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Section 1: Introduction


This response report contains comments received on Section 1: Introduction.

Contents

Section 1: Introduction

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_18

Darren White

It's difficult to make comment on this section if the text will not load opposite.

DLP_62

Thomas Weinberg

I am writing this out of deep concern caused by reading the Draft Local Plan, Regulation 18 Consultation Draft (20 September to 1 November 2019). I am made even more anxious after reading the Sustainability Appraisal of that plan. I am worried on a personal level, as the unavoidable pollution and noise will affect the health of my son. I am also distressed that historic communities will be carelessly and needlessly destroyed.

The two documents are incomplete and worryingly misleading in a number of aspects which makes them entirely unfit for review by those who will be affected. They are also deeply compromised by being the product of a series of committees all chaired by one individual. That is not an allegation of corruption but one of alarm at the clear impossibility of fair and impartial assessment.

I am also shocked that in the current environmental context that development which has not been evidenced to be necessary will destroy Green Belt land unnecessarily. It is astonishing that this plan has been shared when its impact is both environmentally and morally unsupportable.

I hope that it will be withdrawn and reconsidered with far greater input from those this Council aims to serve.

DLP_1582

Mr Raymond Moon

Section1. Introduction. OBJECT.

Foreword.

In relation to this Draft Local Plan it is detailed, but also lacks the relevant detail of various objections to the need for an Infrastructure to be in place and the need for a Masterplan before any new houses are built in PW.

The Surface Water and Foul Water flooding problems have not been addressed at this moment in time, even with the 900 new houses already approved by TWBC. The proposed new 4,000 houses and those planned for Capel cannot be agreed before the present problems are solved and any planned improvements for the future must be in place before any new houses are built.

The Town centre needs to be redeveloped, for too long it has been a mess and allowed to  remain that way, and its redevelopment can only benefit the local community and our retail outlets.

Our identity as a Small Rural Town must be protected with any future development and must include buffer zones with our neighbouring villages.

There is a lack of “ joined up” thinking in the Draft Plan concerning all the various documents and the Masterplan must address these issues and be implemented to prevent developers dictating the policy and shape of our Town.

Introduction.

The Draft plan mentions the adjacent Borough of Tonbridge and Malling (T&M) in relation to a proposed new school near Somerhill which is right on the boundary of T&M. There is no evidence that the new school will solely cater for new development in Capel & Paddock Wood.It is probable many places will be taken by T & M and would mean expansion of Mascalls in PW as it would not be able to cope with the extra new places. There should be a joint plan with TWBC and written proposals from T & M as part of this consultation.

DLP_2004

Dr David Parrish

Introduction – Plan preparation process – para 1.4 – p.13

No one in the Community was effectively approached in seeking early views on the development of the plan

I understand just an A4 page notice went up in the village shop. The public were made aware of the Local Plan very late in the stage (May 2019). I know the press, CPC and employees of Hadlow Estate were all put under Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) notices during the earlier planning stages. Not the action of an open, listening, TWBC who were elected to support their people.

Introduction – Public Consultation – para 1.15 – p.15

The communications are not fully inclusive

The proposed and current approach discriminates against older, vulnerable, IT-illiterate members of the public who have no access to the TWBC website – and thus no idea of what is planned – or the ability to comments.

Employees of Hadlow Estate have been placed under NDA notice and cannot participate in the Consultation.

DLP_2271

Jackie Bourne

I Object:

Central Government has determined the direction of the long-term strategic planning document for every County in the Country. Where is the research for Cranbrook and Sissinghurst that shows so many houses are required; and where are the people coming from? The population has steadied, and the only Group substantially increasing is the Older Persons Group, so the DLP should focus on this Group and its needs in the next decade or so, but without disregarding the requirements of younger Groups and Families.

To date many of the small housing developments in the surrounding area have been larger detached houses, so where is the research to say people are moving within the housing chain to release smaller houses for younger people, and families?

Kent is the “Garden of England”, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst in a “Fruit Belt” (as per the DLP), so building so many houses will change the character of the Area forever, to its detriment.

DLP_2273

Jackie Bourne

I Object:

Quote from Section 1, Page 14:

“importance of the protection of the landscape (including the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty), …….”

