to 60 houses being proposed for the village) would be to provide for windfall development within the village, and for the emerging Neighbourhood Plan to identify smaller sites for more appropriately scaled schemes that would respect the AONB. 

We trust that these comments will be taken into account.

DLP_3945

Mrs June Bell

Topic Paper title: ‘Distribution of Development’

6.106 Sites found to meet the relevant tests and suitable for allocation are normally those in a highly sustainable location, with limited negative effects on the wider AONB and/or AONB components and/or can make a positive contribution to AONB and landscape objectives and/or generate other wider public benefits, such as affordable housing and community infrastructure.

The DLP development strategy does not appear to observe this condition.

Reason for comment:

TWBC DLP contains policies for major development allocations in the HW AONB: AL/CRS 4, AL/CRS 7, AL/CRS 9 which are not in a highly sustainable location and will have irreversible negative effects on the HW AONB and will detract from the positive contribution of historic landscape, valued views, green gaps, currently offered through PROW access for our community nor will it satisfy the need for affordable housing within the Parish.

Affordability is defined as 80% of market value/rent. The average house price in 2017 in the parish was £534,000, whereas the average earnings for workers in the Parish was £28.2k per annum (a ratio of 19:1 compared to the national figure of 12:1) making the Parish one of the most unaffordable areas in the country for local people1. More houses on rural sites will not lead to affordability for workers who wish to live and work in the parish.

1 C&S DNP available at:
http://cranbrookandsissinghurstndp.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/152_Q_190724_Reg-14_Working-Draft.pdf

DLP_2782

Mr Andrew McConnell

This provides an overview of the Issues and Options consultation that was carried out previously.  5.4 and 5.5 of the Topic Paper confirmed that the most preferred option for housing growth was for a “growth corridor led” approach (60% of respondents), whilst the least favoured options (dispersed growth and semi dispersed growth) attracted the support of just 8% and 1% of respondents.

Given such low support for forms of dispersed growth, it is surprising that the Council has chosen to propose relatively high levels of new housing in small villages such as Lamberhurst.  For the Council to be able to demonstrate that it has reacted appropriately to the consultation feedback, a far greater emphasis on growth in established centres would be required.  Not only would this more closely reflect the feedback from local residents, but also would result in more sustainable patterns of development that would have less reliance on the private motor car as a means of travel – which surely must be of paramount importance given climate change commitments.

Energy Topic Paper

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_4223

Tunbridge Wells District Committee Campaign to Protect Rural England

In general we are impressed by the great efforts that have clearly been made to gather all the relevant evidence, during a time when the Government kept moving the goalposts.

Most comments that we make relating to the topic papers and other supporting documents are made in our comments on policies.  However, we make the following additional comments:

Energy Topic Paper

This paper clearly sets out the current legislative and Government policy confusion and the unfortunate limitations on what the Borough Council can currently do to meet its and the Government’s aspirations on carbon reduction and energy saving.  It is to be hoped that some of this legislative mess will have been sorted out by a new Government by the time of the Reg 19 consultation.

Green Belt Study

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_6198

Turley for Bellway Homes Strategic

Sustainability Appraisal

Whilst the Sustainability Appraisal appears to consider the options for a Garden Settlement, we have been unable to locate any assessment at this stage which does not include such an option as part of the distribution strategy. In our view, it would be a reasonable alternative to consider a solution which does not include a Garden Village. In particular we consider that this is essential due to the fact that the Tudeley Village site is remote, does not benefit from access to rail services, is not related to existing services/facilities and significant intervention will be required to provide any facilities in the area. In contrast, alternative sites would provide opportunities to locate development in areas which already relate to existing settlements and services.

We note that Table 20 of the Sustainability Appraisal sets out a list of reasonable alternative sites in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Site reference 53 (being the land promoted by Bellway) is referred to in that list of sites. Table 20 confirms part of the site is proposed to be allocated under AL/RTW 23.

The scoring of site 53 against the SA objectives is contained on page 164 of the Sustainability Appraisal. The SA does not appear to include any detailed explanation as to how the scores have been calculated and so it is not possible for respondents and stakeholders to analysis the impacts of one site over another.

[TWBC: the comments above have also been entered against the Sustainability Appraisal as Comment Number SA_109].

Proposals Map

The Proposals Map published for consultation is of extremely low resolution and does not allow a clear understanding of the policies applicable to any specific area. We consider that it is essential, in order to understand how the Local Plan is to be applied, that a higher resolution version of the Proposals Map is made available.

Green Belt Assessment

In the LUC Green Belt Strategic Study of November 2016, the southern part of the site is located in Parcel TW6 and the remainder in Broad Are BA7, as shown below:

[TWBC: see map on page 11 of full representation].

Parcel TW6 is identified as an area for further assessment, with Table 6.2 of the 2016 document identifying ‘Potential Stage Two parcels and broad areas’. In relation to TW6, Table 6.2 identifies the ‘Key Stage 2 Considerations’ as being the “Relationship between settlement and countryside, with reference to role of High Wood in forming barrier to encroachment/sprawl.”

The Key Stage 2 Considerations for Parcel BA6 are referred to as being “Contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and role in historic setting of Tunbridge Wells”.

As an initial comment, Bellway note that the assessment of BA6 cannot be relied upon as an indication that all the land within the Broad Area fulfils Green Belt purposes to the same extent. For example, while the 2016 document may have concluded that BA6 makes a contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and plays a role in the historic setting of Tunbridge Wells, that is not to say that the land promoted by Bellway to the north of High Woods Lane performs these functions.

The LUC Tunbridge Wells Green Belt Study Stage Two report was published in July 2017. In relation to the Broad Areas, this report found that “All 10 broad areas were considered to rate very high for harm to Green Belt resulting from release of land for strategic development. It should however that there might be opportunities for small-scale – i.e. non-strategic – development that would result in less harm to Green Belt purposes.” This overall conclusion accords with Bellway’s own interpretation as articulated in the previous paragraph of these representations.

Table 1.1 of the July 2017 LUC report identifies all of the specific parcels with moderate or lower harm rating. Only seven specific parcels are found to have a low or very low level of harm on the Green Belt. Parcel TW6 was split in two for the purposes of this assessment: TW6a (including the southern part of the land promoted by Bellway) and TW6b. TW6a is identified as having a ‘moderate’ level of harm on the Green Belt. However we note that Table 6.1 of the July 2017 report found that Parcel TW6a would have: makes a moderate contribution to GB purpose 1; makes a weak or no contribution to purpose 2; makes a moderate contribution to GB purpose 3; and makes a moderate contribution to GB purpose 4.

Appendix A of the 2017 report considered the Broad Areas. However it does not appear as though there was any analysis over the contribution that smaller parts of the Broad Areas makes to the Green Belt purposes and therefore no analysis as to the extent to which these could accommodate development. This approach appears at odds with the conclusions elsewhere in the 2017 report that “there might be opportunities for small-scale – i.e. non-strategic – development that would result in less harm to Green Belt purposes.” The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note considers the contribution that the northern part of the site promoted by Bellway (which balls within BA6) makes to the Green Belt purposes as follows:

  • Whereas LUC conclude that BA6 makes a strong contribution to GB purpose 1, the Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note demonstrates that the land northern part of the land promoted by Bellway (within BA6) should only be considered to make a moderate contribution.
  • In relation to GB purpose 2, LUC conclude that BA6 makes a strong contribution. The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note demonstrates the edge of Pembury is over 2km away from the Appraisal Site and on account of intervening topography and woodland has no perceivable relationship with this settlement area. Development of the northern parcel of the Site would result in little or no perception of the narrowing of the gap between towns and it is therefore considered to make ‘Weak/No’ contribution to Purpose 2.
  • LUC conclude that BA6 makes a strong contribution GB purpose 3. The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note demonstrates that due to the relationship of the northern part of the area promoted by Bellway to the wider countryside it is considered to make a ‘Moderate’ contribution to Purpose 3.
  • LUC conclude that BA6 makes a strong contribution to purpose 4. The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note explains that the contribution to this purpose is made most strongly by Dunorlan Park which is a key feature on the edge of the historic town. However, the parcel does form part of the setting to the edge of both the Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area and Dunorlan Park and is glimpsed in some key views from the latter. For this reason it is considered to make a ‘Moderate’ contribution to Purpose 4.

    On the basis of the Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note, it is considered that the July 2017 LUC report overstates the contribution that the part of Broad Area BA6 promoted by Bellway has been overstated. When this part of BA6 is considered independently, it makes a moderate contribution to Green Belt purposes.

Appendix A of the 2017 report also provided an analysis of the specific parcels against the Green Belt purposes. Bellway consider that the assessment in relation to Parcel TW6a is flawed. The table below sets out the assessment of this parcel in the LUC 2017 report and provides our response and reason why the conclusions are flawed:

Green Belt Purpose 1

Purpose

LUC Conclusion

Bellway’s Response

Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas

The parcel is adjacent to the large built-up area but has a degree of separation from both the settlement and the wider countryside. The western part of the recreation ground has a stronger relationship with the urban area, but is too small to be assessed as a separate strategic parcel.

Moderate impact

Bellway disagree that the parcel has a degree of separation from the settlement. The western boundary is contiguous with the edge of the settlement and there is no existing vegetation which results in separation as suggested by LUC.  The enclosed Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note prepared by Turley demonstrates that when the site promoted by Bellway is considered independently, it is considered to contribute less to Purpose 1 than the Parcel TW6a

This is due to the direct association with the settlement edge to the west and the formal recreation ground to the south. The presence of High Wood and the indoor bowls centre also increases the separation from the wider countryside.

The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note explains that this area makes a ‘Relatively Weak’ contribution to Purpose 1.

Green Belt Purpose 2

Purpose

LUC Conclusion

Bellway’s Response

Prevent neighbouring towns

merging into one another

Development of this parcel would result in little or no perception of the narrowing of the gap between towns.

Weak or no contribution

The next settlement / town to the east is some distance from Parcel TW6a and Bellway consider that the development of this area would not result in neighbouring towns from merging in actual or perceived terms.  On that basis, the LUC conclusion of ‘weak or no contribution’ overstates the role of the parcel.  The correct conclusion would be ‘no contribution’

Green Belt Purpose 3

Purpose

LUC Conclusion

Bellway’s Response

Assist in safeguarding the

countryside from encroachment

The parcel has a degree of separation from both the settlement and the wider countryside. The western part of the recreation ground has a stronger relationship with the urban area, but is too small to be assessed as a separate strategic parcel. Moderate contribution

The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note explains that the site promoted by Bellway in parcel A relatively self-contained unit that is influenced by the overlooking residential development on the settlement edge. It is also relatively contained from the wider countryside on account of the enclosure formed by topography and High Wood. It is therefore considered that the southern parcel makes a ‘Relatively Weak’ contribution to Purpose 3.

Green Belt Purpose 4

Purpose

LUC Conclusion

Bellway’s Response

To preserve the special character of historic towns

The arable field in the northern part of the parcel is an element in views from Dunorlan Park (a Registered Park and Garden) of the open ridgeline forming the foreground to High Wood. The openness of this high ground contributes to the town’s historic character, but development contained to the west of High Wood would have a limited impact on this. The western part of the recreation ground has a stronger relationship with the urban area.

The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note concurs with this assessment.

The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note demonstrates that the contribution of Parcel TW6a has been overstated, particularly when the land promoted by Bellway is considered independent.

On the basis of the summary set out above, and supported by the Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note, it is clear that the LUC reports which have informed the Local Plan in relation to the land currently designated as Green Belt have overstated the role and function of the land promoted by Bellway.

Bellway therefore consider that it is essential that the Council undertakes an updated and more robust analysis of the extent to which particular areas (including the land promoted by Bellway) contribute to the Green Belt purposes. Without this updated evidence, Bellway contend that the Council cannot have certainty that the distribution strategy which it has chosen (including the Tudeley Village concept) is justified and that alternative options should not have been pursued.

Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA)

In the July 2019 SHELAA the land promoted by Bellway is considered under site reference 53. The assessment found that the “Site is suitable in part as a potential Local Plan allocation subject to further consideration”. The reason for this conclusion was stated as being “The southern parcel of this site lies adjacent to the LBD and is likely to be sustainable in this context. This would form a logical extension to LBD. The remaining area, the first parcel whilst in proximity to the LBD would not form a logical extension to the LBD and is considered to adversely affect the landscape setting of the town and is part of a Green Belt parcel the release of which is considered to result in very high harm, and setting of an Historic Park and Garden.”

The SHELAA conclusion was that the southern part of the site promoted by Bellway (i.e. the land south of High Woods Lane) would be a logical extension to the LBD.

It is essential to note that the SHELAA is an assessment of sites for housing and economic land purposes and so the conclusions of that document must be read in that regard. The analysis of site 53 and the conclusions in relation to the suitability, sustainability and logic of the site must therefore refer to housing or economic land uses. There is no suggestion in the SHELAA that the conclusions in relation to site 53 relate to any other form of land use or that they would not apply in relation to housing or economic uses.

[TWBC: see full representation and Comment Numbers DLP_6189-6198].

DLP_8214

Mrs Suzi Rich

Topic Paper or supporting document title:

· Distribution of Development Topic Paper

· Green Belt Study

· Infrastructure Delivery Plan

· Transport Strategy Review: Context and Way Forward including Appendix C: Local Plan Transport Assessment Report 2019 (prepared by Sweco)

Comments on the Distribution of Development Topic Paper

Chapter 2: Settlement Pattern (p.2)

The table at paragraph 2.7 shows Five Oak Green in Group B, the same group as Brenchley, Lamberhust and Goudhurst. This is despite multiple Issues & Options consultation responses that the facilities listed (each with a score) were incorrect. These other villages are considerably larger settlements that Five Oak Green, with significantly more facilities available.

Chapter 3: Development Constraints (p.4)

This chapter considers only designated sites: MGB, AONB, Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. These do not appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the MGB. Development adjacent to a constrained site can have a significant impact on it. This would certainly be the case for AL/CA 1 which borders the AONB and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW1 which includes an area of Ancient Woodland.

Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11)

Paragraph 5.3 outlines key issues identified in the responses to this consultation, including, at bullet point 3 that the “Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town area and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages”. What consideration has been given to this issue when identifying the new settlements at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA3 or Transport Policy TP 6?

Paragraph 5.6 summarises the main outcomes of the consultation for the question relating to the five strategic options for delivery presented in the Issues and Options document. Only 18% ranked Option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as their most preferred approach. It is submitted that this would have been even less if the site/sites now proposed at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 had been identified at that time. Appendix 1 to The Issues and Options Consultation Statement, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website at https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/issues-and-options, lists the Strategy Considerations at Section 5 (p.26-39). It is clear from p.33, that by far the largest level of support was 60% for Option 4 (Growth Corridor led approach). However, p.39 of the same document states that “A level of support was indicated in the Issues and Options responses for a new settlement.” This is misleading. The Consultation Statement goes on to consider the responses to question 10 and 10a relating to preferences for a combination of Options (p.35). The first bullet point states that the responses indicate that it is worth “Exploring further the potential for ‘new settlement growth’, as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options”. The statement is blatantly not true!

Paragraphs 5.7-5.8 cover question 11/11a, which asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough and suggestions for possible locations. It lists the key issues referred to across the response groups, which include:

  • Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links
  • Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)
  • Should be sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion. Should be a stand-alone, self-sufficient development planned as a whole
  • Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.

These views have been completely ignored by TWBC! They should carry weight and should have informed the decision on the strategic site proposals.

Suggestions for a possible location for a new settlement included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure. NOT ONE suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure.

Paragraphs 5.9-5.10 cover question 12/12a, which asked whether all reasonable options for accommodating future development growth within the borough have been considered and identified and if not, what other options should be considered. Respondents suggested that the following options should be considered:

  • Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned
  • Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed
  • Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights. Overall focus on sustainable locations
  • Focus on A21 corridor

Where have these responses been acknowledged in the dLP? Have these options been considered at all?

Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14)

Paragraph 6.2 states “For the second Call for Sites, officers contacted the promotors of sites submitted to the first Call for Sites and identified and then contacted owners of land around settlements (on a ‘without prejudice’ basis) that had not been submitted through the first Call for Sites to enable them to submit sites if they wished. This proactive approach encouraged owners of land that could be suitable for development to submit sites for consideration”. Why were we told by Stephen Baughan at the Capel Annual Parish Meeting that TWBC had no influence on what sites were submitted and that the officers just had to work with what appeared in the Call for Sites!

Paragraph 6.2 also expressly states that the second 'Call for Sites' was undertaken between May and June 2017. In the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017. It was stated “although the call for sites remains open, it will no longer be possible to include any new sites within the site assessment process that is informing the Draft Local Plan (being prepared under Regulation 18) AS THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO ADEQUATELY ASSESS SUCH SITES. (TWBC will continue to accept in order that they may be assessed & potentially included at Reg 19)”. The evidence base persuaded TWBC to opt for Growth Strategy Option 3 (existing urban distribution plus villages) and Option 4 (A21 growth corridor). There was a possibility of Option 5 (new settlement) in the longer term (8 possible sites but 5 not shortlisted including AL/ CA 1). Presumably this underwent a robust process based on robust evidence? This was still the preferred stance March 2018, however in April 2018, there appeared to be a complete change of direction which resulted in the allocation of 60% of the proposed development in the Parish of Capel. Where in the DLP is this new evidence base?

Paragraph 6.56 (p.14) confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green Belt sites. Why not?

When was site 448 (Land at Tudeley) first considered (p.24-30)? Table 2 details TWBC’s Conclusions of the SHELAA and SA on garden settlement options but gives no credible explanation as to why the Tudeley site is considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Neither does Table 3 which details the outcome of TWBC’s Consideration of proposed strategic allocation sites against para 72 of the NPPF. This table is misleading and inaccurate. The site is NOT well located.

Paragraph 6.48 and bullet points (p.38) – how will there be “compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality”?

Comments on the Green Belt Study

The site at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) falls within Broad Areas BA3 and BA4. The ‘Potential Level of Harm to the Green Belt Associated with Release of Broad Areas BA3 and BA4 is ‘VERY HIGH’ (Figure 1.1 (p.8))

Broad Area BA3 is considered to provide a contribution to gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood; extent of openness; distinction between Low and High Weald landscapes. Broad Area BA4 is considered to provide contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and a gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood (Table 4.1 (p.17))

BA3 is assessed as contributing strongly to three out of four of the Green Belt purposes identified by the NPPF. The exception to this is Purpose 4 which is categorised as weak/no contribution but the overall contribution to the Green Belt is assessed to be ‘VERY HIGH’ (Table 6.1 (p.28))

BA4 contributes strongly to purpose 2 and 3 but relatively weak to purpose 1 and 4. Overall its contribution remains ‘VERY HIGH’.

There appears to be a total disregard for the Green Belt allocation that covers the Capel area and the Borough’s own study that was commissioned to identify the contribution of different areas to the purposes of the Green Belt

Neither CA1 nor CA2 are included in the Green Belt Assessment Appendices – why were they not assessed?

Comments on the Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Education

In relation to Secondary Schools, under ‘Current planned provision’ from paragraph 3.71 (p.31-32) it is stated that provision for “One FE expansion of Mascalls Academy for 2021-22” is planned to meet existing needs. Further down p.32 the IDP details ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ have been identified as “Up to eight FE new Secondary School to be provided on land at the garden settlement at Tudeley Village and further expansion of Mascalls Academy at Paddock Wood”. There is no further detail; however, capacity at Mascalls Academy can only be increased by a finite amount due to location constraints. This, therefore, makes the development of 4,000 houses in East Capel (AL / CA 3 and AL / PW 1) unsustainable as many children will be required to travel to the planned new Secondary School at Tudeley.

TWBC acknowledges that there are serious constraints; in the dLP under Policy AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 it states that “Development at this site is subject to the provision of land for the expansion of Mascalls”

As the location of the potential land for expansion appears unknown, the proposed development is therefore unsustainable. The development at East Capel should be removed from the dLP unless there is certainty that sufficient Education provision can be made.

Health

Under the heading ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ at paragraph 3.104 (p.40) it states that “The Council has not been made aware of any specific requirements over the plan period; however, discussions with the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have highlighted potential need for extension of either the Tunbridge Wells Hospital or Maidstone Hospital to serve the West Kent Area over the Plan period”

Under the heading ‘Emergency Services’ at paragraph 3.201 (p.62) it states that “Emergency services for the purposes of this IDP include Police, Fire and Rescue, and Ambulance services” before confirming under the heading ‘Related strategies and evidence’: “None identified at this stage”

Several thousand houses will create huge pressures on every aspect of NHS provision – it is unacceptable to not have identified this need & just refer to a “potential need”. The TW Hospital at Pembury is already at capacity, the site is not capable of being extended, and there is already a serious issue with car parking. Handover times between ambulance & hospital have historically been a scandal due to acute bed shortage.

Please also see my comments in COMMENT BOX 2 under the heading ‘Strategic Objective 5: Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity’

Comments on the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base

Chapter 9: Mitigation Measures

Figure 9-2 shows the ‘Mitigation Interventions Mapped’ (p.142) which shows the proposed routes for the following ‘highway measures’ detailed in Table 9-2 (p.138):

“202 New bypass link of Colts Hill - Reduce congestion at key junctions + match link capacity and link quality to adjoining Pembury bypass standard”

“203 Link road to new Colts Hill Bypass Will remove through highway trips through Five Oak Green”

It is unclear why TWBC believes that people living at Tudeley New Town will need to travel to the Colts Hill Bypass via a link road. They can access Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, London or the South via the A21 which runs almost parallel to the proposed route. To travel West to Paddock Wood or Maidstone, a more sensible route for a link road would be North of the railway line to meet the A228 where it is dualled before East Peckham. Why would anyone need to travel to Colts Hill? A link route following the current proposed route would be disastrous and needs to be removed. The grey blob of an alternative route, shown in most of the publically available maps, connecting the north of AL/CA 1 to Paddock Wood, appears to be missing in this assessment. Why?

It is suggested building the Colts Hill strategic link is vital to delivery of the proposed new developments in Capel. How will this improve connectivity? It will be a faster, polluting road to nowhere unless the congestion on the A264 and the two roundabouts at Pembury can be dealt with (there are no proposals to do so in the dLP and the Hendys development will make this worse). Traffic to the A21 from Paddock Wood will continue to use the B2017. The A228 strategic link has been mooted for the last forty years, initially as a requirement due to the Channel Tunnel! The whole area surrounding Paddock Wood needs a radical holistic solution. The dualling of the A21 was supposedly going to reduce traffic in this area but as TMBC have discovered, through traffic has actually increased in volume in Tonbridge since the “improvement”

[TWBC: See comments DLP_8189-8214 for full representation]

DLP_4457

Mr Andrew Rankine

Green Belt:

The council states that it places high importance on protection of Green Belt and AONB and this was raised as one of the major concerns raised in the Issues and Options Consultation. However, STR1 of the Plan reveals that it is in fact a specific objective to target development within the Green Belt: “7. The release of Green Belt around the settlements of Royal Tunbridge Wells, Southborough, Paddock Wood, Pembury, and in the parish of Capel, to deliver development allocated in this Local Plan”. I fail to see how having a named strategy to target the release of Green Belt aligns the importance of protecting it. As such I think that this Strategy should be removed as it is at odds with the stated position of TWBC, the desires of the local residents (as evidenced by the responses to the Issues and Options Consultation) and the NPPF 2019.

To actively not consider the NPPF’s option (and it is an option) to revise the local housing figure based on what is achievable without impacting on this most important factor is inconceivable. The borough is constrained but the council is actively choosing to destroy an area that is has itself had categorised in its own Green Belt study as “High Impact”. To use a revised and more realistic Housing Needs projection based on 2016 figures would seem to be an sensible rationale for not actively choosing to needlessly destroy protected countryside. You will be aware that The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has recently consulted on whether the latest ONS figures should be used to revise the Housing Needs calculation. Although this remains a contentious area as latest data does not support a Government policy to deliver a seemingly arbitrary 300,000 houses per annum, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council needs to make an assessment of what its actual housing need is and plan towards this. To not do that goes against the fundamental reason that local government exists.

“Exceptional Circumstances” - TWBC clearly believes that “exceptional circumstances” (as defined by the NPPF 2019) exist which gives this draft plan the license to alter the Green Belt boundaries in Policy STR/CA1. Assuming that these circumstances do exist (but they don’t), these same circumstances give the local planning authority the ability to undertake a Housing Needs calculation not using the Standard Methodology. The Housing and Economic Needs Assessment guidance from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government states. “There is an expectation that the standard method will be used and that any other method will be used only in exceptional circumstances”. Once TWBC had concluded that they had reached the threshold to consider sacrificing the Green Belt, they should then have referred back to this guidance and looked at an alternative method to calculate the local Housing Need – for example by using the latest data from the ONS which reduces the estimated housing need by 32%. By the very nature of circumstances being deemed “exceptional”, TWBC simply cannot apply this designation to one area of planning and not another.

DLP_1632

Maggie Fenton

Green Belt Assessment

  1. Assessment of PW1 (Paddock Wood)

“The eastern boundary abuts THE settlement edge”. Contribution to GB purposes 2. Prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another “The gap between Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood represents a faily small proportion of the overall gap between towns, but coalescence or near coalesence of these separate settlements would have a disproportionate impact due to the open and flat nature of the landscape, more likely to be perceived as sprawl. Development within the parcel would therefore result in some narrowing of the gap between gaps but a significant gap would remain” Relatively weak 

Given that the whole of this site is in another parish (Capel) the assessment is entirely inaccurate. The Western boundary (Tudeley Brook) is not mentioned and yet is the most important boundary in terms of two settlements coalescing as the authors recognize in their text but they have assessed assuming this area is part of Paddock Wood, “THE settlement”.

This is the only part of the so called “Paddock Wood” garden village development which falls in Capel, to have been assessed. BA3 (west from Tudeley Brook to include properties in Five Oak Green) & BA4 (northwards to also include properties also in Five Oak Green) are not assessed BUT with both of those areas now in the DLP as the assessment states “would have a disproportionate impact’ as the “significant gap” would no longer exist.

Contribution to GB purposes 3. Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment. “The parcel relates to both the settlement & the wider countryside” Moderate value 

Again the assessment is talking about the wrong settlement, this parcel of land is Five Oak Green within Capel and is not part of Paddock Wood.

Neither CA1 nor CA2 are included in the Green belt assessment – why not?

However the previous study in 2017 indicates that the release of the MGB for development in the area of CA1 as proposed by TWBC would be sheer vandalism. TWBC can not argue a lack of land for housing supply as justification to release any of this greenbelt – it is not sufficient in isolation to establish VSC. The evidence in 2017 was that this GB was very much fulfilling its function.

Tunbridge Wells Green Belt Study (2017) – Stage 2

Tudeley area falls within Broad Area BA3 and partly BA4. These ‘Broad Areas’, like all of the others identified across the Borough is categorised as being of ‘very high’ harm caused by release.

There are no ‘green belt parcels’ identified for release in the Tudeley or Capel area.

Broad Area BA3 is considered to provide ‘contribution to gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood; extent of openness; distinction between Low and High Weald landscapes’.

Broad Area BA4 is considered to provide ‘contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and a gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood’.

The document seeks to measure these Broad Areas against the purposes of the Green Belt which include:

  • Purpose 1: Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas; 
  • Purpose 2: Prevent neighbouring towns from merging; Tunbridge Wells Green Belt Study Stage Two 11 July 2017 
  • Purpose 3: Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment; 
  • Purpose 4: Preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and 
  • Purpose 5: Assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land. [NB – this purpose does not form a formal part of the assessment]. 

The results of the assessment are summarised in Table 6.1. Broad Area BA3 is assessed as contributing strongly to three out of four of the purposes identified above. The exception to this is Purpose 4 which is categorised as weak/no contribution but the overall contribution to the Green Belt is assessed to be ‘VERY HIGH’. BA4 contributes strongly to purpose 2 and 3 but relatively weak to purpose 1 and 4. Overall its contribution remains ‘VERY HIGH’.  

- There appears to be a total disregard for the Green Belt allocation that covers the Capel area and the Borough’s own study that was commissioned to identify the contribution of different areas to the purposes of the Green Belt

- the allocation to the East of Five Oak Green actually connects the village of Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood, and subsumes dwellings that are in Five Oak Green  (failing the first 3 criteria)

DLP_8150

Ashley Saunders

The Green Belt Study consists of a Stage 1 Green Belt Study, completed November 2016 (48 pages), a Stage 2 Green Belt Study, completed in July 2017 (38 pages) and four separate documents within Appendix A containing Broad Area and Parcel Assessments (127 pages).

Tunbridge Wells Green Belt Study Stage Two (2017)

The Executive Summary outlines that each ‘assessment’ of a broad area of parcel of land considers the parcel boundaries and gives a rating for the broad area / parcel of land for each ‘Purpose’ of the Green Belt as identified by Paragraph 80 of the NPPF. These are:

  • Purpose 1: Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • Purpose 2: Prevent neighbouring towns from merging;
  • Purpose 3: Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • Purpose 4: Preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • Purpose 5: Assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land. [NB – this purpose does not form a formal part of the assessment].

Although not assessed by itself in the appendices, the site at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) falls within Broad Areas BA3 and BA4. Figure 1.1 (p.8) illustrates that the ‘Potential Level of Harm to the Green Belt Associated with Release of Broad Areas BA3 and BA4 is ‘VERY HIGH’.

Table 4.1 (p.17) identifies key considerations for each broad area:

Broad Area BA3 is considered to provide “contribution to gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood; extent of openness; distinction between Low and High Weald landscapes”

Broad Area BA4 is considered to provide “contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and a gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood

Table 6.1 (p.28) lists the ratings assigned to each parcel and each broad area for each of the Green Belt purposes set out in the NPPF.

BA3 is assessed as contributing strongly to three out of four of the purposes identified. The exception to this is Purpose 4 which is categorised as weak/no contribution but the overall contribution to the Green Belt is assessed to be ‘VERY HIGH’

BA4 contributes strongly to purpose 2 and 3 but relatively weak to purpose 1 and 4. Overall its contribution remains ‘VERY HIGH’. 

There appears to be a total disregard for the Green Belt allocation that covers the Capel area and the Borough’s own study that was commissioned to identify the contribution of different areas to the purposes of the Green Belt

Assessment of Paddock Wood Parcel PW 1 (Appendix A – second document from p.25)

The outcome of the assessment as to this parcel’s contribution to Green Belt purposes states under Purpose 2 is that “The gap between Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood represents a fairly small proportion of the overall gap between towns, but coalescence or near-coalescence of these separate settlements would have a disproportionate impact due to the open and flat nature of the landscape, being more likely to be perceived as sprawl. Development within the parcel would therefore result in some narrowing of the gap between towns but a significant gap would remain.” The rating given is ‘Relatively weak’

Given that the whole of this site is in another parish (Capel) the assessment is entirely inaccurate. The Western boundary (Tudeley Brook) is not mentioned and yet is the most important boundary in terms of two settlements coalescing as the authors recognize in their text but they have assessed assuming this area is part of Paddock Wood, “THE settlement”.

This is the only part of the so called “Paddock Wood” parcel, which actually falls within Capel Parish, to have been assessed. Broad areas BA3 (west from Tudeley Brook to include properties in Five Oak Green) and BA4 (northwards to include properties also in Five Oak Green) are not assessed BUT with both of those areas now in the DLP as the assessment states “would have a disproportionate impact’ as the “significant gap” would no longer exist.

The outcome of the assessment as to this parcel’s contribution to Green Belt purposes states under Purpose 3 is that “The parcel relates to both the settlement & the wider countryside”. The Rating given is ‘Moderate value’

Again the assessment is talking about the wrong settlement, this parcel of land is Five Oak Green within Capel Parish and is not part of Paddock Wood.

Assessment of Tudeley Parcel CA 1 / Land to East of Tonbridge / West of Tudeley Village Parcel CA 2

Neither CA1 nor CA2 are included in the Green Belt Assessment Appendices – why were they not assessed?

I considers that the findings of the Green Belt Study indicate that the release of the MGB for development in the area of CA1 as proposed by TWBC would be sheer vandalism. TWBC cannot argue a lack of land for housing supply as justification to release any of this Green Belt land – it is not sufficient in isolation to establish Very Special Conditions. The evidence in 2017 was that this area of Green Belt was very much fulfilling its function

DLP_3729

Capel Parish Council

The Green Belt Study consists of a Stage 1 Green Belt Study, completed November 2016 (48 pages), a Stage 2 Green Belt Study, completed in July 2017 (38 pages) and four separate documents within Appendix A containing Broad Area and Parcel Assessments (127 pages).

Tunbridge Wells Green Belt Study Stage Two (2017)

The Executive Summary outlines that each ‘assessment’ of a broad area of parcel of land considers the parcel boundaries and gives a rating for the broad area / parcel of land for each ‘Purpose’ of the Green Belt as identified by Paragraph 80 of the NPPF. These are:

  • Purpose 1: Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
  • Purpose 2: Prevent neighbouring towns from merging;
  • Purpose 3: Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
  • Purpose 4: Preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
  • Purpose 5: Assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land. [NB – this purpose does not form a formal part of the assessment].

Although not assessed by itself in the appendices, the site at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) falls within Broad Areas BA3 and BA4. Figure 1.1 (p.8) illustrates that the ‘Potential Level of Harm to the Green Belt Associated with Release of Broad Areas BA3 and BA4 is ‘VERY HIGH’.

Table 4.1 (p.17) identifies key considerations for each broad area:

Broad Area BA3 is considered to provide “contribution to gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood; extent of openness; distinction between Low and High Weald landscapes”

Broad Area BA4 is considered to provide “contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and a gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood

Table 6.1 (p.28) lists the ratings assigned to each parcel and each broad area for each of the Green Belt purposes set out in the NPPF.

BA3 is assessed as contributing strongly to three out of four of the purposes identified. The exception to this is Purpose 4 which is categorised as weak/no contribution but the overall contribution to the Green Belt is assessed to be ‘VERY HIGH’

BA4 contributes strongly to purpose 2 and 3 but relatively weak to purpose 1 and 4. Overall its contribution remains ‘VERY HIGH’. 

There appears to be a total disregard for the Green Belt allocation that covers the Capel area and the Borough’s own study that was commissioned to identify the contribution of different areas to the purposes of the Green Belt

Assessment of Paddock Wood Parcel PW 1 (Appendix A – second document from p.25)

The outcome of the assessment as to this parcel’s contribution to Green Belt purposes states under Purpose 2 is that “The gap between Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood represents a fairly small proportion of the overall gap between towns, but coalescence or near-coalescence of these separate settlements would have a disproportionate impact due to the open and flat nature of the landscape, being more likely to be perceived as sprawl. Development within the parcel would therefore result in some narrowing of the gap between towns but a significant gap would remain.” The rating given is ‘Relatively weak’

Given that the whole of this site is in another parish (Capel) the assessment is entirely inaccurate. The Western boundary (Tudeley Brook) is not mentioned and yet is the most important boundary in terms of two settlements coalescing as the authors recognize in their text but they have assessed assuming this area is part of Paddock Wood, “THE settlement”.

This is the only part of the so called “Paddock Wood” parcel, which actually falls within Capel Parish, to have been assessed. Broad areas BA3 (west from Tudeley Brook to include properties in Five Oak Green) and BA4 (northwards to include properties also in Five Oak Green) are not assessed BUT with both of those areas now in the DLP as the assessment states “would have a disproportionate impact’ as the “significant gap” would no longer exist.

The outcome of the assessment as to this parcel’s contribution to Green Belt purposes states under Purpose 3 is that “The parcel relates to both the settlement & the wider countryside”. The Rating given is ‘Moderate value’

Again the assessment is talking about the wrong settlement, this parcel of land is Five Oak Green within Capel Parish and is not part of Paddock Wood.

Assessment of Tudeley Parcel CA 1 / Land to East of Tonbridge / West of Tudeley Village Parcel CA 2

Neither CA1 nor CA2 are included in the Green Belt Assessment Appendices – why were they not assessed?

Capel Parish Council considers that the findings of the Green Belt Study indicate that the release of the MGB for development in the area of CA1 as proposed by TWBC would be sheer vandalism. TWBC cannot argue a lack of land for housing supply as justification to release any of this Green Belt land – it is not sufficient in isolation to establish Very Special Conditions. The evidence in 2017 was that this area of Green Belt was very much fulfilling its function

DLP_4321

Town and Country Planning Solutions for Gleeson Strategic Land

  1. These   representations are prepared and submitted on behalf of Gleeson Strategic   Land (Gleeson) in relation to the Council’s ‘Tunbridge Wells Green Belt   Study’ Final Report dated July 2017 that has been prepared to inform the   Development Strategy currently set out in draft Policy STR1 (Development   Strategy) of the consultation version of the Local Plan published on 20th September 2019. Gleeson considers this study to be seriously flawed in   failing to properly assess the housing potential of Green Belt land release   adjoining Royal Tunbridge Wells (RTW) at Sandown Park, to the north of   Pembury Road.
  2. In   response to the Council’s Study, Gleeson has commissioned its own Green Belt   Assessment (dated February 2019) and this was previously submitted to the   Council for its consideration on 10th May 2019. This has been resubmitted   again as part of this current representation (see Appendix 1 attached). This   Assessment relates to the part of the Council’s Green Belt study associated   with assessing potential harm if the land parcel ‘TW5’ (which extends between   the Tunbridge Wells built up area boundary to the west and the A21 Pembury   by-pass to the east) were to be removed from the Green Belt judged against   the five purposes of such Green Belt designation as set out in paragraph 134   of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) February 2019.
  3. The   Gleeson proposal does not seek the release of the whole of the land parcel   ‘TW5’ from the Green Belt. As shown on the illustrative Master Plan drawing   reproduced in Appendix 2 attached, the Gleeson proposal seeks the release   of approximately 3 hectares of land from the Green Belt to provide circa   70 – 80 dwellings on land immediately adjacent to the existing built up   confines of Tunbridge Wells, thereby ‘rounding off’ existing development   within this part of town. The adjoining 3.3 hectares of land immediately to   the east of the proposed housing site would however, be retained within the   Green Belt. The landscaped character of this ‘retained land’ would be   enhanced by new structural planting and its proposed future maintenance as an   area of publically accessible informal open recreational space, would   strengthen the current contribution it makes to its Green Belt function.
  4. The   Green Belt Assessment undertaken by consultants ‘The Environmental Dimension   Partnership Ltd. (EDP) looks instead at how the Gleeson proposal performs   when tested against the NPPF Green Belt functions. Based upon this   assessment, the land proposed for housing use by Gleeson provides a ‘low   contribution to the Green Belt purposes’ for the reasons set out in the EDP   report. The EDP report concludes that the limited properties of the Green   Belt land that the Gleeson site represents together with the distinct relationship between the site and Tunbridge Wells; limited inter-visibility   between the site and Pembury to the east and the comparatively effective   defensible edge that the site would provide, would combine to ensure that the   removal of this land from the Green Belt would not cause unacceptable harm to   the wider Green Belt function.
  5. Royal   Tunbridge Wells is by far the largest and most sustainable settlement in the   Borough with a wide range of employment opportunities, shops, services   and  community facilities including   public transport. The former South East Plan (May 2009) recognised the   importance of RTW as a ‘Region Hub’ and recommended a review of Green Belt   land around the Town in order to help meet future development needs. While,   in the Consultation Draft of the new Local Plan the Council has considered   Green Belt land release acceptable for housing use to the south west of RTW   (Policy RTW18) and at nearby Pembury (Policies PE1 – PE3), the main focus of   the proposed development strategy is for major Green Belt housing land   release to form a new ‘garden village’ at Tudeley within a rural location,   and to provide a major urban extension at Paddock Wood where, under the   Council’s own assessment, the impact of Green Belt loss in both locations   would be ‘high’.
  6. For   the reasons set out in the EDP Assessment (Appendix 1 attached), Gleeson is   urging the Council to review its Green Belt study to properly assess the   housing potential of the Gleeson land in order to fairly, reasonably and   objectively assess this potential against other proposed Green Belt housing   land release elsewhere in the Borough beyond RTW.

List of Appendices

1. Land at Sandown Park, north of Pembury Road, Tunbridge Wells; Green
Belt Assessment
by The Environmental Dimension Partnership Ltd. (May 2019).

2. Illustrative Masterplan drawing no. 1232/02.

DLP_4643

CBRE Ltd for Dandara Ltd

3.7 Dandara also welcomes TWBC’s approach to releasing appropriate land from the Green Belt, where there are exceptional circumstances to justify release of the above-mentioned sites for reasons which include the delivery of new housing in sustainable locations, providing new educational facilities, facilitating wider economic growth through a plan-led approach, and increasing public accessibility to it, as well as ensuring development protects the openness of remaining Green Belt land.

3.8 A summary of the exceptional circumstances as set out in TWBC’s Distribution of Development Topic Paper for Draft Local Plan Regulation 18 Consultation (September 2019) for each of the sites Dandara holds a specific land interest in are set out below:

  • Paddock Wood: to provide strategic development opportunities; delivery of housing in a sustainable location, infrastructure led improvements and flooding improvement associated with flood risk mitigation measures.
  • Spratsbrook Farm: strategic release to deliver secondary school facilities and residential in a sustainable location.

3.9 Dandara considers that the above reasons are in accordance with paragraphs 135 and 136 of the NPPF insofar as these sites demonstrate exceptional circumstances – and therefore sound reasoning – exist to justify the amendments to Green Belt boundaries and release of Green Belt land for housing and new educational facilities.

3.10 Dandara also considers TWBC’s Green Belt Study (Stages 1 and 2) to be a thorough and robust report. The methodology and coverage of the Study are also considered to be sound.

[TWBC: see page 7 of full representation].

DLP_4797

DHA Planning Ltd for Caenwood Estates and Dandara

4 Comments on technical documents

Comments on Green Belt Study

4.1.12 The north-eastern part of the site is identified as parcel SO1a in the GB study. It is classified as causing moderate harm if released from the Green Belt.

4.1.13 The GB study identifies the majority of the site as parcel SO1b and inconsistently states that it would cause a very high level of harm if the parcel was released. The study’s findings in relation to the various Green Belt purposes are summarised and commented upon below.

1. Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas

4.1.14 The study comments that:

“The parcel is adjacent to the large built-up area but has some separation from it and relates strongly to the wider countryside – development would represent significant expansion of the large built-up area into countryside.

4.1.15 In response, we consider that the parcel adjoins the current defined settlement confines and rural fringe on its north and eastern side. It is a logical extension rather than piecemeal and out of keeping release in the countryside.

2. Prevent neighbouring towns merging into one another

4.1.16 The study comments that:

“Development of this parcel would result in physical or visual coalescence of settlements which form a significant proportion of the land between towns.”

4.1.17 In response, we comment that in this case, Southborough and TW are already joined by linear development along St Johns Road. Development on this parcel would form a logical extension to the west and would not contribute to the coalescence of Southborough and TW any more than currently exists.

3. Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment

4.1.18 The study comments that:

“The parcel relates strongly to the wider countryside, has a sense of separation from the settlement and lacks urbanising development – development would represent encroachment into the countryside.”

4.1.19 In response, we comment that the site adjoins existing built development. The 2009 assessment was clear that the landscape quality of the site had degraded, it is not AONB and it is clear the site is a logical extension to existing development.

4. To preserve the special character of historic towns

4.1.20 The study comments that:

“The parcel’s openness contributes to the relationship between the settlement and characteristics identified as contributing to special character or historic setting.”

4.1.21 In response, we comment that the historic core of Tunbridge Wells is centred on the High Street and Pantiles area. The existing built up area in this part of Tunbridge Wells and Southborough does not have any special historic character and development of this site would have no effect on this.

[TWBC: see full representation].

DLP_6779

DHA Planning Ltd for Axiom Developments

3.5 Comments on Green Belt Study

3.5.1 Proposed allocation site AL/RTW 13 falls within parcel TW4 as considered in the Council’s Green Belt Study. This is the same parcel as the neighbouring allocation AL/RTW 12 which, unlike Colebrooke House, is proposed to be removed from the Green Belt.

Contribution to Green Belt purposes

3.5.2 In terms of the parcel’s contribution to Green Belt purposes, we note that:

* The parcel makes a weak/no contribution to the purpose of preventing neighbouring towns merging into another. We agree that this site makes no contribution to this purpose.

* The parcel makes a relatively weak contribution to preserving the special character of historic towns. We disagree with this conclusion, and consider that the site makes no contribution to this Green Belt purpose. Indeed the text of the Green Belt study itself notes that “the industrial edge of Tunbridge Wells lacks relationship with the historic town centre”.

* The parcel makes a relatively weak contribution to the purposes of assisting in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment. We agree with this assessment.

* The parcel makes a moderate contribution to the purpose of checking the unrestricted sprawl of large built up areas. We do not disagree with this assessment in terms of the parcel as a whole but note that this would apply equally to most areas of predominantly greenfield land. In relation to site RTW 13 specifically, which is partly previously developed land, we would argue that it makes only a relatively weak contribution to this purpose. The newly dualled A21 is the real physical boundary, as discussed further below.

Green Belt boundary strength

3.5.3 We agree with the conclusion that “the A21 would constitute a stronger boundary to the east”. It is noted that the proposed Green Belt boundary ignores this recommendation and instead proposes to place the Green Belt boundary between draft allocation sites AL/RTW 12 and AL/RTW 13, as shown in Figure 3.4.

[TWBC: for Figure 3.4 see full representation attached].

3.5.4 The proposed Green Belt boundary does not follow any obvious features, but is tight to the boundary of the proposed allocation site AL/RTW 12.

3.5.5 We consider that the Green Belt boundary should be amended to include proposed allocation AL/RTW 13 up to the A21, which is a much stronger and more defensible boundary. At the very least, the boundary should be consistent with the proposed Limits to Built Development as shown on the draft Proposals Map.

3.5.6 That said, we consider that both the Green Belt and Limits to Built Development boundaries should be altered to include:

* The vehicular access to Colebrooke House; and

* The residential properties immediately adjacent to Colebrooke House, between the site and the A21. Not only would this form a more natural and defensible boundary, bearing in mind both additional properties also comprise previously developed land, but also this would allow future flexibility.

3.5.7 Our proposed boundary is shown in Figure 3.5 below.

[TWBC: for Figure 3.5 see full representation attached].