However, six of the nine sites, ie two thirds of the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst sites, are within the AONB (AL/CRS 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 9), plus one (AL/CRS 14), adjoins the AONB. Additionally, at least three (AL/CRS 1, 2, 5) are also within or adjacent to the Wilsley Conservation Area, and one site (AL/CRS 4) contains Ancient Woodland, which is irreplaceable. How can this be defended, other than saying the Borough has to find the sites somewhere! This is just not acceptable.

Kent is the “Garden of England”, Cranbrook and Sissinghurst in a “Fruit Belt” (as per the DLP), so building on the AONB will change the character forever.

DLP_2486

Mr John Wotton

I am a resident of Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish. I agree with the comments on the draft Local Plan submitted by CPRE Kent (of which I am Chair), including those submitted by CPRE Kent's Tunbridge Wells District Committee (of which I am a member). I have also seen in draft and agree with the comments submitted by the High Weald AONB Unit. My comments on the policies contained in the draft Local Plan are made in a purely personal capacity.

DLP_2718

Paddock Wood Labour Party

Section1. 1-2. Section1.OBJECT. Introduction.

Foreword.

Vision

Paddock Wood Labour Party (PWLP) recognises the challenges in the Local Plan to deliver on ambitious housing targets to 2033. Development though should be focused primarily on brownfield sites with undeveloped green sites safeguarded for future generations to enjoy as countryside, parks and open space. We believe that more effort should be made by TWBC to identify more Brownfield sites in the Borough to meet their housing targets.

New infrastructure rather than through piecemeal smaller developments is essential for the new 4,000 houses in PW and needs the implementation of the Masterplan. With this in mind PWLP broadly supports the principles contained in the Local Plan to deliver new development subject to commitments on providing affordable & social housing including a significant proportion for social rent (as outlined in the Local Plan) and the new infrastructure being installed before any new houses are built in Paddock Wood.

Local living wage - TWBC should take the lead and pay all workers including those employed by third parties carrying out services on their behalf a living wage. This sets a clear example to other employers in the Borough to ensure that no one should be paid a wage which guarantees being in poverty.

Introduction

In relation to this Draft Local Plan it is detailed, but also lacks the relevant detail of various objections to the need for an Infrastructure to be in place and the need for a Masterplan before any new houses are built in PW.

The Surface Water and Foul Water flooding problems have not been addressed at this moment in time, even with the 900 new houses already approved by TWBC. The proposed new 4,000 houses and those planned for Capel cannot be agreed before the present problems are solved and any planned improvements for the future must be in place before any new houses are built.

The Town centre needs to be redeveloped, for too long it has been a mess and allowed to  remain that way, and its redevelopment can only benefit the local community and our retail outlets.

The identity of Paddock Wood as a Small Rural Town must be protected with any future development and must include buffer zones with our neighbouring villages.

There is a lack of “ joined up” thinking in the Draft Plan concerning all the various documents and the Masterplan must address these issues and be implemented to prevent developers dictating the policy and shape of our Town.

DLP_2827

Helen Parrish

Cross-referenced, detailed, reasons for my Objection:

No one in the Community was effectively approached in seeking early views on the development of the plan

DLP_2982

Mr Keith Lagden

Comment relating to the procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting. I certainly have and just hope this gets through so it can be taken note of! Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments in their own words. The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35 I would draw your attention to the FACT that Hawkhurst has a Neighbourhood Development Plan which has been “made” and it is therefore a requirement that TWBC takes this into account when developing the Local Plan. Clearly when reading the Local Plan it is obvious that TWBC have ignored the NDP for Hawkhurst.

DLP_3789
DLP_4725
DLP_4860

Mr Peter Jefferies
Mike & Felicity Robinson
Mr Richard Cutchey

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

Procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting. Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments as a narrative. The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35. The importance of producing and complying with neighbourhood plans (NDPs) is correctly described here. What is not explained is why, therefore, the Council has pointedly failed to recognise the existence of the 2019 NDP for Hawkhurst, duly prepared after local referendum and submitted in March 2019. And why the Council’s plans (and, indeed, many of its recent planning decisions) so flagrantly fly in the face of the NDP. There is substantial local opposition to the proposal (which has already been the subject of an application for outline planning permission) to build over the Hawkhurst golf course. It would be profoundly oppressive and undemocratic for the Council to ride roughshod over the clearly stated wish of the majority of local residents and the Hawkhurst Parish Council, to preserve their village and their rural way of life.

DLP_3863

Mrs June Bell

The DLP fails to demonstrate confidence in Neighbourhood Plans, made or in progress and my concern is there is lack of due regard for Neighbourhood plans.

Reasons for comment:

These paragraphs do not confer confidence that TWBC will follow its legal duty as identified in the Localism Act to allow communities to make meaningful decisions over scale and location of development and policies to preserve and enhance their communities. Hawkhurst has a ‘Made’ (passed successful examination by independent Inspector) and locally endorsed Neighbourhood Plan.

DLP_6740

Mrs Carol Richards

Introduction – Plan preparation process – para 1.4

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.

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

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.

Most of the policies should be carried through to new document and updated as necessary in consultation with community and statutory consultees.

Consideration of responses to Q13 re the 2010 Core Strategy in the preparation of the Draft Local Plan:

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’

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’?.

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.

The Plan Process has again ignored their 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:

“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”. - on the doorstep of Tonbridge.

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.

DLP_6741

Mrs Carol Richards

Public Consultation – para 1.10

This plan impacts on Tonbridge and yet there have been no events in Tonbridge Library or any public space in Tonbridge to highlight the impact these proposals will have on the town. Where is the public consultation here? I had to ask on 23/10/19 to have a copy in Tonbridge Library. Many people in Tonbridge are still unaware of this proposal.

I object to the assertion that the Council is adequately seeking “an opportunity for you to have further input”.

Evidence – paras 1.30 – 1.33

I wish to raise two objections regarding this section:

* 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.

* 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

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

Duty to Cooperate – para 1.38

Following the TMBC meeting of the 2/10/19 Planning and Transportation Advisory Board, it would appear that the TMBC have NOT been’ engaged constructively, actively, and on an ongoing basis’ with TWBC, as stated in para 1.38, in contravention of the Localism Act 2011.

I understand that although some members were informed by TWBC mid 2018 and concerns were raised by TMBC. TWBC have since then decided to go ahead with their LP. As this’ LP puts 68% of TWBC housing needs on the doorstep pf Tonbridge -I think this is a rather large oversight.

I also note, that you do not on page 1 of the Interim Duty to Cooperate Draft Local Plan ( Reg 18) September 19, there is NO appendix relating to a’ Statement of Common Ground between TWBC and TMBC and there is no signing of an agreement.

I suppose this would be difficult if TWBC wish to build what will become a coalescence of 7000 homes between Tudeley and Paddock Wood on the doorstep of Tonbridge.

I also note that, under this draft LP, TWBC will collect all the Council Tax from putting 68% of their housing quota on the Tonbridge Boundary, and the people of Tonbridge will pay the price. I don’t see much cooperation here.

Producing a new Local Plan p17-21

1.25

The Draft Local Plan I do not believe is robust and is not supported by evidence and does not take into account relevant national and local plans and strategies.

1.27

This para in the Local Plan confirms that the NPPF requires TWBC to weigh its development needs “in the balance with environmental and landscape considerations”. NPPF Section 13 is relevant here, as it attaches great importance to Green Belts and sets out five purposes (NPPF para 134), which this Local Plan fails to address. Para 1.27 in the Local Plan is therefore NOT accurate, as the remainder of the Local Plan is not consistent with the NPPF requirements. PLANNING to build on Green Belt should not be’ A Planning Strategy’.

1.29

This para asserts that ‘The draft plan has been positively prepared with national policy’. I do not agree:

Positively prepared- the main strategy is to build 7000 homes along the boundary of TWB on Green Belt Land and on Flood Plains. This does not constitute achieving a sustainable development. It is called desecration and recklessness.

Justified- reasonable alternatives-you have chosen flood plain areas for your main thrust of 4000 homes and a runoff area for 2800 into a flood plain. The evidence for choosing these sites is doubtful to say the least. The Tunbridge Wells Level 1 & 2 combined SFRA (v4July 2019) indicates the Paddock Wood sites are Flood zone 2 or above.ie. 3a and 3b- not good. There are other sites not in these flood categories.

Effective-there is no evidence of effective joint working, due to the absence of a statement of common ground with Tonbridge. I do not believe there is in fact ANY common ground with Tonbridge.

Consistent with National Policy-these developments will cause significant issues by 2036 with climate change and building on Green Belt is not part of the NPPF and certainly not on a site with Chagall windows and one that will cause downstream flooding into neighbouring boroughs.