[TWBC: see also Comment Nos. DLP_6777-6779 and full representation and supporting documents: Design Overview , Ecology Report, Heritage Report and Landscape & Visual Appraisal . See also Comment No. SA_118 on the Sustainability Appraisal].

Green Infrastructure Framework

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_3858

Government Team
Natural England

In addition to a stand-alone policy for green infrastructure (GI), we welcome the production of a supporting GI Framework. The collation of information within the Framework presents a positive and pro-active approach to informing the Council’s strategic GI approach, with reference to neighbouring authorities’ GI strategies. We are pleased to note the consideration of urban GI (in addition to rural) and the discussion of how GI can contribute to managing climate change challenges (reflected also in policy wording at EN 5 and EN 16).

Appendix 1 includes our recommendation that the relevant plan policy (EN 16) provides a clear link to the GI Framework to provide a ‘hook’ to the Framework, and to highlight the aims and recommendations of the document. Similarly, a link to the SPD (acknowledging the likelihood of future revisions) would be helpful to provide clear guidance to developers on the means of GI delivery.

Section 3 of the Framework lists a number of features which are considered ‘GI Assets’. Whilst a number of these would be considered to contribute towards GI, not all of them are considered to be GI assets in their own right. For example, it is not considered that cycleways, public rights of way, outdoor sports facilities or provision for children and teenagers, are considered to reliably contribute to GI and are therefore not considered to be GI assets themselves. However, they certainly provide valuable opportunities for GI provision. It may therefore be better to avoid the assumption that all of the mentioned assets will contribute to GI, and instead clarify that, when designed with GI in mind, these features can provide an important contribution to GI provision.

Section 61 of the Framework concerns net gain and ‘offsetting’. Detailed advice on net gain is provided in Appendix 1, however it needs to be made absolutely clear throughout the local plan and in supporting documents that net gain can only be achieved where provision is measurably greater than any losses. It is therefore recommended that any reference to ‘providing biodiversity gains equal to […] losses’ is removed. Approaches (including policy wording) for biodiversity provision are only acceptable where measurable net gains are provided, and this applies to on site and off site delivery. Off-site provision should be justified and provided in accordance with current guidance documents, including local policy and emerging national policy.

Regarding implementation (Section 5), we welcome the inclusion of provisions for both existing and new GI within the plan. To secure the longevity of GI provision, we recommend that policy and supporting documentation requires suitable long term management and maintenance of GI features, which is properly and securely funded for the lifetime of the development. Suitable funding mechanisms should be secured by planning conditions and or/legal agreement, which may include (but should not be limited to) income from ground rent (as indicated in section 67).

DLP_7363

Wealden District Council

The Green Infrastructure Framework Supporting Document acknowledges that GI often extends beyond political/administrative boundaries. WDC welcomes this acknowledgement and the reference to the GI evidence base/work being undertaken in Wealden District and the potential for this to be furthered with cross boundary working.

It is noted that Appendix M of the document illustrates the GI priorities for TWBC as well as those of adjoining LPAs including Wealden District Council and that Appendix N presents the potential GI Network for Wealden District (as set out in the 2017 GI Study). The supporting document gives a clear illustration of where interactions and cross boundary working could be pursued in the future. In this regard, paragraph 53 states that adjoining LPAs GI studies/work have been reviewed, that cross boundary GI links have been identified and taken into account as part of the proposed GI mapping in Tunbridge Wells and that they should be supported through relevant GI proposals. This approach is supported by WDC.

WDC would welcome the opportunity to work collaboratively with TWBC on any potential GI projects/actions that may have cross boundary impacts, particularly but not necessarily limited to, the areas identified at para 53 and in Appendix M of the Green Infrastructure Framework Supporting Document.

WDC supports the inclusion of and clear references to biodiversity improvements in the GI Framework such as biodiversity offsetting and biodiversity net gain, which can be achieved by and help support GI improvements through projects and actions. The approach of seeking biodiversity gains away from a development site (where it is not possible or necessarily desirable to achieve them on site) will require careful consideration and potentially cross boundary working with WDC as relevant to sites adjacent to or in close proximity to the administrative boundary.

In addition, the GI Framework states at para 66 that “…the proposal for biodiversity offsetting may lead to landscape scale change and new elements of strategic GI, either as a standalone provision within the Borough or as part of a wider cross boundary project.” WDC would welcome the opportunity to work with TWBC as relevant on such a project(s).

Habitat Regulations Assessment

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_7362

Wealden District Council

Wealden District Council submitted its HRA and subsequent documentation and evidence in January 2019 to support its Submission Wealden Local Plan and subsequently submitted further information in response to the Inspectors Matters. Stage 1 of the EiP for the Submission Wealden Local Plan took place in May and July 2019. Several days were dedicated solely to HRA matters, mainly in relation to the impact of air quality on European sites. The Council is now waiting to receive the Inspector’s letter in relation to the outcome of its stage one EiP.

The Council has reviewed the Regulation 18 HRA that accompanies the Local Plan consultation. The Council notes that the direction of the HRA and certain considerations, which are key to the conclusion made of ‘no adverse impact’ as a result of air pollution on Ashdown Forest, diverge from the approach taken and the overall conclusion made in respect to the HRA Submission Wealden Local Plan.

Wealden District Council is mindful that in due course it will receive the Inspector’s letter. On this basis, the Council wish to reserve the right to further comment on the HRA, when it has had the opportunity to consider the Inspectors letter in detail. In the meantime, please see the Wealden Local Plan HRA and supporting documentation and evidence. You may also wish to consider information submitted in respects to a recent Planning Inquiry relating to Mornings Mill, Polegate. This can be accessed here: https://planning.wealden.gov.uk/plandisp.aspx?recno=139469

DLP_3856

Government Team
Natural England

Impact Pathway: Atmospheric Pollution

Natural England concurs with the conclusions drawn in the HRA which state that “there will be no adverse effects upon the integrity of Ashdown Forest SPA / SAC as a result of increased atmospheric pollution resulting from the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan”.

Impact Pathway: Recreational Disturbance

Natural England disagrees that the standalone approach of SAMMs contributions as mitigation for recreational pressure is consistent with other local authorities’ agreed approaches. As such we do not agree it can currently be concluded that there will be no adverse effects upon the integrity of Ashdown Forest SPA / SAC as a result of increased recreational pressure resulting from the Borough of Tunbridge Wells Local Plan.

Natural England advises that for consistency with other local authorities, the strategic approach as detailed below is adopted to avoid an adverse effect on the integrity of Ashdown Forest SPA and SAC.. This approach has already been agreed between Natural England and local authorities within the area, including Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Ashdown Forest SAC/SPA agreed strategic approach:

In order to prevent adverse effects on the Ashdown Forest SPA and SAC, new development likely to have a significant effect, either alone or in combination with other development, will be required to demonstrate that adequate measures are put in place to avoid or mitigate any potential adverse effects.

Within a 400 metres buffer zone around Ashdown Forest, mitigation measures are unlikely to be capable of protecting the integrity of the SPA and, therefore, residential development will not be permitted.

Within a 7km zone of influence around the Ashdown Forest SPA, residential development leading to a net increase in dwellings will be required to contribute to mitigation through:

  1. The provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG) to the minimum level of 8Ha per 1,000 net increase in population; or a financial contribution to SANGs elsewhere; or the provision of bespoke mitigation; and
  2. A financial contribution to the Ashdown Forest Strategic Access Management and Monitoring (SAMM) Strategy.

Large schemes proposed adjacent or close to the boundary of the 7km zone of influence may require mitigation for the SPA. Such proposals for development will be dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

Where bespoke mitigation is provided, these measures will need to be in place before occupation of development and must be managed and maintained in perpetuity. The effectiveness of such mitigation will need to be demonstrated prior to approval of the development. Bespoke mitigation will need to be discussed and agreed by the District Council as the competent authority following advice from Natural England.

Natural England advise that implementation of the above strategic solution, including SANG and SAMM contributions, is required to avoid an adverse effect on the integrity of Ashdown Forest SPA and SAC. The details of the above strategy should be reflected in Policy EN 13: Ashdown Forest Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation.

Housing Needs Assessment

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_8314

Andrew Richards

INTRODUCTION

I am not a resident of Tunbridge Wells Borough, but I live near to the Borough boundary just outside Tonbridge.

I visit the Borough regularly and enjoy the benefits of its countryside, notably the Green Belt and the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which need to be preserved in line with National Planning Policy.  I also drive around Tonbridge regularly and am shocked at the impact the proposals in your draft Local Plan (LP) would have on Tonbridge and its environs.

The LP is vast and complex and has clearly consumed a significant amount of effort; I congratulate the officers for their diligence in seeking to balance the various competing demands of policy, legislation and local constraints. As a private individual I do not have similar resources or expertise; I have therefore confined my comments to a small number of topics.  This is not to say I endorse the remainder of the LP and its associated material; I am aware of some of the concerns raised by others and support many of them.

Notwithstanding the level of effort that has gone into the LP, I’m afraid my overall assessment is that the Borough has fallen short of the diligence needed.  Sadly, it seems to have taken the easy way out of its obligations in a number of areas.  It has:

  • Failed to challenge the standard method for determining the housing need;
  • Failed to widen its search for housing sites beyond those yielded in the voluntary Call for Sites;
  • Analysed poorly those comments raised against the Issues and Options paper;
  • Failed in its Duty to Co-operate with Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC);
  • Been selective in its application of the ‘exceptional’ burden of proof;
  • Opted for the easy route of selecting sites for large scale development owned by a single or small number of landowners;
  • Failed to take account of commuting habits and the pressures resulting from its proposals on rail services, notably but not exclusively in Tonbridge;
  • Failed in its duty of care to students by proposing the establishment of a new school spanning a busy railway line;
  • Failed to provide housing suitable for an increasingly aging population

I conclude that the Borough has failed to meet the required standard for a Regulation 18 consultation and should repeat the exercise, having first addressed some of the fundamental concerns raised.  I believe this plan requires too substantial a series of amendments to proceed directly to a Regulation 19 consultation.

My comments are in relation to a number of documents identified below.

housing needs assessment aug 2019

  1. object to the approach used in the LP to determine the Borough’s housing needs. This is reliant on an over-zealous application of the standard method set out in the NPPF and fails to apply the relaxations available through policy.
  2. Planning policy requires:
    1. “strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses . . . unless:
      • the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area; or
      • any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole” (NPPF 11b)
    2. “The preparation and review of all policies should be underpinned by relevant and up-to-date evidence . . . and take into account relevant market signals” (NPPF 31)
    3. strategic policies should be informed by a local housing need assessment, conducted using the standard method in national planning guidance – unless exceptional circumstances justify an alternative approach which also reflects current and future demographic trends and market signals” (NPPF 60)
    4. “Is the use of the standard method for strategic policy making purposes mandatory?

No, if it is felt that circumstances warrant an alternative approach but authorities can expect this to be scrutinised more closely at examination. There is an expectation that the standard method will be used and that any other method will be used only in exceptional circumstances” (PPG 2a-003-20190220)

  1. Whereas:
    1. The threshold of an “exceptional” need has already been applied in the LP to the destruction of Green Belt land, and therefore presumably should be applied to the planning policy associated with determining housing need. It therefore follows that exceptional circumstances do indeed apply and that alternatives to the Standard Method are allowable.  To do otherwise would be inconsistent.
    2. Para 23 demonstrates that the housing need is not deliverable, identifying that the new capped Standard Method figure of 678 dwellings per year represents “a 46% increase in actual construction” – by any measure, this is not deliverable and is therefore planning to fail – it is therefore unsound.
    3. On this basis, the LP should have examined the latest demographic data to determine if any adjustments to the Standard Method were appropriate. This would have identified that:
  • Population growth is slowing: “The UK population growth rate is slower than in the 2014-based projections; the projected population is 0.6 million less in mid-2026 and 2.0 million less in mid-2041” (Office of national Statistics (ONS), Source – Subnational population projections for England: 2016-based[1]. This showed a 10 year population growth for Tunbridge Wells Borough of 3758 over the period 2016-2026 – see below:

[[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationprojections/bulletins/subnationalpopulationprojectionsforengland/2016based]

  • Household growth is also slowing, having reduced from 210,000 per year for England in 2014 to 159,000 per year in 2016. The ONS identifies an increase in households for TWBC over the period 2016 – 2041 of 8085 (16.6%).  = 323/yr vs the 484 from the standard method (Source – ONS Household projections in England: 2016-based)[1]

[[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationprojections/bulletins/2016basedhouseholdprojectionsinengland/2016basedhouseholdprojectionsinengland]

  • And updated projections based on 2018 data shows a further slowdown in population growth “The UK population growth rate is slower than in the 2016-based projections; the projected population is 0.4 million less in mid 2028 and 0.9 million less in mid 2043” (Source – ONS National population projections: 2018-based)[1]

[[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationprojections/bulletins/nationalpopulationprojections/2018based]

  • Overall, the 2016-based data suggests that TWBC will need   around 4.5% less housing than projected using the 2014 figures.

4. On this basis, TWBC have failed to underpin their analysis using “relevant and up-to-date evidence”, and the LP is therefore unsound.

Housing provision for elderly

5. I am not convinced the needs of an increasingly elderly population have been taken into account in terms of the type of housing needed. Specifically:

  1. The joint Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells Strategic Housing Market Assessment (Sep 2015) (Table 14) identifies a projected 37% increase in the size of the 60-74 age group and an 83% increase in the size of the over 75 age group (both for the TWBC area). By 2033, those over 60 will account for just over 30% of the population (joint area)
  2. Recent research by KCC (Strategic Commissioning Statistical Bulletin Jul 2019 - http://www.kent.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0018/14724/Mid-year-population-estimates-total-population-of-Kent-bulletin.pdf) identifies a significant increase in the proportion of females in the 80+ age group. Noting that many females will have been affected by the recent pension age increase, there is therefore likely to be a greater need to provide social housing for elderly females.

6. In conclusion, more consideration should be given to developing appropriate housing – typically bungalows - to accommodate the over 60s in more rural locations, as retired persons often contribute to volunteer work within a community and make a very valuable contribution. Building large greenfield settlements is the wrong answer to this problem.

Conclusion

39. In conclusion, to reiterate the point made in opening, I conclude that the Borough has failed to meet the required standard for a Regulation 18 consultation. It should therefore repeat the exercise, having first addressed some of the fundamental concerns raised.

40. I believe this plan requires too substantial a series of amendments to proceed directly to a Regulation 19 consultation.

[TWBC: See full representation]

DLP_2791

Mrs Karen Langston

I firmly believe that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council should adopt an alternative approach to assessing housing need, rather than use the standard methodology as described by the NPPF. This is because the standard methodology uses out-of-date data and because there are exceptional circumstances that justify an alternative approach. As it stands, the policies in the draft Local Plan hinge entirely on an untested target that will result in the unnecessary development on and irreversible damage to the AONB; the unnecessary loss of Green Belt land, despite its characteristic “permanence” (NPPF paragraph 133); the irreversible loss of rural landscape and wildlife habitats; a supply of housing that is too expensive to meet local need; an unsustainable strain on infrastructure, services and amenities, particularly for smaller settlements that already have low sustainability, such as Matfield.

The untested and unchallenged housing target is given alarming prominence, influencing policy and strategy throughout the plan. This is despite the fact that the Housing Needs Assessment Topic Paper (August 2019) states that, “…the Government has indicated that it will be reviewing the methodology in the next eighteen months, but this has yet to be determined. This is because the current methodology relies on dated, 2014-based projections, instead of newer projections. The Government reasoning for continuing to use these, on an interim basis, is to provide stability and certainty to the planning system in the short-term, noting also that the standard method does not represent a mandatory target for local authorities to plan for, but the starting point for the planning process.”

The standard methodology is, therefore, not mandatory. The target that the Plan aims to achieve could be, and is most likely to be, far higher than the actual need. Meanwhile, it is not appropriate for the Council to adopt its ‘wait and see’ position, as it may have built its policy framework around a false target that will likely prove difficult to reduce once submitted for inspection. I argue that it is vital that the Plan is based upon the most realistic assessment of need, taking into account the constraints that characterise the Borough (such as 70% of the borough being within an AONB, significant affordability pressures and the falling trend in home ownership).

Such a revision could avoid the Plan’s current position that major development in the AONB and loss of Green Belt land is justified, necessary and unavoidable; a position I strongly object to.

DLP_4514

Town & Country Housing Group

Paragraph Number(s): 119 in particular but more generally the approach to providing social housing

With over 5,000 affordable homes in the Borough we believe we are well placed to respond to the proposals relating to affordable housing within the Local Plan.

We applaud the approach the Council is taking.  Although we would wish to see an even greater proportion of rented housing to intermediate housing we recognise the approach taken is both commercially sensible whilst addressing a fundamental problem within the Borough.

It is imperative that the rented tenure proposed remains as social rent.  The affordable rent model within Tunbridge Wells is broken and as the major local provider we can see the impact.  The affordable rent model is unaffordable to significant numbers of people within the waiting list. Producing more affordable rent homes using the current definition will not ease the demand.

Paragraph Number(s): 66

We would highlight that the Council should recognise that if they seek to provide affordable housing for older people that they focus on 2 key aspects.

  1. The provision of extra care is clearly needed in the Borough and TWBC should seek to utilise their strategic role on the larger sites to insist on the provision being made via the S106. This will cause concerns over viability but it is unlikely the RP sector will be able to provide the provision without a S106.
  2. If the Council are minded to support the provision of housing for more active older people then they should not support the construction of blocks of older persons flats. Older people want to stay in their own home so supplementing investment via DFG and supporting accessible housing via the Local Plan Policy would be a positive response.

DLP_4447

James Whitehorn

Housing Needs Study 2018

Housing Needs Assessment Topic Paper

Housing Supply and Trajectory Topic Paper

I have referred to these documents in my comments on the strategic policies above [TWBC: See comments 4443_4445-4446].

DLP_451

Tetlow King Planning for Rentplus UK Ltd

Please see attached out letter [TWBC: copied below] which requests an update to the SHMA and Housing Needs Study to reflect the NPPF definition of affordable housing including other affordable routes to home ownership. [TWBC: see extract of Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government letter dated 18 June 2019].

We represent Rentplus UK Ltd, an innovative company providing affordable rent to buy housing for hard-working people aspiring to home ownership. Rentplus provides an accessible route to achieve their dream through the rent - save - own model, renting at an affordable rent and a gifted 10% deposit upon purchase. Rentplus have been recognised by the National Housing Awards as the most innovative Home Ownership Scheme for 2019.

We previously responded to the Local Plan Issues and Options Consultation in June 2017. The Rentplus model of affordable rent to buy, aims to help those hard-working families unable to access ownership either through shared ownership, starter homes or homes on the open market to overcome the mortgage ‘gap’. This is achieved through a defined period of affordable rent, during which all Rentplus residents are able to save. Since our last comments, the National Planning Policy Framework has been revised as expected to incorporate a wider definition of affordable housing, now providing four categories; rent to buy is included within category d) Other affordable routes to home ownership.

Each scheme delivered by Rentplus offers a unique, affordable route to home ownership through affordable rented housing, set at the lower of 80% market rate (affordable rent) or LHA, including any service charge, with a planned route to ownership at years 5, 10, 15 or 20 after first occupation. The most important difference to other affordable tenures is that families are able to save for a mortgage deposit while renting the same home at an affordable - intermediate rent, with a 10% gifted deposit to assist with the purchase.

The new Housing Minister, Esther McVey highlighted the importance of Rent to Buy in her first speech to the RESI Convention (12th September 2019) 1. The speech is accessible via https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/resi-convention-2019 2 The report is accessible via www.affordablehousingcommission.org.

In talking about the Government’s drive to increase home ownership she stated that it includes “Rent to Buy, so people can rent knowing that they are going to buy, knowing that they’ve got a bit of breathing space, maybe it’s in 5 years, maybe it’s in 10 years, but they will get to own that property - so they can plan, knowing they have the certainty of getting a deposit and getting that house.” These supportive comments concisely summarise the Rentplus model described above which currently provides a home for 650 households across the UK.  Her comments not only reinforce the NPPF provision for additional affordable housing routes to home ownership, but also endorses directly the work of Rentplus.

A further recent development - The Affordable Housing Commission, chaired by one of the pre-eminent voices on affordable housing, Lord Best, published its interim report Defining and Measuring housing affordability – an alternative approach in June 20192. This was produced in response to the difficulties that the standard measure of affordability, comparing house prices to incomes, poses in recognising housing stress and affordability across the housing spectrum. The report proposes recalling the approach of measuring affordability by reference to rents or purchase costs exceeding one third of household income (for those in work) in order to better pose a pro-active and interventionist response to housing difficulties. This follows recent work which suggests that the probability of housing stress increases with housing costs exceeding a quarter of gross income on rent.

The Commission also highlights the findings of numerous surveys which state that the majority of tenants and adults living with parents aspire to own their own home; of the 5.5m ‘frustrated first time buyers’, 1.6m are in the private rented sector. This group is one of four the report identifies as having particular needs and housing stresses, and who can’t buy “mainly because of the time needed to save for large deposits”. These numbers represent an increase of 0.6 million renters since 2010, many of whom are paying over 40% of household income on rent. The report recognises the well-known problem that many households in the private rented sector are likely to have multiple affordability issues, exacerbated by insecurity of tenure and poor-quality living standards.

The report states that “good quality homes of the right size for the household is seen as a basic minimum”; while this is a generally accepted principle in the delivery of housing, and in particular of affordable housing across England, this can be difficult to achieve through the planning system which does not adequately reflect the variations in household needs. The decrease in the numbers of households able to access home ownership is in large part due to the time taken to save for a mortgage deposit without the help of the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’.

The Affordable Housing Commission notes that “those just able to buy are likely to have to save for an unrealistic period or unlikely ever to be able to raise an adequate deposit” – for the purposes of assessing the numbers of would-be purchasers, the Commission ‘cuts off’ the savings period at ‘just’ five years. The difficulty in saving for a deposit is one of the most critical barriers to home ownership, and the focal point for Rentplus – providing a clear route and time period for working households, including those with children, to save. Using the Commission’s proposed measure of affordability would better capture the needs of struggling first-time buyers, many of whom are otherwise likely to remain trapped in insecure private rented sector accommodation.

Policy H5 – Affordable Housing

Policy H5 relates to affordable housing. The supporting text reflects the affordable housing definition from the NPPF which includes Rent To Buy, this is welcomed. However, the draft Local Plan does not reference the NPPF requirement to provide at least 10% of affordable homes as ‘other affordable routes to home ownership’.

Policy H5 outlines the Council’s preferred tenure mix for affordable housing, with 60% provided as social rent and 40% as intermediate tenures. We would like to see Rent to Buy identified within the ‘other affordable routes to home ownership’ as identified in the definition of affordable housing in Annexe 2 of the NPPF. Despite the period of affordable rent, Rent to Buy is not an intermediate tenure and the term intermediate is no longer referenced in the NPPF. We recommend that the tenure mix breaks these percentages down further, with specific reference to a percentage allocated for ‘other affordable routed to home ownership, including Rent To Buy.

We recognise that the SHMA which forms part of the evidence base for this Local Plan was published prior to the adoption of the NPPF revision in 2018 when the affordable housing definition was widened. As such, we recommend that a SHMA update should be carried out, encompassing all tenures of affordable housing in accordance with the NPPF definition which would enable the Council to outline an appropriate affordable housing tenure mix including Rent to Buy. The SHMA update should follow the Lichfields Model (attached for information). The policy and supporting paragraphs should then be updated further.

We acknowledge that the draft Local Plan is also supported by a Housing Needs Study. The study outlines the Borough’s existing housing stock and identifies 63 Rent To Buy Properties. Despite this, the identified affordable housing need is still only split in terms of tenure into Social/Affordable rented and Intermediate. As with the above SHMA, this study should be updated to fully reflect the NPPF definition of affordable housing which includes Rent To Buy.

The Rentplus model offers the opportunity for the Council and RPs to diversify the local housing offer without further recourse to public subsidy. The affordable rented period provides local families with security of tenure, with certainty of management and maintenance by a local partner RP, and critically the opportunity to save towards purchase. As affordable rent to buy meets needs for affordable rent (the only difference being marked by the expectation by all parties of purchase), it comes with a significant benefit of freeing up existing affordable rented homes for others in priority need, as demonstrated by Rentplus schemes across England.

Rentplus undertakes rigorous affordability testing of potential purchasers to ensure that this is a realistic expectation and can be achieved within the set timeframes of five to 20 years. This means that substantial discounts at the point of purchase are not required, as it is the inability to save for a mortgage deposit or other financial issues that prevents a significant number of households from accessing ownership, and not the ability to service a mortgage over the long term.

Working with local authorities to meet local priorities is critical to the success of the Rentplus model of affordable rent to buy, as helping hard-working local families access ownership reduces the pressure on the housing waiting list, freeing up local authority and housing association time to focus on meeting priority needs for social and affordable rented homes.

Rentplus can assist in meeting local need, allocating all of its residents through the Housing Allocation Scheme; by enabling real savings to be built while renting at an affordable rent the Council can help meet the needs of low and middle income households, providing greater choice and flexibility in the planning system. The Council’s work to understand the potential delivery of affordable housing is supported.

Should officers wish to discuss how best to facilitate the Rentplus model, please do get in touch.

Strategic Housing Market Assessment

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_1120

John Hurst

See Ministry of Housing letter to Broxtowe

DLP_6832

Mrs Carol Richards

Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)

The Planning process is a great vehicle to help solve some of the future issues in the coming decades-particularly the increasing elderly population and the issues regarding homes, health and wellbeing. Enabling this section of the population to live useful independent lives if planned well, could relieve the strain on social services with appropriate housing, and free up family homes in commuter belt areas.

Paragraph 47 in the NPPF outlines that to significantly boost the supply of housing, local planning authorities (amongst other things) should use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively-assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as far as is consistent with the policies set out in the NPPF.

In regard to housing mix, the NPPF sets out that local authorities should plan for a mix of housing based on current and future demographic trends, market trends and the needs of different groups in the community. Planning authorities should identify the size, type, tenure and range of housing that is required in particular locations reflecting local demand.

Although the SHMA is dated 2015 and therefore somewhat out of date, it does say:--

1.30 The SHMA indicates’ that the population of persons aged over 65 accounts for 18% of the population in Tunbridge Wells; and 20% in Sevenoaks. The number of residents aged over 65 is expected to grow substantially – by 49% in Sevenoaks and 61% in Tunbridge Wells to 2033, with particularly strong growth expected in those aged over 75, driven by improving life expectancy.’

1.31 A growing older population and increasing longevity is expected to result in a substantial growth in people with dementia and mobility problems. Across the two areas, the number of people with mobility problems is expected to increase by over 6,000; with an increase of more than 2,500 persons with dementia projected (based on the SNPP) to 2033. Some of these households will require adaptions to properties to meet their changing needs whilst others may require more specialist accommodation or support – including Lifetime and wheelchair-accessible homes. There is clear evidence of need for properties which are capable of accommodating people’s changing needs.

Specialist housing includes sheltered and extra care housing. Based on the expected growth in population of older persons, the SHMA estimates a need for an additional 1,400 dwellings for older persons in T. Wells covering the period 2013-2033

Some older households may wish to downsize, suitable, attractive properties should be available locally.

The SHMA report emphasises the demographics of the LP area. Table 13 shows the population in the T.Wells area is estimated to be 134,669. By 2033 the population of the 60+ age group between T. Wells and Sevenoaks to be 85,175-Tunbridge Wells is expected to see a greater ageing of the population and lower growth in the number of younger people and those of working age. This figure is believed to be about 43,000 in number, maybe slightly more.85175 (divided by 2 as it is the S’oaks and TWells). This represents 32% of the population being 60+.

Para 7.32 of the SHMA (2015) states.

Our experience when carrying out stakeholder work as part of SHMA commissions typically identifies a demand for bungalows. Where developments including bungalows are found it is clear that these are very popular to older people downsizing. It should be acknowledged that providing significant numbers of bungalows involves cost implications for the developer given the typical plot size compared to floor space – however providing an element of bungalows should be given strong consideration on appropriate sites, allowing older households to downsize while freeing up family accommodation for younger households”

Yet Table 4.2 p35 of the T. Wells Borough Housing Needs Study 2018 shows T. Wells Borough has only 4.8% of its housing stock to be bungalows compared to 31.6% in Tonbridge and Malling and 25% in Sevenoaks and Maidstone.

I would like TWBC to look at this issue as building of bungalows should be a priority. Bungalows can be designed to be level access throughout allowing for both disabled persons and those with limited mobility to live in a safer environment for longer -this will save KCC Social Services huge amounts of money in future years.

So why can’t for example TWBC look at site 134 and 75 both of which are in Flood Zone 1 (100%) they are both surrounded by existing other houses, both could be used as a cul de sac for bungalows for 60+ persons? The reasons for unsuitability are not valid when other houses have been build around these sites -so any reasons for example say ‘ arcadian site’ are ridiculous, a tree preservation -so incorporate it into the landscape -footings for bungalows are not as deep as a multiple storey, bungalows can be easily hidden from view as they are single storey, It seems the council can apply rules when they think it is necessary and then drop them when it suits them e.g Tudeley.

Look at the site 15 in Goudhurst in Flood zone 1 (100% small site), has a good hedge to screen from the road, 12 semi detached 2 bed bungalows would fit well into this site -providing local people- wishing to down size- a chance to stay in the village. It is in part- in the LTB, in the village, near a pub and tearoom. TWBC should be talking to Parish councillors getting local agreements for small scale developments of this kind-many small villages could welcome this type of development-especially with local involvement. This process is of course a lot more effort- but far more beneficial and would bring real consultation with local people- spread around the borough with good bus routes and small local shops.

The Housing Needs Assessment Topic Paper states (para 115):

“The NPPF requires local plans to promote small and medium sizes sites as a means of meeting the housing requirement of an area to ease over-reliance on large sites that often take time for delivery to start. As such, local planning authorities should aim to:

“identify, through the development plan and brownfield registers, land to accommodate at least 10% of their housing requirement on sites no larger than one hectare; unless it can be shown, through the preparation of relevant plan policies, that there are strong reasons why this 10% target cannot be achieved; (para 68)”

It can be achieved, look at my example.

Instead TWBC propose a massive development in totally unsuitable areas because it is easy. With the constraints in TWB Green belt/ANOB/ Flood Risk and an aging population, think of who you are building for by 2036-think local-taking the easy way out is not the answer. In fact, think and take more time to develop a safer strategy that will be a legacy, not a blot on the landscape and cause misery for Tonbridge, Tudeley, Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood residents.

DLP_451

Tetlow King Planning for Rentplus UK Ltd

Please see attached out letter [TWBC: copied below] which requests an update to the SHMA and Housing Needs Study to reflect the NPPF definition of affordable housing including other affordable routes to home ownership. [TWBC: see extract of Ministry of Housing Communities & Local Government letter dated 18 June 2019].

We represent Rentplus UK Ltd, an innovative company providing affordable rent to buy housing for hard-working people aspiring to home ownership. Rentplus provides an accessible route to achieve their dream through the rent - save - own model, renting at an affordable rent and a gifted 10% deposit upon purchase. Rentplus have been recognised by the National Housing Awards as the most innovative Home Ownership Scheme for 2019.

We previously responded to the Local Plan Issues and Options Consultation in June 2017. The Rentplus model of affordable rent to buy, aims to help those hard-working families unable to access ownership either through shared ownership, starter homes or homes on the open market to overcome the mortgage ‘gap’. This is achieved through a defined period of affordable rent, during which all Rentplus residents are able to save. Since our last comments, the National Planning Policy Framework has been revised as expected to incorporate a wider definition of affordable housing, now providing four categories; rent to buy is included within category d) Other affordable routes to home ownership.

Each scheme delivered by Rentplus offers a unique, affordable route to home ownership through affordable rented housing, set at the lower of 80% market rate (affordable rent) or LHA, including any service charge, with a planned route to ownership at years 5, 10, 15 or 20 after first occupation. The most important difference to other affordable tenures is that families are able to save for a mortgage deposit while renting the same home at an affordable - intermediate rent, with a 10% gifted deposit to assist with the purchase.

The new Housing Minister, Esther McVey highlighted the importance of Rent to Buy in her first speech to the RESI Convention (12th September 2019) 1. The speech is accessible via https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/resi-convention-2019 2 The report is accessible via www.affordablehousingcommission.org.

In talking about the Government’s drive to increase home ownership she stated that it includes “Rent to Buy, so people can rent knowing that they are going to buy, knowing that they’ve got a bit of breathing space, maybe it’s in 5 years, maybe it’s in 10 years, but they will get to own that property - so they can plan, knowing they have the certainty of getting a deposit and getting that house.” These supportive comments concisely summarise the Rentplus model described above which currently provides a home for 650 households across the UK.  Her comments not only reinforce the NPPF provision for additional affordable housing routes to home ownership, but also endorses directly the work of Rentplus.

A further recent development - The Affordable Housing Commission, chaired by one of the pre-eminent voices on affordable housing, Lord Best, published its interim report Defining and Measuring housing affordability – an alternative approach in June 20192. This was produced in response to the difficulties that the standard measure of affordability, comparing house prices to incomes, poses in recognising housing stress and affordability across the housing spectrum. The report proposes recalling the approach of measuring affordability by reference to rents or purchase costs exceeding one third of household income (for those in work) in order to better pose a pro-active and interventionist response to housing difficulties. This follows recent work which suggests that the probability of housing stress increases with housing costs exceeding a quarter of gross income on rent.

The Commission also highlights the findings of numerous surveys which state that the majority of tenants and adults living with parents aspire to own their own home; of the 5.5m ‘frustrated first time buyers’, 1.6m are in the private rented sector. This group is one of four the report identifies as having particular needs and housing stresses, and who can’t buy “mainly because of the time needed to save for large deposits”. These numbers represent an increase of 0.6 million renters since 2010, many of whom are paying over 40% of household income on rent. The report recognises the well-known problem that many households in the private rented sector are likely to have multiple affordability issues, exacerbated by insecurity of tenure and poor-quality living standards.

The report states that “good quality homes of the right size for the household is seen as a basic minimum”; while this is a generally accepted principle in the delivery of housing, and in particular of affordable housing across England, this can be difficult to achieve through the planning system which does not adequately reflect the variations in household needs. The decrease in the numbers of households able to access home ownership is in large part due to the time taken to save for a mortgage deposit without the help of the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’.

The Affordable Housing Commission notes that “those just able to buy are likely to have to save for an unrealistic period or unlikely ever to be able to raise an adequate deposit” – for the purposes of assessing the numbers of would-be purchasers, the Commission ‘cuts off’ the savings period at ‘just’ five years. The difficulty in saving for a deposit is one of the most critical barriers to home ownership, and the focal point for Rentplus – providing a clear route and time period for working households, including those with children, to save. Using the Commission’s proposed measure of affordability would better capture the needs of struggling first-time buyers, many of whom are otherwise likely to remain trapped in insecure private rented sector accommodation.

Policy H5 – Affordable Housing

Policy H5 relates to affordable housing. The supporting text reflects the affordable housing definition from the NPPF which includes Rent To Buy, this is welcomed. However, the draft Local Plan does not reference the NPPF requirement to provide at least 10% of affordable homes as ‘other affordable routes to home ownership’.

Policy H5 outlines the Council’s preferred tenure mix for affordable housing, with 60% provided as social rent and 40% as intermediate tenures. We would like to see Rent to Buy identified within the ‘other affordable routes to home ownership’ as identified in the definition of affordable housing in Annexe 2 of the NPPF. Despite the period of affordable rent, Rent to Buy is not an intermediate tenure and the term intermediate is no longer referenced in the NPPF. We recommend that the tenure mix breaks these percentages down further, with specific reference to a percentage allocated for ‘other affordable routed to home ownership, including Rent To Buy.

We recognise that the SHMA which forms part of the evidence base for this Local Plan was published prior to the adoption of the NPPF revision in 2018 when the affordable housing definition was widened. As such, we recommend that a SHMA update should be carried out, encompassing all tenures of affordable housing in accordance with the NPPF definition which would enable the Council to outline an appropriate affordable housing tenure mix including Rent to Buy. The SHMA update should follow the Lichfields Model (attached for information). The policy and supporting paragraphs should then be updated further.

We acknowledge that the draft Local Plan is also supported by a Housing Needs Study. The study outlines the Borough’s existing housing stock and identifies 63 Rent To Buy Properties. Despite this, the identified affordable housing need is still only split in terms of tenure into Social/Affordable rented and Intermediate. As with the above SHMA, this study should be updated to fully reflect the NPPF definition of affordable housing which includes Rent To Buy.

The Rentplus model offers the opportunity for the Council and RPs to diversify the local housing offer without further recourse to public subsidy. The affordable rented period provides local families with security of tenure, with certainty of management and maintenance by a local partner RP, and critically the opportunity to save towards purchase. As affordable rent to buy meets needs for affordable rent (the only difference being marked by the expectation by all parties of purchase), it comes with a significant benefit of freeing up existing affordable rented homes for others in priority need, as demonstrated by Rentplus schemes across England.

Rentplus undertakes rigorous affordability testing of potential purchasers to ensure that this is a realistic expectation and can be achieved within the set timeframes of five to 20 years. This means that substantial discounts at the point of purchase are not required, as it is the inability to save for a mortgage deposit or other financial issues that prevents a significant number of households from accessing ownership, and not the ability to service a mortgage over the long term.

Working with local authorities to meet local priorities is critical to the success of the Rentplus model of affordable rent to buy, as helping hard-working local families access ownership reduces the pressure on the housing waiting list, freeing up local authority and housing association time to focus on meeting priority needs for social and affordable rented homes.

Rentplus can assist in meeting local need, allocating all of its residents through the Housing Allocation Scheme; by enabling real savings to be built while renting at an affordable rent the Council can help meet the needs of low and middle income households, providing greater choice and flexibility in the planning system. The Council’s work to understand the potential delivery of affordable housing is supported.

Should officers wish to discuss how best to facilitate the Rentplus model, please do get in touch.

DLP_8429 Euan Burrows, Mockbeggar Lane and group of East End residents

Introduction

  1. These representations are made on behalf of Euan Burrows, Mockbeggar Lane and a group of residents who all live in East End, Benenden.
  2. The focus of these representations is site allocation policy AL/BE4, which seeks to allocate 44-50 further dwellings at the land at Benenden Hospital, SHELAA references: site 424 and late site 41.
  3. The land subject to policy AL/BE4 is situated approximately 4km to the north east of Benenden. It is connected to Benenden by Goddard’s Green Road / Benenden Road (a designated rural lane). There is currently permission for 22 new dwellings on the. It contains land which is previously developed for a limited use, being land previously used by the hospital.
  4. The site is unsustainable. There are no amenities on the site. There are no bus services which serve the East End. Access is via the narrow Goddard’s Green Road. There are no community facilities.. Simply put, aside from the houses currently on site and the hospital (with associated buildings), there is nothing else on site.

The Sustainability Appraisal (‘SA’)

  1. It is our view that the approach taken to selecting sites for the proposed allocations in the Local Plan is fundamentally flawed. As such, at present it is the case that the Local Plan cannot be considered sound with regards to policy AL/BE4.
  2. Section 8 of the Sustainability Appraisal concerns the SA of the Potential Development Sites. Paragraph 8.1.1 of the Sustainability Appraisal states that:

All sites submitted to the Council’s Call for Sites process were assessed against a robust methodology which is set out in the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA). This included all sites received through two Call for Sites processes and sites received since then but prior to the 22nd February 2019 (known as ‘late sites’ or ‘additional sites’ and ‘A_S’ on all figures in this chapter).”

  1. Paragraph 8.1.3 of the SA provides that:

    “A number of sites were filtered out during a first stage initial assessment of sites. For the purposes of this SA report, these are sites that are not considered to be reasonable alternatives requiring a sustainability appraisal.”

  2. Paragraph 8.1.4 of the SA provides a list of criteria by which sites were initially filtered out.[1] It appears to be the case that the list of sites which made it past this initial filtering (such that they were considered ‘reasonable alternatives’ for the purposes of the SA) are listed at Table 32 of the SA (pg. 32). It should be noted that whilst there are 11 site references included in the list of reasonable alternatives, 6 of these sites constitute the 4 proposed allocations for Benenden, including sites 424, AS_40 and AS_41 which form policy AL/BE4.
  3. However, this approach is flawed and, in any event, has been misapplied in relation to Benenden.
  4. First, there is no good reason provided for why these filters have been provided. Whilst some of them make clear sense (bullet points 1 and 2, for example), others require justification yet none is provided. In particular, no reasoning is provided in either the SA or the SHELAA as to why sites which are likely to provide less than 10 residential units were filtered out. Whilst this may, in principle, be appropriate for the larger settlements affected by the Local Plan, this should not be applied across all potential sites. This criteria serves to neutralise a number of potential sites in and around Benenden without good reason. It is clear that smaller sites can be appropriate – policy AL/BE1 is an allocation for approximately 12 dwellings. Without justification, it is wholly untenable to immediately filter out all sites which will provide a yield of less than 10 residential units.
  5. Second, the initial filtration has been misapplied. Specifically bullet points 1 and 2 of paragraph 8.1.4 provide that sites that will be filtered out include sites that are:

“* Located in remote locations away from existing settlements; such sites considered unlikely to be sustainable in this context; in some instances some remote sites have been considered in the context of a new garden settlement where applicable or as urban extensions; (Bullet Point 1)

  • Not well related to a settlement; this has included sites that may be in relative close proximity to a settlement but are not well related to the built form of the settlement for example because they are cut off / separated from the settlement / built form in some way; (Bullet Point 2)
  1. If these points were to have been correctly applied, it is inconceivable that AL/BE4 would have emerged as a preferred option.
  2. With regards to Bullet Point 1, AL/BE4 cannot sensibly be said to be a settlement given the small number of houses and the complete lack of facilities. This is acknowledged in the SHELAA when it states that AL/BE4 is “remote from a settlement centre.” Indeed, the nearest settlements to AL/BE4 are Benenden or Biddenden, both of which are 4km away (pg. 263 of the Local Plan). Applying the methodology set out in both the SA and the SHELAA, as is the required approach, AL/BE4 should not have made it past the initial filtering stage.
  3. With regards to Bullet Point 2, it follows from the above that AL/BE4 is not well related to a settlement. The relation between East End and Benenden is along the narrow Goddard’s Green Road. There is no walking path and no cyclepath between East End and Benenden. Indeed, this fundamental deficiency in relation to Benenden is clearly acknowledged by the wording of AL/BE4, and would not change even if attempts to introduce measures required by this deficiency such as an ‘active travel link’ were introduced.
  4. From the above, it is clear that the sites which form AL/BE4 should not have been capable of making it past the initial filtration stage. Both site 424 and late site 41 are too remote to meet the criteria of the SA.
  5. The unsustainable nature of site AL/BE4 is demonstrated in Table 33 of the SA (pg. 79). AL/BE4 scores as being very negative to negative on the sustainability topic of Services and Facilities and as being negative on the sustainability topic of Travel.
  6. Appendix K to the SA provides the scoring for each of the sites against each of the sustainability topics concluded to be reasonable alternatives.[2] The improper inclusion of AS_41 means that there are a number of reasonable sites which have not been allocated. These sites are sites 158, 222, 425, AS_8 and AS_21. Notably, sites 158 and 222 have no very negative scores.
  7. There is a different and unjustified approach taken to the sustainability topic of Services and Facilities for AS_41 compared to other sites. The commentary to site AS_41, which scores very negative on services and facilities, makes no reference to the lack of provision of services. Instead, it states that “Although promoted by the policy, shared transport and active travel options are unlikely to take precedence over private vehicle use thus air quality and climate change also score negatively.” This failure to reference the lack of services is wrong, either because it has failed to take it into account, or because it is operating from the assumption that services will be provided once the allocation is built out.
  8. Both of these approaches are improper. In practice the primary negative of the site has been discounted in the allocation assessment, which is clearly wrong. This site is fundamentally incompatible with sustainable use and this should obviously have weighted heavily against both (i) its inclusion at all and (ii) as would appear beyond reasonable debate, the extraordinary and inflated scale of development that is now proposed.
  9. Second, any attempt to discount this on the basis that a future allocation can compensate for it is plainly wrong. First, because this could be true for any potential issue for any site, thereby making the evidential base of the allocation process otiose.. Second, because the proposed services are clearly inadequate to address this issue. The proposed cycle path fails to have regard to the fact that it is roughly a 4km journey from East End to Benenden. Given there are not any shops at East End, and AL/BE4 solely makes provision for a ‘small retail unit, the use of this path would require residents to walk or cycle a round trip of 8km. This clearly will be ineffective. The minibus service is, during the week, a school run which wouldn’t meet the needs of other residents of the East End. These provisions are clearly inadequate in addressing the unsustainability of the site. In comparison, the commentary to both sites 158 and 222 notes a “lack of services and facilities including public transport at the settlement”, making no reference of the possibility of future development providing these services. They also miss the point in that in practice developments of this scale are strictly discouraged in rural and isolated location precisely because they inevitably encourages car use.
  10. Finally, there is a failure in the SA to take account of the planning permission that has already been granted for this site.[3] This granted permission for the development of 24 dwellings at land adjacent to Benenden Hospital. In our view, the Hospital is seeking to bring forwards a large scheme of residential development in multiple phases on this site of which that planning permission was the first stage. The failure to take account of the overall scale of this scheme in the Local Plan process is a fundamental failing.
  11. To conclude on the SA, the approach taken by the SA is flawed and inconsistent. Site AS_41 (as described in Appendix K) should not have made it past the initial filtering stage as a result of its remoteness and lack of connectivity with any established settlement. This is especially true when the allocation is for 66-72 houses with few notable facilities to be added, meaning AL/BE4 would create an isolated outpost reliant upon travel to Benenden along Goddard’s Green Road. The SA provides reasonable alternatives that are better sites and can accommodate the 44-50 houses AL/BE4 seeks to provide.
  12. Insofar as AL/BE4 is based on the SA, the Local Plan is not justified and ineffective. For these reasons it cannot be considered sound.

Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (‘SHELAA’)

  1. Insofar as relevant to this representation, the role of the SHELAA is to identify land which may be suitable to allocate for housing (paragraph 001 PPG Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment[4]).
  2. Paragraph 3.2 of the SHELAA states that:

The outcomes of the SHELAA should be to identify sites and broad locations with potential for development, assess their development potential, assess their suitability for development and the likelihood of development coming forward.”