Neighbourhood plans – paras 1.34-1.37

There is nothing neighbourly about having a policy that has the potential to cause more flooding into neighbouring boroughs and will cause havoc – gridlock-on roads, in shops and services in Tonbridge.

In fact, Tunbridge Wells will have no worries about this plan as they won’t be affected in any way practically (it is so far away) and they will of course gain financially (community charges) and they would have achieved their housing target- by dumping all the houses near Tonbridge- in totally unsuitable sites.

Purpose of the Plan

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_36

Thomas Weinberg

Comments the Introduction – Plan preparation process – para 1.4 - p.13

You state that the Issues and Options process in 2017 sought early views on the best way to approach specific challenges. This process did not in any way mention a garden settlement at Tudeley.

A key issue raised as a result of the Issues and Options consultation was the protection of the Green Belt. To now propose a development that will destroy Green Belt undermines the soundness of this plan and undermines the effectiveness of this current public consultation.

DLP_121

Gregg Newman

You state that the Issues and Options process in 2017 sought early views on the best way to approach specific challenges. This is a TWBC Consultation but actually and directly affects residents also of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council. There was no early consultation in respect of either development that was notified to residents of TMBC in a way that could easily be responded to. TW residents will not be affected by the Tudeley/Capel development at all.

DLP_849

Ian Pattenden

Comments the Introduction – Plan preparation process – para 1.4 - p.13

Your Issues and Options process in 2017 excluded any mention of a garden settlement at Tudeley. One of the key issues raised as a result of the Issues and Options consultation was the protection of the green belt; Tudeley is in the centre of the Green Belt and therefore undermines the soundness of this plan and undermines the effectiveness of this current public consultation.

DLP_956

Mrs Karen Stevenson

I have a concern regarding the language used often being imprecise, creating space for flexible interpretation when making planning decisions. For example, it includes phrases such as, “consideration will be given to…,”“… will not normally be permitted,”“where possible…” and “encourage improvements.” Whilst policy may appear to protect, the language is not sufficiently robust to achieve consistency, transparency, nor confidence in the protection it refers to. It will assist misinterpretation when making planning decisions and could undermine policies that the local plan should be seeking to enforce.

DLP_3866

Ide Planning for Paddock Wood Town Council

OBJECT

1. The Plan is confined to the borough’s boundary. The strategy proposes transformational change to Paddock Wood/east Capel, and a new settlement at Tudeley, close to Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge. Paddock Wood would no longer remain a small rural town. The strategy proposed would more sharply divide the borough into an urban west and rural east.

2. There is a Duty to Cooperate in Plan preparation concerning strategic cross boundary matters. Statements of common ground have not yet been agreed with Tonbridge and Malling BC, or for West Kent.

3. In its present form, the Plan should proceed on the basis of a joint Plan that includes Tonbridge and Malling BC (i.e. Tonbridge) and perhaps part of Maidstone BC in order

i. to ensure cross boundary issues are fully addressed including health, transport, social care and education;

ii. in view of the planned provision of development at Tudeley beyond 2036; and

iii. to consider the possibility that development proposed at Paddock Wood/east Capel could similarly be phased over a longer time frame. This would allow for a reduction to be made in the allocations proposed under AL/PW1 – there is the additional point, in light of the physical constraints referred to elsewhere in Paddock Wood/east Capel, whether any unmet need in the borough could be more sustainably located within the Tonbridge and Malling and Maidstone boroughs under a jointly prepared Plan?

4. For development to be sustainable there is a need to identify land for the right type of development, sites must be in the right place, and development must be supported by infrastructure.

Borough wide, the allocations proposed for Paddock Wood/east Capel and Tudeley have been determined substantially on the basis of minimising the release of green belt and minimising the impact of development upon the AONB.

Objection is made to the loss of green belt to the west of Paddock Wood to accommodate development at parcels 1, 2 and part of 3 under AL/PW1.

All the housing sites identified in the Key Diagram and under AL/PW1 require flood compensation. Bringing forward development sites presently prone to flooding is arguably more contentious than releasing sites in the green belt or AONB given the costs involved (including the opportunity cost) and environmental impact i.e. given that with climate change the prospect is storage, attenuation and mitigation measures will need to be ‘topped up’ in future. Building upon the ‘wrong’ sites if, indeed, is what is proposed, is not sustainable - it absorbs developer contributions better put elsewhere and compromises the garden village ideal that underpins the strategy for Paddock Wood/east Capel.