  1. The SHELAA provides a site summary assessment of each of the sites. The conclusions of the SA feed into this. Paragraph 4.5 of the SHELAA notes that:

    The outcome of the SHELAA is not a list of sites that will be allocated for development in the Local Plan, but forms part of the evidence base to support policies in the new Local Plan. For some of the sites considered by the SHELAA to be suitable for further consideration, the production of this Draft SHELAA does not rule out the possibility that additional issues may arise during this process, or subsequently through the consultation on the Draft Local Plan, that then preclude a site being considered suitable for allocation for development. The converse may also be true, with the possibility that further information or amended, or new, site proposals coming forward that make them more suitable. A final SHELAA will be prepared to inform the Pre-Submission Local Plan to be prepared under Regulation 19.”

  2. However, in our view the conclusions of the SHELAA as currently reached are fundamentally flawed. The focus of these representations are the site assessment sheets for Benenden Parish, dated July 2019, as these are the most recent SHELAA documents.
  3. We note that the SHELAA states it applies the same initial considerations to stage 1 site assessments as the SA (paragraph 3.23 SHELAA). In accordance with the representations made above, the sites comprising AL/BE4 should not have made it past this initial assessment stage.
  4. Site AL/BE4 is correctly identified as being “remote from a settlement centre.” However, this remoteness fails to feature in the remainder of the site assessment. The sustainability assessment notes that “residents will rely heavily on private cars and thus air, equality and travel objectives score negatively” yet makes no reference to the Services and Facilities objective which, as discussed above, receives the lowest score possible for a sustainability objective. The site assessment sheet concludes that the site is suitable as a potential site, for the reason that “This is mostly a PDL site that already benefits from an extant planning consent.” This conclusion is significantly flawed for three reasons.
  5. First, the SHELAA adopts a different approach to the remoteness of AL/BE4 to other sites. Sites 289, 295, 397 and 425 are all identified as being remote from settlement centre. In each case this weighs heavily against each site. However, the remoteness of AL/BE4 doesn’t feature in the conclusions on whether it is a suitable site. The fact that those sites are not considered reasonable alternatives under the SA is not relevant to whether the site is too remote to be a potential site in the terms of the SHELAA. This inconsistent approach to remoteness within the SHELAA infects the conclusion that AL/BE4 is a suitable site.
  6. Second, the SHELAA site assessments places undue emphasis on AL/BE4 being mostly previously developed land. The Land Use topic in the SA includes the objective of using previously developed land.[5] It is reasonable to read this across to the SHELAA. As such, use of previously developed land is clearly a material factor in judging the suitability of a site. However, it should only be one factor among others, not an overriding principle. In this case, the fact that the land is mostly previously developed is one of the two reasons given, notwithstanding the fact that the remoteness of the previous use of the site was justified by its connection to the hospital. The proposed use, however, would be a number of houses not dependant upon or linked to the hospital. This fails to properly consider the use of the site in accordance with the stated methodology of the SHELAA (c.f. paragraph 3.14).
  7. Properly understood, there is far less benefit from the use of previously developed land for this site than is stated in the SHELAA. The approach currently adopted by the SHELAA makes the remainder of the assessment otiose insofar as allocations will necessarily be made on previously developed land, regardless of the other relevant factors including those encapsulated by the sustainability objectives.
  8. Third, there is no good basis for placing significant weight on the extant planning permission for this site in terms of the achievability of development. The furthest that the extant permission goes is to demonstrate that 24 residential units are achievable on the site. It does not show that a further 44-50 units are achievable on the site. This reasoning would result in the exponential growth of settlements with extant permissions and non-allocation of sites where, for example, all permissions have been built out. This is clearly flawed.
  9. Furthermore, this fails to have regard to the broader point with regards to this site, namely the fact that the Hospital are in the process of bringing a large scheme of development across multiple phases. The approach currently taken in the SHELAA would justify a cascade of development from this single application whilst failing to have regard to the sustainability reasons for not allocating the site. A holistic approach is required in order to appreciate the totality of development proposed by the Hospital for the site, the acceptable upper limit for residential development in this isolated rural area and why, therefore, no further allocation should be made.
  10. To conclude on the SHELAA, it adopts an inconsistent approach between different sites. Furthermore, whilst purporting to analyse the sites against a range of factors it in fact has been carried out such that previously developed land will necessarily be allocated before greenfield land, notwithstanding any other factors relating to that site including the nature of the previous use and any other nearby uses.
  11. Insofar as AL/BE4 is based on the SHELAA, the Local Plan is not justified and ineffective. For these reasons it cannot be considered sound.

Policy AL/BE4

  1. Furthermore, reflecting its fundamental unsuitability, Policy AL/BE4 also conflicts with other policies in the Local Plan.
  2. At present the site is wholly without services.[6] It is isolated from any settlement and has no regular transport links to established settlements. The SA notes that most access to AL/BE4 will be via private car, yet this conflicts with policies STR2 and TP2 of the Local Plan.
  3. Table 3 of the Local Plan sets out the scale and distribution of development for each Parish / Settlement covered by the Local Plan. For development in East End it states that all significant infrastructure is set out within the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (‘IDP’). This table is repeated in the IDP. In this context, infrastructure has a broad meaning. It covers both physical infrastructure and community infrastructure. Table 1 of the IDP sets out the detail of different types of infrastructure. The Infrastructure Delivery Schedule, Appendix 1 of the IDP, lists all Infrastructure to be delivered. The only Infrastructure that relates to Benenden is the provision of additional youth and children’s play space (pg. 104). There is no transport infrastructure to be provided. This conflicts starkly with Policies STR2 and TP2 of the Local Plan. It cannot be said that AL/BE4 is sustainable or accessible at present, and significant and unacceptable (and unplanned) road and other infrastructure would be required to make it so. The furthest the Local Plan goes to addressing these issues is to state in Policy AL/BE4 that any development shall provide an active travel link between East End and Benenden. However, this falls far short of what is required to make the isolated East End a sustainable settlement location. This therefore conflicts with both the Local Plan and the NPPF.
  4. To conclude on this point, Policy AL/BE4 is in conflict with other policies in the Local Plan and the NPPF. It is therefore ineffective and inconsistent with national policy. For these reasons, Policy AL/BE4 cannot be considered sound.

The Principle of Development

  1. It is important to emphasise that we do not object to the principle of limited development on a sustainable scale on this site reflecting and commensurate with the existing hospital related residential accommodation. However, it is clear that the Hospital is seeking to build out a significant scheme of residential development in a staged fashion by first obtaining a discrete and existing planning permission on an adjacent site and then seeking to allocate additional permissions on ancillary hospital land under the guise of ‘brownfield’ development, despite the fact what is now proposed has no relation to that which previously existed. The Local Plan is request to look at the impact of this scheme in a holistic fashion which, when properly considered, is fundamentally inconsistent with the sustainable land policies TWBC is required to apply in its overall impact of what is fundamentally a rural area. It is clear that this is a site which has significant constraints on the possibility of development at present. Aside from the hospital and a number of houses, there are no facilities or services on this site. Indeed, it is clear from the Local Plan and the documents submitted with the Local Plan that the only reason this site is in consideration at all as a potential allocation is because of its status as previously developed land.
  2. We therefore invite Tunbridge Wells to remove AL/BE4 from the Local Plan.

[1] This is the same list applied to the SHELAA filtering process (paragraph 3.23 SHELAA) although different results were achieved, as commented on below

[2] Sites 424 and AS_40 are included in the analysis of AS_41

[3] Ref: 17/00951/FULL

[4] https://www.gov.uk/guidance/housing-and-economic-land-availability-assessment

[5] Table 6 SA

[6] Noting the inaccurate statement in the Local Plan that there are educational facilities on the site

[TWBC: this response has been duplicated under Section 5: Benenden (Policy AL/BE4), Appendix 5 (SHELAA) and the Sustainability Appraisal]

Housing Supply & Trajectory Topic Paper

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_8315

Andrew Richards

INTRODUCTION

I am not a resident of Tunbridge Wells Borough, but I live near to the Borough boundary just outside Tonbridge.

I visit the Borough regularly and enjoy the benefits of its countryside, notably the Green Belt and the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which need to be preserved in line with National Planning Policy.  I also drive around Tonbridge regularly and am shocked at the impact the proposals in your draft Local Plan (LP) would have on Tonbridge and its environs.

The LP is vast and complex and has clearly consumed a significant amount of effort; I congratulate the officers for their diligence in seeking to balance the various competing demands of policy, legislation and local constraints. As a private individual I do not have similar resources or expertise; I have therefore confined my comments to a small number of topics.  This is not to say I endorse the remainder of the LP and its associated material; I am aware of some of the concerns raised by others and support many of them.

Notwithstanding the level of effort that has gone into the LP, I’m afraid my overall assessment is that the Borough has fallen short of the diligence needed.  Sadly, it seems to have taken the easy way out of its obligations in a number of areas.  It has:

  • Failed to challenge the standard method for determining the housing need;
  • Failed to widen its search for housing sites beyond those yielded in the voluntary Call for Sites;
  • Analysed poorly those comments raised against the Issues and Options paper;
  • Failed in its Duty to Co-operate with Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC);
  • Been selective in its application of the ‘exceptional’ burden of proof;
  • Opted for the easy route of selecting sites for large scale development owned by a single or small number of landowners;
  • Failed to take account of commuting habits and the pressures resulting from its proposals on rail services, notably but not exclusively in Tonbridge;
  • Failed in its duty of care to students by proposing the establishment of a new school spanning a busy railway line;
  • Failed to provide housing suitable for an increasingly aging population

I conclude that the Borough has failed to meet the required standard for a Regulation 18 consultation and should repeat the exercise, having first addressed some of the fundamental concerns raised.  I believe this plan requires too substantial a series of amendments to proceed directly to a Regulation 19 consultation.

My comments are in relation to a number of documents identified below.

Housing supply and trajectory paper

7. Para 3.1.1: to note, the final sentence states that “the 2014 household projections are to be used when calculating the objectively assessed need via the standard methodology unless required otherwise by the Government”, and offers in evidence footnote 7, which refers to para ref 2a 004020190220 in the Housing and Economic Development Needs Assessment (https://www.gov.uk/guidance/housing-and-economic-development-needs-assessments), which offers no such support.

Local plan

Forward – para 3

8. The draft LP is defective as it omits to show the changes it proposes to the previous Core Strategy 2006.

9. Planning policy requires that:

  1. If the adoption of a local plan would result in changes to a previously adopted policies map, when the plan is submitted for examination, an up to date submission policies map should also be submitted, showing how the adopted policies map would be changed as a result of the new plan” (PPG ref : 61-002-20190315)

10. Whilst the LP includes a policies map, that map does not show the ‘delta’ from the previous Core Strategy policies, which in summary were to:

  1. Base development on existing hubs (Regional Hub, per now superseded South East Plan)
  2. Avoid encroachment onto Green Belt.

Introduction – Plan preparation process – para 1.4

11. You state that the Issues and Options process in 2017 sought early views on the best way to approach specific challenges, but it is not clear that these views have been taken into account.

12. For instance, the Consultation Statement (Appendix 1, page 47) stated in relation to the Core Strategy 2020:

  1. CP2: Green Belt; CP3: Transport Infrastructure; CP4: Environment; CP5: Sustainable Design and Construction; CP6: Housing Provision; CP7: Employment Provision and CP8: Retail, Leisure and Community Facilities Provision could all be usefully reproduced in new Local Plan.
  2. Most of the policies should be carried through to new document and updated as necessary in consultation with community and statutory consultees.

13. Specifically, in the consideration of responses to Q13 re the 2010 Core Strategy in the preparation of the Draft Local Plan:

  1. Existing Core Policy 2 (Green Belt) has been reviewed and carried forward into the new strategic policy STR4 (Green Belt) in the Draft Local Plan and makes reference to the functions and requirements of the Green Belt in accordance with the NPPF’

14. How can this be accordance with NPPF when you plan to build on Green belt and all respondents wanted the Green belt protected? How can you state most of the policies have been ‘carried through’?.

15. Again, regarding Settlement Groupings, 202 responses were received to this question. 56 respondents (about 28%) agreed with the suggested settlement groupings, 130 respondents (about 64%) disagreed, while 16 respondents (about 8%) did not express an opinion. Overall, of those who expressed an opinion, the majority of 70% disagreed with the suggested groupings, while 30% agreed.

16. The Plan Process has again ignored these respondents and by planning a garden village at Tudeley with 2,800 planned homes, so I don’t understand how you leapt to the conclusion that this:

  1. has resulted in the Council’s growth strategy and distribution of development in the new Draft Local Plan being based on a combination of housing growth at the majority of settlements across the borough that have defined Limits to Build Development, in conjunction with the delivery of a new ‘stand alone’ garden settlement at Tudeley and the expansion of Paddock Wood (into Capel Parish), based on garden settlement principles

17. This is the first time the expansion of Paddock Wood has been identified – the Issues and Options process wholly excluded any mention of a garden settlement at Tudeley. Given that one of the key issues raised as a result of the Issues and Options consultation was the protection of the green belt, the failure to identify at an early stage in the Issues and Options process the potential for a large amount of development in Tudeley (on Green Belt) undermines the soundness of this plan and undermines the effectiveness of this current public consultation.

Evidence – paras 1.30 – 1.33

18. I object to the assertions made that the LP has been drawn up using an evidence-led approach:

  1. A single individual chairs the Planning Policy Working Group, the Planning & Transportation Cabinet Advisory Board and the Cabinet. This fails to create a separation of duties in the bodies responsible for drawing up the draft LP and allows personal rather than evidence-led judgements to intrude.
  2. The Flood Risk Assessment Level 1 was published in July 2019, yet the allocation of housing had been planned in the Autumn of 2018 (although the public were not told until May 2019). The timing of these decisions shows TWBC had no intention of taking into account the results of the Flood Risk Assessment when deciding to put 6800 homes at Tudeley Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood.  Land use planning strongly encourages Flood Risk Assessments to be prepared at all levels of the planning process, which TWBC failed to do by going ahead with plans in 2018.

19. It therefore follows that the LP has not been drawn up using an evidence-led approach and is therefore in contravention of national policy.

Duty to co-operate – para 1.38 – 1.44

20. I object to the assertion that the Borough has discharged adequately its Duty to Cooperate.

21. Planning policy requires that:

a. “Plans should . . c) be shaped by early, proportionate and effective engagement between plan-makers and communities, local organisations, businesses, infrastructure providers and operators and statutory consultees” (NPPF 16);

b. “Plans are ‘sound’ if they are: . . c) Effective . . . based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matter that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground” (NPPF 35)

22. Whereas:

a. TWBC has jumped straight from a broad identification of Strategic Option 5 in its Issues and Options paper, which was to consider the principle of garden settlements, to the selection of that as a adopted policy and then to the actual selection of specific sites (notably Tudeley (2,800 dwellings) and Paddock Wood (4,000 dwellings)) in the LP. To announce, without public notice, allocations representing 50% of the OAN with such a significant impact on a neighbouring borough does not represent the “early, proportionate and effective engagement” required by policy;

b. TWBC has failed to establish a statement of common ground with TMBC, the borough most significantly impacted by the proposals under STR/CA 1 and STR/PW 1, most notably the likely traffic congestion and overcrowding of train services from commuters living in the Tudeley garden settlement at AL/CA 1, the likely traffic congestion and risk to life from the school proposed at AL/CA 2, and the likely overcrowding of train services from commuters living in the Paddock Wood garden settlement at AL/PW 1.

c. TMBC is on record in objecting to the LP, noting that (letter of 16 Oct 19 from TMBC):

(1) “this is the first opportunity to comment on the detailed development strategy set out in the draft Local Plan”.

(2) “the proximity of some of the major development proposals to the borough boundary . . . is a matter of serious concern due to the potential impacts on the local highway network, rail services and other community infrastructure including health care and education”.

(3) “TMBC would like to . . . suggest an alternative location for the proposed new secondary school at Capel . . . a location at or preferably between the new settlement at Tudeley and the allocations at Paddock Wood would represent a more sustainable location, being closer to the need generated and the potential for reducing the need to travel to a site on the periphery of Tonbridge, on a constrained site with poor access, adjacent to a town which already has a large number of existing secondary schools and the associated transport issues”.

(4) “appropriate access across the railway will be an important consideration for master planning and viability”.

These is hardly the response to be expected from an adjoining Borough that has had effective cross-boundary consultation on strategic matters.

d. This failure to agree a statement of common ground with TMBC is not compliant with policy that requires a Duty to Cooperate, “evidenced by the statement of common ground” and demonstrates that the LP is unsound

Conclusion

39. In conclusion, to reiterate the point made in opening, I conclude that the Borough has failed to meet the required standard for a Regulation 18 consultation. It should therefore repeat the exercise, having first addressed some of the fundamental concerns raised.

40. I believe this plan requires too substantial a series of amendments to proceed directly to a Regulation 19 consultation.

[TWBC: See full representation]

DLP_7095

Sigma Planning Servicews for Rydon Homes Ltd

45. The trajectory is too ambitious in terms of the projected delivery of completed dwellings from the proposed large garden community community developments and Paddock Wood and Tudeley and does not recognise the potential for smaller, unconstrained sites to come forward quickly.

46. The suggestion that there will be 150 dwellings completed at Tudeley by 2025/26 is unrealistic given the very formative stage of the proposal and the extent of the infrastructure that must be planned and provided before occupation of housing can occur. A realistic trajectory is not possible at this stage until the details of the extent and timing of infrastructure delivery is more certain and a detailed and realistic phasing programme has been prepared. The trajectory at this stage is aspirational but not sufficiently based on evidence to be relied upon.

47. Similar considerations apply at Paddock Wood. The recent consents for large urban extensions can be expected to be built our in the early part of the plan period but the 4000 new homes in addition that form part of the current draft plan proposals require extensive infrastructure provision and no reliable trajectory can be produced until further details of the timing and practicality of such provision is more certain. An assessment of the housing trajectory and land supply commissioned by Rydon from Neame Sutton is attached and forms part of these representations (APP 1).

48. On the other hand -

  • AL/CRS16 Land at Boycourt Orchards, Wilsley Green
  • AL/HA4 Land at Fowlers Park, Hawkhurst
  • AL/HA9 Land at Santers Yard, Hawkhurst and
  • AL/CRS1 Land at Wilsley Farm, Cranbrook

Are all smaller unconstrained sites that will utilise spare capacity in existing local infrastructure or make the necessary new provision and do not need to be delayed until the 9-15 year period of the plan beyond 2024/2025. These sites should be put into the trajectory as likely to provide completions from 2021/2022 onwards.

49. Rydon are happy to meet with planning officers to discuss the timing of the delivery in more detail but, particularly in the case of Fowlers Park and Boycourt Orchards where planning applications are in preparation and outline consent is expected to be forthcoming in 2020. This would be 4/5 years into the plan period and will assist in addressing the current five year housing land supply shortfall and maintaining development rates in the early part of the plan period. This fills the gaps whilst the complications of large site delivery are investigated and projected phasing of those sites can be better and more realistically assessed.

61. For all these reasons there is a strong case for the allocation of new housing sites at Finches Farm.

62. The Council has not produced a Strategic Environment Assessment or a full Sustainability Appraisal. The current SA appears to only review sites in isolation against a limited set of 'traffic light' criteria and does not reach the standard of a full SA. There is no understanding or conclusion reached of the cumulative effects of the quantum of development or its distribution across the District. There is also no testing of alternatives as required by the PPG, such as lower or higher housing targets or of different distribution strategies.

Appendix 1

1.0 Instructions and Introduction

1.1 Neame Sutton Limited, Chartered Town Planners, is instructed by Rydon Homes Limited ("Rydon") to prepare representations on the soundness of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan Regulation 18 consultation version ("the Plan").

1.2 This Technical Note focuses specifically on the following matters:

  • The Housing Trajectory that the Council propose in the Plan1 [As set out in the Housing Supply and Trajectory Topic Paper - September 2019]
  • The consequent inability of the Plan to demonstrate a 5-year housing land supply
  • Consideration of the various sources of supply identified by the Council in the Plan
  • Consideration of the robustness of the Plan in terms of demonstrating a 5-year housing land supply in the year following the Plan's adoption
  • Conclusions on the soundness of the Plan in terms of meeting the core Government objective to significant boost the supply of housing nationality

1.3 The Plan has been prepared in the context of the Government policy set out in the National Planning Policy Framework ("the Framework 2019") and in this respect the minimum Local Housing Need figure generated using the Standard Method is the figure against which the housing trajectory and consequent 5-year housing land supply position is calculated.

1.4 This Technical Note has therefore been prepared having regard to the Framework 2019 and corresponding National Planning Practice Guidance ("PPG").

2.0 Housing Trajectory - draft Policy STR1 and Table 1

2.1 Draft Policy STR1 does not actually set out the Local Housing Need figure that the Plan is seeking to meet. This information is contained in Table 1 of the Plan.

2.2 The Plan's housing trajectory is also not set out in the document itself and is instead contained within the Housing Supply and Trajectory Topic Paper - September 2019. The Council's approach to the supply sources that its housing trajectory is reliant upon is explained in the Topic Paper along with its calculation of 5-year housing land supply.

2.3 These representations are therefore based on the evidence contained in the Council's Topic Paper.

2.4 The supply sources the Council relies upon in the trajectory for the Plan are summarised in Table 1 of the Topic Paper (Page 8):

  1. Completions April 2016 - March 2019
  2. Extant Planning Consents as at 01 April 2019
  3. Outstanding Site Allocations (from extant Local Plan)
  4. Windfalls
  5. New Housing Allocations proposed in the Plan

2.5 These supply sources are intended only to meet the Local Housing Need figure calculated via the Standard Method. The Council is not at this stage seeking to address any unmet need arising from neighbouring authorities such as Sevenoaks.

2.6 In giving consideration to the Council's supply sources in its housing trajectory it is important to have regard to the recruitments of National Policy, namely the Annex 2 definitions of deliverability and developability (as supplemented by the PPG). Most notably is the requirement, placed on the Council by Government, to provide 'clear evidence' of deliverability for all proposed housing allocation sites relied upon for the first 5-years of the Plan period2. [2 Annex 2 of Framework 2019 on Page 66 refers]

Extant Planning Consents as at 01 April 2019 (Commitments):

2.7 The Council seeks to rely on a total of 3,127 no. dwellings from extant consents. The majority of these dwellings are programmed for delivery by the Council within the current 5-years of the Plan period commencing in the 2019/20 monitoring year.

2.8 Whilst the Council appears to have applied a 10% lapse rate to its small-sites commitment rate (schemes of 1-9 dwellings)3 [3 See Paragraph 13, third bullet on Page 4 of 5-year Housing Land Supply 2018/19 – June 2019] no detailed consideration, in accordance with the Annex 2 requirement, appears to have been undertaken in relation to the large sites component of the commitments.

2.9 On this basis any sites, which benefit only from Outline Consents for 10 or more units should be removed from the current 5 years of the trajectory unless there is clear evidence that completions will be delivered at the point envisaged in the trajectory.

2.10 At this stage and given that the Plan is only at Regulation 18 Stage Neame Sutton has applied a 10% discount to the total Commitment supply to take some account of those sites that fail the clear evidence of deliverability test. The Council should however review all sites in the Context of Annex 2 prior to the Regulation 19 consultation stage.

Outstanding Allocations and New Allocations 

2.11 The Council is seeking to rely on a total of 9,3974 [Figure extracted from trajectory on Pages 25-32 of Housing Supply and Trajectory Topic Paper – September 2019] dwellings coming forward across the the Plan period from a combination of outstanding unimplemented allocations in the extant Local Plan and New Allocations in the Plan. This supply source comprises the majority of the Council's supply for the Plan period.

2.12 Whilst at this Regualtion 18 stage a detailed site-by-site analysis has not been undertaken by Neame Sutton there are two key points to note:

2.12.1 Point 1: The Council is relying on delivery from two strategic scale allocations that are required to provide 1900 dwellings and 4000 dwellings respectively. Whilst the Council has set out the evidence it has relied upon for the projected delivery rates from these sites in the Topic Paper it has also freely accepted that it has no experience of delivering development on this scale[5 See Paragraphs 4.10.1 and 4.11.1 on Pages 19 and 20 of Housing Supply and Trajectory Topic Paper – September 2019].

2.12.2 The Council should therefore be taking a cautious approach to the delivery trajectory for these two sites. It is clear however from the trajectory in the Topic Paper that this is not the case. For example the Council expects the Paddock Wood site to deliver 333 no. dwellings in its first year and to continue this level of completion year on year though until the end of the Plan period. This is simply unrealistic.

2.12.3 An adjustment has therefore been made to reflect the empirical evidence contained in the research report prepared by  Lichfields6 [6 See Lichfields – Start to Finish: How Quickly do Largescale Housing Sites Deliver – November 2016] and referred to by the Council, namely that the maximum reasonable delivery from a site of this scale of  161 dpa.

2.12.4 Point 2: There is an apparent inconsistency between the Council's approach to the delivery from site allocations in its trajectory within the Topic Paper and the approach to the site allocations applied to its 5-year housing land supply calculation in the Five Year Housing Land Supply 2018/19 document. The latter document applies a blanket 10% reduction to the delivery expected from allocations whilst the former expects 100% delivery.

2.12.5 In Neame Sutton's view and, before undertaking a site-by-site analysis in the context of the Annex 2 definition, a 10% reduction should be applied to all allocations relied upon in the current 5-year period of the housing trajectory.

Windfalls:

2.13 The Council places relatively heavy reliance upon windfalls to help meeting the minimum local housing need for the Plan period. A total of 700 no. dwellings are relied upon at a rate of 50 dpa spread across a period of 14 years commencing in 2022/23 monitoring year.

2.14 Whilst the evidence fora windfall provision is set out in the Topic Paper, it is important to note the following points:

2.14.1 Point 1: The Council's evidence in the Topic Paper is based primarily on historic trend data. In a Borough that is constrained by Green Belt and, in the absence of an up-to-date Local Plan, the historic trend data is likely to contain higher windfall rates than will prevail in the future.

2.14.2 Point 2: The Council seeks to rely on 100 dwellings from windfalls in the current 5-year period yet no compelling evidence has been presented as required by Paragraph 70 of the Framework 2019 to demonstrate that this is a reliable source for delivery in the first 5-years. This component of supply should be removed.

2.15 As a result of the above headline points the affect on the Council's supply sources is summarised in the table below:

Table 1: Summary of Amendments Made to Council's Supply Sources:

Supply Source

Council

Neame Sutton

Difference

Completions

1,552

1,552

0

Commitments

3,127

2,815

-312*

Outstanding and New Allocations

9,397

6,855

-2,542**

Windfalls

700

600

-100***

TOTAL

14,776

11,822

-2,954

*10% reduction to allow for flexibility 

**10% reduction to allocations in current 5-year period and adjustment to strategic site delivery expectations in line with empirical evidence

***remove of 100 dwellings from current 5-year period

2.16 The affects of the above amendments on the Council's housing trajectory is demonstrated in Tables 1 and 2 attached at Appendix 1 of this Note.

Application of the Appropriate Buffer (Paragraph 73 of the Framework 2019):

2.17 In addition to the above points relating to supply and given that this Plan is being progressed in compliance with the Framework 2019 the Council should have tested its trajectory on the basis of a 10% buffer applied in accordance with Paragraph 73 b). Instead the Council has only applied a 5% buffer, which cannot be correct where it will seek, in due course, to place reliance on the safeguard in footnote 38 of the Framework that is afforded to a recently adopted Plan.

2.18 A 10% buffer should therefore be applied to the housing requirement figure in the trajectory.

3.0 5-Year Housing Land Supply

3.1 The Council's housing trajectory set out in the Topic Paper does not provide a rolling 5-year supply calculation so it is not possible to ascertain whether the Plan will deliver and maintain a 5-year supply as required by the Framework 2019.

3.2 The only 5-year supply calculation provided by the Council is set out in Five Year Housing Supply 2018/19 document, which is clearly out-of-date.

3.3 Neame Sutton's Table 1 in Appendix 1 of this Note provides a rolling 5-year supply calculation based on the Council's own data and appears to confirm a relatively healthy positive position.

3.4 However, when the adjustments are made to the Council's supply sources as set out in Section 2 of this note the supply position alters dramatically.

3.5 Table 2 in Appendix 1 sets out the rolling 5-year housing supply position with the supply sources amended and confirms that at no point during the Plan period will the Plan deliver a positive 5-year supply position.

3.6 It is important to note that this position will persist even if one was not to apply all of the adjustments set out in Section 2 of this Note.

3.7 The Plan therefore fails the key soundness test of planning positively and in accordance with National policy to help significantly boost the supply of housing.

4.0 Conclusions on Soundness of Plan

4.1 On the basis of the headline assessment undertaken in this Technical Note it is apparent that the housing trajectory proposed for the Plan will not deliver a rolling 5-years supply of deliverable housing sites and as a consequence the Plan is unsound as currently drafted.

4.2 The solution for the Council is a simple one. Further site allocations are required to ensure adequate delivery of the right sites at the right time to ensure a robust housing delivery trajectory and consequently a positive rolling 5-year supply position.

[TWBC: See  full response]

DLP_7961

Wendy Owen

Given the challenges acknowledged in many places facing the borough, and the proposals to release Green Belt and build on AONB land, it is not at all clear why the Draft Local Plan proposes to build more dwellings than is actually required. We have already set out in our response why we consider the number is too high in the first place based on population growth projections. For TWBC to propose even more dwellings are built seems very strange. We strongly recommend the final draft of the plan should reduce the number of dwellings to the required level and remove sites from the plan based on the sensitivity of the site.

We note that according to correspondence with the developer, the plan anticipates build-out rates for Policy AL/RTW 18 / site 137 will commence in 2024 and run until 2028. However we also note that the proposed secondary school will be built post 2030 (see Infrastructure Delivery Plan). If development on this site does go ahead, no housing should be permitted until the school is complete. Not only will this preserve the AONB/Green Belt in the meantime, but it also ensures the developer at least part funds the build of the school and this will not necessarily be the case if the homes have already been built – the developer could cease trading between 2028 and post 2030.

DLP_4447

James Whitehorn

Housing Needs Study 2018

Housing Needs Assessment Topic Paper

Housing Supply and Trajectory Topic Paper

I have referred to these documents in my comments on the strategic policies above [TWBC: See comments 4443_4445-4446].

Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_1903

Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum

Topic Paper or supporting document title: SHELAA Site Assessment sheets for Royal Tunbridge Wells

We previously submitted detailed comments on a number of the sites submitted under the Call for Sites which might become subject to an allocation. We set out those comments again under each specific AL/RTW Policy in relation to the sites now proposed for allocation in the DraftSo far as sites which were considered unlikely to be allocated and have now not been allocated for future development, we set out our comments in Appendix 6.

Town Forum policy is that development in the AONB and Green Belt should take place only on proof of exceptional circumstances. Any evidence put forward of exceptional circumstances will have to satisfy the Inspector at Examination in accordance with relevant legal precedent. In the very difficult circumstances of the current unsatisfactory relationship between Central Government and Local Authorities and subject to the important caveat above, we are broadly supportive of most of the sites now selected for allocation in the unparished area of Royal Tunbridge Wells, subject in many cases to conditions. We also strongly support decisions taken on those submitted sites deemed unsuitable for allocation as set out in our comments in Appendix 6. Full comments on sites proposed for allocation appear in our response to the AL/RTW Policies ante.

This is subject also to the caveat that we do not agree with the method by which Central Government calculates housing need and the consequent target housing numbers. In particular, the Office for National Statistics produced a revised 2016 methodology, which in the case of Tunbridge Wells Borough would require only 67% of the 2014 figure, according to some analysts. The government-imposed methodology and fears of the Draft Local Plan being found unsound at Public Examination have perhaps led TWBC not to seek fully to exploit potential constraints recognised by the NPPF in relation to the 70% of the Borough which is classified as AONB and the 22% which is classified as Metropolitan Green Belt and also infrastructure constraints such as acknowledged severe existing water stress and problems with waste water treatment.

The approach taken in this Regulation 18 Draft has resulted in some draft allocations in RTW and elsewhere in the Borough which are intrusive into Green Belt and AONB. We would therefore urge TWBC to keep carefully under review the legislation and any legal precedents and Inspectors’ decisions arising under the legislation in the period up to submission of the Regulation 19 Draft in relation to exceptional circumstances and housing need methodology, in case some mitigation of proposed incursions into the AONB and Green Belt may be possible.

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Please see our comments on infrastructure delivery in relation to individual Policies above

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Transport Strategy Review

Please see our comments under the TP Policies above.

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Transport Study

Please see our comments under the TP Policies above.

 

DLP_4651

Ann & John Furminger

3.22 Table 2 Draft Infrastructure

Where is the research on numbers for Staplehurst, Marden, and Etchingham which is where residents of Hawkhurst, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, Goudhurst and Frittenden will commute from?

 

DLP_7966

Wendy Owen

The IDP states the Spratsbrook site (AL/RTW 18 / site 137) is reserved until post 2030 for a new secondary school. Notwithstanding our significant objections to developing site 137 in the first place, if, come 2030, it transpires there is no need for a new school, TWBC should publicly commit to leave the whole site undeveloped.

In addition, the IDP states the new secondary school should be 6FE (form entry classes) whereas the place shaping policy states it will be a 7FE school. The plan should be consistent on these things.

 

DLP_3942

Mrs June Bell

2.11

The DLP strategy for growth is sustainability - however Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish is 16miles (Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, Ashford, from the main centres of employment; has limited public transport provision especially at weekends & after 6pm in the evening; train arrivals to Staplehurst Station do not coincide with the hourly bus service; no health facilities or nursery schools in Sissinghurst. What is more approx.

Sustainable development of an appropriate scale at the smaller settlements to provide opportunities at the local level to meet housing needs and sustain local services and infrastructure, as well as the support for new local facilities where required, and at all times being aware that such development is taking place on valued and (in many cases) protected landscapes.

 

DLP_7241

Elizabeth Daley

Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan

3.22 Table 2

Where is the research on numbers for Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which is where residents of Haawkhurst, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, Goudhurst and Frittenden will commute from?

3.36. ‘Requirement for parking has still not been identified’

There is recognition that parking is an issue at stations, but no plans have been made to address this and there are no figures on requirement.

This should include requirement at Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which are all used by Borough residents

No bus service improvement is planned for the Parish of Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, despite the Parish massively under the planned allocations..

 

DLP_6867

John Gibson

Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Section 3 Paragraph 22 Table 2

There are no research figures provided for Staplehurst railway station which is where most new residents will commute from.

Section 3 Paragraph 36

No plans are provided to provide extra parking at Staplehurst railway station to accommodate the increased commuter traffic that will result from this and the other proposed developments in Cranbrook and Sissinghurst.

There is no mention of any improvement to the local public bus service.

 

DLP_8281

Ann Gibson

Where is the research on numbers for Staplehurst Station which is where residents of Cranbrook and Hawkhurst will commute from?

 

DLP_8087

Department for Education

22. TWBC has produced an updated Infrastructure Delivery Plan (August 2019). Based on the proposed growth in TWBC, the IDP sets out the additional permanent capacity is needed to meet the need for school places, based on pupil projections. It would be helpful if the evidence base for the pupil projections could be included/published in order to understand the basis for this, and to demonstrate the likely population generated by the planned residential development. The IDP also includes indicative costs for the provision of new primary and secondary schools. It would be helpful to understand the basis for these indicative costs, to ensure that the assumptions are sufficient and provide robust evidence when seeking Developer Contributions.

23. The IDP should be regularly reviewed to ensure that it is accurately reflecting the latest data on pupil projections, school place need and to reflect school expansions and new school openings. The IDP should also be reviewed and monitored to assess data in relation to developer obligations received for education.

24. Given the significant cross-boundary movement of school pupils between TWBC and adjoining areas (particularly given the two-tier system as TWBC is not the Education Authority), as referenced in the IDP, DfE recommends that the Council covers this matter and progress in cooperating to address it as part of its Statement of Common Ground.8 This should be regularly updated during the plan-making process to reflect emerging agreements between participating authorities and the Council's own plan-making progress.

Developer Contributions and Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

25. One of the tests of soundness is that a Local Plan is ‘effective’, meaning the plan should be deliverable over its period. In this context and with specific regard to planning for schools, there is a need to ensure that education contributions made by developers are sufficient to deliver the additional school places required to meet the increase in demand generated by new developments. DfE notes that TWBC have produced a Planning Obligations SPD which will need to be updated to reflect Local Plan priorities and the 2019 CIL Regulations.

26. Local authorities have sometimes experienced challenges in funding schools via Section 106 planning obligations due to limitations on the pooling of developer contributions for the same item or type of infrastructure. However, the revised CIL Regulations remove this constraint, allowing unlimited pooling of developer contributions from planning obligations and the use of both Section 106 funding and CIL for the same item of infrastructure. The advantage of using Section 106 relative to CIL for funding schools is that it is clear and transparent to all stakeholders what value of contribution is being allocated by which development to which schools, thereby increasing certainty that developer contributions will be used to fund the new school places that are needed. DfE supports the use of planning obligations to secure developer contributions for education wherever there is a need to mitigate the direct impacts of development, consistent with Regulation 122 of the CIL Regulations.

27. We also request a reference within the Local Plan’s policies or supporting text to explain that developer contributions may be secured retrospectively, when it has been necessary to forward fund infrastructure projects in advance of anticipated housing growth. An example of this would be the local authority’s expansion of a secondary school to ensure that places are available in time to support development coming forward. This helps to demonstrate that the plan is positively prepared and deliverable over its period.

28. DfE would be particularly interested in responding to any update to the Infrastructure Delivery Plan/Infrastructure Funding Statement, viability assessment or other evidence relevant to education which may be used to inform local planning policies and potential future CIL charging schedules should TWBC determine to proceed with CIL. As such, please add DfE to the database for future consultations on relevant plans and proposals.

 

DLP_8188

Highways England

Whole IDP

It would assist to include a map of the borough showing key infrastructure locations. This could be via different colour dots for each type of infrastructure. It would also assist in seeing the complete picture and any implications for the timing of infrastructure delivery.

While the themes are helpful, the Plan/IDP should also ensure that a holistic approach is taken. For example, to ensure the transport implications of the delivery of education, health, energy or communications provision in particular locations are assessed at the outset.

Theme 1 Transport

Text should be included to acknowledge that mitigation required as a result of development within the Borough may be located beyond its boundary; for example, at the Flimwell Crossroads.

Table 1

Equestrians should be included under transport.

TWBC: see Technical Note. See also full representation.]

 

DLP_3730

Capel Parish Council

Theme 2 Education

In relation to Secondary Schools, under ‘Current planned provision’ from paragraph 3.71 (p.31-32) it is stated that provision for “One FE expansion of Mascalls Academy for 2021-22” is planned to meet existing needs. Further down p.32 the IDP details ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ have been identified as “Up to eight FE new Secondary School to be provided on land at the garden settlement at Tudeley Village and further expansion of Mascalls Academy at Paddock Wood”. There is no further detail; however, capacity at Mascalls Academy can only be increased by a finite amount due to location constraints. This, therefore, makes the development of 4,000 houses in East Capel (AL / CA 3 and AL / PW 1) unsustainable as many children will be required to travel to the planned new Secondary School at Tudeley.

TWBC acknowledges that there are serious constraints; in the dLP under Policy AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 it states that “Development at this site is subject to the provision of land for the expansion of Mascalls

As the location of the potential land for expansion appears unknown, the proposed development is therefore unsustainable. The development at East Capel should be removed from the dLP unless there is certainty that sufficient Education provision can be made.

Please also see our comments in COMMENT BOX 2 under the heading ‘Strategic Objective 5: Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity’

 

DLP_8214

Mrs Suzi Rich

Topic Paper or supporting document title:

· Distribution of Development Topic Paper

· Green Belt Study

· Infrastructure Delivery Plan

· Transport Strategy Review: Context and Way Forward including Appendix C: Local Plan Transport Assessment Report 2019 (prepared by Sweco)

Comments on the Distribution of Development Topic Paper

Chapter 2: Settlement Pattern (p.2)

The table at paragraph 2.7 shows Five Oak Green in Group B, the same group as Brenchley, Lamberhust and Goudhurst. This is despite multiple Issues & Options consultation responses that the facilities listed (each with a score) were incorrect. These other villages are considerably larger settlements that Five Oak Green, with significantly more facilities available.

Chapter 3: Development Constraints (p.4)

This chapter considers only designated sites: MGB, AONB, Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. These do not appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the MGB. Development adjacent to a constrained site can have a significant impact on it. This would certainly be the case for AL/CA 1 which borders the AONB and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW1 which includes an area of Ancient Woodland.

Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11)

Paragraph 5.3 outlines key issues identified in the responses to this consultation, including, at bullet point 3 that the “Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town area and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages”. What consideration has been given to this issue when identifying the new settlements at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA3 or Transport Policy TP 6?

Paragraph 5.6 summarises the main outcomes of the consultation for the question relating to the five strategic options for delivery presented in the Issues and Options document. Only 18% ranked Option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as their most preferred approach. It is submitted that this would have been even less if the site/sites now proposed at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 had been identified at that time. Appendix 1 to The Issues and Options Consultation Statement, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website at https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/issues-and-options, lists the Strategy Considerations at Section 5 (p.26-39). It is clear from p.33, that by far the largest level of support was 60% for Option 4 (Growth Corridor led approach). However, p.39 of the same document states that “A level of support was indicated in the Issues and Options responses for a new settlement.” This is misleading. The Consultation Statement goes on to consider the responses to question 10 and 10a relating to preferences for a combination of Options (p.35). The first bullet point states that the responses indicate that it is worth “Exploring further the potential for ‘new settlement growth’, as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options”. The statement is blatantly not true!

Paragraphs 5.7-5.8 cover question 11/11a, which asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough and suggestions for possible locations. It lists the key issues referred to across the response groups, which include:

  • Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links
  • Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)
  • Should be sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion. Should be a stand-alone, self-sufficient development planned as a whole
  • Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.

These views have been completely ignored by TWBC! They should carry weight and should have informed the decision on the strategic site proposals.

Suggestions for a possible location for a new settlement included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure. NOT ONE suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure.

Paragraphs 5.9-5.10 cover question 12/12a, which asked whether all reasonable options for accommodating future development growth within the borough have been considered and identified and if not, what other options should be considered. Respondents suggested that the following options should be considered:

  • Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned
  • Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed
  • Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights. Overall focus on sustainable locations
  • Focus on A21 corridor

Where have these responses been acknowledged in the dLP? Have these options been considered at all?

Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14)

Paragraph 6.2 states “For the second Call for Sites, officers contacted the promotors of sites submitted to the first Call for Sites and identified and then contacted owners of land around settlements (on a ‘without prejudice’ basis) that had not been submitted through the first Call for Sites to enable them to submit sites if they wished. This proactive approach encouraged owners of land that could be suitable for development to submit sites for consideration”. Why were we told by Stephen Baughan at the Capel Annual Parish Meeting that TWBC had no influence on what sites were submitted and that the officers just had to work with what appeared in the Call for Sites!

Paragraph 6.2 also expressly states that the second 'Call for Sites' was undertaken between May and June 2017. In the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017. It was stated “although the call for sites remains open, it will no longer be possible to include any new sites within the site assessment process that is informing the Draft Local Plan (being prepared under Regulation 18) AS THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO ADEQUATELY ASSESS SUCH SITES. (TWBC will continue to accept in order that they may be assessed & potentially included at Reg 19)”. The evidence base persuaded TWBC to opt for Growth Strategy Option 3 (existing urban distribution plus villages) and Option 4 (A21 growth corridor). There was a possibility of Option 5 (new settlement) in the longer term (8 possible sites but 5 not shortlisted including AL/ CA 1). Presumably this underwent a robust process based on robust evidence? This was still the preferred stance March 2018, however in April 2018, there appeared to be a complete change of direction which resulted in the allocation of 60% of the proposed development in the Parish of Capel. Where in the DLP is this new evidence base?

Paragraph 6.56 (p.14) confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green Belt sites. Why not?

When was site 448 (Land at Tudeley) first considered (p.24-30)? Table 2 details TWBC’s Conclusions of the SHELAA and SA on garden settlement options but gives no credible explanation as to why the Tudeley site is considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Neither does Table 3 which details the outcome of TWBC’s Consideration of proposed strategic allocation sites against para 72 of the NPPF. This table is misleading and inaccurate. The site is NOT well located.

Paragraph 6.48 and bullet points (p.38) – how will there be “compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality”?

Comments on the Green Belt Study

The site at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) falls within Broad Areas BA3 and BA4. The ‘Potential Level of Harm to the Green Belt Associated with Release of Broad Areas BA3 and BA4 is ‘VERY HIGH’ (Figure 1.1 (p.8))

Broad Area BA3 is considered to provide a contribution to gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood; extent of openness; distinction between Low and High Weald landscapes. Broad Area BA4 is considered to provide contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and a gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood (Table 4.1 (p.17))

BA3 is assessed as contributing strongly to three out of four of the Green Belt purposes identified by the NPPF. The exception to this is Purpose 4 which is categorised as weak/no contribution but the overall contribution to the Green Belt is assessed to be ‘VERY HIGH’ (Table 6.1 (p.28))

BA4 contributes strongly to purpose 2 and 3 but relatively weak to purpose 1 and 4. Overall its contribution remains ‘VERY HIGH’.

There appears to be a total disregard for the Green Belt allocation that covers the Capel area and the Borough’s own study that was commissioned to identify the contribution of different areas to the purposes of the Green Belt

Neither CA1 nor CA2 are included in the Green Belt Assessment Appendices – why were they not assessed?

Comments on the Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Education

In relation to Secondary Schools, under ‘Current planned provision’ from paragraph 3.71 (p.31-32) it is stated that provision for “One FE expansion of Mascalls Academy for 2021-22” is planned to meet existing needs. Further down p.32 the IDP details ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ have been identified as “Up to eight FE new Secondary School to be provided on land at the garden settlement at Tudeley Village and further expansion of Mascalls Academy at Paddock Wood”. There is no further detail; however, capacity at Mascalls Academy can only be increased by a finite amount due to location constraints. This, therefore, makes the development of 4,000 houses in East Capel (AL / CA 3 and AL / PW 1) unsustainable as many children will be required to travel to the planned new Secondary School at Tudeley.

TWBC acknowledges that there are serious constraints; in the dLP under Policy AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 it states that “Development at this site is subject to the provision of land for the expansion of Mascalls”

As the location of the potential land for expansion appears unknown, the proposed development is therefore unsustainable. The development at East Capel should be removed from the dLP unless there is certainty that sufficient Education provision can be made.

Health

Under the heading ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ at paragraph 3.104 (p.40) it states that “The Council has not been made aware of any specific requirements over the plan period; however, discussions with the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have highlighted potential need for extension of either the Tunbridge Wells Hospital or Maidstone Hospital to serve the West Kent Area over the Plan period”

Under the heading ‘Emergency Services’ at paragraph 3.201 (p.62) it states that “Emergency services for the purposes of this IDP include Police, Fire and Rescue, and Ambulance services” before confirming under the heading ‘Related strategies and evidence’: “None identified at this stage”

Several thousand houses will create huge pressures on every aspect of NHS provision – it is unacceptable to not have identified this need & just refer to a “potential need”. The TW Hospital at Pembury is already at capacity, the site is not capable of being extended, and there is already a serious issue with car parking. Handover times between ambulance & hospital have historically been a scandal due to acute bed shortage.

Please also see my comments in COMMENT BOX 2 under the heading ‘Strategic Objective 5: Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity’

Comments on the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base

Chapter 9: Mitigation Measures

Figure 9-2 shows the ‘Mitigation Interventions Mapped’ (p.142) which shows the proposed routes for the following ‘highway measures’ detailed in Table 9-2 (p.138):

“202 New bypass link of Colts Hill - Reduce congestion at key junctions + match link capacity and link quality to adjoining Pembury bypass standard”

“203 Link road to new Colts Hill Bypass Will remove through highway trips through Five Oak Green”

It is unclear why TWBC believes that people living at Tudeley New Town will need to travel to the Colts Hill Bypass via a link road. They can access Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, London or the South via the A21 which runs almost parallel to the proposed route. To travel West to Paddock Wood or Maidstone, a more sensible route for a link road would be North of the railway line to meet the A228 where it is dualled before East Peckham. Why would anyone need to travel to Colts Hill? A link route following the current proposed route would be disastrous and needs to be removed. The grey blob of an alternative route, shown in most of the publically available maps, connecting the north of AL/CA 1 to Paddock Wood, appears to be missing in this assessment. Why?

It is suggested building the Colts Hill strategic link is vital to delivery of the proposed new developments in Capel. How will this improve connectivity? It will be a faster, polluting road to nowhere unless the congestion on the A264 and the two roundabouts at Pembury can be dealt with (there are no proposals to do so in the dLP and the Hendys development will make this worse). Traffic to the A21 from Paddock Wood will continue to use the B2017. The A228 strategic link has been mooted for the last forty years, initially as a requirement due to the Channel Tunnel! The whole area surrounding Paddock Wood needs a radical holistic solution. The dualling of the A21 was supposedly going to reduce traffic in this area but as TMBC have discovered, through traffic has actually increased in volume in Tonbridge since the “improvement”

[TWBC: See comments DLP_8189-8214 for full representation]

 

DLP_3516

High Weald AONB Unit

The Local Plan claims to be infrastructure-led but it is just a shopping list. No spatial analysis of need has been provided and as a result it is difficult for us to assess what is put forward as the overarching principle of the Plan. Para 3.64 of the IDP appears to suggest the opposite - ‘… summarises the transport needs … in order to support growth planned for in the Draft Plan’. Far from the Plan being ‘infrastructure-led’; it is the level of development that is driving infrastructure.

Similar inconsistency is seen across other themes. For example, it is clear from the IDP that the need to allocate land for a new GP surgery in Cranbrook within the AONB has only been created by the decision to allocate significant number of new homes in the AONB, a position that remains to be tested through the local plan process. Likewise with water, Paras 3.133 and 3.150 suggest that the need to increase water supply and waste water capacity in Hawkhurst within the AONB is driven by ‘the needs of the growth proposed …’.

There appears to be no analysis of constraints, impacts or options in relation to infrastructure. For example, a continuous footpath is proposed along A229 between Hawkhurst and Sissinghurst (Para 3.59). While we welcome improvements to the footpath and cycle network, a proper analysis of this proposal would have revealed that this route is a historic communication route lying within the High Weald AONB and representing a core component of its character and beauty. Part of this route is deeply sunken and associated with archaeologically valuable bank and ditch systems, ancient trees and ancient woodland. It is too far to be viable for everyday walking but cycling is not mentioned, nor are any off-road alternatives considered.

 

DLP_1528

Mike Hinton

We refer to the transport section 3.50/3.59/3.64 of the infrastructure delivery plan 2019 for Tunbridge Wells.

We are pleased to see the proposals for Calverley Park Gardens. They are clearly beneficial to the both the residents of the road and Carlton Road and we trust  they will be implemented in the not too distant future.

 

DLP_3403

Kent County Council (Growth, Environment and Transport)

Theme 1: Transport

Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan

Paragraph 3.50

Highways and Transportation

The paragraph aims to increase bus patronage proposing several schemes (such as a dedicated bus right turn lane at Woodsgate Corner, and the closure of Calverley Park Gardens to all traffic except for buses and access) – however these have not been fully explored.

Also, there is no mention of Park & Ride for Royal Tunbridge Wells and the surrounding areas, which could be a key tool in managing traffic growth. KCC as Local Highway Authority agrees with the ambitions of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to maintain and enhance the rail and bus networks and services and “encourage an efficient and improved strategic public transport network and safeguard any routes that may be required in the future, in places that will cater to those who commute, and will encourage a reduction in the necessity for the private car”.

However, the allocation of the Park & Ride site at Woodsgate Corner (AL/PE 7) as car showrooms goes against the objectives of this paragraph. The proposed removal of this Park & Ride site from the Local Plan effectively removes the chance of an improved direct public transport service into the town. With the levels of proposed growth to the north of this site further along the A228 corridor, the safeguarding of this well located site for Park & Ride (or innovative alternative) is vital. The inability to deliver a Park & Ride site could put uncertainty on the Borough Council’s ability to deliver the preferred growth strategy.

Paragraph 3.60  

This paragraph refers to the North Farm Masterplan. This document will be superseded by the schemes resulting from the ongoing SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base, a separate study on the North Farm area commissioned by KCC Highways and the Longfield Road business park planning application (TW/19/02267).

Table 3 Transport needs for the settlements within Tunbridge Wells borough 

KCC recommends that this table should be amended to refer to improvements to the public footway network and PRoW network across the Borough. There is also reference to schemes (i.e. bus priority, A26, North Farm Masterplan, Hawkhurst junction) that should be amended in line within comments within Appendix 1.

The IDP states: “A26 - reallocation of road space with smart traffic management to improve journey time reliability and provide infrastructure for sustainable modes (walk, cycle and bus)” KCC, as Local Highway Authority does not have confidence that this methodology will improve flows on the A26 enough to mitigate the additional traffic generated by Local Plan growth. The addition of smart traffic management (i.e. MOVA or SCOOT) to junctions that currently do not have signals in order to control the corridor will add delays that cannot be mitigated by such control systems.

This is not acceptable and mitigation measures should be explored before the Regulation 19 consultation to provide reassurance to KCC as Local Highway Authority that the impact of growth will not result in unacceptable safety or congestion issues on the A264, A26 and other key junctions in the town.

A need for “New relief road through the Hawkhurst Golf Club site linking the A268 High Street and A229 Cranbrook Road and new junction with the existing A229 Cranbrook Road” is included within the IDP.

The reference to the new section of road being a ‘relief’ road is misleading. It is not yet evident that the changes to the main junction proposed through the Golf Club application will be acceptable (i.e. achieve nil detriment or decrease the level of traffic/congestion/journey time through the junction thereby not causing a severe impact) for the number of dwellings proposed on the Golf Club site - not including further allocations affecting the junction: there is a presumption that the road diversion will relieve the junction significantly in order to allow more development in the village. This is not the case at the time of writing.

Until the Golf Club application is assessed (KCC is currently awaiting more information) the cumulative impact of all allocations at Hawkhurst would be likely to cause a severe impact on the junction with no mitigation proposed. KCC as Local Highway Authority therefore objects to the allocation of these sites and any subsequent planning applications. It is recommended that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council undertakes:

a) an assessment of the cumulative impact of all proposed allocations - excluding the Golf Club - on the junction as it is currently, and

b) an assessment of the cumulative impact of all proposed applications - including the Golf Club - with the proposed A229 diversion across the Golf Club site in place. This will assist Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and KCC Highways in understanding the impact of development in this area.

As can be seen in Appendix 1, this has resulted in an objection to all residential allocations in Hawkhurst at this stage.

Theme 9: Waste and Recycling

Overview of existing provision 

Paragraph 3.247 

Waste Management

KCC would like to provide update in respect of Waste to ensure the IDP is reflecting the most recent information. This paragraph notes the unprecedented demand for KCC Waste facilities, but it needs to be clearer to explain that whilst KCC does operate “a network of 18 Household Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and six co-located Waste Transfer Stations (WTSs)” this is across the whole County and that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is served by one combined WTS and HWRC at North Farm.

Current planned provision 

Paragraph 3.248 

This paragraph only mentions Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s service.  It should also note that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s new recycling and waste collection service arrangements have already put additional pressure on the KCC North Farm WTS, as further separation of waste streams and collection of food waste has required additional infrastructure to be provided, effectively reducing the operational capacity of the site.

Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan 

Paragraph 3.251 

The following statement is the Borough Council’s view on infrastructure requirements as Waste Collection Authority– “There are unlikely to be any major short term (five years) infrastructure requirements, but potentially some over the lifetime of the Plan, such as expansion to the depot”.  KCC’s infrastructure requirements as the Waste Disposal Authority are different and noted in commentary relating to paragraph 3.253.

Paragraph 3.253 

KCC Waste Management has stated that as a result of additional demand generated by housing growth, this is likely to result in a requirement to build more, larger sites or invest in the maintenance or repair of existing Household Waste Recycling Centres (HWRCs) and Waste Transfer Stations (WTSs). At the Tunbridge Wells (North Farm) HWRC and WTS, KCC is expecting an increase in waste throughput especially through the Waste Transfer Station as a result of significant housing development resulting in an increase in kerbside collections. The WTS is already reaching its operational capacity, as evidenced through turnaround times for vehicles using the site. Consequently, mitigation at this site or provision of a new site to provide the required capacity is likely to be needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan. With regards to the HWRC provision at the site, the site operates well, although will near capacity by 2030, meaning that expansion or provision of a new or additional site is likely to be needed over the life of the Plan. The location of the site will make expansion challenging, however, minor amendments to facilitate access and flow around the site as throughput increases will be investigated in the short term.

KCC recommends the following text is removed from paragraph 3.253 “ The new waste collection contract between Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Urbaser is requiring work to be completed at the Transfer Station by KCC to allow for the increased range of materials collected kerbside ”.

Table 15 Waste and recycling needs for settlements within Tunbridge Wells borough

The County Council would like to see this table amended to include WTS expansion/improvement need. It is requested that the proposed changes read: “Possible expansion and improvements to the existing Waste Transfer Station and Household Waste Recycling Centre within the plan period”.

Appendix 1: Infrastructure Delivery Schedule

Table 16

Waste Management

KCC would like to see a project to increase capacity at North Farm WTS and HWRC included in Appendix 1, Table 16 Infrastructure Delivery Schedule, under the Borough Wide heading. The County Council would be happy to provide details to complete this.

Highways and Transportation

The distinction between ‘Critical’ and ‘Essential’ priority is unclear. Early provision of certain transport infrastructure schemes will be fundamental to providing a sustainable development with reduced reliance on the private car.

 

DLP_4224

Tunbridge Wells District Committee Campaign to Protect Rural England

In general we are impressed by the great efforts that have clearly been made to gather all the relevant evidence, during a time when the Government kept moving the goalposts.

Most comments that we make relating to the topic papers and other supporting documents are made in our comments on policies.  However, we make the following additional comments:

Infrastructure Delivery Plan

The draft Plan claims to be infrastructure-led but it appears to be primarily led by the proposed quantity and siting of new development and by a desire to build new roads.

There appears to be no proper analysis of constraints, impacts or options in relation to infrastructure.

Too much of the proposed new infrastructure appears to have little chance of being adequately funded (much of the funding being TBC) and therefore there can be little confidence that the infrastructure required to serve new development on the scale proposed will actually materialise and be in place when it is needed.

 

DLP_5618
DLP_5572

Mrs Jacqueline Hewitt
Mr Paul Hewitt

TWBC: The following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan

3.22 Table 2

Where is the research on numbers for Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which is where residents of Hawkhurst, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, Goudhurst and Frittenden will commute from?

3.36. ‘Requirement for parking has still not been identified’

There is recognition that parking is an issue at stations, but no plans have been made to address this and there are no figures on requirement.

This should include requirement at Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which are all used by Borough residents

No bus service improvement is planned for the Parish of Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, despite the Parish massively under the planned allocations..

 

DLP_5079

Tally Wade

Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.186 (page 59)

I object to the planned replacement of the Cranbrook Library as part of a planned community centre and possible medical centre without any engagement of the community. The NDP has not been formally engaged as a whole and we have not engaged with the community on this subject. Where is the evidence that this has happened?

Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.194 (page 61)

I object to the lack of consultation with the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Development Plan on the replacement of the Cranbrook library with book stock at the prosed Cranbrook Community Hub. The NDP has not been formally engaged as a whole and we have not engaged with the community on this subject. Where is the evidence that this has happened?

Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.107 Table 8 (page 41) and Appendix 1 – Infrastructure Delivery Schedule (page 101)

I object to the lack of engagement with the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Development Plan on the incorporation of the three Cranbrook based GP practices into one medical facility proposed for the same site as the Cranbrook Community Hub (Wilkes Field). The Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council has formally agreed to engage the whole community on how this project should be shaped, what provisions should be incorporated, whether a new build is needed and how the ‘parish funding’ part of the project would be delivered. Where is the evidence that this has happened?

 

DLP_4352

Tunbridge Wells Bicycle User's Group

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) (Supporting doc) 

The IDP fails to communicate a sense of purpose.

It acknowledges that “cycling provision has traditionally been poor.”

It goes on to list “some improvements”, which are of varying quality and usefulness.

What is striking is the piecemeal nature of these improvements. Nowhere is there any mention of the “network of high quality cycle routes” promised in the Cycling Strategy.

The document then continues to the topic of ‘future provision’ and refers to the LCWIP, a work in progress which is likely to increase funding opportunities for various proposals.

Under the ‘future provision’ banner para 3.59 repeats the need for a modal shift and then identifies just two town-centre routes along the A264 and A26, plus planning within the  North Farm Masterplan for a multi modal shift. Thus the ‘future provision’ identifies only cycleways which already exist (albeit to a standard which is so low that they attract few users) or which are already planned.

In these respects the IDP needs updating to match the more ambitious aims of the ‘Cycling Strategy’.

 

DLP_5083

Southborough Cricket Club

Theme 7 (Sport and Recreation) 

We agree with the assessment that “Qualitative improvements are required to some clubhouses and pitches to meet modern standards” but would go further that some of the clubhouses require more than qualitative improvements, with some requiring complete re-design and re-build in order to meet modern standards.

The pavilion currently utilised by Southborough Cricket Club is one of the clubhouses in the Borough that is close to reaching end of life and with the increase in numbers of female players, requires a complete re-design prior to re-build in order to offer a facility that meets the needs of all players and of spectators.

Table Number: Table 14 Sport and recreation provision needs for settlements within Tunbridge Wells borough

Within the Southborough Parish section, under the column headed “Requirement (outdoor)” we would ask that the requirement for the pavilion for Southborough Cricket Club needing to be re-built is incorporated as follows:

“New enhanced and expanded cricket pavilion on the Common”

 

DLP_5311

Judith Ashton Associates for Redrow Homes Ltd and Persimmon Homes South East

The draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Having reviewed the draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP), we note that appendix 1 sets out the full extent of the infrastructure requirements that will be sought from the development in and around Paddock Wood/ Capel, some of which it acknowledges will also be connected to the development of the new settlement at Tudeley. The indicative costs of some of these infrastructure works vary significantly. Furthermore, it is not clear how the costs of these works will be divided between the various parts of the Paddock Wood/ Capel allocation, or how these costs have been factored into any viability assessments that have been undertaken.

It is clear from a review of the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) for the Draft Local Plan Reg 18 Consultation, especially the Site Assessment Sheets for Paddock Wood, that the Paddock Wood/ Capel allocation encompasses many sites, under different ownerships and that some may well progress in advance of others – as appears to be accepted by policy H2 of the Reg 18 Draft Local Plan. Albeit we note the apparent conflict between policy H2 and policy STR/PW1 concerning piecemeal delivery. Whilst policy AL/PW1 requires ‘all development to be delivered through a comprehensive masterplan approach’ and for the masterplanned approach to be ‘linked to the relevant and strategic delivery of infrastructure’, it would in our opinion be more effective to look to promote a Framework Plan and an overarching Strategic Infrastructure Plan separately rather than a masterplan. Whilst there will be cross over and the two will need to be interrelated, the complexities of the Strategic Infrastructure Plan are such that we believe work on this needs to progress at pace if the housing trajectory is to be met.

We also believe it would be expedient if those assisting the Council on matters such as transport infrastructure could meet with those promoting the land at Paddock Wood/ Capel so that the practicalities of some of the proposed works could be discussed further. We say this as, by way of example, Table 3 of the draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan (Transport needs for the settlements within Tunbridge Wells borough) indicates that the plan should provide for ‘New cycling infrastructure within Paddock Wood town and linking to the proposed Hop Pickers Line cycle route via Horsmonden and Goudhurst to A229 Hartley Road’; and appendix 1 indicates that this will be delivered through the Paddock Wood/ Capel developments. Whilst, as the route of the old Hop Pickers Line passes through land in my client’s control and they are more than happy to integrate this into their scheme, they clearly have no control over the council’s ability to provide this through other third-party land. Thus, TWBC need to clarify how they see this being delivered in its totality so that people’s expectations are managed accordingly. To this end we note that reference is made in policy STR/PW1 of the Reg 18 plan to the use of CPO powers, which as we indicate below, whilst helpful in some regards needs to be adopted in a way that does not prejudice/ delay delivery of the strategic allocations.

In the context of the above we note that the draft IDP also highlights the proposed distributor road to the east of Paddock Wood, (which would upgrade from single lane links around allocated sites to reduce congestion on local links and remove through vehicle trips in Paddock Wood) as being ‘Critical’. Unfortunately, the draft IDP, TA [3 Neither Fig 9.2 nor table 9.7 of the TA is clear.] and Reg 18 LP are all unclear as to the extent of the Eastern Distributor Road. We have assumed it will be a combination of online improvements that will provide for the widening of existing routes in places and offline improvements which will divert the route though the development in those places where it is necessary to protect existing properties/ landscape/ heritage features.

As you will be aware, my clients have the ability to deliver a considerable part of this distributor road. That said they would question whether, as it is not clear, the Eastern Distributor Road needs to cross the railway and provide links to the north. Work undertaken by Milestone Transport Planning for my clients indicates that very little development related traffic would go north and east from the site [4

In this context ‘site’ means the land under Redrow and Persimmons control

Milestones report suggests that just 8.1% of trips will go north, 4.1% south, 73.6% west and 14.2% North West (through the town). Which highlights the need for the distributor road to the east.]– the majority would go south and west. Thus any ‘upgrades’ to the east should be limited to the highway improvements to the south of the railway line.

Whilst the draft IDP highlights the fact that Junction improvements at B2017 Badsell Road / B2160 Maidstone Road / Mascalls Court Road and the A228 / B2017 roundabout are to be “…funded as part of approved residential developments at Church Farm, Mascalls Farm & Mascalls Court Farm” we also note that the IDP suggests that a further upgrade to the B2017 Badsell Road / B2160 Maidstone Road / Mascalls Court Road junction to traffic signals could cost up to £550k. Whilst my clients are happy to contribute to any such upgrades, they would ask whether any design work has been carried out on this junction to date and question the extent to which any additional highway land is available to facilitate further improvements. These may in our opinion require cooperation with Mascalls School, which we assume TWBC will liaise with KCC highways and education alike on, rather than look to initiate CPO powers?

We also note the IDP identifies additional future requirements for bus infrastructure including a ‘Demand-responsive urban bus service’ linking residential development to the town centre and rail station within Paddock Wood. Again, whilst I can confirm that my clients are happy to contribute to any such upgrades, they believe further liaison is required with KCC Public Transport officers and operating companies to agree the specification of any such service provision, especially as Church Road is the key sustainable transport corridor between their land and the town centre / rail station.

Likewise, in noting the timescales for the delivery of the primary and secondary education facilities in Paddock Wood/ Capel in the draft IDP, we would stress the fact that these can only be delivered through the approval of the associated housing applications and that as such it’s imperative that plans are put in place to ensure that future applications are determined as swiftly as is practically possible. In this regard we note that the less constrained land to the east of Paddock Wood has, as it is not in the Green Belt and thus does not need to be allocated to be released, the ability to help deliver early on in the plan period – if required.

Finally, we would submit that in order to establish a robust viability for the allocation at Paddock Wood as part of the Reg 19 plan, TWBC and KCC need to identify whether LEP or central government funding will be available to contribute towards the funding of the road and infrastructure improvements envisaged by the local plan and IDP, and the scale of said funding. The development industry will need to know what’s happening by the time the Stage 2 Viability is prepared so that sensible decisions can be taken about what pieces of infrastructure are needed and when and to try and tie infrastructure delivery to particular areas of growth so that house builders know what they need to provide by way of works or by way of contributions. This will help facilitate smooth delivery and thus protect the housing trajectory.

[TWBC: see full representation].

 

DLP_5355

Jennifer Hemming

We are delighted to finally see in Calverley Park Gardens in the transport section 3.50/3.59/3.64 in the Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2019 for Tunbridge Wells, proposing restricting traffic on Calverley Park Gardens and improving the cycle route. We fully support the proposals in the plan, as do Calverley Park Gardens Residents Association, who have been campaigning for a safer environment in this area for many years.

 

DLP_5580

Philip and Vera Stanford

My wife and I are very pleased that the above plan includes proposals for restricting traffic on Calverley Park Gardens. It is a continuing worry that large trucks and lorries continue to use Calverley Park Gardens as a cut through to Pembury Road. Many have difficulty in negotiating the Carr’s Corner roundabout and turning into CPG and the bollards are regularly damaged. There is insufficient room for these and other vehicles to avoid driving on part on the cycle paths. All of this spells particular danger for adults with children and older people. It is often observed that cars turning into GPG from the roundabout accelerate to speeds above the present limit.  All of this raises major concern for pedestrian safely and we very much hope to see the implementation of these and other proposals in the Draft Plan.

 

DLP_5631

Christian Nouyou

I recently read your Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2019 for Tunbridge Wells and was over the moon to see in the transport section 3.50/3.59/3.64 a list of proposals for restricting traffic on Calverley Park Gardens . I am a resident of Calverley Park Gardens and a parent of two primary school aged boys. Crossing this road daily is a constant worry. It's simply dangerous. I really fear for the safety of my boys. There is no where to cross safely and the majority of traffic seems to speed up and down it. The HGV use has lessened but it's still a problem. Please, please, please adopt the proposals. It would be a HUGE benefit to the pedestrians that use this otherwise dangerous road.

 

DLP_5904

Simon Knechtli

Having read the transport section 3.50/3.59/3.64 of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2019 for Tunbridge Wells it is very encouraging to see a list of proposals for restricting traffic on Calverley Park Gardens . Traffic speed, noise and safety concerns have been an ongoing debate and these proposals, particularly stopping general through traffic, will answer to these threats. Only this morning, while waiting for an early morning taxi, I observed cars, HGVs (despite not allowed) and even buses travelling too fast down what is curving blind-spot road. This is a real danger to pedestrians as much as cyclist and I always have concern for mobility chair-users who at points have to use the cycle lane. Not good.

With traffic and speed restricted, the small areas at bus stops, where Mum’s, schoolchildren and the less mobile congregate, would be at much lower risk of accident or injury. I suggest the stops are moved where possible to areas of larger pavement.

Our property, at 4a, suffers from whooshing (almost a vacuum effect) of over-speeding buses and HGV’s as well as the vibrations (felt throughout the property from early morning) they and other speeding vehicles cause when driving over the cracked road surface to which we are adjacent.

The cycle route linking central Tunbridge Wells to Pembury must surely be continuous rather than abruptly finishing at Carrs Corner. Cycling in reserved lanes should be safe as well as encouraging cycling as a fitness, hobby and eco-friendly activity. Currently I feel worry for their safety as well as the mobility users.

Traffic crossing CPG at Carrs corner junction presents a certain risk. Traffic and lorries turn up this road at speed often with no indication or warning. Within 10 minutes this Sunday morning there was a cement mixer, two HGVs and an articulated lorry passed down CPG with no regard for pedestrians or cars pulling out. It’s no surprise that the pedestrian safe-point and bollards are regularly destroyed.

We encourage that this draft proposal is taken forward to dramatically improve safety risk as well as the environment.

 

DLP_6415

Hawkhurst Parish Council

Response to the Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2019

Transport

2.7 & 2.8 The Kent Growth and Infrastructure Framework (2018) does not identify the strategic need for road infrastructure improvements Hawkhurst and makes no mention of the A229. https://www.kent.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0011/79913/GIF-West-KentOverview.pdf

3.4 & 3.6 We note that Highways England have “no further planned improvements to the A21 within the Borough.” However, do Highways England or East Sussex County Council have plans any further improvements to the A21 / A 268 junction at Flimwell? As outlined above, we have grave concerns about the effectiveness of the proposed new road through the golf course in addressing traffic concerns in Hawkhurst. This will require significant improvements to the Flimwell junction - far beyond what is proposed in the current planning application.

3.11 We note and agree that “The A229 is constrained at the junction with the A268 in Hawkhurst and that this cross roads suffers from severe congestion at peak times and other times of the day.” However, we are highly sceptical that a “new relief road through Hawkhurst Golf Club site linking the A268 High Street and A229 Cranbrook Road and a new junction with the existing A229 Cranbrook Road” will provide the necessary mitigation (3.14).

Digital Communications (broadband and mobile)

We note the expectation that new developments are expected to have ultra-fast full fibre to premises. However, there also needs to be a greater push towards better provision to existing properties, as well as improved mobile coverage.

Community Centre

3.194 – Change text to

“The King George V Playing Field at Hawkhurst the Moor is allocated within the Site Allocations Local plan (2016) for a new community centre to replace the existing Copt Hall. Hawkhurst Parish Council is working with Hawkhurst Community Trust 2018 to deliver the project in 2020, for an estimated £2.5 million.

The new Hawkhurst Community Centre will comprise facilities such as: cultural event space, meeting rooms, activity room, changing facilities for the playing fields, café, internet access and provide opportunities for services such as Parish Office, adult social care and adult education.”

 

DLP_7570

Mark Beales

Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.22 Table 2 Where is the research on numbers for Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which is where residents of Hawkhurst, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, Goudhurst and Frittenden will commute from?

Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.36. ‘Requirement for parking has still not been identified’ there is recognition that parking is an issue at stations, but no plans have been made to address this and there are no figures on requirement.

8This should include requirement at Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which are all used by Borough residents

 

DLP_6829

Persimmon Homes South East

Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan

3.6 The draft Infrastructure Development Plan (IDP) identifies several infrastructure improvements that are required to support of growth at Horsmonden, including:

  • new health centre/doctors surgery to serve the village and the surrounding area;
  • expansion of the existing primary school by up to 1 FE to serve the area;
  • new green infrastructure and pedestrian/cycle links/PROW enhancements (including the proposed Hop Pickers Way cycle link).

3.7 Whilst the school extension and the new health centre are required to meet the needs of Horsmonden, they have been identified as come forward on safeguarded land identified as part of Policy Allocation AL/HO3. Whilst we are supportive of the safeguarding of land for the provision of new infrastructure to 634/B1/CC/TA 8 November 2019 support the sustainable growth of Horsemonden, it is also important that responsibility for the delivery the facilities, is made clear in the IDP. Given that these facilities are to serve the wider needs of Horsmonden, it is suggested that this safeguarded land is dealt with by way of a separate allocation specifically related to the delivery of the school and health centre. This is discussed further in Section 6 below.

3.8 Given the relatively low levels of traffic in the local area, and comparatively limited the scale of growth proposed at Horsmonden, the draft IDP does not identify any strategic highways improvements to be delivered within Horsmonden Parish in support of the development strategy.

3.9 Notwithstanding the absence of a requirement for highways improvements, the need to support sustainable opportunities in the village is noted and is supported by Persimmon and can be facilitated through the delivery of our Site. This is discussed further in Section 6 below.

 

DLP_7344

Campaign to Protect Hawkhurst Village

Infrastructure Delivery Plan

The introduction to the IDP confirms that its intention is to set out details of the infrastructure to support the existing and future needs to support the new development envisaged by the DLP.

In respect of Transport matters:

Paragraph 3.4 confirms that there are no planned improvements to the A21 in the Borough.  It does not address whether any works are proposed to Flimwell – which whilst outside the borough will be severely impacted by the DLP growth strategy and relied upon by a large number of residents in the east of the Borough.

Paragraph 3.7 acknowledges that the peak hour congestion suffered by Flimwell.

Paragraph 3.14 sets out the additional future transport mitigation measures required to deliver the growth in the DLP. It includes the Hawkhurst relief road but makes no reference to any scheme at Flimwell.

Appendix 1 identifies that the relief road is a “critical” piece of infrastructure. Paragraph 2.19 defines “critical infrastructure” as infrastructure that must happen to enable physical development to take place.

However, as set out elsewhere in our representations there is no evidence before the Council that the relief road will actually achieve any improvements to the congestion in the village.

Given this categorisation as “critical” if it is demonstrated that the relief road does not achieve the asserted improvements, the IDP suggests that no further development can be accommodated within Hawkhurst.

In turn the IDP should specifically include necessary mitigation measures at Flimwell that at present have simply not been contemplated.

In respect of Education matters, the IDP advises that it proposes to expand Hawkhurst Primary School to provide for Hawkhurst Sandhurst and Benenden by one form entry.

There is no analysis anywhere in the IDP (or anywhere else in the evidence base) to suggest that such an expansion is sufficient to cater for the increased demand generated by the scale of proposed development in Hawkhurst.  The IDP should make clear whether all demand generated by new development is capable of being accommodated within Hawkhurst Primary School even if it is expanded by one form.

In respect of Health matters, the IDP recognises that the growth proposed will increase the patient list by 30%.  It records that there is currently Stage 1 support from the CCG and that the practices are developing an outline business case to progress to Stage 2.  This is at a very early stage and it is clear that there is no certainty at this stage that the proposed amalgamated medical centre is viable or deliverable.  The IDP should make clear that the new centre should be funded by Developer contributions.

In respect of waste water, the IDP acknowledges a need to ensure Hawkhurst has sufficient capacity to meet the needs of growth.  In fact, Southern Water in their response to recent planning applications have made clear that there is currently insufficient capacity to meet existing demand.  This additional infrastructure should be classified as “critical” given current issues.

 

DLP_8151

Ashley Saunders

In relation to Secondary Schools, under ‘Current planned provision’ from paragraph 3.71 (p.31-32) it is stated that provision for “One FE expansion of Mascalls Academy for 2021-22” is planned to meet existing needs. Further down p.32 the IDP details ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ have been identified as “Up to eight FE new Secondary School to be provided on land at the garden settlement at Tudeley Village and further expansion of Mascalls Academy at Paddock Wood”. There is no further detail; however, capacity at Mascalls Academy can only be increased by a finite amount due to location constraints. This, therefore, makes the development of 4,000 houses in East Capel (AL / CA 3 and AL / PW 1) unsustainable as many children will be required to travel to the planned new Secondary School at Tudeley.

TWBC acknowledges that there are serious constraints; in the dLP under Policy AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 it states that “Development at this site is subject to the provision of land for the expansion of Mascalls

As the location of the potential land for expansion appears unknown, the proposed development is therefore unsustainable. The development at East Capel should be removed from the dLP unless there is certainty that sufficient Education provision can be made.

Please also see our comments in COMMENT BOX 2 under the heading ‘Strategic Objective 5: Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity’

 

DLP_7928
DLP_2541

Fiona Dagger
Mr Guy Dagger

TWBC: The following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

The Local Plan claims to be infrastructure-led but it is just a shopping list. No spatial analysis of need has been provided and as a result it is difficult to assess what is put forward as the over-arching principle of the Plan. Para 3.64 of the IDP appears to suggest the opposite - ‘… summarises the transport needs … in order to support growth planned for in the Draft Plan’. Far from the Plan being ‘infrastructure-led’; it is the level of development that is driving infrastructure.

Similar inconsistency is seen across other themes. For example, it is clear from the IDP that the need to allocate land for a new GP surgery in Cranbrook within the AONB has only been created by the decision to allocate significant number of new homes in the AONB, a position that remains to be tested through the local plan process. Likewise with water, Paras 3.133 and 3.150 suggest that the need to increase water supply and waste water capacity in Hawkhurst within the AONB is driven by ‘the needs of the growth proposed …’. There appears to be no analysis of constraints, impacts or options in relation to infrastructure.

The IDP does not appear to be based on any coherent, integrated and strategic consideration of sustainable transport options as required by paras 102-104 of the NPPF.

 

DLP_3489

Sally Marsh

The Local Plan claims to be infrastructure-led but it is just a shopping list. No spatial analysis of need has been provided and as a result it is difficult to assess what is put forward as the over-arching principle of the Plan. Para 3.64 of the IDP appears to suggest the opposite - ‘… summarises the transport needs … in order to support growth planned for in the Draft Plan’. Far from the Plan being ‘infrastructure-led’; it is the level of development that is driving infrastructure.

Similar inconsistency is seen across other themes. For example, it is clear from the IDP that the need to allocate land for a new GP surgery in Cranbrook within the AONB has only been created by the decision to allocate significant number of new homes in the AONB, a position that remains to be tested through the local plan process. Likewise with water, Paras 3.133 and 3.150 suggest that the need to increase water supply and waste water capacity in Hawkhurst within the AONB is driven by ‘the needs of the growth proposed …’. There appears to be no analysis of constraints, impacts or options in relation to infrastructure.

The IDP does not appear to be based on any coherent, integrated and strategic consideration of sustainable transport options as required by paras 102-104 of the NPPF.

 

DLP_4454

Mr Andrew Rankine

The Infrastructure Delivery Plan is lacking in any detail or substance in relation to the proposed new settlement. A development of this size would require specific road infrastructure to be delivered prior to any construction work commencing otherwise the impact on the existing road network would be intolerable. There is also no detailed analysis or modelling to show what infrastructure improvements would be required. Without this analysis I fail to see how the suggestions of a large roundabout by All Saint’s Church, “improvements” to the B2017 (which is the boundary to the AONB) and improvements to the junction with Vale Road would address the vastly increased traffic flow in the area and in the surround boroughs of Tonbridge and Malling and Maidstone. The nod towards provision of “active travel connections” seems somehow to mitigate any rational consideration for the genuine transport issues that 4000+ houses in Capel would cause.

Development directly on the AONB has rightly been avoided in this policy with the exception of the proposed link road to the proposed off-line A228 bypass at Colt’s Hill. However the proximity of the proposed development to this area of special protection would impact on all aspects of the reason for this designation. I too often see deer and other wildlife killed on the already busy B2017. The wildlife corridors that run down to this road from the High Weald woodlands are rich in life and provide a valuable habit for a variety of protected species. Increased traffic flow, noise and light pollution and the introduction of huge numbers of domestic pets all contribute to the policy STR/CA1 demonstrating a complete disregard for this area’s special designation and the biodiversity contained within it.

 

DLP_7973
DLP_8000

Sharon Pickles
Richard Pickles

TWBC: The following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

3.22 Table 2

Where is the research on numbers for Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which is where residents of Hawkhurst, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, Goudhurst and Frittenden will commute from?

3.36

There is recognition that parking is an issue at stations, but no plans have been made to address this and there are no figures on requirement.

This should include requirement at Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which are all used by Borough residents

 

DLP_6871

Persimmon Homes South East

  • Safeguarded Land – the allocation specifically identifies the land to be safeguarded for the school and the health centre, this is shown on Map 84. We support the safeguarding of land in this location for the school and the community centre given its proximity to the existing school site and the ability to have its own access via Back Lane.

Further, as noted in the IDP, the school extension and the health centre are required to meet some existing local needs and also the need of all of new the development coming forward within village, not just the development within AL/HO3.

As such the requirement for this land is not fairly and reasonably related in scale and kind, or directly linked, to the housing coming forward on AL/HO3. As such a Section 106 requirement for the delivery of the safeguarded land may not be CIL 122 complaint (without a mechanism for recouping the cost of land from the other developments in the village which would benefit).

Further, neither the school nor the health centre will not be expected to be delivered by the developer, rather it will be brought forward by the infrastructure providers (namely the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group in respect of the Medical Centre and the Kent Local Education Authority in respect of the school extension) in accordance with their delivery programme. It is noted that the draft IDP explains that both the NHS CCG and the Kent LEA have further work to undertake to determine the scale of provision required in this location. Ambiguity on the responsibility for the delivery of infrastructure could lead to uncertainty and delay in the delivery of units on the Site, undermining the robustness of the Borough housing land supply assumptions.

Given that the safeguarded land will benefit all development sites coming forward in the village, and given the school and health centre will not be delivered by the developers, we request that the safeguarded land is subject to a separate allocation policy rather than being included within AL/HO3. This will allow for a much clearer framework for delivery with clear responsibilities. It will also allow the community land to come forward independently in accordance with the requirements and programme of the infrastructure providers and in accordance with the CIL 122 test. 

We thereby also request that the IDP is updated to explicitly acknowledge that the safeguarded land will be delivered by the infrastructure providers in accordance with their delivery requirements and programme.   

Persimmon Homes would of course provide CIL compliant contributions toward the delivery of necessary infrastructure improvements, secured by way of a Section 106 agreement, and we would therefore be keen to see necessary infrastructure delivered in a timely fashion.

 

DLP_8282

Ann Gibson

There is no recognition that parking is an issue at stations and no plan has been made to address this. There are no figures on requirement.  This should include requirement at Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham Stations which are used by borough residents.

No bus service improvement is planned for the Parishes of Cranbrook and Sissinghurst despite the parishes being massively enlarged under the planned allocations.

 

DLP_409

Jane Kingsley

I recently saw your ‘Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2019 for Tunbridge Wells’ and in particular noted the transport section 3.50/3.59/3.64 a list of proposals for restricting traffic on Calverley Park Gardens . As a resident of this road who has experienced the dangers of the large trucks and speeding cars using this as a cut through I am sure that if the general through traffic is stopped it will make a greatly improved environment for pedestrians, children waiting at bus stops and cyclists who are in constant danger from traffic .

It is great news TWBC are continuing to enhance the cycle route linking central Tunbridge Wells to Pembury rather than just abruptly finishing at Carrs Corner . Currently , cycling on CPGs is a very frightening experience and general traffic simply use the cycle lanes as the road is quite restricted. Promoting the cycle lane will also make a better experience for the growing population using mobility scooters who currently have to share the pavement making pedestrian step out onto CPGs road to pass by or indeed mobility scooters use the current cycle lane which looks extremely precarious when large trucks pass by within inches .

You are probably aware of the vast problems over the years of inappropriate vehicles cutting up this road from Carrs corner , across the pedestrian safe area ,constantly damaging the bollards and furnishings. The corner of CPGs and Carrs Corner is a very dangerous place for pedestrians. If your plans go ahead they will only need to be aware of buses when waiting to cross the road making it a much safer environment .

We understand this is only a draft proposal but very much hope this forward thinking plan to improve the safety on CPGs for a better pedestrian and cyclist experience will be implemented .

 

DLP_467

William Apted

Calverley Park Gardens Traffic Proposals.

Your Infrastructure Delivery Plan 2019 includes some excellent proposals for Calverley Park Gardens.  Over the years this road has become a rat-run for traffic entering Tunbridge Wells and the large lorries and general speed of vehicles poses a constant threat to the Residents.  The problem is exacerbated by the extremely narrow pavement especially near the bus stop and those of us that are over 80 have difficulty in avoiding stepping onto the busy road.

Your plans to make this a bus route and cycle lane only have our full support.

 

DLP_511

Barbara and Paul Cresswell

We are delighted to see the transport section 3.50/3.59/3.64 list of proposals for restricting traffic in Calverley Park Gardens. 

We want to encourage safe cycling in Tunbridge Wells. We wouldn’t let our grandchildren cycle down Calverley Park Gardens under the existing traffic conditions.

We have an ageing population who need to be able to cross the road in safety.

The sign banning HGV vehicles is ignored. The bollards at the junction of Calverley Park Gardens and Carrs Corner seem to be damaged on a weekly basis.

There now appears to be a realistic prospect of these outstanding dangerous traffic matters being addressed.

We urge the Planning Department to implement these proposals.

 

DLP_567

Andrew and Amanda Poole

So delighted at the proposals for Calverley Park Gardens. The quality of life for residents has been blighted by the number of heavy trucks using this beautiful road as a cut through.  I’m particularly happy for parents of young children who can look forward to having a much safer road.  The cycle proposal is fantastic, makes complete sense and is progressive, making a real statement of intent from our environmentally astute planning department.

 

DLP_4606

Keith Stockman

Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan

3.22 Table 2

There does not appear to be any research on numbers for Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which is where residents of Hawkhurst, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, Goudhurst and Frittenden, will all commute from.

3.36. ‘Requirement for parking has still not been identified’

Station car parks at Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham are already full to capacity. Whilst there is recognition that parking is an issue at stations, there are no figures to indicate the increased requirement for parking, and no plans have been put in place to address this issue.

Despite the Parish potentially increasing massively in population under the planned allocations, no bus service improvement is planned for the Parish of Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, a service that is barely adequate as it stands at present.

 

DLP_5986

Steve Rix

Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.186 (page 59) I object to the planned replacement of the Cranbrook Library as part of a planned community centre and possible medical centre without any engagement of the community. The NDP has not been formally engaged as a whole and we have not engaged with the community on this subject. Where is the evidence that this has happened?

Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.194 (page 61) I object to the lack of consultation with the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Development Plan on the replacement of the Cranbrook library with book stock at the prosed Cranbrook Community Hub. The NDP has not been formally engaged as a whole and we have not engaged with the community on this subject. Where is the evidence that this has happened?

Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.107 Table 8 (page 41) and Appendix 1 – Infrastructure Delivery Schedule (page 101) I object to the lack of engagement with the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Development Plan on the incorporation of the three Cranbrook based GP practices into one medical facility proposed for the same site as the Cranbrook Community Hub (Wilkes Field). The Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council has formally agreed to engage the whole community on how this project should be shaped, what provisions should be incorporated, whether a new build is needed and how the ‘parish funding’ part of the project would be delivered. Where is the evidence that this has happened?

 

DLP_7399

Andrew Ford

The Local Plan claims to be infrastructure-led but it is just a shopping list. No spatial analysis of need has been provided and as a result it is difficult for us to assess what is put forward as the over-arching principle of the Plan. Para 3.64 of the IDP appears to suggest the opposite - ‘… summarises the transport needs … in order to support growth planned for in the Draft Plan’. Far from the Plan being ‘infrastructure-led’; it is the level of development that is driving infrastructure.

Similar inconsistency is seen across other themes. For example, it is clear from the IDP that the need to allocate land for a new GP surgery in Cranbrook within the AONB has only been created by the decision to allocate significant number of new homes in the AONB, a position that remains to be tested through the local plan process. Likewise with water, Paras 3.133 and 3.150 suggest that the need to increase water supply and waste water capacity in Hawkhurst within the AONB is driven by ‘the needs of the growth proposed …’.

There appears to be no analysis of constraints, impacts or options in relation to infrastructure. For example, a continuous footpath is proposed along A229 between Hawkhurst and Sissinghurst (Para 3.59). While we welcome improvements to the footpath and cycle network, a proper analysis of this proposal would have revealed that this route is a historic communication route lying within the High Weald AONB and representing a core component of its character and beauty. Part of this route is deeply sunken and associated with archaeologically valuable bank and ditch systems, ancient trees and ancient woodland. It is too far to be viable for everyday walking but cycling is not mentioned, nor are any off-road alternatives considered.

 

DLP_8344

Joe Matthews

TWBC: correspondent submitted the following comments on 20/11/19, after the close of consultation on 15/11/19:

Paragraph 3.22

Draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan 3.22 Table 2

Where is the research on numbers for Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which is where residents of Hawkhurst, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, Goudhurst and Frittenden will commute from?

Paragraph 3.36

Requirement for parking has still not been identified’

There is recognition that parking is an issue at stations, but no plans have been made to address this and there are no figures on requirement.

This should include requirement at Staplehurst, Marden and Etchingham which are all used by Borough residents

Landscape Sensitivity Assessment

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_3522

High Weald AONB Unit

While the highest sensitivity rating is applied, rightly, to most parcels of land in the AONB, one parcel stands out - Ha5 - as meriting a medium-high rating. We dispute this rating. Fowler’s Park is eighteenth century parkland developed from a medieval farmstead. The distinctive curve of the historic routeway around the parkland to the north delineates what the Landscape Sensitivity Study has identified as landscape parcel Ha5. The outline of medieval fields from which the park was created can still be traced by the lines of trees left in the pasture. The historic nature of these features is likely to support high biodiversity. Small parklands like this are typical of the High Weald AONB. A revised high sensitivity rating should be reflected in a score for landscape impact in the SA adjusted to ‘Very Negative’.

DLP_7672

Mr J Boxall

Page 149-150: Cranbrook sub-area CR 11

The historic character of this site should also include the Roman Road, which goes through the land south of Sissinghurst, parallel to Chapel Lane, as well as Lake Chad in the valley floor which is of historic interest to both Sissinghurst and Cranbrook.

I agree that there is a high degree of landscape sensitivity in this area Cranbrook sub-area CR 11

DLP_7400

Andrew Ford

While the highest sensitivity rating is applied, rightly, to most parcels of land in the AONB, one parcel stands out - Ha5 - as meriting a medium-high rating. We dispute this rating. Fowler’s Park is eighteenth century parkland developed from a medieval farmstead. The distinctive curve of the historic routeway around the parkland to the north delineates what the Landscape Sensitivity Study has identified as landscape parcel Ha5. The outline of medieval fields from which the park was created can still be traced by the lines of trees left in the pasture. The historic nature of these features is likely to support high biodiversity. Small parklands like this are typical of the High Weald AONB. A revised high sensitivity rating should be reflected in a score for landscape impact in the SA adjusted to ‘Very Negative’.

DLP_3689

Lynne Bancroft

Landscape sensitivity study for PW, Horsmonden, Hawkhurst and Cranbrook

Page 149-150: Cranbrook sub-area CR 11

The historic character of this site should also include the Roman Road, which goes through the land south of Sissinghurst, parallel to Chapel Lane, as well as Lake Chad in the valley floor which is of historic interest to both Sissinghurst and Cranbrook.

I agree that there is a high degree of landscape sensitivity in this area Cranbrook sub-area CR 11

DLP_6828

Mrs Carol Richards

The Landscape Sensitivity Assessment (Feb 2017) states (para 1.1):-

“The purpose of the study is to provide an assessment of the extent to which the character and quality of the landscape within the study area is, in principle, susceptible to change as a result of introducing particular types of development into certain landscape character areas”.

It goes on to say (para 1.3):

“It is intended that the assessment will help to inform the preparation of the Local Plan”

It has 6 Criteria for consideration (see para 2.9).

However, the LSA area fails to cover the Landscape Character Area (LCA) 13 (classified as Low Weald Farmland) (see Exhibit 1(TWBC Comment - see full representation)). Specifically:

* The LSA omits a number of significant sites, such as 448, 447 and 454 (designated as LP allocations AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 2)

* These include areas of Tudeley (and its floodplain), Five Oak Green and the proposed new school site to the East of Tonbridge

* If these sites were assessed correctly, they would be classified against the six LSA criteria listed at para 2.9 as of higher sensitivity particularly Physical Character. Ancient woodland is not even mentioned.

This is a material omission, given the scale of development proposed.

In addition, the omission of LCA 17 (Medway River Valley) from the LSA fails to pick up the impact of a significant housing development on Tudeley ridge which would impact on a wetland area with diverse wildlife.

Overall, this means that the LSA is failing to address LCA 13 and its immediate impact, an area proposed to hold around 89% of the LP housing need – see Table 1 page 35 of the LP (13500-5967=7593 and 6800 is 89% of 7593)

Limits to Built Development Topic Paper

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_472

Robert and Lynne Mills

We wish to comment regarding the Limit to Built Development Topic Paper for Draft Local Plan  amendments that have been made around our property Greenacres, The Street, Benenden, Kent TN17 4DB, which are shown on Item 10.1 map Benenden LBD Boundary Amendments, map reference No 4 taking account of Principles 7.5, 4 and 7.6 a,c,d,e,f,g and Criteria X1, X111.

On looking at the map we note that our neighbour Little Barn which has also been incorporated within the revised plan has their garaging and main building all included within the LBD boundaries whereas our property has the main building but our garage where we store our cars and gardening equipment, ride on mower etc., is not included, which seems very strange and we wonnder why? There is a tarmac drive which passes the front of our property and leads to our garaging making it an integral functioning part of the property.  In addition we also have a small orchard and copse to the front of the property which also appears to have been excluded and we feel it should be included in the LBD.

We would appreciate if you could look into these points that we have raised and let us know if amendments to the above matters can be dealt with.

DLP_2609

Mark Wildi

I wish to comment on the Limits to Built Development (LBD) as regards Five Oak Green.  The topic paper notes that there are no proposed boundary amendments for Five Oak Green.

The Five Oak Green LBD is shown in Draft Policies Map 6.  The map shows that the boundary at Orchard Brook,  Five Oak Green Road (TN12 6TJ) cuts through the middle of a building, the gym building (see extract).

A stated aim of the review is to ensure that LBD boundaries are logical and reflect what is on the ground.  In practical application of these, it is stated that the principles and criteria set out in section 7 of the paper were consistently applied in revising the existing LBD boundaries.  Reliance was made on aerial photographs, the Council’s Geographical Information System and Google Maps and Street View.

This does not appear to be the case as regards the property at Orchard Brook, TN12 6TJ.  Specifically, principle 4 states: “LBD boundaries should normally follow physical features, e.g. roads, walls, field boundaries, although there may be instances where it is appropriate to cut across property curtilages to ensure that local character and/or amenities are protected.”

As regards Orchard Brook, the boundary appears to be completely arbitrarily drawn with no reference to existing buildings or boundaries, bisecting the gym building.  The entire site of Orchard Brook combines residential and commercial buildings, including gardens which are in use as such.

I would request that you review the boundary as shown, and show the boundary as following the natural boundaries of the site – those being established hedge lines and ditches.

I consider that this would meet the criteria set out in 7.6, being adjacent to and forming a logical extension to the built up area, which would not result in harmful protrusion into the countryside and be in accordance with criteria (b) to (g).

DLP_7739

Fiona Chapman

Limits to Built Development the plan shows consistent inconsistency over matters relating to LBDs. The village LBD is to be altered, or rather engineered, to include areas currently outside the LBD but slated for development (AL/BE1, AL/BE2 and AL/BE3) and to exclude those not currently favoured, such as 158 and 222. At Iden Green, where the neighbourhood plan and the LP recommend no development at all, the LBD is to be removed thereby freezing the hamlet in time by stopping all infill. This is inconsistent with Objective 1 urging the growth of existing settlements.

* It is inconsistent to urge under STR1 that “development at other settlements across the borough (be) within their respective Limits to Built Development boundaries” and then also urge development at the East End which is not only entirely outside any LBD but as far outside as it is possible to get and still be within the parish.

DLP_7841

Andrew Chandler

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Limits to Built Development

In terms of the justifications advanced in Table 31 of the LBD Topic Paper for extending the Sissinghurst LBD, I would comment that the justifications advanced for the proposed revised LBD for Sissinghurst do not stand up to scrutiny. In particular:

- Principle 2. Land inside the LBD will generally be substantially developed – including buildings, roads (excluding roads on the edge), etc.

This is not true in the case of the proposed extension of the Sissinghurst LBD, which has simply been drawn around existing houses outside the existing settlement to justify the proposed site allocations. To the contrary, all of the houses and potential development sites that have been included in the extended LBD are surrounded by fields. This Principle does not provide a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

- Principle 5. LBDs need not be contiguous. It may be appropriate for a settlement to have two (or more) separate elements, where this reflects distinct built up parts.

The proposed LBD is drawn around the built up area of three separate areas of settlement, Sissinghurst, Mill Lane, Wilsely Pound. Wilsely Pound in particular has never been treated as part of the Sissinghurst settlement and in fact the green gaps that you now propose be allocated are precisely what has separated it from Sissinghurst. This Principle does not provide a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

- Criterion (a) be adjacent to and form a logical extension to the built up area and not result in harmful protrusion into the countryside

It is inaccurate to describe the extension to the current LBD as being adjacent to the current one and artificial to state that the proposed extension provides one contiguous LBD for Sissinghurst. The additional sites that you seek to include will be disconnected from the existing settlement at Sissinghurst, just as all of the existing houses in the proposed extension are. We are outside the village. Further, Mill Lane is a rural lane and the sites along the A229 are farmland. By including them in the LBD you achieve precisely the opposite of what this criterion requires. This Criterion does not provide a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

- Criterion (b) not result in coalescence – important gaps should be retained

The proposed LBD extension achieves precisely the opposite of what this criterion requires. Although it is proposed to retain a gap within the settlement of Sissinghurst, the proposed LBD coalesces settlement between Sissinghurst and Wilsley Pound. This Criterion does not provide a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

- Criterion (c) have no adverse impact on landscape character

Mill Lane is a rural lane. By including it in the LBD you achieve precisely the opposite of what this criterion requires. Similarly the proposed inclusion of current pasture land (AL/CRS13), significant grassland (AL/CRS12) and agricultural land (AL/CRS16) achieves precisely the opposite of what this criterion requires. This Criterion does not provide a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

- Criterion (d) have no adverse impact on designated areas of national and local landscape, archaeological, geological, ecological or heritage importance of site

Once again, you seem to be intent on disregarding the historical and heritage significance of AL/CRS13 (which used to have a windmill) and Mill Lane (which is the most highly rated rural lane in the entire borough for its historical significance - see comments on AL/CRS12 and AL/CRS13). This Criterion does not provide a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

- Criterion (e) be of a scale/nature in keeping with the form and function of the settlement and result in no harm to its character, appearance or setting - does it relate more to the built environment or to the surrounding countryside?

I would dispute that this criterion provides a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

- Criterion (f) not extend existing linear features or result in ribbon development

Whilst the proposed LBD does not extend linear features, it does amount to ribbon development along the roads around Sissinghurst without any connection to the current settlement. This Criterion does not provide a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

- Criterion (g) allow reasonable access to local facilities and services (non-private car mode)

As noted in my comments elsewhere, Sissinghurst is rated near bottom of the 2017 Settlement Role and Function Study, with only four settlements scoring lower. Most facilities including doctors, dentists, hospitals, the only primary schools likely to have any availability, secondary schools, supermarkets and the railway station are all are only realistically accessible by car. This Criterion does not provide a justification for the proposed extension of the LBD in Sissinghurst.

In terms of the specific Amendments to SALP LDB boundaries, I would comment on the following Map References:

2 – If you do extend the LBD, I support only including the western part of the site fronting Mill Lane (although see comments on AL/CRS12, as the site does not front Mill Lane in the North East corner).

8 – I dispute the reason given for these inclusions. These areas only form a logical extension of the built form of the settlement if site allocations AL/CRS12 and AL/CRS13 are approved for development and built on. None of these areas is currently an extension of the existing settlement.

DLP_2330
DLP_2318
DLP_4780
DLP_5726
DLP_7714

Colin Inwood
Maureen Inwood
Trevor Hunt
Suki Abbott
Carol & Graham Redfern

TWBC: the following response was submitted by the list of responders on the left:

Limits to Built Development the plan shows consistent inconsistency over matters relating to LBDs. The village LBD is to be altered, or rather engineered, to include areas currently outside the LBD but slated for development (AL/BE1, AL/BE2 and AL/BE3) and to exclude those not currently favoured, such as 158 and 222. At Iden Green, where the neighbourhood plan and the LP recommend no development at all, the LBD is to be removed thereby freezing the hamlet in time by stopping all infill. This is inconsistent with Objective 1 urging the growth of existing settlements.

* It is inconsistent to urge under STR1 that “development at other settlements across the borough (be) within their respective Limits to Built Development boundaries” and then also urge development at the East End which is not only entirely outside any LBD but as far outside as it is possible to get and still be within the parish.

DLP_5772

Herbert Boxall

I am writing to object to the part of the Tunbridge Wells Draft which deals with the parish of Benenden and, in particular, with that part which deals with the hamlet of Iden Green. within that parish. I am a former resident of Iden Green and I am an owner of land there. My objections are as follows:

First, the allocation of new housing throughout the parish is seriously imbalanced with over half of the total for the whole parish allocated to the East End and none at all to Iden Green. I submit that new housing should be distributed much more evenly and fairly around the parish. In particular the site that I own (LS8, adjacent to the Congregational Church) would offer a modest 26 units according to its Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) – a worthwhile and proportionate contribution.

Second, the SHELAA for the site gives its remote location from “services and facilities” as a reason for rejecting it. Regarding facilities, as noted in the SHELAA, it adjoins the Congregational Church which also houses a nursery, the community hall and recreation ground (with tennis courts) are alongside, and The Woodcock, a well established pub and restaurant, lies within easy walking distance. These are all worthwhile facilities, while others such as the village shop and the primary school are only a mile away in Benenden. They are, moreover, easily accessible by footpath, which is safe for schoolchildren and pleasant to walk particularly through Hilly Fields. None of these facilities exist at the East End – three times further than Iden Green from Benenden.

Third, the site’s SHELAA also rejects it on grounds of remoteness from public transport. There are is in fact an occasional bus service with a stop near to the site – not ideal but that serving the East End is, I believe, no more adequate. Rail services are some distance away, but this is true for all parts of the parish. In the Overview of Benenden (pp264 & 265 of the Plan) Staplehurst Station is not mentioned for Iden Green and should be shown, at a distance only 0.2km greater than for the East End, while the distances to Etchingham for Benenden and Iden Green appear to be inconsistent. Access to public transport for Iden Green and site LS8 in particular are thus no worse than for Benenden centre or the East End so not a valid reason for rejection of thesite.

Fourth, the SHELAA claims that site LS8 is “likely to adversely impact upon the Conservation Area” (of Iden Green), because development allocation would influence “loss of Greenfield land within the AONB … adjacent to an Historic Settlement.” Exactly the same could be said of any of the allocated sites, indeed 98% of the whole parish lies within the AONB and LS8’s impact on Greenfield land would be relatively slight – certainly less severe than for some of the others, notably AL/BE1, 3 and 4, given it’s relatively small size and flatness, with well grown boundaries as acknowledged in the SHELAA. The prominence of sites 421 and 424 at the East End makes them significantly more damaging. LS8 would in fact round out the “Historic Settlement”, since it lies within it so would be infilling, not an extension of the settlement as implied by “adjacent to”. It would thus on balance be a preferable site for development allocation.

Fifth, it is noted that LS8 is outside the Limits to Built Development as presently drawn. If the Local Plan is adopted unamended then Iden Green’s LBD will no longer exist. The reasons for the LBD’s removal repeat those already addressed above. I contend that sites such as LS8, which provide relatively modest infilling offer housing to help meet needs with minimal impact upon visual amenities.

Finally, I understand that your Borough Council has recently established a cross-party Task Force with the objective of reducing carbon emissions and thus to make a positive contribution to climate change. To respect this aim, allocation of sites such as LS8 within feasible walking distance of the village should take precedence over sites where every family would require at least two cars.

I request that these objections are given full consideration in the review of the draft plan. Site LS8 is worthy of inclusion in the plan. Building within a long-established settlement contributes much more to conserving our landscape and protecting wildlife than building three miles outside it, as proposed for the East End hospital area.

I should appreciate it if you would kindly acknowledge receipt of my letter.

DLP_7799

Mr and Mrs T Hollings

Could you please ensure that the following is included with the above submission.

Unfortunately I was unable to get sight of the document prior to its submission, meeting change dates by the Parish Council.

Having now read the document in full I have become aware of a mistake in one area that has slipped through, particularly the latter part of the second sentence section 5 As shown below.

‘Section 5 Development proposals for Brenchley and Matfield paragraph e. Second sentence ‘The Council also rejects the extension of the LDB at Market Heath and around the former Corsica Nursery in Matfield, for which there does not appear to be any justification’

The TWBC document ‘ LDB Topic paperwork draft local plan regulation 18 consultation August 2019’

This document outlines the methodology and criteria for the establishment of LDB

Minor extension of of the LDB at Corsica Nursery is specifically justified Items 1 to 7 then item 25 and 25.1

Of note para 7 Boundary review

7.1 a. To ensure that LDB boundaries are logical and reflect what is on the ground

The said buildings and sheds have been in existence for over fifty years!

I should also like to point out that no one from the Parish Council has visited Corsica Nursery or at any time contacted myself in this regard.

DLP_7963

Wendy Owen

Royal Tunbridge Wells and Southborough LBD Boundary Amendments (SOUTH; site reference 13-30)

Map reference 19: The proposed boundary amendment in respect of Policy AL/RTW 18 / site 137 is contrary to many of the criteria set out in this Topic Paper (see examples below) and consequently we strongly challenge it.

“The definition of LBDs is an established policy tool to provide both certainty and clarity to residents, landowners, developers, and other interested parties on where new development would generally be acceptable in principle. By drawing LBDs around settlements (including land to meet growth needs), LBDs help focus growth to sustainable locations/settlements, while protecting the surrounding, more rural areas from inappropriate and intrusive development.

LBD boundaries should normally follow physical features, e.g. roads, walls, field boundaries…

Any amendment to LBDs should:…

(c) have no adverse impact on landscape character

(d) have no adverse impact on designated areas of national and local landscape, archaeological, geological, ecological or heritage importance

(e) be of a scale/nature in keeping with the form and function of the settlement and result in no harm to its character, appearance or setting - does it relate more to the built environment or to the surrounding countryside?

Exclude:

IV. Large rear gardens or paddocks stretching well out from the built form of the settlement. Where there is an obvious variation in the rear line of garden curtilages along the edge of a settlement, then a striking line will be applied through these to form a uniform edge to the settlement

XIV. Heritage assets with important landscape settings

Site allocation AL/RTW 18 (land to the west of Eridge Road at Spratsbrook Farm) incorporated, with landscape buffer excluded. Policy wording in the Local Plan ensures this site will be appropriately developed and the natural boundaries suitably retained where appropriate and taking into account local landscape sensitivity. As there is at present insubstantial site layout information for the school part of the site, the LBD boundaries will be reviewed at the first Local Plan review 5 years postadoption of the Local Plan. This site (excluding landscape buffers) will form part of a Green Belt release. (a), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g), III, and XIX”.

Map reference 28: We challenge the LBD boundary in respect of map reference 28 and the land to the east of Rusthall currently used by TW golf club, which appears to be outside the LBD. The site was offered for development but for the purposes of this draft plan deemed unsuitable, a decision we are challenging. There are far fewer and less significant criteria which apply to this site; in fact only “(b) not result in coalescence – important gaps should be retained” is relevant.

“Extent of The Spa Hotel grounds within the LBD on the northern side of Langton Road, adjacent to the Tunbridge Wells Golf Club, reduced as this is a large, landscaped, partly open and wooded area in the Conservation Area on the edge of the settlement. VI and XIV”

Also see comments above:

* Section 4: Policy STR 10

DLP_4801

DHA Planning Ltd for Caenwood Estates and Dandara

4 Comments on technical documents

Comments on Limits to Built Development Topic Paper

4.1.22 Amendment 10 to the TW LBD now excludes Tunbridge Wells Sports Centre from the LBD and places it in countryside as they are used for recreational purposes on the edge of the settlement. The adjacent LBD boundary excludes areas of development to the rear of the Sports Centre, including the extension to St Gregory’s Catholic School (currently under construction immediately west of the Sports Centre) and the adjacent 3G floodlit pitches. These form part of the urban environment and should be included in the LBD.

[TWBC: see full representation].

Local Green Space Assessment

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_222

Ian Russell

I am writing following the recent release of the TWBC Draft Local Plan, Regulation 18 Consultation Draft, 20th September 2019 to 1st November 2019 to register our OBJECTION to the inclusion of the Standen Street Orchards (North) as a Local Green Space (LGS) candidate site within the LGS assessment, Document 3.2, Settlement: Iden Green.

Please see the attached extract from Supporting Documents, 3. Environment and Landscape, LGS Assessment Draft Dated July 2019, Page 12. (TWBC LGS Iden Green July 2019)

The stated bases for its inclusion are factually incorrect in almost every respect:

  • The orchard is never open to community events. The orchard estate is strictly controlled private land and the general public is actively excluded. Signage to that effect has been posted to each of the entrance gates from Standen Street in line with the example appended.
  • Fruit picking undertaken by any person other than the legal land owner or duly authorised deputy would be considered an act of trespass and theft.
  • There has never been a community barbeque.
  • Public footpath access is limited to two very short runs, one at either end of the orchard estate and alongside the orchard perimeter NOT going through the orchard.
  • The orchard estate has been undergoing maintenance and clearance work which continues. Such work includes mechanical mowing without the removal of mowings and grazing by sheep neither management practice conducive to creating or sustaining a wildflower population. Nest boxes where installed are entirely at the initiative of individual plot owners.
  • The schedule of existing designations fails to note the Article 4 Direction in place since 1972 across the WHOLE orchard site giving protection through the removal of normal permitted development rights which remains current and which is actively enforced. The orchard estate is outside LBD1, has an Agricultural Land Classification Grade 3 and is situated within a local conservation area. Its whole AONB and part AW designation is noted. Standen Street which gives access to the orchard is itself a designated rural lane within the Rural Lanes SPG.
  • The stated Name of Site incorporates the word ‘Community’ which is an invention with no basis in fact or common usage. You will not find this description at the Land Registry or in any other official legal documentation.

Following the Standen Street orchards inclusion as an LGS candidate site in the Benenden Parish NDP, Regulation 14 Edition INITIAL Draft dated July 2019, representations were made by ourselves and others to the Green Working Group in the above terms following which and after reconsideration the Parish Council decided to withdraw the site from its candidate list and has been deleted from its FINAL version Regulation 14 Draft.

For your further information, attached is a copy of email correspondence with Nancy Tolhurst serving on that Working Group giving further detail to the scope of our private land holding, our objections and incorporating Parish Council confirmation of the orchard site’s withdrawal.

Also for your further information, we are attaching a copy of our response to the Parish Council Clerk Caroline Levett within the formal comments process following publication of the initial Regulation 14 draft.

You will note that personal contact details are contained within each of the attached .pdf documents. If these are to form part of the published record please take normal steps to see these private details are obscured.

Having regard to all of the above, we would request that the Borough Council reconsiders on this inclusion and that it adopts a position consistent with the Parish Council leading to withdrawal of the Standen Street orchards from its list of LGS candidate sites.

See image

DLP_421

Jasper Bundy

My family own a sizable portion of the total acreage including all access ways and boundary hedges and I am writing to put on record that we fully endorse the comments made by Mr and Mrs Russell in their letter of objection dated 26th September 2019 [see comment number DLP_222].

As the largest land owner within the orchard I would like to point out that there has been absolutely no attempt to contact or inform us of this impending change of status. In fact, we along with the other 300+ land owners within the orchard would, potentially, have had our property reclassified with absolutely no notice or opportunity to object.

I hope that our objections bring clarity to the situation and our property is removed from the LGS candidate site.

DLP_657

Anthony Harris

Local Green Spaces

Firs Pitch,

Curtisden Green Goudhurst 

To support the Parish Council and NDP application to designate the Firs Pitch in Curtisden Green, Goudhurst as a Local Green Space I would offer the following history of the site over 85 years and my own recollection over 60 years.

From a historical perspective the currently named Firs Pitch and formerly named Cricket Meadow has for probably a century or more been the centre of the community and is probably the area that was referred to as The Green of Curtisden Green. Victorian Ordinance Survey maps show the area to the east and west of the lane running between the Providence Chapel and the original Bethany House School as Curtisden Green.

Further, in the book published by Cambridge University Press in 1930, written by Frank Kendon, the son of the founder of Bethany School and called The Small Years he describes his childhood at the Bethany School House. He describes the view from his nursery window at the school and on pages 4 to 6 of the book he describes the walk around the Cricket Meadow, the house and their occupants walking past The farm or house known as The Firs and back to the school house past the cobnut wood as.  ”... it was known as going round the Green”.

The Cricket Meadow evolved and by the 1960s was a lovely cricket field with a mown cricket square sloping gently down from the pavilion now positioned by the Firs and where the orchard once was. In the late 1960s cricket was even played in the summer holidays between the local farming community led by the Wickham’s from Combourne Farm and Bethany School staff (led by the Bursar Roger Vickers if memories are correct ) The losers then bought the beer for the winners at the then Woolpack Inn at Winchett Hill. It is therefore difficult to describe the Cricket Meadow as a rough field and part dump at this period mid 60’s into the 70’s. It was eventually levelled into today’s flat pitch after the great storm when many of the great trees around the boundary came down.

From my own memory I first visited Curtisden Green and walked on The Green in 1953 when my parents moved to Kent and visited their friend and writer on Kent, Richard Church. Richard lived opposite the Firs at The Oast House he had converted into a house during the war years and where he wrote his books looking across the Combourne valley to Goudhurst, as one can today. The views and lanes of the surrounding area are featured in his books including A window on a Hill published in 1950 and Small Moments published in 1957.

My memory of the house and the Green being solidified when my parents bought The Oast House from Richard Church in the 1960’s and I took it over in 2010 after my father’s death.

It is therefore in my recollection that the Cricket Meadow now called The Firs Pitch forming the historic centre of Curtisden Green has been open to and used by the community throughout the last 60 years and most probably the 60 years before, as indicated in The Small Years and ancient Ordinance Survey and other maps.

The Firs Pitch, formerly the Cricket Meadow, today forms the centre or apex of the hamlet of Curtisden Green. Looking across from Curtisden Green Lane one sees to the south across the Combourne valley to the ridge beyond. From the southern end of the pitch one has a lovely view to Goudhurst Village on the horizon with St Mary’s church tower at its apex as indeed the reverse from the top of the church tower. Curtisden Green forms one of the three prominent ridge or hilltop settlements that comprise the Parish of Goudhurst.

The character of the settlement of Curtisden Green and the views of and from it being protected and enhanced by the open 5-acre field just to its south.

See supporting documents from Frank Kendon’s 1930 book The Small Years - namely the hand drawn map of Curtisden Green and the Cricket Meadow and description of “the walk around the green” on pages 4 to 6.

DLP_6416

Hawkhurst Parish Council

Response on Local Green Space

Hawkhurst Parish Council are generally supportive of the principles: to protect Green Space

Hawkhurst Parish Council is supportive of the proposed Local Green Spaces in Hawkhurst – sites 108 – 133 and As26.

However, note that Site 119, Dunks Alms House, is, in fact, the residential garden for the residents of Dunks Alms House.

DLP_8152

Ashley Saunders

Site 27: Whetsted Wood was submitted by Paddock Wood Town Council to be designated as a Local Green Space in the dLP (see Local Green Space Assessment page 29), however, it was not selected  with the justification being “There is insufficient evidence that this site meets the designation criteria, is already sufficiently protected under other designations, and is to be an allocated site in the new Local Plan

Clearly, it is not sufficiently protected by its status as Ancient Woodland (see Tunbridge Wells Borough Landscape Character Assessment LCA 13 – Paddock Wood / Five Oak Green Low Weald Farmland p.127) or the land would not be included in Policy AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1.

I requests that this area is designated as a Local Green Space and protected from development.

Site 24: Green Area with Village Sign was not designated as a Local Green Space, the justification being that “This area was not considered as it is already sufficiently protected under other designations”.

I requests that this area is designated as a Local Green Space and protected from development.

DLP_490

Dunk's Almshouse Charity

We have been passed your letter of 29th July addressed to Buss Murton of Cranbrook concerning the proposal to consider the frontage of Dunks Almshouse, Hawkhurst as a designation Local Green Space. We write to register our objection to the proposal.

We must confess to being somewhat confused by the proposal as the land is not owned by or regularly used by the general public but rather is within the curtilage of the Dunks Almshouse and is for the benefit of the Almshouse residents and not for public enjoyment or use. We do not encourage any access by the public as we would have grave concerns as to the safety and security of the residents of the Almshouses and their right to quiet enjoyment of their own residence. We would also be apprehensive as to our residents' own wellbeing, some of whom are over 90, if the space was allowed to be designated as such it could become a communal area for the wider Hawkhurst community.

The only time there is any public access is along the path to the School Room that is used by the local community for recreational purposes but those visitors are not allowed or encouraged to use the lawns and only have access within the terms of the hire of the Hall and for the period that it is rented out. It is not a public area and we do not encourage it to be so. Having considered the notes for guidance to which you refer we do not consider that the frontage constitutes a green space within the meaning described in the notes and hence write to register our strong objection to the proposal that it be considered designated a Local Green Space.

We note that Hawkhurst's own Neighbourhood Plan Inspector has considered and rejected the site as a Local Green Space already and we support that decision. Further we consider the area to have a high level of protection due to the planning restrictions already in place. As early as 1972 it formed part of the Highgate and All Saints Church designated Hawkhurst Conservation Area's as Special Character (as continued under the revisions of 1992 and 1999).

The lawns at the front of the historic and beautiful Dunks Almshouse are an important part of the Alsmhouse for the reasons set out above and as Trustees we will continue to respect and tend them in the future.

DLP_563

Mr Mike Prentis

I refer to the letter dated 29 July 2019 from the Planning Officer addressed to myself, and the request for Representations from the Head of Planning Services (email dated 16 October 2019).

My wife and I own site 101 now proposed as Local Green Space. This site is subject to a tenancy. Whilst my wife and I are happy to see this site designated as Local Green Space there is a small part of this land we would request to be excluded. The area we would like to see excluded is West of Oakley and Pedler's End, and bound to the West by a line which links the end of the garden of The Stores and half way along the Northern boundary of Shepherds Lawn, roughly as Westerly as the Western most part of the buildings which form Shepherds Lawn.

This small parcel of land is one on which we may one day seek to obtain planning permission for a one or two storey residential property, probably which we could occupy when we are perhaps too old to live in our existing property (Benyons, which we have lived in for 20 years). Clearly any such development would have to have limited impact on adjoining properties. We are not seeking permission for such a development now, and indeed we may never do so. However my concern is that if this small land parcel is designated as Green Space now, we will never be able to seek the possible small development I have outlined; thus the email.

I hope this is clear, and I would happily clarify the above if you would like. Please also let me know as soon as possible if this format of response is not acceptable; I am obviously keen that our views are properly taken into account.

DLP_656

Bethany School

1. Introduction and Summary

I am writing on behalf of Bethany School in response to your letter of 29 July 2019 which informed us that land owned by the school (Site AS-1 (The Firs Pitch)) was likely to be proposed in whole or in part for Local Green Space designation.

Your draft Local Green Space Assessment dated July 2019 also refers to a second parcel of land owned by the school (Site AS-2 (Field to the South of the Firs Pitch)). The draft Local Space Assessment states that there is insufficient evidence that this second site meets the designation criteria. However, we understand from the Goudhurst Neighbourhood Plan committee that they may still consider whether this second site should be proposed for designation. Consequently this letter also deals with that second site.

In the case of both plots of land we do not believe that the statutory criteria for designation are met and in particular, we are concerned that your proposed designation of Site AS-1 appears to have been based on inaccurate information provided to you. Therefore we do believe that either site can or should be designated as a local Green space.

2. National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)

As you are of course aware, the NPPF provides, at paragraph 100, that:

"Local Green Space designation should only be used where the green space is:

(a) in reasonably close proximity to the community it serves

(b) demonstrably special to a local community, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife"

We understand that both TWBC and those preparing the Goudhurst Neighbourhood Plan have had regard to these criteria.

The Consultation Draft Neighbourhood Plan expressly sets out how the criteria in (b) have been applied in relation to each Site. The TWBC Local Green Space Designation Methodology, while also referring to paragraph 100, sets out a number of sub-criteria which TWBC will consider. We have commented on those in relation to each site below.

However we believe that in considering those criteria both TWBC have been misled as to the history and use of the sites and that consequently the conclusions reached on designation are unsafe and should be reconsidered.

Taking each Site in turn

3. Site AS-1 (The Firs Pitch)

In the TWBC Local Green Space Assessment is states that:

"This area is used by the local community for informal recreational activities. This area is also of local historic significance, having previously been called the Cricket Meadow back into the 19th century and has been continuously used since for walking dogs, families and children playing football, cricket, picnics etc. This area is an important central open space that makes a positive and significant contribution to the local landscape character. This area has panoramic views to the south and east looking onto the AONB"

This wording is similar to much of that contained in the draft Neighbourhood Plan, from which we assume it was derived.

However it is not accurate.

The land now forming the Firs Pitch, the called Newhouse Farm, was acquired by the school in 1885. The sale included the farm house, four cottages, farm buildings and a saucer-shaped field that was then used for cricket by the school (the "cricket meadow"). The swamp near the Firs was filled in in 1973. For a while the area was used as an open tip. In around 1977 the Firs meadow was levelled, enlarged by removing an old path, hedge and trees and the school's vegetable patch, and filling in the old clay pit, to create the current playing fields. The source for this information is the History of Bethany School "From Acorn to Oak Tree", published some 20 years ago. A copy of the relevant extracts is attached to this letter.

Over the last 30 years any use of the Firs pitch has only been with the permission of the school. That has normally been permitted (and a few years ago a neighbourhood event was held on the field). No doubt, given that the school has not chosen to fence the field, locals do occasionally walk over the field but the walking of dogs is, for obvious reasons, as it is a playing field, not permitted.

It is helpful to review this Site against the sub-criteria in your Local Green Space designation methodology. Taking each in turn (with our comments in italics):

"The proposed space is of particular local significance because of its beauty

  • Does the space contribute to the visual attractiveness of the townscape or character/setting of the settlement?

Clearly the fact that the Firs Pitch is there gives a more attractive outlook for houses in Curtisden Green than if it was not - but no more so then any other green space.

  • Is the site specifically mentioned in any relevant landscape character assessments as a particular point of interest or does it contain features that are characteristics of the area?

Not mentioned so far as we are aware. As a flat playing field it does not contain characteristic features

  • Does the site contribute to the setting of a historic building/place or other special feature?

No

  • Are there valued views of the site or does it afford particular views?

There are no particular valued views of the site. As with most open spots in the local area there are some views of surrounding countryside. However, that is only relevant if the school permits access. There is no public right of access.

The proposed space is of particular local historic significance

  • Are there any historic buildings or heritage assets on the site (e.g. listed buildings; scheduled ancient monuments; registered parks and gardens; ancient routeways)?

No

  • Are there any important historic landscape features on the site (e.g. old hedgerows; historic ponds or historic garden features)?

No

  • Did the site play an important role in the historic development of the village or town?

No

  • Did any important historic events take place on the site?

No

  • Do any historic rituals take place on the site (e.g. maypole dancing)?

No

The proposed space is of particular local significance because of its recreational value

  • Is the site used for playing sport?

No community use for playing sport. It is used only by Bethany School

  • Is the site used by local community for formal and/or informal recreation?

It is not used by the local community for formal and/or informal recreation.

  • If the site is a school's private field, then is the site either publicly accessible or visually prominent?

It is a private playing field. It is only accessible with the permission of the school. It is obviously visually prominent to the inhabitants of the limited number of buildings adjoining the field - but not otherwise.

  • Are the public able to physically access the site?

As the School has currently chosen not to fence the field, the public are physically able to access the field, although they need permission to do so.

We note that the draft Goudhurst Neighbourhood Plan Stage 2 assessment did not consider that the criteria for recreational value were met.

The proposed space is of particular local significance because of its tranquility

  • Do you consider the site to be tranquil (e.g. there are no roads or busy areas close by)?

The site is surrounded by roads albeit minor village roads) on each side and therefore it is not particularly tranquil.

  • Is the site within a recognised tranquil area (e.g. within the Campaign to Protect Rural England's tranquility maps)?

No

The proposed space is of particular local significance because of its wildlife

  • Is the site formally designated for its wildlife value (e.g. a Local Wildlife Site)?

No

  • Does the site contain notable biodiversity interest or value and in particular are there notable species or habitats present (e.g. the site may be an important wildlife corridor or provide a buffer to other higher value areas)?

No

  • Is the site part of a long-term study of wildlife by members of the local community?"

No

Based on the above we can see no basis for designation of this Site. In particular the suggestion in the draft Goudhurt Neighbourhood Plan "Assessment and Allocation" document that it should be designated because of its historic significance, tranquility and richness of wildlife, seem to us to be completely groundless.

4. Site AS-2 (Field to the south of the Firs Pitch)

As refereed to above, TWBC did not in your Local Green Space Assessment propose designation of this Site. We believe that to be correct.

However, also as mentioned above, we understand that this view may not be shared by the authors of the draft Goudhurst Neighbourhood Plan and therefore we have addressed your designation sub-criteria below.

There is no description of this property in your draft Local Green Space Assessment. However the Neighbourhood Plan "Assessment and Allocation" document claims that "This area is of local significance because it affords long reaching views over the AONB...This area is uused by the adjacent Bethany School for occasional hockey games as well as as regularly by the community as a recreational walking area and for flying kites, playing with children and exercising dogs".

This area of land was formerly an orchard and there is no historic access to it. It is also not in "reasonably close proximity" to the settlement at Curtisden Green (as required by paragraph 100 of the NPPF). The description quoted suggests regular use by the community for recreational activities (which is contrasted by, misleadingly, with "occasional" school use). There has been no recreational use - and although the School has historically tolerated occasional walkers, any greater use would require its permission and this has not been given. The views from this field are limited and it is sloped. The school has not used it as a playing field for a number of year due to the sloped nature of its surface. It is a privately owned school field with no permitted access to the public.

"The proposed space is of particular local significance because of its beauty

  • Does the space contribute to the visual attractiveness of the townscape or character/setting of the settlement?
    The field is not visible from all but one property in the settlement at Curtisden Green and therefore does not add anything to the setting. It is no more attractive than any other green field.
  • Is the site specifically mentioned in any relevant landscape character assessments as a particular point of interest or does it contain features that are characteristic of the area?
    No. It does not contain particular characteristic features as far as we are aware
  • Does the site contribute to the setting of a historic building/place or other special feature?
    No
  • Is the site highlighted in literature or art (e.g. the site is mentioned in a well-known poem or shown in a famous painting)?
    No
  • Are there valued views of the site or does it afford particular views?
    There are no particular views of the site. As with most open spots in the local area there are some views of surrounding countryside. However, that is only relevant if the school permits access. There is no public right of access.

The proposed space is of particular local historic significance

  • Are there any historic buildings or heritage assets on the site (e.g. listed buildings; scheduled ancient monuments; registered parks and gardens; ancient routeways)?
    No
  • Are there any important historic landscape features on the site (e.g. old hedgerows; historic ponds or historic garden features)?
    No
  • Did the site play an important role in the historic development of the village or town?
    No
  • Did any historic events take place on the site?
    No 
  • Do any historic rituals take place on the site (e.g. maypole dancing)?
    No

We note that the draft Goudhurst Neighbourhood Plan Stage 2 assessment did not consider that the criteria for beauty were met.

The proposed space is of particular local significance because of its recreational value

  • Is the site used for playing sport?
    No community use for playing sport. It is used only by Bethany School
  • Is the site used by the local community for formal and/or informal recreation?
    It is not used by the local community for formal recreation. Occasional use by walkers has not historically been prevented by the School (although there is no public right of way) but it is not made available for informal recreation.
  • If the site is a school's private playing field, then is the site either publicly accessible or visually prominent?
    It was used as a private playing field and not in recent years due to its sloped surface. It is only accessible with the permission of the school. It is visually prominent only to the inhabitants of one property adjoining the field - but not otherwise.
  • Are the public able to physically access the site?
    The public are physically able to access the field, although they should obtain permission to do so.

We note that the draft Goudhurst Neighbourhood Plan Stage 2 assessment did not consider that the criteria for recreational value were met.

The proposed space is of particular local significance because of its tranquility

  • Do you consider the site to be tranquil (e.g. there are no roads or busy areas close by)? 
    No. The site is adjourned by a minor road.
  • Is the site within a recognised tranquil area (e.g. within the Campaign to Protect Rural England's tranquility maps)?
    No

The proposed space is of particular local significance because of its richness of wildlife

  • Is the site formally designated for its wildlife value (e.g. a Local Wildlife Site)?
    No
  • Does the site contain notable biodiversity interest or value and in particular are there notable species or habitats present (e.g. the site may be an important wildlife corridor or provide a buffer to other higher value areas)?
    No
  • Is the site of a long term study of wildlife by members of the local community?
    No

We note that the draft Goudhurst Neighbourhood Plan Stage 2 assessment did not consider that the criteria for richness of wildlife were met.

Based on the above we can see no basis for designation of this Site. In particular the suggestion contained in the draft Neighbourhood Plan that it should be designated because of its tranquility (in the absence of the other factors above) seems to us completely groundless.

5. Conclusion

As can be seen from the evidence above, it is beyond reasonable doubt that there is no case for the designation of either AS-1 or Site AS-2 as Local Green Spaces. Indeed, the designation of sites which are not in accordance either with the National Planning Policy Framework or in accordance either with the National Planning Policy Framework or in accordance with the methodology set by TWBC for the identification and designation of Local Green Spaces would render any related Local Plan or Neighbourhood Plan clearly unsound and open to challenge.

If it would be useful for the school to provide any further information, please do let me know.

DLP_3732

Capel Parish Council

Comments are repeated from COMMENT BOX 7 above

Site 27: Whetsted Wood was submitted by Paddock Wood Town Council to be designated as a Local Green Space in the dLP (see Local Green Space Assessment page 29), however, it was not selected  with the justification being “There is insufficient evidence that this site meets the designation criteria, is already sufficiently protected under other designations, and is to be an allocated site in the new Local Plan

Clearly, it is not sufficiently protected by its status as Ancient Woodland (see Tunbridge Wells Borough Landscape Character Assessment LCA 13 – Paddock Wood / Five Oak Green Low Weald Farmland p.127) or the land would not be included in Policy AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1.

Capel Parish Council requests that this area is designated as a Local Green Space and protected from development.

Site 24: Green Area with Village Sign was not designated as a Local Green Space, the justification being that “This area was not considered as it is already sufficiently protected under other designations”.

Capel Parish Council requests that this area is designated as a Local Green Space and protected from development.

DLP_6067

Kember Loudon Williams for Cranbrook School

Our representations relate to the inclusion of Rammell Field, Bakers Cross (site no: 36) which we feel should be reconsidered for only a partial inclusion, as discussed in our accompanying Report, Chapter 7.

[TWBC: see full supporting statement. Chapter 7 is copied below]:

7 Rammell Field

Relevant Policies: STR1, STR/CRS1, EN17

7.1 The site in question is an existing ancillary playing field owned by Cranbrook School and used infrequently for rugby purposes. It is relatively remote from the main School campus and cut off from it by the main road (Bakers Cross). It is well within the limits to built development for Cranbrook and the Conservation Area boundary runs through the front of the site.

7.2 The field is surrounded by residential properties and the prevailing character is residential, with the exception of Rammel Boarding House & Tippins cottage to the west of the field. The field is set between and within close proximity to many notable listed buildings along the Hill and Bakers Cross, within the Conservation Area. The Conservation Area Appraisal Townscape Analysis also identifies significant tree groups opposite the site to the north, and along the western boundary to the field at the front. The Map below (Figure 8) has been taken from the Cranbrook Conservation Area Appraisal and shows the boundary to the Conservation Area.

[TWBC: for Figure 8 Map showing Cranbrook Conservation Area Boundary, see full supporting statement].

7.3 The Conservation Area Appraisal notes the site as having particular importance in providing a rural feel to the approach of the town from the east and the fact that the field is designated at a local level as an “important open space” in the 2006 Local Plan. This is further supported by TWBC in their recent Local Green Space Assessment where they proposed to designate Rammell Field in its entirety as a Local Green Space. The reasons given by TWBC for this designation were due to its visual prominence in the local community and its contribution to the character/setting of the settlement.

7.4 Notwithstanding the perceived community and visual value of the field, the land is privately owned and is gated, with any use by the wider community at the discretion of the school. Furthermore, by reference to historic aerial images, the site has been bordered to the south and south-west by housing since at least 1960 and accordingly has little or no broader visual relationship or contiguity with the wider, rural AONB landscape.

7.5 The field was previously considered under the SHELAA and Sustainability Appraisal, site reference 132, for its potential to accommodate housing development. However, it was concluded that the site was unsuitable as a housing allocation for a number of reasons, namely for heritage and landscape reasons. It was felt that the site makes an important contribution towards the setting of the Conservation Area and therefore it scored negatively in terms of heritage. Furthermore, it was suggested the development of the site would result in the loss of a historic field in the AONB, which resulted negatively on the landscape score.

7.6 Cranbrook School considers that the field remains a suitable and sustainable location to accommodate new housing and is promoting the inclusion of part of the field as an additional future housing allocation within the Local Plan. It is considered that in line with the diagram below (Figure 9) showing proposed land use, that the front part of the site should remain designated as Local Green Space, as per the recommendation under draft Policy EN17, but the rear section of the field be dedicated to housing development.

[TWBC: for Figure 9 Map showing proposed housing allocation at Rammell Field, see full supporting statement].

7.7 The recognised matters of importance in terms of the sites characteristics i.e. heritage and landscape features relate predominantly to the front section of the field. The retention of this part of the field as a Local Green Space, with additional landscape buffer beyond the Conservation Area boundary, will continue to provide the visual and landscape benefits to the setting of the Conservation Area, but will also offer wider community enhancements as a public open space for use by the local community. It should be noted that the dimensions of the field are such that it is very deep relative to its width (average depth of 180m approx.). Therefore, the visual significance of the rear part of the field is considered of lower value than the front portion.

7.8 In terms of the remainder of the site, this is considered a suitable location for housing, including affordable housing, potentially including key worker and/or local needs housing. Retaining a mixed and economically active population is a challenge with rural towns such as Cranbrook, owing to the affordability issue relating to its established housing stock. The provision of suitable lower cost housing to respond to local housing needs responds to both the TWBC Housing Needs Survey 2018 and the recent independent AECOM Housing Needs Assessment 2017 (as included within the draft Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Plan). The draft Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Neighbourhood Plan includes a requirement of approximately 300 affordable homes made up of mostly 1-2 bedroom and some 3 bedroom properties.

7.9 Given the established residential pattern of development adjoining the site, a net yield of between 40-50 dwellings per hectare on the part of the site allocated for development has been identified as being appropriate. The size of proposed developable area measures approximately 1.1ha and therefore around up to 50 units should be considered, subject to design and landscaping considerations, which is less than the Housing Capacity Assessment yield identified by Tunbridge Wells in 2015. The potential for some apartments towards the south of the site should be considered but designed sensitively and incorporating a suitably ‘domestic scale’. Access is considered able to be achieved via Frythe Way, with public access into the front park area remaining via Bakers Cross.

7.10 On the basis of the above comments, we would urge TWBC to consider adapting its draft policies STR1, STR/CRS1 and EN17 to account for this additional housing and public space provision.

DLP_4440

Town and Country Planning Solutions for Gleeson Strategic Land

Paragraph Numbers 6.172-6.176 Policy EN 17 Local Green Space

  1. These representations on behalf of Gleeson Strategic Land (Gleeson) relate to Draft Policy EN17 (Local Green Space) of the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan published on 20th September 2019. Gleeson has an interest in land known as ‘Sandown Park’ located on the northern side of the A264 Pembury Road immediately adjoining the built up limits of Royal Tunbridge Wells (RTW) on the eastern edge of the town. This land (the ‘Gleeson land’) is shown as a proposed ‘Local Green Space’ (site no. 217) on Inset Map 2 of the Plan’s draft Proposals Map.
  2. The land at Sandown Park has been the subject of a number of representations by Gleeson following the publication of the Council’s previous ‘Site Allocations Development Plan Document: Site Templates Green Belt and Rural Fringes Supporting Information’ published in February 2015. In the Document, the Gleeson land was identified as site number 291. The land was also promoted by Gleeson for housing purposes at the Site Allocations Local Plan Examination in November 2015 (Representation no. SAL-S-732).
  3. Subsequently, Gleeson also submitted representations in response to the Council’s Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) ‘Draft Interim Report’ published in April 2017. Further supporting documents were prepared and submitted to the Council as part of a ‘preapplication’ advice request by Gleeson on 2nd March 2018 (Appendix 1) to which the Council provided a written response on 9th May 2018 (Appendix 2). While this consultation was through the Council’s ‘pre-application advice service’, it was made clear that the submissions were associated with the emerging Local Plan seeking the potential allocation of the land for housing purposes and for informal recreation. An illustrative masterplan (revised to take account of the comments contained in the Council’s pre-application response and subsequent consultations with the Highway Authority) is contained in Appendix 3 attached. While the Council’s response stated that “At present, given the Green Belt status and site constraints, it is unlikely that the Local Planning Authority would support housing development on this site”, it made no reference to any site significance as a potential ‘Local Green Space’. Thus, notwithstanding Gleeson’s extensive consultations with the Council dating back to 2015, the current draft proposal to designate the land as Local Green Space under the provisions of draft Policy EN17 has come completely out-of-the-blue and appears to be aimed as seeking to frustrate the potential for that part of the land (some 3 hectares) located closest to the existing settlement boundary, from being released from the Green Belt to provide some 78 – 80 dwellings in one of the most sustainable locations on the Borough.
  4. Gleeson objects to draft Policy EN17 not only in relation to the proposed allocation of the Sandown Park land as Local Green Space, but also object to draft Policy EN17 in its entirety as being contrary to paragraph 35 of the National Planning Policy Framework in being not positively proposed, justified, effective or consistent with national policy to promote sustainable development.
  5. Gleeson’s concerns and objections are set out in detail in the ‘Local Green Space Assessment‘ (dated October 2019) prepared by consultants The Environmental Dimension Partnership Ltd. (EDP) reproduced in Appendix 4, which should be considered as part of these representations.
  6. The EDP Assessment examines the Council’s two supporting documents; the ‘draft Local Green Space Assessment’ (dLGSA) and Local Green Space Designation Methodology (LGSDM) having regard in particular, policy and advice contained in the National Planning Policy Framework and National Planning Practice Guidance documents. Paragraph 99 of the NPPF confirms that Local Green Space can be designated through local and neighbourhood plans and “allows communities to identify and protect green areas of particular importance to them”, but this should be “consistent with local plans of suitable developments and complement investment in sufficient homes, jobs and other essential services”.
  7. Paragraph 100 and 101 of the NPPF add however, that; 

    “100. The Local Green Space designation should only be used where the green space is: 

    a) In reasonably close proximity to the community it serves; 

    b) Demonstrably special to a local community and holds a particular local significance, for example because of its beauty, historic significance, recreational value (including as a playing field), tranquillity or richness of its wildlife: and 

    c) Local in character and is not an extensive tract of land.

101. Policies for managing development within a Local Green Space should be consistent with those for Green Belts”.

8. Appendix EDP 2b of the EDP Local Green Space Assessment contains extracts of the NPPG guidance relating to LGS designation. This includes;

  • “a means to provide special protection against development for green areas of particular importance to local community..” … “where those spaces are demonstrably special to the local community”.
  • “in particular, plans must identify sufficient land in suitable locations to meet development needs and the Local Green Space designations should not be used in a way that undermines this aim of plan making”.
  • “if land is already protected by Green Belt Policy… then consideration should be given to whether any additional local benefit would be gained by designation as Local Green Space”.
  • “… the local planning authority… should contact land owners at an early stage about proposals to designate any part of their land as Local Green Space…” and
  • “if the features that make a green area special and locally significant are to be conserved, how it will be managed in the future is likely to be as important consideration".

9. For the detailed reasons set out in the EDP Assessment (Appendix 4), the Council’s proposal to designate the Gleeson land as Local Green Space fails the second of the three combined tests for designation set out in paragraph 100 of the NPPF and directly conflicts with all the NPPG guidance set out above

10. The Council has provided no evidence that the Gleeson land is ‘demonstrably special to the local community’ sufficient to justify Local Green Space designation. It is clear that from the schedule on page 94 of the Council’s dLGSA, that the proposed designation of the Gleeson land (proposed Local Green Space site no. 217) has (together with many others) not come about through any approach by the local community, but has instead resulted from an “in-office suggestion” (no doubt as a response to the previous Gleeson consultations to seek to release part of the land for housing purposes). 

11. The dLGSA schedule acknowledges that the site is already subject to Green Belt policy, but makes no mention that part of the land is also within a designated conservation area and the Council’s ‘Demonstrably Special’ assessment is weak and refers only to its claimed visual amenity importance contributing to the character and approach to the settlement. Not only is this justification for designation at odds with the national policy and guidance, but also this is not a specific criteria for any such Local Green Space assessment listed in Table 2 of Appendix 1 of the Council’s LGSDM, meaning that the Council has not followed its own methodology in selecting this site as Local Green Space. 

12. Of the assessment criteria listed on the Council’s Assessment Form with the LGSDM, none are relevant for Local Green Space designation of the Gleeson land. As regards ’Beauty’, the land is not within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (contrary to what is erroneously stated in the Council’s latest SHELAA for Site 99); the land is not of any ‘Historical significance’ as in the form proposed in the Gleeson Masterplan (Appendix 3) there would be no harmful impact upon any historic assets; the land has no ‘Recreational value’ as there is no public access or recreational use; the land has no ‘Tranquillity’, as it is immediately adjacent to the RTW built up area and A264 Pembury Road and the ecology reports submitted to the Council previously confirm that the land has no specific significance for ‘Wildlife’. 

13. In line with the NPPG guidance, paragraphs 2.11 and 4.7 of the Council’s LGSDM emphasises that landowners will be contacted at an “early stage” and “prior to the Plan first being made publically available” i.e. prior to the start of the draft Local Plan consultation period that commenced on 20th September 2019. Notwithstanding the previous extensive consultations with the Council about the potential release of part of the Green Belt land for housing purposes (with complementary arrangements set aside for retaining adjoining land within the Green Belt with landscape planting and with future management as informal recreation open space), the Council has made no advanced contact with Gleeson about the proposed Local Green Space designation, which was only known about at the time the draft Plan was published. 

14. Perhaps most fundamentally of all, the Council has provided no soundly based assessment as to why Local Green Space designation is necessary given that the land already has Green Belt policy protection. The failure to note the Green Belt status of land is a serious omission and flaw in the Council’s Site Assessment Form contained within Appendix 1 of the LGSDM (in which Table 2 lists the criteria to be assessed). 

15. The Council’s unjustified appraisal appears instead to be aimed at frustrating Gleeson’s Local Plan proposal and it is wholly illogical on the one hand to propose the release of Green Belt land for housing development at unsustainable locations such as a Capel whilst on the other hand ignoring the potential to release Green Belt land as a much more sustainable, edge of settlement location at RTW. Thus, the Council’s proposed designation also conflicts with national policy and guidance in being used in a way that clearly undermines the proper aims of plan making. 

16. The Council’s seriously flawed and unjustified approach to the proposed Local Green Space designation of the Gleeson land also brings into doubt the sound and reasonable justification of the other high number (some 227) of proposed Local Green Space sites listed in Appendix 2 of the draft Local Plan and as currently shown on the various Inset Maps of the Plan’s main Proposal Map.

Paragraph 2.11 of the LSGDM (and elsewhere) states that following the current draft Local Plan consultation, the Local Green Space designation might be changed prior to the formal submission of the Plan for Examination (i.e. at the Regulation 19 stage). All of these proposed designations should be reviewed and carefully assessed and judged against national policy and guidance, especially as of the 383 sites assessed in the DLGSA, some 69 (18%) have not actually been promoted by the local community, but have instead resulted from an ‘In Office Suggestion’. Of the 227 proposed Local Green Space designations in the draft Plan, some 44 (19.3%) were as a result of an ‘In Office Suggestion’. 

17. It is also noted that two of the adjacent local authorities (Wealden and Rother Districts) who have recently published submission draft Local Plans, do not propose any specific policy or proposals relating to Local Green Space designations. In other words, neither of these adjoining authorities consider that there is any special justification to designate Local Green Space given other policy protection, and this again casts doubt as to why Tunbridge Wells Borough has such special justification as to designate as many as 227 sites as Local Green Space. 

18. Furthermore, as set out in Section 5 of the EDP Local Green Space Assessment (Appendix 4), the Plymouth and South West Devon Joint Local Plan Case Study demonstrates clearly, that the similar approach to Local Green Space designation as now being followed by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is fundamentally unsound. The Examination Inspector’s comments (March 2019) are particularly relevant and on the same basis, draft Policy EN17 should be deleted from the next stage of the Local Plan.

Inset Map 2

Delete policy alloctation EN17 from land at Sandown Park, north of Pembury Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells.

Appendices

  1. Gleeson request for ‘Pre-Application advice’ 2nd March 2018
  2. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council ‘Pre-application advice’ response 9th May 2018
  3. Gleeson Illustrative Master Plan
  4. EDP Local Green Space Assessment October 2019

Residential Parking Standards Topic Paper

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_7964

Wendy Owen

The ONS 2011 census data is eight years old and therefore not necessarily accurate. The basis of the plan seems sound, but the amount of residential street parking suggests current provision is inadequate, making for slalom driving and bus access issues in some cases. Proposed development site AL/RTW 18 / site 137 is outside the LBD and consequently is subject to zone C requirements.

Strategic Flood Risk Assessment

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_3940

Mrs June Bell

Flood risk and spatial datasets has not included for allocation AL/CRS7 (site 32) which lies in a 3b flood zone.

DLP_6221

Paddock Wood Town Council

For Paddock Wood Town Council's comments, see full tracked version of the SFRA.

DLP_7403

ASP Planning for Yalding Parish Council

INTRODUCTION

1. ASP have been instructed by Yalding Parish Council to review the Regulation 18 Tunbridge Wells Local Plan 2019 (hereafter referred to as the Local Plan) and its associated evidence base as to the potential effects of the plan on Yalding Parish.

2. Yalding Parish lies adjacent to Tunbridge Wells District on its north-eastern edge with the southern part of the parish lying less than a mile from the northern part of the built-up area of Paddock Wood which contains a number of employment sites, a railway station on the AshfordTonbridge-London main-line and convenience retailing as well as a secondary school. A plan showing the extent of the Parish boundary and its relationship to the Tunbridge Wells BC area is attached at Appendix 1 to these representations [TWBC: no Appendix 1 was attached]. Yalding lies within Maidstone Borough Council’s jurisdiction. To the west of the parish runs the A228, to which Yalding is connected by Gravelly Ways/Beltring Road at Beltring and the B2162 Hampstead Lane via the B2015 through the parish of Nettlestead. The parish also has a direct road connection through to Horsmonden to the south east via the B2162. Yalding village lies towards the north of the parish with Laddingford village to the south. The parish is heavily influenced by the three rivers that run through it (Medway, Teise and Beult) which all converge in Yalding. The parish is also served by the Medway Valley railway line which runs between Maidstone and Paddock Wood, with two stations at Yalding and Beltring.

3. Our review of the proposed strategy for housing within the Local Plan has highlighted two areas of concern in which we consider that gaps in the evidence base mean that the plan is ‘not effective’ in respect of where it focuses development (in particular the potential impacts of the proposed level of development at Paddock Wood). Overall clear doubt is expressed as to whether the level of development can be achieved, as a result of the extent of infrastructure required and environmental constraints.

4. The emphasis on development in the north-east of the district raises issues regarding the soundness of the plan as to the sustainability of such proposals.

FLOODING

11. The impact of any development on the river network is a significant consideration for Yalding Parish. The parish is the meeting point for three rivers; Medway, Teise and Beult. On reviewing the local plan and the relevant parts of the evidence base, the Parish have concerns regarding the impact of the proposed development strategy on two of these river networks; the Medway and the Teise.

12. Flooding issues within Yalding arise from three types of flooding (fluvial, surface water and groundwater).

13. In respect of fluvial flooding, the SFRA recognises that a primary cause of fluvial flooding events on the River Medway is the overloading of foul and/or sewer systems in the Paddock Wood area. The proposed level of development is thus likely to increase this issue. However, there are several mitigation schemes proposed, although precise details are not yet known.

14. In respect of groundwater monitoring the information provided within the AStGWF dataset indicates that susceptibility to groundwater flooding is greatest in the north-eastern extent of the borough. This lies close to the boundary with the Maidstone BC area and Yalding Parish. Given the topography of this part of the borough any increased groundwater flooding in this area as a result of the high level of development proposed could have impacts downstream.

15. In respect of surface water flooding, the SFRA recognises there are issues with surface water flooding at Paddock Wood and the fact that currently there is no definitive data on surface water flooding in this area. Aside from monitoring moving forward there is no positive action suggested to address this issue. It is questioned therefore whether the plan is effective in this respect. This is particularly the case as the SFRA highlights that climate change impacts mean the risk from surface water flooding may increase.

16. In respect of the River Teise, the SFRA is heavily focused on issues at Paddock Wood and fails to consider the potential surface water impacts of development at Matfield and Horsmonden on the River Teise.

17. A key issue with the SFRA is that in respect of cross-border issues it places emphasis on the development management role rather than seeking to analyse and address potential issues at the local plan examination stage. It is considered unsustainable and ineffective to propose a high level of development in and around a settlement where there are recognised surface water and fluvial flooding issues without consideration of cross-border issues at the local plan stage. Leaving consideration of these issues to the planning application stage means that there is potential impact on the deliverability of the strategic growth area if matters cannot be sufficiently resolved at the application stage. This concern is increased when looking at the site-specific assessments that have been carried out which indicate that some of the assessed sites would have a detrimental impact downstream due to the raised development areas blocking routes that rainfall and/or overland flow would follow. Pertinently, the lack of consideration of cross-boundary issues at this stage does not comply with new DEFRA guidance which seeks to address crossboundary flooding issues at the local plan preparation stage.

18. Overall it is considered that this is an ineffective approach to consideration of flooding matters within the local plan.

19. Outside of the above it is considered that there are other ways that the SFRA does not accord with the newly published DEFRA guidance as follows:

a. The SFRA part 2 specifically does not provide the sequential test that is required.

b. The DEFRA guidance requires neighbouring authorities to be consulted on the SFRAs and neighbouring district authorities have not been consulted e.g. Maidstone so the SFRA cannot have considered proposed strategic development in other authorities.

c. New DEFRA guidance also requires a review of other local authority SFRA’s under a Stage 1 SFRA this doesn’t appear to have been done

CONCLUSION

20. In conclusion, our review of the Regulation 18 Local Plan and associated evidence base has raised concerns about whether the impacts of the proposed level of development in the northern part of the district is effective and sustainable due to some gaps in the evidence base.

21. In respect of transport impacts, the evidence base fails to recognise that parts of Yalding Parish fall within the travel-to-work area for Tunbridge Wells and the associated commuter traffic that uses the road network running through Yalding village and Laddingford. This therefore leads to inadequacies in the evidence base as the traffic modelling undertaken did not extend to Yalding village/Parish. As the potential traffic impacts on Yalding village from the proposed development at Paddock Wood would be longer distance commuter traffic it is considered that the public transport improvements that are proposed as mitigation would be an ineffective mechanism to address any potential adverse transport impacts on Yalding and the road network in the parish .

22. In respect of flooding considerations, it is considered the SFRA approach in leaving the consideration of downstream impacts to the planning application stage is ineffective and has the potential to impact on the deliverability of the strategic growth area proposed for Paddock Wood. The SFRA is also considered to be non-compliant with the latest DEFRA guidance on several counts not least of which the new guidance (see attached at Appendix 2) requires sequential testing of specific sites to be undertaken at the local plan preparation stage. There also appears to be a lack of consultation of neighbouring authorities in regard to their SFRA which is also not in compliance with DEFRA guidance and has the potential to make the SFRA ineffective if it does not consider strategic development proposals in other districts that are in the same river catchments.

23. Based on the above two areas of concern it is put forward therefore that the Regulation 18 Local Plan is not effective in respect of where it focusses development due to gaps in the supporting evidence base. Specifically, it is considered that there is insufficient evidence to support the level of development proposed for the Paddock Wood area particularly in respect of cross-boundary impacts, which would directly affect Yalding Parish.

[TWBC: see also Comment No. DLP_7402 - Appendix 5 (Transport)]

TWBC note: no appendices were attached with the representation

Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_1903

Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum

Topic Paper or supporting document title: SHELAA Site Assessment sheets for Royal Tunbridge Wells

We previously submitted detailed comments on a number of the sites submitted under the Call for Sites which might become subject to an allocation. We set out those comments again under each specific AL/RTW Policy in relation to the sites now proposed for allocation in the DraftSo far as sites which were considered unlikely to be allocated and have now not been allocated for future development, we set out our comments in Appendix 6.

Town Forum policy is that development in the AONB and Green Belt should take place only on proof of exceptional circumstances. Any evidence put forward of exceptional circumstances will have to satisfy the Inspector at Examination in accordance with relevant legal precedent. In the very difficult circumstances of the current unsatisfactory relationship between Central Government and Local Authorities and subject to the important caveat above, we are broadly supportive of most of the sites now selected for allocation in the unparished area of Royal Tunbridge Wells, subject in many cases to conditions. We also strongly support decisions taken on those submitted sites deemed unsuitable for allocation as set out in our comments in Appendix 6. Full comments on sites proposed for allocation appear in our response to the AL/RTW Policies ante.

This is subject also to the caveat that we do not agree with the method by which Central Government calculates housing need and the consequent target housing numbers. In particular, the Office for National Statistics produced a revised 2016 methodology, which in the case of Tunbridge Wells Borough would require only 67% of the 2014 figure, according to some analysts. The government-imposed methodology and fears of the Draft Local Plan being found unsound at Public Examination have perhaps led TWBC not to seek fully to exploit potential constraints recognised by the NPPF in relation to the 70% of the Borough which is classified as AONB and the 22% which is classified as Metropolitan Green Belt and also infrastructure constraints such as acknowledged severe existing water stress and problems with waste water treatment.

The approach taken in this Regulation 18 Draft has resulted in some draft allocations in RTW and elsewhere in the Borough which are intrusive into Green Belt and AONB. We would therefore urge TWBC to keep carefully under review the legislation and any legal precedents and Inspectors’ decisions arising under the legislation in the period up to submission of the Regulation 19 Draft in relation to exceptional circumstances and housing need methodology, in case some mitigation of proposed incursions into the AONB and Green Belt may be possible.

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Please see our comments on infrastructure delivery in relation to individual Policies above

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Transport Strategy Review

Please see our comments under the TP Policies above.

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Transport Study

Please see our comments under the TP Policies above.

DLP_7292

Miranda Hungerford

Draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal

We are writing to you to register our concerns and objections to the following:

  • the draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal (together with other background topic papers), particularly with regard to the Council’s proposed housing strategy
  • the suitability of Lamberhurst to accommodate additional dwellings
  • the proposed allocation of a site on the south side of Furnace Lane, Lamberhurst for 30 dwellings (site reference AL/LA2).

2) With regard to the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and the Sustainability Appraisal, concern is expressed at the lack of consistency in how sites have been appraised (and then accepted or rejected) and the subjective nature of the assessment. Certain sites have been rejected for being detached from the Limits to Build Development boundary, but then other comparable sites have been included.  Similarly, some sites have been accepted despite comments such as “slight negative scores most reflect dependency on private car use”, whilst other sites have been rejected outright for the same reason.  There does not appear to be an accurate quantifiable methodology used that measures settlements and sites in a clear and consistent manner.

Conclusions

The general approach taken to the provision of housing (including relatively large allocations of housing on individual sites in small villages) is contrary to the consultation responses provided in the preparation of the draft Local Plan. 

Lamberhurst is a small rural village with very limited services and accessibility.  Proposals for 60 houses within the village (policy STR/AL1) cannot be supported by existing infrastructure and will be heavily reliant on the private motor car.  Focusing development in established urban areas that have more services and public transport is a far more appropriate method of increasing housing land supply whilst acknowledging climate change commitments. 

The proposed allocation of 30 houses on Furnace Lane (Policy AL/LA2) will have a major impact on the appearance of the AONB, with no exceptional circumstances to justify such an allocation in such a highly visible location.  Development would naturally be suburban in appearance (including vehicular access arrangements) that would detract from the rural character of the village. This would be exacerbated by the site’s location away from the centre of the village.  A far better approach (and notwithstanding our objection to 60 houses being proposed for the village) would be to provide for windfall development within the village, and for the emerging Neighbourhood Plan to identify smaller sites for more appropriately scaled schemes that would respect the AONB.

DLP_6198

Turley for Bellway Homes Strategic

Sustainability Appraisal

Whilst the Sustainability Appraisal appears to consider the options for a Garden Settlement, we have been unable to locate any assessment at this stage which does not include such an option as part of the distribution strategy. In our view, it would be a reasonable alternative to consider a solution which does not include a Garden Village. In particular we consider that this is essential due to the fact that the Tudeley Village site is remote, does not benefit from access to rail services, is not related to existing services/facilities and significant intervention will be required to provide any facilities in the area. In contrast, alternative sites would provide opportunities to locate development in areas which already relate to existing settlements and services.

We note that Table 20 of the Sustainability Appraisal sets out a list of reasonable alternative sites in Royal Tunbridge Wells. Site reference 53 (being the land promoted by Bellway) is referred to in that list of sites. Table 20 confirms part of the site is proposed to be allocated under AL/RTW 23.

The scoring of site 53 against the SA objectives is contained on page 164 of the Sustainability Appraisal. The SA does not appear to include any detailed explanation as to how the scores have been calculated and so it is not possible for respondents and stakeholders to analysis the impacts of one site over another.

[TWBC: the comments above have also been entered against the Sustainability Appraisal as Comment Number SA_109].

Proposals Map

The Proposals Map published for consultation is of extremely low resolution and does not allow a clear understanding of the policies applicable to any specific area. We consider that it is essential, in order to understand how the Local Plan is to be applied, that a higher resolution version of the Proposals Map is made available.

Green Belt Assessment

In the LUC Green Belt Strategic Study of November 2016, the southern part of the site is located in Parcel TW6 and the remainder in Broad Are BA7, as shown below:

[TWBC: see map on page 11 of full representation].

Parcel TW6 is identified as an area for further assessment, with Table 6.2 of the 2016 document identifying ‘Potential Stage Two parcels and broad areas’. In relation to TW6, Table 6.2 identifies the ‘Key Stage 2 Considerations’ as being the “Relationship between settlement and countryside, with reference to role of High Wood in forming barrier to encroachment/sprawl.”

The Key Stage 2 Considerations for Parcel BA6 are referred to as being “Contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and role in historic setting of Tunbridge Wells”.

As an initial comment, Bellway note that the assessment of BA6 cannot be relied upon as an indication that all the land within the Broad Area fulfils Green Belt purposes to the same extent. For example, while the 2016 document may have concluded that BA6 makes a contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and plays a role in the historic setting of Tunbridge Wells, that is not to say that the land promoted by Bellway to the north of High Woods Lane performs these functions.

The LUC Tunbridge Wells Green Belt Study Stage Two report was published in July 2017. In relation to the Broad Areas, this report found that “All 10 broad areas were considered to rate very high for harm to Green Belt resulting from release of land for strategic development. It should however that there might be opportunities for small-scale – i.e. non-strategic – development that would result in less harm to Green Belt purposes.” This overall conclusion accords with Bellway’s own interpretation as articulated in the previous paragraph of these representations.

Table 1.1 of the July 2017 LUC report identifies all of the specific parcels with moderate or lower harm rating. Only seven specific parcels are found to have a low or very low level of harm on the Green Belt. Parcel TW6 was split in two for the purposes of this assessment: TW6a (including the southern part of the land promoted by Bellway) and TW6b. TW6a is identified as having a ‘moderate’ level of harm on the Green Belt. However we note that Table 6.1 of the July 2017 report found that Parcel TW6a would have: makes a moderate contribution to GB purpose 1; makes a weak or no contribution to purpose 2; makes a moderate contribution to GB purpose 3; and makes a moderate contribution to GB purpose 4.

Appendix A of the 2017 report considered the Broad Areas. However it does not appear as though there was any analysis over the contribution that smaller parts of the Broad Areas makes to the Green Belt purposes and therefore no analysis as to the extent to which these could accommodate development. This approach appears at odds with the conclusions elsewhere in the 2017 report that “there might be opportunities for small-scale – i.e. non-strategic – development that would result in less harm to Green Belt purposes.” The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note considers the contribution that the northern part of the site promoted by Bellway (which balls within BA6) makes to the Green Belt purposes as follows:

  • Whereas LUC conclude that BA6 makes a strong contribution to GB purpose 1, the Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note demonstrates that the land northern part of the land promoted by Bellway (within BA6) should only be considered to make a moderate contribution.
  • In relation to GB purpose 2, LUC conclude that BA6 makes a strong contribution. The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note demonstrates the edge of Pembury is over 2km away from the Appraisal Site and on account of intervening topography and woodland has no perceivable relationship with this settlement area. Development of the northern parcel of the Site would result in little or no perception of the narrowing of the gap between towns and it is therefore considered to make ‘Weak/No’ contribution to Purpose 2.
  • LUC conclude that BA6 makes a strong contribution GB purpose 3. The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note demonstrates that due to the relationship of the northern part of the area promoted by Bellway to the wider countryside it is considered to make a ‘Moderate’ contribution to Purpose 3.
  • LUC conclude that BA6 makes a strong contribution to purpose 4. The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note explains that the contribution to this purpose is made most strongly by Dunorlan Park which is a key feature on the edge of the historic town. However, the parcel does form part of the setting to the edge of both the Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area and Dunorlan Park and is glimpsed in some key views from the latter. For this reason it is considered to make a ‘Moderate’ contribution to Purpose 4.

    On the basis of the Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note, it is considered that the July 2017 LUC report overstates the contribution that the part of Broad Area BA6 promoted by Bellway has been overstated. When this part of BA6 is considered independently, it makes a moderate contribution to Green Belt purposes.

Appendix A of the 2017 report also provided an analysis of the specific parcels against the Green Belt purposes. Bellway consider that the assessment in relation to Parcel TW6a is flawed. The table below sets out the assessment of this parcel in the LUC 2017 report and provides our response and reason why the conclusions are flawed:

Green Belt Purpose 1

Purpose

LUC Conclusion

Bellway’s Response

Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas

The parcel is adjacent to the large built-up area but has a degree of separation from both the settlement and the wider countryside. The western part of the recreation ground has a stronger relationship with the urban area, but is too small to be assessed as a separate strategic parcel.

Moderate impact

Bellway disagree that the parcel has a degree of separation from the settlement. The western boundary is contiguous with the edge of the settlement and there is no existing vegetation which results in separation as suggested by LUC.  The enclosed Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note prepared by Turley demonstrates that when the site promoted by Bellway is considered independently, it is considered to contribute less to Purpose 1 than the Parcel TW6a

This is due to the direct association with the settlement edge to the west and the formal recreation ground to the south. The presence of High Wood and the indoor bowls centre also increases the separation from the wider countryside.

The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note explains that this area makes a ‘Relatively Weak’ contribution to Purpose 1.

Green Belt Purpose 2

Purpose

LUC Conclusion

Bellway’s Response

Prevent neighbouring towns

merging into one another

Development of this parcel would result in little or no perception of the narrowing of the gap between towns.

Weak or no contribution

The next settlement / town to the east is some distance from Parcel TW6a and Bellway consider that the development of this area would not result in neighbouring towns from merging in actual or perceived terms.  On that basis, the LUC conclusion of ‘weak or no contribution’ overstates the role of the parcel.  The correct conclusion would be ‘no contribution’

Green Belt Purpose 3

Purpose

LUC Conclusion

Bellway’s Response

Assist in safeguarding the

countryside from encroachment

The parcel has a degree of separation from both the settlement and the wider countryside. The western part of the recreation ground has a stronger relationship with the urban area, but is too small to be assessed as a separate strategic parcel. Moderate contribution

The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note explains that the site promoted by Bellway in parcel A relatively self-contained unit that is influenced by the overlooking residential development on the settlement edge. It is also relatively contained from the wider countryside on account of the enclosure formed by topography and High Wood. It is therefore considered that the southern parcel makes a ‘Relatively Weak’ contribution to Purpose 3.

Green Belt Purpose 4

Purpose

LUC Conclusion

Bellway’s Response

To preserve the special character of historic towns

The arable field in the northern part of the parcel is an element in views from Dunorlan Park (a Registered Park and Garden) of the open ridgeline forming the foreground to High Wood. The openness of this high ground contributes to the town’s historic character, but development contained to the west of High Wood would have a limited impact on this. The western part of the recreation ground has a stronger relationship with the urban area.

The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note concurs with this assessment.

The Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note demonstrates that the contribution of Parcel TW6a has been overstated, particularly when the land promoted by Bellway is considered independent.

On the basis of the summary set out above, and supported by the Turley Outline Landscape, Visual and Green Belt Advice Note, it is clear that the LUC reports which have informed the Local Plan in relation to the land currently designated as Green Belt have overstated the role and function of the land promoted by Bellway.

Bellway therefore consider that it is essential that the Council undertakes an updated and more robust analysis of the extent to which particular areas (including the land promoted by Bellway) contribute to the Green Belt purposes. Without this updated evidence, Bellway contend that the Council cannot have certainty that the distribution strategy which it has chosen (including the Tudeley Village concept) is justified and that alternative options should not have been pursued.

Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA)

In the July 2019 SHELAA the land promoted by Bellway is considered under site reference 53. The assessment found that the “Site is suitable in part as a potential Local Plan allocation subject to further consideration”. The reason for this conclusion was stated as being “The southern parcel of this site lies adjacent to the LBD and is likely to be sustainable in this context. This would form a logical extension to LBD. The remaining area, the first parcel whilst in proximity to the LBD would not form a logical extension to the LBD and is considered to adversely affect the landscape setting of the town and is part of a Green Belt parcel the release of which is considered to result in very high harm, and setting of an Historic Park and Garden.”

The SHELAA conclusion was that the southern part of the site promoted by Bellway (i.e. the land south of High Woods Lane) would be a logical extension to the LBD.

It is essential to note that the SHELAA is an assessment of sites for housing and economic land purposes and so the conclusions of that document must be read in that regard. The analysis of site 53 and the conclusions in relation to the suitability, sustainability and logic of the site must therefore refer to housing or economic land uses. There is no suggestion in the SHELAA that the conclusions in relation to site 53 relate to any other form of land use or that they would not apply in relation to housing or economic uses.

[TWBC: see full representation and Comment Numbers DLP_6189-6198].

DLP_7491

Freya Alder

Draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal

We write regarding the draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal (together with other background topic papers), particularly with regard to the Council’s proposed housing strategy, the suitability of Lamberhurst to accommodate additional dwellings, and the proposed allocation of a site on the south side of Furnace Lane, Lamberhurst for around 30 dwellings (site reference AL/LA2). 

Planning Strategy

  • With regard to the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and the Sustainability Appraisal, concern is expressed at the lack of consistency in how sites have been appraised (and then accepted or rejected) and the subjective nature of the assessment. Certain sites have been rejected for being detached from the LBD boundary (“limits to built development”), but then other comparable sites have been included.  Similarly, some sites have been accepted despite comments such as “slight negative scores most reflect dependency on private car use”, whilst other sites have been rejected outright for the same reason.  There does not appear to be an accurate quantifiable methodology used that measures settlements and sites in a consistent manner.

Conclusions

The general approach taken to the provision of housing (including relatively large allocations of housing on individual sites in small villages) is contrary to the consultation responses provided in the preparation of the draft Local Plan. 

Lamberhurst is a small rural village with very limited services and accessibility.  Proposals for 60 houses within the village (policy STR/AL1) cannot be supported by existing infrastructure and will by heavily reliant of the private motor car.  Focusing development in established urban areas that have more services and public transport is a far more appropriate method of increasing housing land supply whilst acknowledging climate change commitments. 

The proposed allocation of 30 houses on Furnace Lane (Policy AL/LA2) will have a major impact on the appearance of the AONB, with no exceptional circumstances to justify such an allocation in such a highly visible location.  Development would naturally be suburban in appearance (including vehicular access arrangements) that would detract from the rural character of the village. This would be exacerbated by the site’s location away from the centre of the village.  A far better approach (and notwithstanding our objection to 60 houses being proposed for the village) would be to provide for windfall development within the village, and for the emerging Neighbourhood Plan to identify smaller sites for more appropriately scaled schemes that would respect the AONB. 

We trust that these comments will be taken into account.

DLP_7532

Ruth Murphy

Draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal

We are writing to you to register our concerns and objections to the following:

  • the draft Local Plan and Sustainability Appraisal (together with other background topic papers), particularly with regard to the Council’s proposed housing strategy
  • the suitability of Lamberhurst to accommodate additional dwellings
  • the proposed allocation of a site on the south side of Furnace Lane, Lamberhurst for 30 dwellings (site reference AL/LA2).

2) With regard to the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and the Sustainability Appraisal, concern is expressed at the lack of consistency in how sites have been appraised (and then accepted or rejected) and the subjective nature of the assessment. Certain sites have been rejected for being detached from the Limits to Build Development boundary, but then other comparable sites have been included.  Similarly, some sites have been accepted despite comments such as “slight negative scores most reflect dependency on private car use”, whilst other sites have been rejected outright for the same reason.  There does not appear to be an accurate quantifiable methodology used that measures settlements and sites in a clear and consistent manner.

Conclusions

The general approach taken to the provision of housing (including relatively large allocations of housing on individual sites in small villages) is contrary to the consultation responses provided in the preparation of the draft Local Plan. 

Lamberhurst is a small rural village with very limited services and accessibility.  Proposals for 60 houses within the village (policy STR/AL1) cannot be supported by existing infrastructure and will be heavily reliant on the private motor car.  Focusing development in established urban areas that have more services and public transport is a far more appropriate method of increasing housing land supply whilst acknowledging climate change commitments. 

The proposed allocation of 30 houses on Furnace Lane (Policy AL/LA2) will have a major impact on the appearance of the AONB, with no exceptional circumstances to justify such an allocation in such a highly visible location.  Development would naturally be suburban in appearance (including vehicular access arrangements) that would detract from the rural character of the village. This would be exacerbated by the site’s location away from the centre of the village.  A far better approach (and notwithstanding our objection to 60 houses being proposed for the village) would be to provide for windfall development within the village, and for the emerging Neighbourhood Plan to identify smaller sites for more appropriately scaled schemes that would respect the AONB.

DLP_316
DLP_345
DLP_554
DLP_557
DLP_5293

Colin Inwood
Maureen Inwood
Sam Andrews
Christina Andrews
Wilf Andrews

TWBC: The following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

Benenden: Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment claims that site 158 and site 222 (south west of the crossroads, barring the pond which, if this area is developed, is to be given to the village as green space) are lacking in “services and facilities including public transport at the settlement”. One wonders if the person who wrote this has ever visited the village? The claim is astounding. It is untrue.

Benenden: Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment: Iden Green is omitted from development and its Limits to Built Development line is to be removed yet Iden Green is a hamlet with a pub/restaurant. It has the same unreliable bus service as the East End but it is within walking distance of the village school. It has a footpath to the school, a short part of which runs along the road and is classified as a “Roadside Nature Reserve”. The rest of the footpath goes through fields, through the churchyard, and then directly to the new school. Why talk of new cycle and foot paths to link an area two and half to three miles outside the village when such links, and far shorter ones, already exist in Iden Green?

DLP_7741
DLP_2331
DLP_2320
DLP_2141
DLP_4781
DLP_5727
DLP_7715

Fiona Chapman
Colin Inwood
Maureen Inwood
Bernard Phillips
Trevor Hunt
Suki Abbott
Carol & Graham Redfern

TWBC: The following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

This paper contains many statements which are so inaccurate as to provoke smiles, if not sighs of disbelief. For example, its assessment of sites 158 and 222, both of which are regarded as unsuitable, for they “lack services and facilities including public transport at the settlement.” Yet the AECOM assessment (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners) says of 222 “Allocation of this site will contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs. The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c.100m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities.” And of site 158 AECOM reads “allocation of the site will contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs. The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c.300m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities.” The reality on the ground agrees with the AECOM argument.

* Site 158 is rejected but only on a temporary basis. See AL/BE3 which requires an access route be allowed on that site for a road to access development on the land to the north, which is Site 158. This temporary rejection is curious. Delay in building at site 158 and instead building, at least in the first instance, 3 miles distant from the village, means that the parish will endure a double whammy of fairly large scale development. 92 houses at the hospital and 65 at 158 (considered by the council in 2018 as suitable for 174 houses). Building in two areas at some distance from each other, instead of from the settlement centre outwards, maximises damage to the environment and wildlife habitat as “travel connectivity” between the two are established. It threatens the landscape, tranquility and rural nature of the entire parish. It also raises questions of common sense, quite apart from challenging Objective 2, to “protect the valued heritage of the borough” and to “tackle climate change”. It is of interest to know why council officers changed their minds about siting development originally at site 158, once considered a site for building the new primary school. Why the decision to delay building there, at the expense of the East End and eventually, at the expense of the rural nature of the entire parish?

* Site 222 As already stated, SHELAA conclusions are based on unsound statements on accessibility and the availability of services and transport. Further, the Neighbourhood Plan assessment of the site fails to point out that the pond at the crossroads has been offered to the village as a public space.

* Site LS8 is not allocated because it is allegedly “remote” and far from local services and facilities and public transport. This for once, echoes the AECOM view which says “The site is located in Iden Green, which has no amenities (with the exception of the nursery school). As such, the location has poor accessibility to day-to-day services and facilities. However the site is located adjacent to a bus stop with relatively frequent services to a range of destinations.” The statement seems to contradict itself and does so even while remaining ignorant of all the amenities of Iden Green: its popular and ancient Woodcock pub-cum-restaurant, its community hall, its tennis courts, and above all its paved footpath used by children attending the village primary school. This path has been used by school crocodiles when children, walking with two parents, take a particularly agreeable route to school in the village centre. The pavement flows from the hamlet through a Roadside Nature Reserve to the kissing gate at the foot of Hilly Fields. From there, a tarmacked path takes walkers to a second kissing gate into the Beadle’s Platt by the church. The children walk through the church yard to the new school built the other side of the Glebe Field. It is a charming, safe, educational and even idyllic walk. The SHELAA conclusion on LS8 is unsound.

* Lastly, the SHELAA inherits the confirmatory bias of Benenden Neighbourhood Plan which dismissed all the large sites in the parish on the grounds that building on part of any of these sites would mean building on the entire site. This is not the case. Development of that part of 437 East in Iden Green which lies directly beside an existing housing estate, would consolidate the hamlet at its core, as building at site LS8 would also do. This bias is unsound and therefore the decisions subsequent to it, are also unsound.

* In paragraph 5.107 it is stated that Benenden Hospital is a major employer in Benenden: that may be so, but its employees, apart from one or two, do not live in the parish, nor contribute to the local economy. There is nowhere locally for them to spend their money. In any event, this factor does not entitle the hospital to special privileges in planning terms, particularly where those privileges run counter to the policies set out above. Planning is intended to be exercised for the benefit of the community.

* The whole of policy AL/BE4 in paragraph 5.108 seems to have been written by or on behalf of the landowner. For example, item 2 allows development anywhere in the non-hatched area as shown on the map. This includes the whole of the area to the west of Green Lane, even including the newly built section of the hospital and the new car park.

* Item 3 of the policy leaves it up to the hospital to decide whether or not to incorporate tennis courts, car parks or access to the sports pavilion: it says that the hospital must do this, “unless it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that these facilities are no longer required by the hospital in the short and long term”. Clearly not much of an obligation.

* Then we get the vaguely worded requirement in paragraph 1 requiring “Provision of an active travel link between the site and Benenden village (see Policy TP 2: …)” The only item in policy TP2 which relates to travel links outside the confines of the site, item 2, is a requirement that “There is public transport service and infrastructure provision within reasonable close proximity.” There is not. A twice a day minibus service does not comply with this requirement, even if it becomes provided. Its purpose is obviously to avoid the need to use motor cars.

* The requirements for the public use of the cafe at the hospital and the provision of a retail outlet in the existing hospital buildings are neither attainable nor enforceable: the usual process is for the parcel of land to be sold to a developer, subject to obtaining planning permission, and once planning permission is granted to the chosen developer, that developer will then have no power nor obligation to require the provision of any facilities off site.

* Neither CIL payments, if that system is adopted, nor section 106 payments can be used to provide facilities on private premises.

* In any event, even if as a matter of grace or expediency the hospital were to make available any part of its existing building for a cafe or shop, that would be incapable of remedying the manifest absence of normal facilities in this new proposed settlement. Surely no one can suppose that this kind of provision would form a community centre for a new settlement, since it will require access to private premises.

* I also subscribe to the arguments put forward by the Friends of East End.

DLP_2136

Ms Hazel Strouts

This paper contains many statements which are so inaccurate as to provoke smiles, if not sighs of disbelief. For example, its assessment of sites 158 and 222, both of which are regarded as unsuitable, for they “lack services and facilities including public transport at the settlement.” Yet the AECOM assessment (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners) says of 222 “Allocation of this site will contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs. The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c.100m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities.” And of site 158 AECOM reads “allocation of the site will contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs. The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c.300m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities.” The reality on the ground agrees with the AECOM argument.

* Site 158 is rejected but only on a temporary basis. See AL/BE3 which requires an access route be allowed on that site for a road to access development on the land to the north, which is Site 158. This temporary rejection is curious. Delay in building at site 158 and instead building, at least in the first instance, 3 miles distant from the village, means that the parish will endure a double whammy of fairly large scale development. 92 houses at the hospital and 65 at 158 (considered by the council in 2018 as suitable for 174 houses). Building in two areas at some distance from each other, instead of from the settlement centre outwards, maximises damage to the environment and wildlife habitat as “travel connectivity” between the two are established. It threatens the landscape, tranquility and rural nature of the entire parish. It also raises questions of common sense, quite apart from challenging Objective 2, to “protect the valued heritage of the borough” and to “tackle climate change”. It is of interest to know why council officers changed their minds about siting development originally at site 158, once considered a site for building the new primary school. Why the decision to delay building there, at the expense of the East End and eventually, at the expense of the rural nature of the entire parish?

* Site 222 As already stated, SHELAA conclusions are based on unsound statements on accessibility and the availability of services and transport. Further, the Neighbourhood Plan assessment of the site fails to point out that the pond at the crossroads has been offered to the village as a public space.

* Site LS8 is not allocated because it is allegedly “remote” and far from local services and facilities and public transport. This for once, echoes the AECOM view which says “The site is located in Iden Green, which has no amenities (with the exception of the nursery school). As such, the location has poor accessibility to day-to-day services and facilities. However the site is located adjacent to a bus stop with relatively frequent services to a range of destinations.” The statement seems to contradict itself and does so even while remaining ignorant of all the other amenities of Iden Green: its popular and ancient Woodcock pub-cum-restaurant, its community hall, its tennis courts, and above all its paved footpath used by children attending the village primary school. This path has been used by school crocodiles when children, walking with two parents, take a particularly agreeable route to school in the village centre. The pavement flows from the hamlet through a Roadside Nature Reserve to the kissing gate at the foot of Hilly Fields. From there, a tarmacked path takes walkers to a second kissing gate into the Beadle’s Platt by the church. The children walk through the church yard to the new school built the other side of the Glebe Field. It is a charming, safe, educational and even idyllic walk. The SHELAA conclusion on LS8 is unsound.

* Lastly, the SHELAA inherits the confirmatory bias of Benenden Neighbourhood Plan which dismissed all the large sites in the parish on the grounds that building on part of any of these sites would mean building on the entire site. This is not the case. Development of that part of 437 East in Iden Green which lies directly beside an existing housing estate, would consolidate the hamlet at its core, as building at site LS8 would also do. This bias is unsound and therefore the decisions subsequent to it, are also unsound.

* I also subscribe to the arguments put forward by the Friends of East End.

DLP_5770

Herbert Boxall

I am writing to object to the part of the Tunbridge Wells Draft which deals with the parish of Benenden and, in particular, with that part which deals with the hamlet of Iden Green. within that parish. I am a former resident of Iden Green and I am an owner of land there. My objections are as follows:

First, the allocation of new housing throughout the parish is seriously imbalanced with over half of the total for the whole parish allocated to the East End and none at all to Iden Green. I submit that new housing should be distributed much more evenly and fairly around the parish. In particular the site that I own (LS8, adjacent to the Congregational Church) would offer a modest 26 units according to its Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) – a worthwhile and proportionate contribution.

Second, the SHELAA for the site gives its remote location from “services and facilities” as a reason for rejecting it. Regarding facilities, as noted in the SHELAA, it adjoins the Congregational Church which also houses a nursery, the community hall and recreation ground (with tennis courts) are alongside, and The Woodcock, a well established pub and restaurant, lies within easy walking distance. These are all worthwhile facilities, while others such as the village shop and the primary school are only a mile away in Benenden. They are, moreover, easily accessible by footpath, which is safe for schoolchildren and pleasant to walk particularly through Hilly Fields. None of these facilities exist at the East End – three times further than Iden Green from Benenden.

Third, the site’s SHELAA also rejects it on grounds of remoteness from public transport. There are is in fact an occasional bus service with a stop near to the site – not ideal but that serving the East End is, I believe, no more adequate. Rail services are some distance away, but this is true for all parts of the parish. In the Overview of Benenden (pp264 & 265 of the Plan) Staplehurst Station is not mentioned for Iden Green and should be shown, at a distance only 0.2km greater than for the East End, while the distances to Etchingham for Benenden and Iden Green appear to be inconsistent. Access to public transport for Iden Green and site LS8 in particular are thus no worse than for Benenden centre or the East End so not a valid reason for rejection of thesite.

Fourth, the SHELAA claims that site LS8 is “likely to adversely impact upon the Conservation Area” (of Iden Green), because development allocation would influence “loss of Greenfield land within the AONB … adjacent to an Historic Settlement.” Exactly the same could be said of any of the allocated sites, indeed 98% of the whole parish lies within the AONB and LS8’s impact on Greenfield land would be relatively slight – certainly less severe than for some of the others, notably AL/BE1, 3 and 4, given it’s relatively small size and flatness, with well grown boundaries as acknowledged in the SHELAA. The prominence of sites 421 and 424 at the East End makes them significantly more damaging. LS8 would in fact round out the “Historic Settlement”, since it lies within it so would be infilling, not an extension of the settlement as implied by “adjacent to”. It would thus on balance be a preferable site for development allocation.

Fifth, it is noted that LS8 is outside the Limits to Built Development as presently drawn. If the Local Plan is adopted unamended then Iden Green’s LBD will no longer exist. The reasons for the LBD’s removal repeat those already addressed above. I contend that sites such as LS8, which provide relatively modest infilling offer housing to help meet needs with minimal impact upon visual amenities.

Finally, I understand that your Borough Council has recently established a cross-party Task Force with the objective of reducing carbon emissions and thus to make a positive contribution to climate change. To respect this aim, allocation of sites such as LS8 within feasible walking distance of the village should take precedence over sites where every family would require at least two cars.

I request that these objections are given full consideration in the review of the draft plan. Site LS8 is worthy of inclusion in the plan. Building within a long-established settlement contributes much more to conserving our landscape and protecting wildlife than building three miles outside it, as proposed for the East End hospital area.

I should appreciate it if you would kindly acknowledge receipt of my letter.

DLP_6830

Mrs Carol Richards

Site Reference 447 (Local Plan Allocation AL/CA 2 with site 454)

This site has been Assessed for development for potential educational use. Under the Issues to Consider, items listed include:-

* Green Belt considerations; AONB (2 component parts);

* Landscape Sensitivity Study (part PE1);

* Land contamination (railway land – tracks mainly);

* Ecological interest; notable feature/designation;

* Within the 110 metre buffer zone for Regional High Pressure Gas Pipe;

* EA Flood Zones 2 (13.39%), 3a (10.92%), and 3b (10.92%);

* Highway issues; ALC: Grade 2, Grade 3

* Cross boundary issues

These issues are NOT mentioned again in the following pages apart from the fact Suitability : It is found suitable and in the conclusion too. Reason : Proximity to settlements Tonbridge and Paddock Wood and can meet requirements of education need.

The main reason for suitability seems to be single ownership and as a result it is therefore deliverable?. However, this fails to address a number of points, for instance:

* The provision of a Secondary school at the Tonbridge Woodgate roundabout is utter madness. Every state school bar two ( the Hadlow rural community school and Hugh Christie) in Tonbridge are situated, as the crow flies along a distance of less than 2 ½ kms from Brook Street to the Woodgate roundabout. The number of pupils in these schools totals 5,206. There is also a large private school also within 100yds of the Woodgate roundabout, which has 750 pupils. In total within a 2 1/2 kms range, together with the 750 at the proposed new secondary school- there will be nearly 7000 school children. TWBC proposed site is on the other side of the roundabout to the Weald of Kent and opposite The Schools at Somerhill- that is 3 schools at the Woodgate roundabout. The logistics of those extra numbers on the traffic in Tonbridge is totally unacceptable. No infrastructure improvements will negate the problems that will arise from this plan. The knock on effect of roads in Tonbridge will mean traffic will tail back around the industrial estate and compound congestion in rush hour traffic along the Hadlow Road.( My main route into town.) The centre of Tonbridge will be tail to tail with traffic on every artery in the town.

* The site is bisected by a main rail line which under legislation: www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/194/regulation/6/made States:- that under Health safe and welfare-The school premises and the accommodation and facilities provided therein must be maintained to a standard such that, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health, safety and welfare of pupils is ensured. The practicality of having a rail line running through the centre of the school site should stop this plan under uk law.

TWBC estimate the school will cost approx. £31.9M. The lack of due diligence regarding this site makes this location unsound.

DLP_6831

Mrs Carol Richards

Site Reference 448 (Local Plan Allocation AL/CA 1 Site address Land at Tudeley, Tonbridge in the Parish of Capel)

This site is being proposed for a new settlement of up to 2,800 homes.

Under the Issues to Consider. The listed are:-

* Green Belt considerations

* AONB (2 component parts);

* Ecological interest; notable feature/designation;

* SFRA Flood Zones 2 and 3;

* Heritage matters (listed buildings on and adjacent to the site);

* Land contamination (sewage treatment works, cemetery (Modern), railway land (tracks));

* Highway matters; Infrastructure; ALC: Grade 2, Grade 3

* Cross boundary issues.

None of the above consider a Landscape Sensitivity Study (as site 447 does mention under issues and then conveniently forgets about it)

If TWBC had bothered to look at Character Area 13 and character area 17 Sections of the Medway Flood plain and provide a detailed Land Sensitivity Assessment- It would not be able to claim exceptional circumstances for building on Green Belt on this site.

If the SHELAA was to assess and consider this site against the LSA Criteria at para 2.9, the following observations would be relevant (LSA criteria in italics):

Physical and natural character (the shape, scale and complexity of the landform, the landscape pattern and the presence of natural or semi-natural features that are important to landscape character);

Capel is geologically and topologically distinct- with a ridge leading down to the flood plain below teeming with wildlife

* Settlement form and edge (the extent to which the sub-area relates to the form and pattern of existing adjacent settlement, and the character of the adjacent settlement edge);

A description from LCA TWB Character 13 area p114 describes, A richer more diverse landscape pattern occurs on the undulating slopes around Capel and Tudeley where a historic field pattern of fields with wavy and irregular boundaries are separated by thicker hedges of locally distinctive hornbeam.

Settlement setting (the extent to which the sub-area contributes to the identity and distinctiveness of a settlement, by way of its character and/or scenic quality, or its value for recreation in which experience of the landscape is important);

Views across this landscape provide a sense of rural charm, where historic farmsteads and oasts are a conspicuous features in the landscape stretching out towards the river Medway

Visual character (the visual prominence of the sub-area, the degree of intervisibility with the surrounding landscape, the role the sub-area plays in contributing to valued views, and the character of skylines);

The views across the valley from Tudeley and from the valley up towards the skyline looking up towards Tudeley is a valued view on a sunny day or crisp winter’s morning the views stretch for miles around. TWBC ‘plan’ to destroy this landscape

* Perceptual qualities (qualities such as rurality, sense of remoteness or tranquillity);

Tudeley has a rural idyllic feel to i- that would be destroyed with the proposed settlement

Historic character (the extent to which the landscape has ‘time-depth’ – a sense of being a historic landscape – and/or the presence of heritage assets that are important to landscape character)

Historic character is felt in spades at this site mainly due to the most phenomenally beautiful church of All Saints with the Marc Chagall windows. This importance of this site is a very obvious omission in the whole of this draft plan and is down played. A tactic I find shameful. It does not even feature on the Site Description regarding site 448 in the SHELAA Annex 04

The NPPF Section 16 states,’ Heritage assets of the highest significance , which are internationally recognised ( I think the Marc Chagall windows at Tudeley Church counts as such) ‘should be conserved in a manner appropriate to their significance’

The NPPF para 194 also states “Any harm to, or loss of, the significance of a designated heritage asset (from its alteration or destruction, or from development within its setting), should require clear and convincing justification

Having the setting of the church surrounded by up to 2.800 homes is totally inappropriate. The NPPF rules are there for borough councils to follow -so please follow them.

In domestic planning applications, TWBC requires an assessment of the impact of the proposed development on all heritage assets within a kilometre. Applying its own metric to its own development proposals the following approximate numbers of heritage assets in, or within a kilometre of CA1 are; 2 Grade 1, 1 Grade 2* and 70 Grade 2 listed heritage assets. This is a high number of assets that should be protected.

Looking again at ‘Suitability’ in the SHELAA Annex 04 description of site 448, this seems to suggest the roads on this site have limited impact on its suitability for development. However, this ignores the fact that Sherenden Road is a tiny country twisty road and the Five Oak Green Road is Classified as a B road.

The Achievability seems to rest on the fact that THIS SITE IS UNDER SINGLE OWNERSHIP AND THEREFORE ACHIEVABLE

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DLP_6977

Victoria Settle
Andrew Blamey
Nicky Scott
Isla Tompsett
Alan Bearfield
Nicholas Fogg
Maria Palmieri
Alicia Longley-Coomber
Jenny Fox
Chris Hill

TWBC: The following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

2) With regard to the Council’s Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment and the Sustainability Appraisal, concern is expressed at the lack of consistency in how sites have been appraised (and then accepted or rejected) and the subjective nature of the assessment. Certain sites have been rejected for being detached from the LBD boundary (“limits to built development”), but then other comparable sites have been included. Similarly, some sites have been accepted despite comments such as “slight negative scores most reflect dependency on private car use”, whilst other sites have been rejected outright for the same reason. There does not appear to be an accurate quantifiable methodology used that measures settlements and sites in a consistent manner.

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DLP_2542

Fiona Dagger
Mr Guy Dagger

TWBC: The following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

The decision making process is unclear and the decisions are muddled, inconsistent and incoherent. The lack of transparency makes scrutiny of the decisions problematic and it is difficult to ignore the conclusion that this is deliberate attempt to mask an inadequate evidence base, poor process and a desire to evade proper public scrutiny.

The Site Assessment Sheets provide minimal information. We are aware of more detailed site assessment sheets being used by neighbourhood planning groups, such as Cranbrook NPC, based on an enhanced AECOM template. This information does not appear to have been used by TWBC in their assessments. Why? 

DLP_3524

High Weald AONB Unit

The decision making process is unclear and the decisions are muddled, inconsistent and incoherent. The lack of transparency makes scrutiny of the decisions problematic and it is difficult to ignore the conclusion that this is deliberate attempt to mask an inadequate evidence base, poor process and a desire to evade proper public scrutiny.

SHELAA suggest that there were two stages to the decision process – an initial filtering (Stage 1) and a more detailed consideration (Stage 2). Topic paper para 6.7 states, that para 3.23 of the SHELAA provides a comprehensive list of the reasons why sites were filtered out. These reasons include significant landscape/topographical/heritage/coalescence concerns. All issues are not consistently noted on the site assessment sheets. Scores appear to have been used (e.g. Site 115 Hawkhurst Golf Course, ‘ A site with mixed scores’) but there is no indication of how issues are weighted. Sites where adverse impact on landscape, historic features, loss of greenfield/ soils, settlement coalescence is noted are generally considered unsuitable (e.g. Site 25, Frythe Way; Site 122, Charity Farm), but there are other sites, particularly larger sites, where such adverse impact is not considered to make the site unsuitable (e.g. Site 115, Hawkhurst Golf Course; Site 55, March Field ). We can only conclude that decisions are being made arbitrarily and that landscape considerations are not being properly applied.

The Site Assessment Sheets provide minimal information. We are aware of more detailed site assessment sheets being used by neighbourhood planning groups, such as Cranbrook NPC, based on an enhanced AECOM template. This information does not appear to have been used by TWBC in their assessments. Why?

It is noted that the site assessment forms incorrectly raise AONB as ‘Issues to Consider’ on several sites which are not in the AONB (for example sites 30, 100, 199, 205, 99, 114, 146, 280, 411, 434). If impact on the setting of the AONB is meant here then this should be made clear, otherwise it reduces the credibility of the site assessments and TWBC’s argument that it has maximised the opportunities on sites outside the AONB before considering those within.

It is also noted that the number of AONB components on a site is referenced in this column. This implies that TWBC are taking a simplistic approach of valuing the quality of the AONB according to the number of landscape components present on the site. To be clear the designation as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty confers the highest landscape status and value on all of the designated area equally. The landscape components identified in the Management Plan are those which are consistently found across the area, but there is no implication that all sites will display all five characteristics or that areas that don’t have all five are of lesser value.

DLP_3493

Sally Marsh

The decision making process is unclear and the decisions are muddled, inconsistent and incoherent. The lack of transparency makes scrutiny of the decisions problematic and it is difficult to ignore the conclusion that this is deliberate attempt to mask an inadequate evidence base, poor process and a desire to evade proper public scrutiny.

The Site Assessment Sheets provide minimal information. We are aware of more detailed site assessment sheets being used by neighbourhood planning groups, such as Cranbrook NPC, based on an enhanced AECOM template. This information does not appear to have been used by TWBC in their assessments. Why? 

DLP_7401

Andrew Ford

The decision making process is unclear and the decisions are muddled, inconsistent and incoherent. The lack of transparency makes scrutiny of the decisions problematic and it is difficult to ignore the conclusion that this is deliberate attempt to mask an inadequate evidence base, poor process and a desire to evade proper public scrutiny.

SHELAA suggest that there were two stages to the decision process – an initial filtering (Stage 1) and a more detailed consideration (Stage 2). Topic paper para 6.7 states, that para 3.23 of the SHELAA provides a comprehensive list of the reasons why sites were filtered out. These reasons include significant landscape/topographical/heritage/coalescence concerns. All issues are not consistently noted on the site assessment sheets. Scores appear to have been used (e.g. Site 115 

Hawkhurst Golf Course, ‘ A site with mixed scores’) but there is no indication of how issues are weighted. Sites where adverse impact on landscape, historic features, loss of greenfield/ soils, settlement coalescence is noted are generally considered unsuitable (e.g. Site 25, Frythe Way; Site 122, Charity Farm), but there are other sites, particularly larger sites, where such adverse impact is not considered to make the site unsuitable (e.g. Site 115, Hawkhurst Golf Course; Site 55, March Field). We can only conclude that decisions are being made arbitrarily and that landscape considerations are not being properly applied.

The Site Assessment Sheets provide minimal information. We are aware of more detailed site assessment sheets being used by neighbourhood planning groups, such as Cranbrook NPC, based on an enhanced AECOM template. This information does not appear to have been used by TWBC in their assessments. Why?

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DLP_7291

Jacqueline Arscott, HHRA
Peter Evans, HHRA
Maija Wilson, HHRA
Liza Hall, HHRA
Elle Arscott, HHRA
Simon Byerley
Vice Chair, HHRA
Byerley Ltd
Hangman's Hill Residents Association (HHRA)

TWBC: The following comment was submitted by the responders on the left:

There are a number of errors and omissions re Site ref :445 (Local Plan Allocation AL/SO3)

Gross Area: We assume that this includes the northern area of the site which is within the borough of Tonbridge and Malling. This should be made clear in the SHELAA as we are unsure of the implications of land outside Tunbridge Wells borough being included in an allocation in the local plan.

Developable area: Is this simply the area that is within the Tunbridge Wells borough or does it take account of the constraints such as Ancient Woodland within the site?

Site Type: We suggest that this should be re-phrased to “Greenfield, with a small number of pockets of PDL, one of which is in proximity to the LBD”. Moatenden (1.14 hectares) is clearly PDL but we are unsure whether the Mabledon Farm and the small number of converted farm buildings here should be classed as PDL. We have the same query in relation to Moat Farm. Moatenden is the only PDL that is in proximity to the LBD.

Potential Yield if residential : We suggest that this should be the potential yield based upon the developable area not the proposed allocation i.e 5,000 dwellings (at 40 dwellings per hectare on a greenfield site) or 1,875 dwellings (at 15 dwellings per hectare for a mixed use site)

Issues to consider: We are uncomfortable with the tick-box approach to AONB components as this does not give any indication of how important and extensive they are within the AONB landscape. Green Belt designation, Heritage Assets, Highway matters and Electricity Pylons should be added to the list. The need to discuss the portion of the site in Tonbridge should also be considered.

Site description: The southern boundary does not follow a stream: this appears to have been copied from the site 180 Nightingale Farm and Land in the Interim SHEELA . Extension of the site in the 2017 Call for sites means that the southern boundary is Vauxhall Lane, with two parcels of land (Moatenden and Moat Farm) extending south of this.

Reason: The site does not have good connections to the cycle network. 

DLP_4788

Alison Spender

Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability (SHELAA) 

There are a number of errors and omissions re Site ref :445 (Local Plan Allocation AL/SO3) 

Gross Area: We assume that this includes the northern area of the site which is within the borough of Tonbridge and Malling. This should be made clear in the SHELAA as we are unsure of the implications of land outside Tunbridge Wells borough being included in an allocation in the local plan. 

Developable area:  Is this simply the area that is within the Tunbridge Wells borough or does it take account of the constraints such as Ancient Woodland within the site? 

Site Type:  We suggest that this should be re-phrased to “Greenfield, with a small number of pockets of PDL, one of which is in proximity to the LBD”.   Moatenden (1.14 hectares) is clearly PDL but we are unsure whether the Mabledon Farm and the small number of converted farm buildings here should be classed as PDL. We have the same query in relation to Moat Farm.  Moatenden is the only PDL that is in proximity to the LBD.

Potential Yield if residential:  We suggest that this should be the potential yield based upon the developable area not the proposed allocation i.e 5,000 dwellings (at 40 dwellings per hectare on a greenfield site) or 1,875 dwellings (at 15 dwellings per hectare for a mixed use site) 

Issues to consider:   We are uncomfortable with the tick-box approach to AONB components as this does not give any indication of how important and extensive they are within the AONB landscape. Green Belt designation, Heritage Assets, Highway matters and Electricity Pylons should be added to the list. The need to discuss the portion of the site in Tonbridge should also be considered.  

Site description:  The southern boundary does not follow a stream: this appears to have been copied from the site 180 Nightingale Farm and Land in the Interim SHEELA .  Extension of the site in the 2017 Call for sites means that the southern boundary is Vauxhall Lane, with two parcels of land (Moatenden and Moat Farm) extending south of this. 

Reason:  The site does not have good connections to the cycle network.

DLP_3091

Tony Fullwood

Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment for Draft Local Plan – Regulation 18 Consultation

Site Assessment Sheets for Benenden Parish, July 2019 

Site reference: 437

Land adjacent to Iden Green, Iden Green, Benenden Kent

The text refers to some farm buildings within the Limits to Built Development; the rest of site is adjacent to the Limits to Built Development. As the Local Plan does not propose a Limit to Built Development for Iden Green, this appraisal needs amendment. In addition, given the scale of the site, much of it is not close to the hamlet of Iden Green.

Access to the site is problematic particularly as this would be via the Iden Green crossroads and rural lanes.

The site also provides habitat to protected species.

DLP_4296

Changing Cities for 42 Leisure PLC

The Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment concludes that the site at Montacute Gardens (ref: 7) is unsuitable for development but fails to recognise that it has already been allocated for development in the adopted Development Plan and has been assessed by an independently appointed Inspector who concluded it was suitable for mixed use development. The SHEALA provides no justification as to why the site should now be considered unsuitable for development and excluded from the Local Plan. The SHEALA fails to consider the site in the context of its contribution to the wider regeneration and enhancement of the area- a key reason for allocation of the site along with Union House for mixed use development.

DLP_4343

Town and Country Planning Solutions for Gleeson Strategic Land

Appendix 6: Submitted sites not included in the Draft Local Plan

SHELAA – site 99 Limits to Built Development Topic Paper

and Royal Tunbridge Wells and Southborough Draft Policies – Inset Map 2

1. These representations on behalf of Gleeson Strategic Land (Gleeson) relate to the consultation draft of the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan published on 20th September 2019. Gleeson has an interest in land known as ‘Sandown Park’ located on the northern side of Pembury Road immediately adjoining the built up limits of Royal Tunbridge Wells (RTW) on the eastern edge of the town.

2. These representations (which compromise one of a number of other representations submitted to the Borough Council) relate specifically to the Council’s assessment of the land’s potential for housing purposes in the latest iteration of the Strategic Housing and Employment Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) in the Council’s published ‘Site Assessment Sheets for Royal Tunbridge Wells’ dated July 2019.

3. In the Council’s previous ‘Site Allocations Development Plan Document: Site Templates Green Belt and Rural Fringes Supporting Information’ produced in February 2015, the land at Sandown Park was identified as site number 291 (see Appendix 1 attached). The land is noted as being ‘adjacent to the high Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’ (HWAONB), the boundary of which runs along the southern side of Pembury Road.

4. In April 2017, the Council published a SHELAA as a ‘Draft Interim Report’ with the land at Sandown Park being identified as site no. 99 (see Appendix 2 attached). The site assessment not only noted the site as being ‘’enclosed’ and ‘well screened’, but also noted its various sustainability credentials in relation to its proximity to local schools, the food store Tesco at Pembury to the east as well as local bus services and the National Cycle Route 18 adjacent to the site. This assessment made no mention (and presumably therefore, raised no significance) to the site being adjacent to the HWAONB boundary on the opposite side of Pembury Road to the south.

5. In response to this publication, Gleeson submitted representations explaining that since promoting the land for housing purposes at the Site Allocations Local Plan Examination in November 2015 (Representation no. SAL-S-732), extensive additional assessment work had been undertaken and various survey assessment reports and studies (in relation to ecology, landscape, archaeology, arboriculture and transport) in addition to an illustrative layout plan, were all submitted for the Council’s consideration in May 2017. Subsequent to this, further supporting documents were prepared and submitted to the Council as part of a ‘pre-application’ request by Gleeson on 2nd March 2018 (Appendix 3), to which the Council provided a response on 9th May 2018 (Appendix 4). While this consultation was through the Council’s ‘pre- application’ advice service, it was made clear at the time that Gleeson’s proposal related to submissions associated with the emerging Local Plan seeking the potential allocation of the land for housing proposes and for informal recreation.

6. On 10th May 2019 (Appendix 5), Gleeson responded to the matters raised by the Council in its pre-application advice dated 9th May 2018. This was accompanied by four additional supporting / amending documents (together with a consultation response from the Highway Authority that was dated 5th February 2019) to provide a revised Illustrative Layout Plan and a revised Access Drawing no. ITB12398-GA-005. In order to ensure that these supporting documents and illustrative drawings are considered by the Council as part of the Plan’s next Regulation 19 stage, they have been resubmitted again with these current representations and now form Appendices 6 – 12 attached.

7. Given this previous dialogue with the Council and the submission of detailed and comprehensive supporting documents, it is of considerable concern to Gleeson that none of this appears to have been taken into account in the Council’s more recent iteration of the SHELAA dated July 2019, in which site no. 99 now forms part of the ‘Site Assessment Sheets for Royal Tunbridge Wells’ (Appendix 13).

8. The Council’s most recent ‘Sustainability Appraisal’ for the site is seriously flawed and the ‘negative scores’ (which even in the Council’s ‘Sustainability Appraisal of the Draft Local Plan September 2019’ are not set out in any detail) are unjustified and as demonstrated by the supporting documents already submitted to the Council by Gleeson, any impact is capable of being mitigated. Furthermore, the Council’s flawed assessment now claims (incorrectly) that the site is “in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty”.

9. The Council’s latest assessment states that “Negative scores are given for air, climate change, heritage land use, landscape and noise” and that “high harm” would be caused if the land were to be released from the Green Belt and there are also “highway concerns”.

10. The Council’s Sustainability Appraisal (September 2019) includes a table of ‘scores’ for the site (number 99) in Appendix E on page 165 and states;

“This site scores a number of neutral scores with some positive ones. Negative scores are given for air, climate change, heritage, land use, landscape and noise. The site is a greenfield site in the AONB, part of a Green Belt parcel of land that would cause high harm if released from the Green Belt. The location of the site along Pembury Road relative to distance to key services and facilities is likely to encourage car use. This has informed the air score and climate change score given. Noise score reflects location along the busy Pembury Road. The site forms part of the landscape setting of the main urban area of Tunbridge Wells and helps prevent coalescence between Tunbridge Wells and Pembury, the frontage is within the Conservation Area. This has influences the heritage and landscape scores given.”

11. Gleeson object to the Council’s SHELAA Assessment and sustainability scoring for the site on the basis set out below.

i) ‘Air score and climate change score’

12. The Council’s Assessment states “The location of the site along the Pembury Road related to distance to key services and facilities is likely to encourage car use. This has informed the air score and the climate change score given”.

13. As demonstrated by the Transport Assessment submitted to the Council previously however and as previously recognised by the Council in its 2015 ‘Site Templates’ document, the site is in fact well located in relation to a number of local facilities including a number of schools within 200m – 2,800m distance, the Pembury Tesco store within 1,000m distance as well as Pembury Hospital within 1,500m distance. There are also convenient bus stops close by along both sides of Pembury Road which provide service connections to Tunbridge Wells town centre and the mainline rail station. In addition, the site is also well related to employment opportunities at North Farm Industrial Estate and Knights Park which the Council is proposing to build upon by releasing land within the Green Belt for employment purposes (Policy AL/RTW15). The Gleeson land is also located immediately adjacent to part of the designated National Cycle Network.

14. The site is therefore, in a sustainable location where there are opportunities for a range of means of transport that do not rely on car use. Indeed, as the largest town with the greatest range of facilities than any other settlement within the Borough, this edge-of-town location must reasonably be regarded as a far more sustainable location that other sites being promoted by the Council in the emerging Local Plan, which are bound to lead to much greater car use and longer car trips due to the lack of alternative means of transport and / or distance to facilities. This includes the Council’s proposal for a new ‘garden village’ at Tudeley at 17 ‘major’ development sites at locations within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

ii) ‘Heritage, land use’

15. The Archaeological and Heritage Assessment by EDP (May 2019) – Appendix 8, clearly demonstrates that the site could be developed in a form that would have no significant impact on any Heritage Assets (including the Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area boundary that runs along the Pembury Road frontage and the Grade II listed building located at Pembury Grange some 200m to the north of the site) and the site does not have any known significance in terms of archaeology.

iii) ‘Landscape’

16. The site has been the subject of a comprehensive Landscape Impact Assessment (Appendix 7), which again demonstrates that the site is capable of development in form that would have no harmful impact upon the character and appearance of the site or its wider landscaped setting. The majority of the trees along the road frontage would be retained (save for the few that need to be removed in order to provide a suitable means of vehicular and pedestrian access) and these can be reinforced with new planting. As such, the landscape setting along this part of Pembury Road in approaching Tunbridge Wells from the east, would not be harmed and could be enhanced so that there would be no harmful impact upon the part of the Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area that extends along the northern side of Pembury Road.

iv) ‘Noise’

17. Like any site abutting a road frontage, there is potential for some degree of exposure to road traffic and noise. The illustrative layout plan (Appendix 11) indicated however, that the proposed housing area would be set well back from the road frontage and with suitable mitigation measures adopted if required, there is no reason why road noise should in any way limit the site’s potential for housing purposes.

v) ‘Green Belt’

18. For the reasons put forward in the Green Belt Impact Assessment Report (Appendix 6) and in other separate current representations submitted in relation to the Draft Local Plan, the Council’s own Green Belt Study (June 2017) in relation to this land is severely flawed and unreasonable. The Council’s Green Belt Study looks at the effect of the removing of all of the land between the existing built up area of Tunbridge Wells and the Pembury by-pass from the Green Belt, which is expressed as ‘high’, whereas this is not the proposal being put forward by Gleeson. It remains unclear that given that Gleeson had raised concerns previously with the Council in the way that its Green Belt Study has been undertaken, why there has been no revision in selecting suitable sites for proposed release within the Green Belt at this location.

19. The Gleeson proposal is not to release the whole of the 6.5 hectare site for development as appears to have been assessed in the Council’s latest SHLAA iteration in July 2019 (Appendix 13). As clearly shown by the illustrative layout plan (Appendix 11) submitted to the Council previously, the Gleeson proposal is to only develop the western part of the site for 70 – 80 dwellings and retain the rest of the land within the Green Belt for use as informal recreation. Thus, the housing element released from the Green Belt would be closely related (and effectively round-off) existing built up limits to this part of RTW and the land to be retained within the Green Belt, as well as being made publically accessible for informal recreation, would help ensure retention of a significant green gap (with proposed structural planting and future management) so as to maintain and enhance its Green Belt function in preventing the coalescence between Tunbridge Wells and Pembury.

vi) ‘Highway’ Impact

20. Following the submission of the previous supporting transport documents (Appendices 9 and 10), the Council is already aware that Gleeson has had an ongoing dialogue with the Highway Authority at Kent County Council. The Highway Authority’s latest response (Appendix 10) does not raise any fundamental concerns as to why a sustainable means of access for Pembury Road cannot be achieved as indicated on Access Drawing no. ITB12398-GA- 005 (Appendix 12), which has been modified in light of the Highway Authority’s latest response and also so as to minimise its visual impact on this part of the road frontage in light of comments contained in the Council’s ‘Pre-Application Advice’ response in May 2018 (Appendix 4).

21. The Council’s supporting document ‘Limits to Built Development’ (LBD) Topic Paper (August 2019) states (in paragraph 7.2) that “Reviewing the LBD’s will also ensure that development will be focused in those settlements which are most sustainable in terms of providing facilities and services…”. It also contains (at paragraph 7.6) a schedule of criteria that the Council claims to have used to determine land that should or should not be included within LBD’s.

22. The Gleeson proposal is to extend the RTW LBD to include approximately 3 hectares of land for housing purposes (for 70 – 80 dwellings) and release this land from the Green Belt. The proposal is also to retain the rest of the Gleeson land (some 3.3 hectares) immediately to the east of the housing allocation within the Green Belt and to undertake structural planting (with future management) so that this can be become publically accessible as informal open recreational space.

23. The various supporting documents produced by Gleeson and submitted to the Council previously (and resubmitted with these representations) demonstrate that this proposal would meet all the relevant criteria listed in the Topic Paper – selection criteria schedule, such as to warrant the allocation of the housing land and to accordingly extend the RTW LBD to include the land on Inset Map 2 of the emerging Local Plan. Instead, the Gleeson land has not been fairly or properly objectively assessed in the Council’s latest iteration of its SHLAA, nor has the proposed housing element be considered as a potential RTW LBD Amendment at Map reference 28.2 on page 60 of the LBD Topic Paper.

24. Gleeson also considers that their site has been unreasonably assessed and given low sustainability scores when considered against other potential housing sites at RTW and most notably SHELAA site 137, which is now proposed to be released from the Green Belt to provide approximately 270 dwellings as draft Policy AL/RTW 18. The SHELAA Sustainability Assessment notes that “The scores for this site are mixed” and include negative scores for air quality due to increased car use on the A26 and in terms of noise, the site is near to the main Gatwick flight path as well as road noise. There are also negative Green Belt loss and landscape impact scores and a negative heritage score due to compromising the setting of a Hill Fort (a scheduled Ancient Monument) and the complete loss of an assart field.

25. As can be determined by comparing the Sustainability Appraisal of this site in Appendix D (page 162) and the Gleeson land in Appendix E (page 165), the overall ‘scores’ for the two sites are similar and there is simply no sound justification for allocating one site and not the other.

Conclusions

26. For the reasons set out in these representations on behalf of Gleeson, it is considered that the Council’s latest SHLAA assessment for Royal Tunbridge Wells site no. 99 is severely flawed and that this has resulted in unjustified and unreasonable negative ‘scores’ that has counted against the Council considering this site as a suitable edge of main settlement Green Belt release for housing purposes. This in turn, has resulted in site no. 99 being unreasonably included within Appendix 6 of the draft Plan as one of the ‘submitted sites not included in this draft Local Plan’ and as a consequence, not being shown as a housing and informal open space allocation on Inset Map 2, with the RTW ‘Limits to Built Development’ boundary amended to include the proposed housing area.

27. As such and compared to the proposed housing allocation the subject of draft Policy AL/RTW 18, the Council’s evidence in support of its proposed housing allocations is not positively prepared, justified or effective and therefore, conflicts with Government advice set out in paragraph 35 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) February 2019. Gleeson therefore invites the Council to now take the opportunity to review its SHLAA assessment (and Sustainability Appraisal) for Royal Tunbridge Wells site no. 99 in light of these Regulation 18 representations, to ensure that the site is fairly assessed as a suitable housing alternative to others being promoted by the Council at the Regulation 19 stage when the proposed submission draft version of the Local Plan is published.

28. It should be noted that these representations should also be read in conjunction with other representations submitted on behalf of Gleeson in relation to the Council’s proposed development strategy, Green Belt review and the proposed new policy relating to Local Open Space Designations.

List of Appendices

1. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Local Plan – Site Allocations Development Plan Document; Site Templates Green Belt and Rural Fringe Supporting Information – February 2015

Site 291; Land at Sandown Park.

2. Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan – Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment; Draft Interim Report April 2017

Site 99; Land at Sandown Park.

3. Pre-Application Advice request (letter dated 2nd March 2018).

4. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council response to Pre-Application Advice request (letter dated 9th May 2018).

5. Response relating to matters arising following Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s response (letter dated 10th May 2019).

6. Green Belt Assessment by EDP dated May 2019.

7. Landscape and Visual Appraisal by EDP dated May 2019. See 7a and 7b

8. Archaeological and Heritage Assessment by EDP dated May 2019.

9. Technical Note by i Transport dated 14th December 2018. See 9a and 9b

10. Response from Kent County Council (Highway Authority) dated 5th February 2019.

11. Revised Masterplan Drawing no. 1232.02.

12. Revised Access Drawing no. ITB12398-GA-005.

13. SHELAA Site Assessment sheets for Royal Tunbridge Wells (Site 99) July 2019.

DLP_4794

DHA Planning Ltd for Caenwood Estates and Dandara

4 Comments on technical documents

Comments on the SHELAA

4.1.1 The SHELAA is not a policy document, but is supposed to be a technical assessment of site suitability. For this reason, it is usual for such documents to adopt a ‘policy off’ position, which identifies sites as being potentially suitable for development even where those sites are not then proposed for development in the Local Plan. This normally results in a greater amount of land being found suitable for development than is actually required for the Local Plan, which then leads to judgements being made about the best planning strategy.

4.1.2 By contrast, TWBC’s SHELAA appears to only find sites suitable for development where they are then allocated, which is unusual in our experience. It begs the question whether the SHELAA findings are robust and reliable, or whether other policy objectives have influenced the findings.

Caenwood Farm

4.1.3 This is clearly illustrated in the treatment of Caenwood Farm within the SHELAA. The north eastern part of this site was considered in the 2009 SHLAA as being a natural extension to the urban area, and was identified as being suitable for development (see Appendix).

4.1.4 However, in the July 2019 SHELAA, the Council considered the site as unsuitable for development. Whilst the Council recognises the site would make a significant positive contribution to housing, it is suggested that the substantial use of private vehicles in this location causes noise and air objectives to score very negatively, and that the site also has the potential to have a landscape impact.

4.1.5 The case for allocating the site for development has been set out in detail above, and in previous submissions and so we will not repeat information unnecessarily here. However, in summary, we consider this land to be a suitable area to release land and we consider there to be exceptional circumstances to release this site from the Green Belt and prioritise the development of this highly sustainable site.

4.1.6 The site has been promoted as a natural extension of Tunbridge Wells for several decades. The 2009 SHLAA recognised that a substantial part of the site was suitable for development. At this time, it was clear that landscape has been degraded and the northern part of the site would be suitable for development, given its proximity to existing residential and through topography and landscaping, would be well screened.

4.1.7 Parts of the site are contiguous with the established settlement boundary of Tunbridge Wells and it is within easy walking distance of a wide range of services and amenities including places of work, shops, recreational facilities, and an extensive range of community and education facilities including the main concentration of secondary school provision in the town. There would be opportunities to further improve education provision as a result of the development.

[TWBC: see full representation, including Appendix: Extract from 2009 SHLAA ].

DLP_6803

Kember Loudon Williams for Wedgewood (New Homes) Ltd

In the table at page 206 (Appx. O) of the Sustainability Appraisal the commentary refers to an historic landscape. However, the site is not within a designated landscape and is very well contained by existing landscape features, topography, and adjacent built form. Furthermore the negative score on land use is questioned as the field is unused rough pasture which is dissected by a drainage ditch and is isolated from the wider agricultural landscape by adjacent orchard, hop garden and built form.

In the SHELAA site assessment sheets for Horsmonden (July 2019) the reference to a historic landscape is repeated, however, the ADAS Landscape Report submitted with the KLW Supporting Report in response to the Reg. 18 Local Plan Consultation confirms that the site is of low visual value with low/medium sensitivity. The Ardent Technical Report submitted with the KLW Supporting Report shows that there are two suitable options for attaining vehicular access to the site. The comment about lack of access to services and facilities would apply equally to all sites in Horsmonden (although there is a range of local services available), and this site is well located in terms of distance to the core village services.

Accordingly, the SHELAA assessment in our view does not withstand full analysis and particularly in light of the additional information now available. Accordingly, the conclusion that the site is unsuitable as an allocation is not, in our view, well founded and we would request that this is reviewed. 

[TWBC: see Supporting Statement and Comment Numbers DLP_6793, 6797-6799, 6801, 6803-6804.]

[TWBC: this comment has also been entered as Comment Number SA_120 under the Sustainability Appraisal consultation].

DLP_2783

Mr Andrew McConnell

Site Number and Site Address: LA/LA2 Lamberhust

It appears from the comments relating to a number of sites considered in Lamberhurst that they were rejected due to lack of access to public transport and nearby amenities. I fail to see why this is not equally applicable to the LA/LA2 site.

423 it appears that grounds for rejection of the Lamberhurst Winery were based on the proposed development being on a ridgeline. The proposed AL/LA2 site is if anything on a higher ridge line impacting views from both Furnace Lane, The Slade and Hoghole lane. The view from public footpath running along the Misty Meadow Farm access track and indeed the whole valley towards Hook Green will also be severely impacted.

Transport General

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_7402

ASP Planning for Yalding Parish Council

INTRODUCTION

1. ASP have been instructed by Yalding Parish Council to review the Regulation 18 Tunbridge Wells Local Plan 2019 (hereafter referred to as the Local Plan) and its associated evidence base as to the potential effects of the plan on Yalding Parish.

2. Yalding Parish lies adjacent to Tunbridge Wells District on its north-eastern edge with the southern part of the parish lying less than a mile from the northern part of the built-up area of Paddock Wood which contains a number of employment sites, a railway station on the AshfordTonbridge-London main-line and convenience retailing as well as a secondary school. A plan showing the extent of the Parish boundary and its relationship to the Tunbridge Wells BC area is attached at Appendix 1 to these representations. Yalding lies within Maidstone Borough Council’s jurisdiction. To the west of the parish runs the A228, to which Yalding is connected by Gravelly Ways/Beltring Road at Beltring and the B2162 Hampstead Lane via the B2015 through the parish of Nettlestead. The parish also has a direct road connection through to Horsmonden to the south east via the B2162. Yalding village lies towards the north of the parish with Laddingford village to the south. The parish is heavily influenced by the three rivers that run through it (Medway, Teise and Beult) which all converge in Yalding. The parish is also served by the Medway Valley railway line which runs between Maidstone and Paddock Wood, with two stations at Yalding and Beltring.

3. Our review of the proposed strategy for housing within the Local Plan has highlighted two areas of concern in which we consider that gaps in the evidence base mean that the plan is ‘not effective’ in respect of where it focuses development (in particular the potential impacts of the proposed level of development at Paddock Wood). Overall clear doubt is expressed as to whether the level of development can be achieved, as a result of the extent of infrastructure required and environmental constraints.

4. The emphasis on development in the north-east of the district raises issues regarding the soundness of the plan as to the sustainability of such proposals.

TRANSPORT

5. The proposals for significant development in the Paddock Wood area are predicated on the fact that significant public transport improvements will ensure that additional transport impacts on the road network will be minimised. The analysis behind this conclusion does not sufficiently consider cross-border traffic movements and therefore fails to consider whether there will be traffic impacts beyond the areas where public transport improvements are proposed.

6. In respect of cross-border movements with Yalding Parish a key deficit of the transport evidence base is that it does not recognise Yalding Parish as falling within the ‘travel to work area’ for the Tunbridge Wells District (see figure 4 in the transport strategy review). The lack of consideration of the potential impacts of the development in traffic terms on the Yalding Parish runs throughout the whole of the transport evidence base. Figure 8-1 of the Transport Assessment by SWECO indicates that the ‘stimulation area’ for the traffic modelling did not extend to Yalding village.

7. Currently there is an established level of commuter traffic movements between Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells that use ‘B’ roads and other roads that connect to the A228 corridor that run through the Yalding Parish. With the level of development proposed for Paddock Wood and changes to the employment offer, there is potential for these movements to increase. Due to the longer distance of these movements the proposed public transport improvements are not considered to present a suitable mitigation package.

8. As the impact of the proposed level of development on key junctions in the Yalding parish such as Gravelly Ways/Beltring Road and the A228 have not been modelled, no conclusion can be drawn as to the impact of the proposed level of development at Paddock Wood on these junctions. Given that the public transport improvements will not extend into the Yalding Parish it is considered that it is reasonable to assume that there will at least be an increase of traffic movements affecting key junctions within Yalding Parish although it cannot be established how significant these increases would be. A similar concern is also raised about the development proposed for Horsmonden and the potential increase in traffic on the B2162.

9. There are also concerns about a potential indirect impact of the proposed ‘Colts Hill Bypass’ on the A228. Currently due to the constraints of this part of the A228 some commuters travelling from the Maidstone area to the Tunbridge Wells/Tonbridge area seeks alternative routes that avoid the A228 mainly going via the A26 and thus avoiding both the A228 and the Yalding area. It is possible that with the creation of the bypass that some of this traffic will return to using the A228 including accessing it via routes that run through Yalding parish.

10. Overall it is argued that the transport evidence base insufficiently considers cross-border impacts with Yalding parish and this therefore impacts on the conclusion as to whether the level of development in the Paddock Wood area is sustainable or whether it would lead to additional unmitigated impact on the local road network in Yalding Parish, particularly to the south of Yalding and Laddingford as well as the High Street/Town Bridge area of Yalding.

CONCLUSION

20. In conclusion, our review of the Regulation 18 Local Plan and associated evidence base has raised concerns about whether the impacts of the proposed level of development in the northern part of the district is effective and sustainable due to some gaps in the evidence base. 

21. In respect of transport impacts, the evidence base fails to recognise that parts of Yalding Parish fall within the travel-to-work area for Tunbridge Wells and the associated commuter traffic that uses the road network running through Yalding village and Laddingford. This therefore leads to inadequacies in the evidence base as the traffic modelling undertaken did not extend to Yalding village/Parish. As the potential traffic impacts on Yalding village from the proposed development at Paddock Wood would be longer distance commuter traffic it is considered that the public transport improvements that are proposed as mitigation would be an ineffective mechanism to address any potential adverse transport impacts on Yalding and the road network in the parish . 

22. In respect of flooding considerations, it is considered the SFRA approach in leaving the consideration of downstream impacts to the planning application stage is ineffective and has the potential to impact on the deliverability of the strategic growth area proposed for Paddock Wood. The SFRA is also considered to be non-compliant with the latest DEFRA guidance on several counts not least of which the new guidance (see attached at Appendix 2) requires sequential testing of specific sites to be undertaken at the local plan preparation stage. There also appears to be a lack of consultation of neighbouring authorities in regard to their SFRA which is also not in compliance with DEFRA guidance and has the potential to make the SFRA ineffective if it does not consider strategic development proposals in other districts that are in the same river catchments. 

23. Based on the above two areas of concern it is put forward therefore that the Regulation 18 Local Plan is not effective in respect of where it focusses development due to gaps in the supporting evidence base. Specifically, it is considered that there is insufficient evidence to support the level of development proposed for the Paddock Wood area particularly in respect of cross-boundary impacts, which would directly affect Yalding Parish.

[TWBC: see also Comment No. DLP_7403 - Appendix 5 (Flooding)]

TWBC note: there were no appendices attached to this representation

DLP_4225

Tunbridge Wells District Committee Campaign to Protect Rural England

Transport Study 

We are unclear as to what the transport study is that comment is invited upon in Appendix 5 as we cannot see a study of that name on the Local Plan website.  Is it the Transport Evidence Base?

Transport Evidence Base (SWECO)

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_1903

Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum

Topic Paper or supporting document title: SHELAA Site Assessment sheets for Royal Tunbridge Wells

We previously submitted detailed comments on a number of the sites submitted under the Call for Sites which might become subject to an allocation. We set out those comments again under each specific AL/RTW Policy in relation to the sites now proposed for allocation in the DraftSo far as sites which were considered unlikely to be allocated and have now not been allocated for future development, we set out our comments in Appendix 6.

Town Forum policy is that development in the AONB and Green Belt should take place only on proof of exceptional circumstances. Any evidence put forward of exceptional circumstances will have to satisfy the Inspector at Examination in accordance with relevant legal precedent. In the very difficult circumstances of the current unsatisfactory relationship between Central Government and Local Authorities and subject to the important caveat above, we are broadly supportive of most of the sites now selected for allocation in the unparished area of Royal Tunbridge Wells, subject in many cases to conditions. We also strongly support decisions taken on those submitted sites deemed unsuitable for allocation as set out in our comments in Appendix 6. Full comments on sites proposed for allocation appear in our response to the AL/RTW Policies ante.

This is subject also to the caveat that we do not agree with the method by which Central Government calculates housing need and the consequent target housing numbers. In particular, the Office for National Statistics produced a revised 2016 methodology, which in the case of Tunbridge Wells Borough would require only 67% of the 2014 figure, according to some analysts. The government-imposed methodology and fears of the Draft Local Plan being found unsound at Public Examination have perhaps led TWBC not to seek fully to exploit potential constraints recognised by the NPPF in relation to the 70% of the Borough which is classified as AONB and the 22% which is classified as Metropolitan Green Belt and also infrastructure constraints such as acknowledged severe existing water stress and problems with waste water treatment.

The approach taken in this Regulation 18 Draft has resulted in some draft allocations in RTW and elsewhere in the Borough which are intrusive into Green Belt and AONB. We would therefore urge TWBC to keep carefully under review the legislation and any legal precedents and Inspectors’ decisions arising under the legislation in the period up to submission of the Regulation 19 Draft in relation to exceptional circumstances and housing need methodology, in case some mitigation of proposed incursions into the AONB and Green Belt may be possible.

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Please see our comments on infrastructure delivery in relation to individual Policies above

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Transport Strategy Review

Please see our comments under the TP Policies above.

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Transport Study

Please see our comments under the TP Policies above.

DLP_8187

Highways England

Local Transport Evidence Base (SWECO Sept 2019)

Whole LTEB

Highways England notes the production of a Local Transport Evidence Base (SWECO Sept 2019). We welcome its aims to

  • Assess the quality and capacity of transport infrastructure across the borough and its ability to meet forecast demands.
  • Assess the cumulative impacts of the Preferred Growth Strategy on all transport modes and networks and the impact on the locality, including the impact on networks in the locality of sensitive designated international sites.
  • Set out proposals to minimise the impact of the development on the transport network to inform the infrastructure requirements associated with the Local Plan

Section 8

LTEB Transport Model

The Council has separately provided Highways England with the Transport Model underpinning the Local Plan. We have therefore provided a separate technical note setting out our observations and requirements.

In summary, while the model provides a good starting point, it requires further work before it can be formally signed off by Highways England. Particular matters include:

  • The area covered by the model
  • Some technical details and assumptions require further explanation and clarification
  • The need for a PM peak assessment as well as the AM peak assessment supplied

We will work with the Council, Kent County Highways and SWECO on these tasks.

It should be noted that

  1. This process may necessitate an update regarding our current policy and site specific comments set out in this letter.

The Council are advised not to proceed significantly further with their plan making and transport evidence ahead of resolving the outstanding LTEB and modelling matters.

TWBC: see Technical Note. See also full representation]

DLP_7345

Campaign to Protect Hawkhurst Village

Transport Strategy Review

Paragraph 29 acknowledges the pre-existing congestion in Hawkhurst – at paragraph 45 this is acknowledged to be “severe”.  There is no acknowledgement here of the existing issues at the A21 at Flimwell, which whilst outside the borough is of crucial importance to residents in the east of the Borough. 

We note that in this document there is no analysis or assessment whatsoever of whether the proposed Hawkhurst Relief Road will provide any relief. 

The need to address the existing severe situation in Hawkhurst and at Flimwell should form a key component of the Council’s revised Transport Strategy.  This will involve the Council properly assessing the existing issues, the actual effectiveness of proposed mitigation measures (including the relief road) and considering the residual impact of the Growth Strategy.  

At present this exercise simply has not been done. 

We make these observations in the context of our comments of the SWECO Transport Assessment Report. 

TWBC LOCAL PLAN TRANSPORT EVIDENCE BASE [SWECO]

We make the following observations regarding this report: 

  1. Paragraph 1.2.3 records that the purpose of the report is to “understand the transport implications of the Preferred Growth Strategy in the Council’s DLP and to assist preparation of the borough wide Transport Strategy to support the DLP
  2. Paragraph 1.3.1 confirms that the objective of the report is to (amongst other matters) 
  • Assess the capacity of transport infrastructure to meet forecast demands
  • Assess the cumulative impacts of the Preferred Growth Strategy 
  • Paragraph 1.5.1 records that the report is based on an additional 10,205 dwellings – but the site allocations in the DLP total in excess of 11,000.
  1. Paragraph 6.3 purports to identify existing congestion issues. Detailed figures are provided for Royal Tunbridge Well and Southborough but Hawkhurst only receives a cursory mention at paragraph 6.3.7 – despite the issue being acknowledged as severe in numerous other documents within the evidence base.  There is no mention of the existing issues on the A21 at Flimwell.
  2. Paragraph 6.4 purports to deal with Air Quality matters but there is again no mention of Hawkhurst.
  3. Section 7 addresses the impact of the proposed Growth in the Borough. It advises at paragraph 7.2.1 that all future development quantum has been assessed.
  • Paragraph 7.2.4 advises that “the following chapters provide a high-level active travel and public transport analysis of the impacts of the Local Plan development yield. We note it refers to a “Detailed Traffic Impact Report” but this has not been made publicly available for consultation.
  • Section 8 addresses Trip Generation – however 8.1.2 records that this only relates to “the core area of Tunbridge Wells”.
  1. There is no mention or assessment in Section 8 of the transport impacts of the DLP on Hawkhurst or the whole of the east of the Borough.
  2. Section 9 addresses Mitigation measures. Again, this section completely fails to address Hawkhurst or the east of the Borough.  There is in particular no analysis of the efficacy of the proposed relief road or any mitigation scheme at Flimwell.
  3. Section 10 sets out the key findings. Paragraph 10.1.1 addressed the east of the borough but is entirely silent of the congestion issues in Hawkhurst and Flimwell and on any mitigation measures.
  • Paragraph 10.2.2 confirms that the traffic modelling “has shown that the measures proposed will mitigate the impacts of the Local Plan housing and employment allocations” This is entirely unsubstantiated in terms of the east of the Borough and Hawkhurst as the impact of allocations on the highway network in this part of the Borough has not been assessed. 

The SWECO report is inadequate and fundamentally flawed as it does not address traffic congestion issues in a large part of the Borough.  Its overall conclusion is therefore meaningless.  It is in no way a proportionate evidence base on which the DLP as a whole can be taken forward. 

The strategic policies within the DLP suggest the Council considers the relief road will provide “significant improvements”.  There is absolutely no evidence within this report to substantiate this conclusion. 

The Council’s reliance on this report to underpin the proposed allocations in Hawkhurst and the east of the Borough is demonstrably “unsound”. 

Given the acknowledged existing severe congestion issues, the Council needs to properly and fully assess the cumulative impact of the proposed allocations in Hawkhurst, the east of the Borough and neighbouring authorities, on the village crossroads and the Flimwell junction. 

It then needs to properly assess whether any mitigation measures can satisfactorily address this impact (including the relief road).  

Based on the information submitted with the Golf Course Transport Assessment it is clear that the provision of the relief road and Flimwell junction mitigation scheme will not result in any material improvement and in many respects will make the current “severe” position worse.  

We would highlight that the Golf Course TA does not include in its assessment the other allocations within Hawkhurst in the DLP.  When the traffic associated with these other schemes is taken into account the impact will be demonstrably worse again. 

On this basis the Council’s whole Growth strategy for Hawkhurst and the east of the Borough should be completely reconsidered. 

DLP_3735

Capel Parish Council

Chapter 2: Policy Context – Regional Policy covers the Kent County Council Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4). Paragraph 2.3.7 (p.9) identifies that there are severe congestion problems in Tunbridge Wells “on the A264 between Pembury and the town centre”. Paragraph 2.3.9 (p.9) outlines the Local transport priorities specific to the borough of Tunbridge Wells, including “A264 Pembury Road capacity improvements”.

Chapter 3: Socio-Demographics and Travel Behaviour – Current travel behavior at paragraph 3.4.3 (p.33) highlights that the ward of Capel has a significantly higher number of households with access to two or more cars at 58% (compared with 38% for Kent, 40% for the South East and just 32% for England on average)

Chapter 6: Highway Network, Congestion and Collision Analysis – Congestion at paragraph 6.3.6 (p.105) sets out the aims of the improvements works along the A264 as being:

  • Manage congestion
  • Reduce need to use Cornford Lane
  • Improve take up of sustainable modes of travel by school children
  • Facilitate cycle trips
  • Maintain journey time by bus & “enhance” routes
  • Gather evidence & clarify requirements for funding

Chapter 5. Existing Public Transport Infrastructure and Level of Service divides the borough into four sectors for review. Capel and Paddock Wood fall under the ‘North’ section from paragraph 5.4 and paragraphs 5.4.4-5.4.7 detail the existing low frequency service. ALL cease at 7pm none start before 7am. There is no Sunday service.

Chapter 9: Mitigation Measures – Mode Shift Spread

Paragraph 9.1.1. (p.134) states “The modal shift analysis, using the Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) identifies a potential modal shift of 2%-11% from car if a high-quality cycle network is established for the study area. For some locations we have identified bus based schemes that we foresee can replicate the impacts of cycling interventions to attain the proposed modal shift

Paragraph 9.1.2 (p.134) states “The final mitigation scenario identifies an 11% reduction in car trips in the key Local Plan development allocation areas of Paddock Wood and Tudeley

Paragraph 9.6.5 (p.137) outlines that for rural locations, “we have looked to integrate greater access by using new technology such as Demand Responsive Bus (DRB)

Even with an 11% mitigation the number of cars in Capel would still be well above the Kent or SE average at over 50%

Table 9.2 (p.138) shows mitigation for intervention type and includes the following measures:

  1. Upgraded cycle route along A264 Pembury Rd
  2. Bus lane on the A264 (Woodsgate Corner to Oakley Rd)

Paragraph 9.7.9 (p.145) concerns Halls Hole Road / A264 Junction and Potential Bus Lane  and states “Our analysis shows that this junction is at capacity and will remain overcapacity into the future. Options to increase capacity at the junction through additional approach and filter lanes are likely to be very costly as there are both significant land ownership issues (the highway boundary is close to the carriageway) and topography issues (in particular on Halls Hole Road where there is an immediate drop). The most affordable solution to improve traffic flow in the short term would be to recalibrate the traffic signals to better take account of the increased flows and to achieve a shift from car to cycling and bus

The A264 junction is over capacity in all scenarios even with mitigation.

Chapter 10. Summary and Conclusions

Paragraph 10.2.2 (p.165) states “The traffic modelling has tested the hard engineering measures and the effects of the walking, cycling and bus improvements, and has shown that the measures proposed will mitigate the impacts of the Local Plan housing and employment allocations”

The conclusion is totally flawed, walking, cycling, buses & fiddling with traffic signals WILL NOT offset the sheer volume of traffic Capel will have to endure. With a level of 50% car ownership, even after successful mitigation, that is some 8,000 extra cars using the B2017 or country lanes.

It is suggested building the Colts Hill strategic link is vital to delivery of the proposed new developments in Capel. How will this improve connectivity? It will be a faster, polluting road to nowhere. Until TWBC tackle the congestion on the two roundabouts at Pembury and the A264 it will be avoided, traffic to the A21 will still use the B2017.  Given the development of Hendys in Pembury the congestion at this hotspot will be exacerbated. This development does not appear to have been addressed by SWECO. The A228 strategic link has been mooted for the last forty years.

The whole area surrounding Paddock Wood needs a radical holistic solution. The dualling of the A21 was supposedly going to reduce traffic in this area but as TMBC have discovered, through traffic has actually increased in volume in Tonbridge since the “improvement”

Apart from KentFastrack buses all the case studies BY SWECO regarding their analysis to lower car use, have used towns & cities. The case for using buses to bypass congestion hotspots is not made. The A264 has no capacity for a separate bus lane, fast track or otherwise. The much mooted northern route from Paddock Wood to AL/CA 1 is not within the document. How is access from the north of AL/CA 1 to be handled? The Five Oak Green bypass link to the Colts Hill bypass is unlikely to be used by anyone travelling out of the north of Paddock Wood to Tonbridge (the B2017 is approached first) or travelling along the existing B2017 from Paddock, they will continue straight across the roundabout.

The grey blob of a new route, shown in most of the publically available maps, connecting the north of AL/CA 1 to Paddock Wood, appears to be missing in this assessment. What is traffic plan for egress from the north side of AL/CA 1 given it would either have to cross the railway line or use Hartlake Road without a new northern link? Huge volumes of traffic, without this much mentioned “triangle,” will leave & enter Paddock Wood onto the A228 causing unacceptable levels of pollution and congestion. Capel Parish Council suggested a new northern link from Paddock Wood to Tonbridge, to exclude any settlements in Capel, but this has not been assessed.

The only sensible proposal within this document is for a southern bypass or ringroad for Tunbridge Wells, a southern bypass won’t help address the huge problems in the North East of the borough, but it would be the most sensible way forward especially if development were to follow, it would also reflect the preferred Growth Strategy that 60% preferred, namely Option 4, growth corridor led.

DLP_4353

Tunbridge Wells Bicycle User's Group

Topic Paper or supporting document title: SWECO document

The SWECO document repeats previous findings that cycling for the region is very low, at only 1% mode share of trips to work. It states that implementing the cycle strategy for the region is likely to improve the number of cycle trips and goes on to remark that ‘Further consideration will also be needed on how to develop a comprehensive cycle network that covers existing and new developments. This would have the potential to reduce existing congestion and air quality issues on key corridors in the area’. This message needs to inform the transport section of the local plan.

East and central and North Tunbridge Wells 

In para 5.2.31.the SWECO document states that ‘Currently, cycling would not be seen as a viable option for most existing and future development trips due both to distances and lack of quality infrastructure and connected network’

In the same paragraph the report states that ‘inter-settlement walk and cycle trips are limited by the lack of continuous dedicated links and paths for both [walking and cycling] modes

The draft local plan transport section does not currently include details of how this deficiency will be made good and needs to be re-written to do so.

DLP_1633

Maggie Fenton

SWECO TRANSPORT DOCUMENT

KCC LOCAL TRANSPORT PLAN 4 (LTP4)

2.3.7 Identifies severe congestion problems in T.Wells.

A264 between Pembury and town centre

2.3.9  Specific priority in TWBC

Identifies A264 Pembury Rd Capacity improvements needed.

SWECO identify A264 issues

  • Manage congestion
  • Reduce need to use Cornford Lane
  • Improve take up of sustainable modes of travel by school children
  • Facilitate cycle trips
  • Maintain journey time by bus & “enhance” routes
  • Gather evidence & clarify requirements for funding

Current travel behaviour 

3.4.3 Capel (58%) & Pembury  (51%) have a significantly higher no. of households with 2 or more cars (38% Kent, 40% SE, 32% England)

Bus services are very low frequency. ALL cease at 7pm none start before 7am.

Suggested Mitigation Measures

9.1.2 The final mitigation scenario identifies an 11% reduction in car trips in the key local plan development areas of Paddock Wood & Tudeley.

This is based on the modal shift analysis using the PCT – high quality cycle network.

9.6.5 For rural locations look to integrate demand responsive buses

Even with an 11% mitigation the number of cars in Capel would still be well above the Kent or SE average at over 50%

Table 9.2 Shows mitigation for intervention type

  1. Upgraded cycle route along A264 Pembury Rd
  2. Bus lane on the A264 (Woodsgate Corner to Oakley Rd)

9.7.9 Halls hole A264

Our analysis shows that this junction is at capacity & will remain over capacity in the future constrained by land ownership, topography and conservation issues. Due to costs etc the most affordable solution to improve flow in the short term would be to recalibrate traffic signals and achieve a shift from car to cycling or bus.

The A264 junction is over capacity in all scenarios even with mitigation.

CONCLUSION

10.2.2

The traffic modelling has tested the hard engineering measures & the effects of walking, cycling and bus improvements & has shown that the measures will mitigate the impact of the Local Plan housing & employment allocations.

The conclusion is totally flawed, walking, cycling, buses & fiddling with traffic signals WILL NOT offset the sheer volume of traffic Capel will have to endure. With a level of 50% car ownership, even after successful mitigation, that is some 8,000 extra cars using the B2017 or country lanes.

It is suggested building the Colts Hill strategic link is vital to delivery of the proposed new developments in Capel. How will this improve connectivity? It will be a faster, polluting road to nowhere. Until TWBC tackle the congestion on the two roundabouts at Pembury & the A264 it will be avoided, traffic to the A21 will still use the B2017. Given the development of Hendys in Pembury (180 staff alone) the congestion at this Pembury hotspot will be exacerbated. This major development in Pembury does not appear to have been addressed by SWECO. Why?

The A228 strategic link has been mooted for the last forty years. Even if successful, it is unlikely to be built until 2025/28.

The whole area surrounding Paddock Wood needs a radical holistic solution. The dualling of the A21 was supposedly going to reduce traffic in this area but as TMBC have discovered, through traffic has actually increased in volume in Tonbridge since the “improvement”

Apart from KentFastrack buses all the case studies BY SWECO regarding their analysis to lower car use, have used towns & cities. The case for using buses to bypass congestion hotspots is not made. The A264 has no capacity for a separate bus lane, fast track or otherwise. The much-mooted northern route from PW to CA1 is not within the document. How is access from the north of CA1 to be handled? The Five Oak Green bypass link to the Colts Hill bypass is unlikely to be used by anyone travelling out of the north of Paddock Wood to Tonbridge ( the B2017 is approached first) or travelling along the existing B2017 from Paddock, they will continue straight across the roundabout.

The grey blob of a new route, shown in most of the publically available maps,  connecting the north of CA1 to Paddock Wood, appears to be missing in this assessment. What is the traffic plan for egress from the north side of CA1 given it would either have to cross the railway line or use Hartlake Road without a new northern link? Huge volumes of traffic, without this much mentioned “triangle,” will leave & enter Paddock Wood onto the A228 causing unacceptable levels of pollution and congestion. The B2017, much of it residential will be transformed into a fast dangerous route. Alders Road & Whetsted Road in Capel already suffer hugely as rat-runs. Capel Parish Council suggested this new northern link from Paddock Wood to Tonbridge, if this proposal were approved, to exclude any settlements in Capel, but this has not been assessed and has in fact been completely ignored.

The only sensible proposal within this document is for a southern bypass or ringroad for Tunbridge Wells, a southern bypass wont help address the huge problems in the NE of the borough, but it would be the most sensible way forward especially if development were to follow, it would also reflect the preferred Growth Strategy (60%), namely Option 4, growth corridor led.

DLP_8153

Ashley Saunders

Chapter 2: Policy Context – Regional Policy covers the Kent County Council Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4). Paragraph 2.3.7 (p.9) identifies that there are severe congestion problems in Tunbridge Wells “on the A264 between Pembury and the town centre”. Paragraph 2.3.9 (p.9) outlines the Local transport priorities specific to the borough of Tunbridge Wells, including “A264 Pembury Road capacity improvements”.

Chapter 3: Socio-Demographics and Travel Behaviour – Current travel behavior at paragraph 3.4.3 (p.33) highlights that the ward of Capel has a significantly higher number of households with access to two or more cars at 58% (compared with 38% for Kent, 40% for the South East and just 32% for England on average)

Chapter 6: Highway Network, Congestion and Collision Analysis – Congestion at paragraph 6.3.6 (p.105) sets out the aims of the improvements works along the A264 as being:

  • Manage congestion
  • Reduce need to use Cornford Lane
  • Improve take up of sustainable modes of travel by school children
  • Facilitate cycle trips
  • Maintain journey time by bus & “enhance” routes
  • Gather evidence & clarify requirements for funding

Chapter 5. Existing Public Transport Infrastructure and Level of Service divides the borough into four sectors for review. Capel and Paddock Wood fall under the ‘North’ section from paragraph 5.4 and paragraphs 5.4.4-5.4.7 detail the existing low frequency service. ALL cease at 7pm none start before 7am. There is no Sunday service.

Chapter 9: Mitigation Measures – Mode Shift Spread

Paragraph 9.1.1. (p.134) states “The modal shift analysis, using the Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) identifies a potential modal shift of 2%-11% from car if a high-quality cycle network is established for the study area. For 

some locations we have identified bus based schemes that we foresee can replicate the impacts of cycling interventions to attain the proposed modal shift

Paragraph 9.1.2 (p.134) states “The final mitigation scenario identifies an 11% reduction in car trips in the key Local Plan development allocation areas of Paddock Wood and Tudeley

Paragraph 9.6.5 (p.137) outlines that for rural locations, “we have looked to integrate greater access by using new technology such as Demand Responsive Bus (DRB)

Even with an 11% mitigation the number of cars in Capel would still be well above the Kent or SE average at over 50%

Table 9.2 (p.138) shows mitigation for intervention type and includes the following measures:

  1. Upgraded cycle route along A264 Pembury Rd
  2. Bus lane on the A264 (Woodsgate Corner to Oakley Rd)

Paragraph 9.7.9 (p.145) concerns Halls Hole Road / A264 Junction and Potential Bus Lane  and states “Our analysis shows that this junction is at capacity and will remain overcapacity into the future. Options to increase capacity at the junction through additional approach and filter lanes are likely to be very costly as there are both significant land ownership issues (the highway boundary is close to the carriageway) and topography issues (in particular on Halls Hole Road where there is an immediate drop). The most affordable solution to improve traffic flow in the short term would be to recalibrate the traffic signals to better take account of the increased flows and to achieve a shift from car to cycling and bus

The A264 junction is over capacity in all scenarios even with mitigation.

Chapter 10. Summary and Conclusions

Paragraph 10.2.2 (p.165) states “The traffic modelling has tested the hard engineering measures and the effects of the walking, cycling and bus improvements, and has shown that the measures proposed will mitigate the impacts of the Local Plan housing and employment allocations”

The conclusion is totally flawed, walking, cycling, buses & fiddling with traffic signals WILL NOT offset the sheer volume of traffic Capel will have to endure. With a level of 50% car ownership, even after successful mitigation, that is some 8,000 extra cars using the B2017 or country lanes.

It is suggested building the Colts Hill strategic link is vital to delivery of the proposed new developments in Capel. How will this improve connectivity? It will be a faster, polluting road to nowhere. Until TWBC tackle the congestion on the two roundabouts at Pembury and the A264 it will be avoided, traffic to the A21 will still use the B2017.  Given the development of Hendys in Pembury the congestion at this hotspot will be exacerbated. This development does not appear to have been addressed by SWECO. The A228 strategic link has been mooted for the last forty years.

The whole area surrounding Paddock Wood needs a radical holistic solution. The dualling of the A21 was supposedly going to reduce traffic in this area but as TMBC have discovered, through traffic has actually increased in volume in Tonbridge since the “improvement”

Apart from KentFastrack buses all the case studies BY SWECO regarding their analysis to lower car use, have used towns & cities. The case for using buses to bypass congestion hotspots is not made. The A264 has no capacity for a separate bus lane, fast track or otherwise. The much mooted northern route from Paddock Wood to AL/CA 1 is not within the document. How is access from the north of AL/CA 1 to be handled? The Five Oak Green bypass link to the Colts Hill bypass is unlikely to be used by anyone travelling out of the north of Paddock Wood to Tonbridge (the B2017 is approached first) or travelling along the existing B2017 from Paddock, they will continue straight across the roundabout.

The grey blob of a new route, shown in most of the publically available maps, connecting the north of AL/CA 1 to Paddock Wood, appears to be missing in this assessment. What is traffic plan for egress from the north side of AL/CA 1 given it would either have to cross the railway line or use Hartlake Road without a new northern link? Huge volumes of traffic, without this much mentioned “triangle,” will leave & enter Paddock Wood onto the A228 causing unacceptable levels of pollution and congestion. Capel Parish Council suggested a new northern link from Paddock Wood to Tonbridge, to exclude any settlements in Capel, but this has not been assessed.

The only sensible proposal within this document is for a southern bypass or ringroad for Tunbridge Wells, a southern bypass won’t help address the huge problems in the North East of the borough, but it would be the most sensible way forward especially if development were to follow, it would also reflect the preferred Growth Strategy that 60% preferred, namely Option 4, growth corridor led.

DLP_5314

Judith Ashton Associates for Redrow Homes Ltd and Persimmon Homes South East

Local Plan Transport Assessment

The Local Plan Transport Assessment (LPTA) reiterates a number of points raised in the IDP, including the provision of the Hop Pickers heritage route, the first phase of which could be delivered through my clients land; and improved bus services, which as noted above, could be provided via Church Road as well as surrounding key settlements, the specification of which will be directly related to the scale of development proposed and the anticipated level of bus patronage, recognising the aspiration that the development enables residents to travel door to door by public transport and active travel for the majority of trips. Likewise, the LPTA looks to “drive significant model shift away from car to more sustainable modes…” and seeks “sustainable transport infrastructure integrated into (new) settlement and have clear sustainable transport links to other key settlements” an approach we fully support.

It also refers to TWBC’s emerging Local Cycle & Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) including (as Route 3) a Paddock Wood circular route which my clients could also help to deliver.

[TWBC: see full representation].

Transport Strategy 2015-2026

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_211

Julian Wilson

Transport Strategy 2015 - 2026


Section 4.28 – The statement on the problems on the A229 is very vague and wrong in respect of


The A229 is constrained at the junction with the A268 in Hawkhurst and this cross-roads suffers from congestion at peak times and during holidays.” 


It is more accurate to state that the crossroads at Hawkhurst suffers from congestion on all days Monday – Friday predominantly from HGV’s travelling North-South and South-North. It is a very dangerous and inconvenient junction for resident pedestrians


Holiday congestion is mostly on Saturdays and Sundays during the sum


The Local Plan is badly deficient in not stating a response to the A229 problems which are chronic and worsening. The options for improving traffic flow around Hawkhurst need to be included in the Local Plan eg. The proposed ‘relief road’ around north west side of Hawkhurst and much-needed widening of the A268 junction with A21 in Flimwell, to divert a large number of HGV’s away from the Hawkhurst crossroads.


[TWBC: See also Comment Number DLP_210]

DLP_5229

Culverden Residents Association

Transport Strategy Review


Our members frequently raise issues with us concerning traffic problems in the area and are very concerned to see a transport policy adopted which will restore the atmosphere of our area as a quiet and leafy neighbourhood of residential streets. We make a number of constructive suggestions below about
how this might be achieved and how better transport solutions could be brought in to benefit all of the town.


Rat-running and road safety 


Commuter rat-running, compounded by the presence of so many schools in our area, has unfortunately now reached unacceptable proportions in the Culverden area. Its various effects (regular traffic jams, severely polluting diesel vehicles, turning conflicts, unwarranted hooting, regular road rage incidents,
lack of consideration for any other road user by some drivers “barging through” and regular damage to parked vehicles etc) are destroying the quality of life of our residents in what is otherwise a pleasant and leafy residential area. This is threatening their health and safety and that of the many and
increasing numbers of school children who are pedestrians during the same hours, because the local schools are continuing to expand.


We were therefore extremely heartened to read in the 2019 Transport Strategy Review that TWBC will be seeking to achieve a modal shift to active travel, which, combined with some other local measures we propose below, could significantly improve the situation in our area. We strongly endorse paragraph 50
of the review which states “This (strategy) may require the reallocation of road space in some locations. It is notable that in other towns and cities where seemingly difficult decisions have been taken to reclaim road space from the car (for instance in Waltham Forest) this has not led to increased congestion but to a decrease in car use and to better streets for people to live in.”


Measures that need to be taken in our area to encourage active travel and end rat-running include the following:


1. Filtered permeability 


The worst problem in Culverden is caused by rat-running between the A264 at Mt Ephraim and St John’s Road or Southborough and beyond on the A26. A secondary rat-running flow is more localised by people zig-zagging (sometimes several times) across the A26 at various points to gain a few seconds of overall
advantage in their journey.  By definition these are drivers who have no actual business anywhere in the Culverden area but are seeking to avoid perceived congestion on the main roads. They are always in a hurry and because the rat-running route is actually very much longer than the main road,
these drivers move at the fastest speed they can get away with given the nature of the local streets.


When Reynolds Lane was closed for road works recently for around 9 days during term time, it was strikingly noticeable that nearly two thirds of the car traffic on Culverden Down had disappeared by the third morning. This is tell tale evidence of what could be achieved by a well thought out scheme of
filtered permeability in the Culverden area bounded by Molyneux Park Road in the west and Beltring Road in the north east. Besides closing Reynolds Lane (probably at a point beyond Smockham Farm) only two other filtered permeability measures would be needed to make it very unattractive to continue to
rat run. For, by and large, rat-runners are creatures of habit and will soon get used to a changed situation. We have seen this after the now almost forgotten closure of Bishops Down Park Road in the 1990s and the more recent closure of another rat-run along Fir Tree Road. The other points at which filtered
permeability would probably be needed to inhibit rat running would be:


  • Somewhere at the bottom of Molyneux Park/ Byng Road/ Coniston Avenue on Culverden Down
  • At one end or the other of Connaught Way or perhaps making use of the existing “island” on that road as the closure point

These 3 simple and cheap closures would eliminate virtually all traffic having no business in the area while still allowing reasonable access, particularly to all the local schools.


2. 20mph Zone 


Introduction of a 20mph zone in the area bounded by Molyneux Park Road and Beltring Road/ Southfield Road would reduce the speed of any remaining traffic and encourage active travel by the local residents and the increasing number of school children. A resolution calling for such a scheme was passed
at our AGM in 2017 in the following terms:


The Culverden Residents Association believes that introduction of a 20mph zone in our area would reduce the number of accidents and severity of injuries to pedestrians and create conditions in which more local people walk or cycle instead of driving. Reduced speeds would also reduce the attractiveness of our streets to rat-runners. We therefore call on our Borough and County Councillors to work with local people to secure introduction of a 20mph Zone throughout Culverden bounded by the entrances to Molyneux Park Road, Boyne Park, Royal Chase, Culverden Park, Culverden Down, Beltring Road and Southfield Road.


3. Creation of Safe Routes to Schools 


To give just one example, car journeys from Rusthall to our neighbouring schools involve driving significantly over 2 miles along the most congested part of our main road system and can take longer in the rush hour than walking, let alone cycling. Creation of a Safe Route for walking and cycling to
our neighbouring schools offers a real prospect of achieving active travel as an alternative and might be envisaged as a pilot project to illustrate what could also be achieved in other parts of RTW.


The route would run to and from Rusthall Primary School in the west to St Gregory’s secondary and primary schools and Southborough primary school in the north via branches across the Spa golf course and Stills Green at Rusthall, then Coniston Avenue, Rose Hill  School, Culverden Down, Bennett
Memorial Diocesan School and the Grammar Schools. At Stills Green new infrastructure already designed by TWBC officers would take the route along instead of over an escarpment. At Southfield Road there is an existing closed passage way to the sports fields that would allow a direct pedestrian and cycle
route to the Boys’ Grammar School, St Gregory’s and  Southborough Primary School to be constructed, with an alternative less attractive and longer route following the A26 from the end of Southfield Road.


4. More local primary schools 


In the context of the climate emergency, there is a pressing need to establish smaller local primary schools in the town within walking distance for local parents and to eliminate the schooling of siblings at different Primaries which adds to the “school run”. This requires the earmarking of suitable
sites now in the Local Plan to meet present and future requirements. If the Arriva garage site development should fall through for any reason, we return to a comment we made several years ago in relation to site allocations that a primary school could be built on that site serving both Culverden and
the other side of St John’s Road for Queens Road and other neighbouring streets.


Local Parking 


We refer to Paragraph 106 of the Transport Strategy Review. Local parking is a very difficult issue for us. Our residents face increasing difficulties in parking, as commuters take advantage of free parking on our streets. However, the large number of properties without off street parking  in
our area and the narrowness of some streets such as Culverden Park Road make Residents’ Parking not a viable option and the desirable ending of pavement parking an impossibility. Given current rules on layout of Residents’ Parking, it would severely reduce the night time availability of local parking
and also cause daytime inconvenience for residents A recent AGM again strongly opposed this as a solution to our parking problems.


Without the measures to curb rat-running and excessive speeds on our streets we mention above, the present on-street parking in Culverden at least tends to slow traffic down. We think that our local parking problems will only be resolved if and when the level of car ownership in the area decreases.
Ensuring that our residents have access for their children to schools at a suitable distance for active travel will probably be the only medium term measure likely to change the present parking situation.


Rail 


Many of our residents commute by rail to London or take leisure trips by rail in all available directions. We were disappointed to note that none of the paragraphs 59-65 of the Transport Strategy Review make any mention of the longer term possibilities of reconnecting Tunbridge Wells with Crowborough, Uckfield, Lewes and Brighton in one direction and Croydon and London in the other through the re-opening of main line rail
services via the West Station, as is mentioned in the companion TWBC Infrastructure Delivery Plan. We think the strategy document should also mention this as a long term prospect.

DLP_4351

Tunbridge Wells Bicycle User's Group

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Tunbridge Wells Borough Development Plan: TRANSPORT STRATEGY 2015 – 2026 published July 2015


Para 2.24  of the local plan (Challenges and Opportunities) refers to a forthcoming “refreshed” Borough Transport Strategy 2015 - 2026 (TS) following updated transport assessment and modelling work, which are included in the Supporting Docs. This may be a reference to
the SWECO report though this is not clear. It should be made clear in a revised version since SWECO seems now to have been finalised (September 2019.)


The Transport Strategy 2015 – 26 was prepared on basis of building 6,000 new homes. This number has now been doubled. This increase might weaken the relevance of the “unrefreshed” Strategy, although we appreciate the likelihood of significant carry-forward especially where not directly
affected by the proposed new development areas (Paddock Wood etc).

Transport Strategy Review

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_1903

Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum

Topic Paper or supporting document title: SHELAA Site Assessment sheets for Royal Tunbridge Wells

We previously submitted detailed comments on a number of the sites submitted under the Call for Sites which might become subject to an allocation. We set out those comments again under each specific AL/RTW Policy in relation to the sites now proposed for allocation in the DraftSo far as sites which were considered unlikely to be allocated and have now not been allocated for future development, we set out our comments in Appendix 6.

Town Forum policy is that development in the AONB and Green Belt should take place only on proof of exceptional circumstances. Any evidence put forward of exceptional circumstances will have to satisfy the Inspector at Examination in accordance with relevant legal precedent. In the very difficult circumstances of the current unsatisfactory relationship between Central Government and Local Authorities and subject to the important caveat above, we are broadly supportive of most of the sites now selected for allocation in the unparished area of Royal Tunbridge Wells, subject in many cases to conditions. We also strongly support decisions taken on those submitted sites deemed unsuitable for allocation as set out in our comments in Appendix 6. Full comments on sites proposed for allocation appear in our response to the AL/RTW Policies ante.

This is subject also to the caveat that we do not agree with the method by which Central Government calculates housing need and the consequent target housing numbers. In particular, the Office for National Statistics produced a revised 2016 methodology, which in the case of Tunbridge Wells Borough would require only 67% of the 2014 figure, according to some analysts. The government-imposed methodology and fears of the Draft Local Plan being found unsound at Public Examination have perhaps led TWBC not to seek fully to exploit potential constraints recognised by the NPPF in relation to the 70% of the Borough which is classified as AONB and the 22% which is classified as Metropolitan Green Belt and also infrastructure constraints such as acknowledged severe existing water stress and problems with waste water treatment.

The approach taken in this Regulation 18 Draft has resulted in some draft allocations in RTW and elsewhere in the Borough which are intrusive into Green Belt and AONB. We would therefore urge TWBC to keep carefully under review the legislation and any legal precedents and Inspectors’ decisions arising under the legislation in the period up to submission of the Regulation 19 Draft in relation to exceptional circumstances and housing need methodology, in case some mitigation of proposed incursions into the AONB and Green Belt may be possible.

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Please see our comments on infrastructure delivery in relation to individual Policies above

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Transport Strategy Review

Please see our comments under the TP Policies above.

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Transport Study

Please see our comments under the TP Policies above.

DLP_7968

Wendy Owen

Transport Strategy Review: Context and Way Forward

See comments above:

  • Section 5: 4. Highway matters: The existing road network cannot support a development of the size and nature proposed
  • Section 6: Policy TP 1 – Transport Assessments, Travel Plans and Mitigation

“Policy Implementation: Ensure provision of new infrastructure through working with developers, submit bids for funding (e.g. Local Growth Fund) for infrastructure improvements to deliver growth, take balanced approach to parking standards in new development and parking provision in town centres, public realm improvements in town and village centres, work with businesses to reduce travel footprint grants to businesses to support active travel.”

Nobody is likely to disagree with these policy implementation statements, but they don’t really offer tangible solutions.

The detail provided for each proposed development site should include specifics. Policy AL/RTW 18 / site 137 simply says “Development shall accord with the following requirements: Transport assessments and travel plans, as well as enabling a means of active travel to serve the new secondary school”. TWBC has published thousands of pages of plans, reports and appendices, but we don’t know what is proposed in terms of access roads for this site. The Policy then says “It is expected that contributions will be required towards the following if necessary to mitigate the impact of the development: The provision of sustainable and active transport mitigation measures, highway works within the vicinity of the site, including the provision of pedestrian crossings…”. This essentially says the developer might have to do NOTHING.

The footpath adjacent to the A26 Eridge Road is a very unpleasant place to walk, until the location of the speed camera is reached. HGVs thunder past, so it is not a footpath for the faint hearted. The ‘best’ time to walk is when traffic is queuing to get into TW (although of course you then have to contend with poor air quality/increased emissions created by stop-start traffic). There have almost certainly been more accidents on Eridge Road than reported. On 16 October 2019 a car left the road, crossed the footpath, and ended up in the woods at the side of the road. It was dark and raining so the driver was most likely going too fast. The incident was reported to Kent police (ref 160169) but they did not want to attend the scene. The car knocked over the 30mph speed limit sign and gas main pipeline marker. KCC’s solution has been to remove the 30mph sign (ref 457498).

DLP_8214

Mrs Suzi Rich

Topic Paper or supporting document title:

· Distribution of Development Topic Paper

· Green Belt Study

· Infrastructure Delivery Plan

· Transport Strategy Review: Context and Way Forward including Appendix C: Local Plan Transport Assessment Report 2019 (prepared by Sweco)

Comments on the Distribution of Development Topic Paper

Chapter 2: Settlement Pattern (p.2)

The table at paragraph 2.7 shows Five Oak Green in Group B, the same group as Brenchley, Lamberhust and Goudhurst. This is despite multiple Issues & Options consultation responses that the facilities listed (each with a score) were incorrect. These other villages are considerably larger settlements that Five Oak Green, with significantly more facilities available.

Chapter 3: Development Constraints (p.4)

This chapter considers only designated sites: MGB, AONB, Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. These do not appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the MGB. Development adjacent to a constrained site can have a significant impact on it. This would certainly be the case for AL/CA 1 which borders the AONB and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW1 which includes an area of Ancient Woodland.

Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11)

Paragraph 5.3 outlines key issues identified in the responses to this consultation, including, at bullet point 3 that the “Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town area and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages”. What consideration has been given to this issue when identifying the new settlements at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA3 or Transport Policy TP 6?

Paragraph 5.6 summarises the main outcomes of the consultation for the question relating to the five strategic options for delivery presented in the Issues and Options document. Only 18% ranked Option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as their most preferred approach. It is submitted that this would have been even less if the site/sites now proposed at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 had been identified at that time. Appendix 1 to The Issues and Options Consultation Statement, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website at https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/issues-and-options, lists the Strategy Considerations at Section 5 (p.26-39). It is clear from p.33, that by far the largest level of support was 60% for Option 4 (Growth Corridor led approach). However, p.39 of the same document states that “A level of support was indicated in the Issues and Options responses for a new settlement.” This is misleading. The Consultation Statement goes on to consider the responses to question 10 and 10a relating to preferences for a combination of Options (p.35). The first bullet point states that the responses indicate that it is worth “Exploring further the potential for ‘new settlement growth’, as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options”. The statement is blatantly not true!

Paragraphs 5.7-5.8 cover question 11/11a, which asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough and suggestions for possible locations. It lists the key issues referred to across the response groups, which include:

  • Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links
  • Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)
  • Should be sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion. Should be a stand-alone, self-sufficient development planned as a whole
  • Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.

These views have been completely ignored by TWBC! They should carry weight and should have informed the decision on the strategic site proposals.

Suggestions for a possible location for a new settlement included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure. NOT ONE suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure.

Paragraphs 5.9-5.10 cover question 12/12a, which asked whether all reasonable options for accommodating future development growth within the borough have been considered and identified and if not, what other options should be considered. Respondents suggested that the following options should be considered:

  • Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned
  • Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed
  • Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights. Overall focus on sustainable locations
  • Focus on A21 corridor

Where have these responses been acknowledged in the dLP? Have these options been considered at all?

Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14)

Paragraph 6.2 states “For the second Call for Sites, officers contacted the promotors of sites submitted to the first Call for Sites and identified and then contacted owners of land around settlements (on a ‘without prejudice’ basis) that had not been submitted through the first Call for Sites to enable them to submit sites if they wished. This proactive approach encouraged owners of land that could be suitable for development to submit sites for consideration”. Why were we told by Stephen Baughan at the Capel Annual Parish Meeting that TWBC had no influence on what sites were submitted and that the officers just had to work with what appeared in the Call for Sites!

Paragraph 6.2 also expressly states that the second 'Call for Sites' was undertaken between May and June 2017. In the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017. It was stated “although the call for sites remains open, it will no longer be possible to include any new sites within the site assessment process that is informing the Draft Local Plan (being prepared under Regulation 18) AS THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO ADEQUATELY ASSESS SUCH SITES. (TWBC will continue to accept in order that they may be assessed & potentially included at Reg 19)”. The evidence base persuaded TWBC to opt for Growth Strategy Option 3 (existing urban distribution plus villages) and Option 4 (A21 growth corridor). There was a possibility of Option 5 (new settlement) in the longer term (8 possible sites but 5 not shortlisted including AL/ CA 1). Presumably this underwent a robust process based on robust evidence? This was still the preferred stance March 2018, however in April 2018, there appeared to be a complete change of direction which resulted in the allocation of 60% of the proposed development in the Parish of Capel. Where in the DLP is this new evidence base?

Paragraph 6.56 (p.14) confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green Belt sites. Why not?

When was site 448 (Land at Tudeley) first considered (p.24-30)? Table 2 details TWBC’s Conclusions of the SHELAA and SA on garden settlement options but gives no credible explanation as to why the Tudeley site is considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Neither does Table 3 which details the outcome of TWBC’s Consideration of proposed strategic allocation sites against para 72 of the NPPF. This table is misleading and inaccurate. The site is NOT well located.

Paragraph 6.48 and bullet points (p.38) – how will there be “compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality”?

Comments on the Green Belt Study

The site at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) falls within Broad Areas BA3 and BA4. The ‘Potential Level of Harm to the Green Belt Associated with Release of Broad Areas BA3 and BA4 is ‘VERY HIGH’ (Figure 1.1 (p.8))

Broad Area BA3 is considered to provide a contribution to gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood; extent of openness; distinction between Low and High Weald landscapes. Broad Area BA4 is considered to provide contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and a gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood (Table 4.1 (p.17))

BA3 is assessed as contributing strongly to three out of four of the Green Belt purposes identified by the NPPF. The exception to this is Purpose 4 which is categorised as weak/no contribution but the overall contribution to the Green Belt is assessed to be ‘VERY HIGH’ (Table 6.1 (p.28))

BA4 contributes strongly to purpose 2 and 3 but relatively weak to purpose 1 and 4. Overall its contribution remains ‘VERY HIGH’.

There appears to be a total disregard for the Green Belt allocation that covers the Capel area and the Borough’s own study that was commissioned to identify the contribution of different areas to the purposes of the Green Belt

Neither CA1 nor CA2 are included in the Green Belt Assessment Appendices – why were they not assessed?

Comments on the Infrastructure Delivery Plan

Education

In relation to Secondary Schools, under ‘Current planned provision’ from paragraph 3.71 (p.31-32) it is stated that provision for “One FE expansion of Mascalls Academy for 2021-22” is planned to meet existing needs. Further down p.32 the IDP details ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ have been identified as “Up to eight FE new Secondary School to be provided on land at the garden settlement at Tudeley Village and further expansion of Mascalls Academy at Paddock Wood”. There is no further detail; however, capacity at Mascalls Academy can only be increased by a finite amount due to location constraints. This, therefore, makes the development of 4,000 houses in East Capel (AL / CA 3 and AL / PW 1) unsustainable as many children will be required to travel to the planned new Secondary School at Tudeley.

TWBC acknowledges that there are serious constraints; in the dLP under Policy AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 it states that “Development at this site is subject to the provision of land for the expansion of Mascalls”

As the location of the potential land for expansion appears unknown, the proposed development is therefore unsustainable. The development at East Capel should be removed from the dLP unless there is certainty that sufficient Education provision can be made.

Health

Under the heading ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ at paragraph 3.104 (p.40) it states that “The Council has not been made aware of any specific requirements over the plan period; however, discussions with the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have highlighted potential need for extension of either the Tunbridge Wells Hospital or Maidstone Hospital to serve the West Kent Area over the Plan period”

Under the heading ‘Emergency Services’ at paragraph 3.201 (p.62) it states that “Emergency services for the purposes of this IDP include Police, Fire and Rescue, and Ambulance services” before confirming under the heading ‘Related strategies and evidence’: “None identified at this stage”

Several thousand houses will create huge pressures on every aspect of NHS provision – it is unacceptable to not have identified this need & just refer to a “potential need”. The TW Hospital at Pembury is already at capacity, the site is not capable of being extended, and there is already a serious issue with car parking. Handover times between ambulance & hospital have historically been a scandal due to acute bed shortage.

Please also see my comments in COMMENT BOX 2 under the heading ‘Strategic Objective 5: Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity’

Comments on the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base

Chapter 9: Mitigation Measures

Figure 9-2 shows the ‘Mitigation Interventions Mapped’ (p.142) which shows the proposed routes for the following ‘highway measures’ detailed in Table 9-2 (p.138):

“202 New bypass link of Colts Hill - Reduce congestion at key junctions + match link capacity and link quality to adjoining Pembury bypass standard”

“203 Link road to new Colts Hill Bypass Will remove through highway trips through Five Oak Green”

It is unclear why TWBC believes that people living at Tudeley New Town will need to travel to the Colts Hill Bypass via a link road. They can access Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, London or the South via the A21 which runs almost parallel to the proposed route. To travel West to Paddock Wood or Maidstone, a more sensible route for a link road would be North of the railway line to meet the A228 where it is dualled before East Peckham. Why would anyone need to travel to Colts Hill? A link route following the current proposed route would be disastrous and needs to be removed. The grey blob of an alternative route, shown in most of the publically available maps, connecting the north of AL/CA 1 to Paddock Wood, appears to be missing in this assessment. Why?

It is suggested building the Colts Hill strategic link is vital to delivery of the proposed new developments in Capel. How will this improve connectivity? It will be a faster, polluting road to nowhere unless the congestion on the A264 and the two roundabouts at Pembury can be dealt with (there are no proposals to do so in the dLP and the Hendys development will make this worse). Traffic to the A21 from Paddock Wood will continue to use the B2017. The A228 strategic link has been mooted for the last forty years, initially as a requirement due to the Channel Tunnel! The whole area surrounding Paddock Wood needs a radical holistic solution. The dualling of the A21 was supposedly going to reduce traffic in this area but as TMBC have discovered, through traffic has actually increased in volume in Tonbridge since the “improvement”

[TWBC: See comments DLP_8189-8214 for full representation]

Cycling Strategy

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_4354

Tunbridge Wells Bicycle User's Group

Topic Paper or supporting document title: Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP)


It is essential that the LCWIP currently in preparation should specify that all Local Plan site allocations must prioritise walking and cycling to, from and within all new developments mentioned in the local plan.

Viability Assessment

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_5315

Judith Ashton Associates for Redrow Homes Ltd and Persimmon Homes South East

The Viability Appraisal

We note that the Viability Appraisal (VA) has not as yet commented upon the viability of the proposed strategic allocation AL/PW1, and that criterion (i) of policy AL/PW1 makes it clear that the level and tenure mix of affordable housing within the Policy AL/PW1 site is to be determined through the Local Plan and CIL Stage 2 Viability Assessment; and that this figure will be confirmed in the Regulation 19 Pre-submission version of the Local Plan. As set out below we will respond on this matter and the associated VA when the Reg 19 plan and updated VA is published.

In the context of the above I should highlight the fact that my clients will want the opportunity to comment on Benchmark Land Values, proposed sales prices and assumptions on the cost of providing “on-site infrastructure” when the Stage 2 VA is published.

[TWBC: see full representation].