A Strategic Flood Risk Assessment (SFRA) 2019 underpins much of what is proposed for Paddock Wood/east Capel but this is considered to be an unreliable basis for doing so. An initial review of the SFRA raises questions concerning the period over which the SFRA was undertaken, how it tied in with the Sustainability Appraisal (in particular, in assessing alternative strategies), and how robust the SFRA is in terms of the data it has relied upon and the modelling undertaken. The absence of detail concerning flood storage, alleviation and mitigation measures raises fundamental doubts about the viability and deliverability of the strategy proposed for Paddock Wood/east Capel –

a. the SFRA has been carried out on a borough wide basis. As the Plan has evolved, cross boundary issues have become more prominent. The impact of the strategy proposed at this stage, beyond the boroughs boundary, in flood risk terms, appears not to have been assessed;

b. the SFRA has not carried out a Sequential Test (ST) of potential development sites (para. 13.2, Level 1 Report). If an ST has not been carried out borough wide, it cannot be said there are not other sites that are less prone to flooding, and which may be more suitable for development;

c. further to ‘b’, it is unclear at the moment what this means for the individual parcels identified for development under AL/PW1. For example, in the Level 2 Report, for parcel 1, it was noted by the borough council’s consultants ‘Parcel 1a is located in the path of an easterly flood flow route, which continues into Paddock Wood. During initial discussions with the council, it was agreed to position the residential area in this location (and therefore not following the sequential approach for placement of development)…’ (Appendix I).

d. Information in the SFRA provides insufficient detail to satisfy the requirements of the Exceptions Test (ET) for ‘individual developments or groups of developments as part of a masterplanned or comprehensive development approach’ (para. 1.4.1, Level 2); e. the Stage 2 SWMP for Paddock Wood noted that the town’s susceptibility to flooding is influenced by the existing surface water network being at capacity (para. 2.4.2, Level 1 Report);

f. the SFRA appears to have mixed up the Beult and the Bewl (Table 6-1, Level 1 Report). It is unclear if this is a typing error or, if intended, how this might affect the modelling undertaken by the consultants;

g. It appears that the UMIDB has, at best, had only limited involvement in the preparation of the strategy;

h. it is unclear as to how the existing/planned developments at Mascalls Farm, Mascalls Court Farm and Church Farm, and the proposed development of certain of the individual parcels under AL/PW1 will relate to one another.

Detailed comment on the SFRA is supplied under separate cover.

Comment on individual parcels under AL/PW1 follow. PWTC’s concern is the extent to which the allocations made under that policy accord with the NPPF/PPG.

5. Whilst the LPA subscribes to garden settlement principles in guiding development at Paddock Wood/east Capel and Tudeley, it is unclear whether both places could be designated as garden villages and so benefit from assistance that the government’s programme can provide.

The Plan proposes masterplanning and betterment as a cure-all. When the planning, resource and coordination that is implied by this is compared, to take one example, with Homes England’s garden community initiative in West Ifield (West Sussex), PWTC remains unconvinced that the borough council, despite its best intentions, has the capacity to deliver its strategy in its present form.

6. Homes England suggests ‘given its complexity, potential for infrastructure provision needed up front and long timeframe for delivery, CIL may not always be feasible or appropriate for a garden community scheme’ (MHCLG Land Value Capture and Funding Delivery, 27th September 2019).

7. The LPA’s assessment of housing need/provision inflates housing numbers required over the Plan period which has a bearing upon the allocations proposed for Paddock Wood/east Capel.

8. With regard the distribution of housing development, objection is made above under ‘4’ above to the loss of green belt.

It is considered there is more scope for development to be allocated elsewhere within the borough. For example, Cranbrook has escaped the development allocated in the SALP, whilst Hawkhurst (a smaller town in the Borough & the AONB) has seen considerable house building and is taking more houses than Cranbrook in the draft Local Plan. Why has Cranbrook not been allocated an increased share, when flooding is not a problem and the town centre is well established with schools that have capacity for increased student numbers? It is possible to build sympathetically within the AONB – other Boroughs have done this. It is also unclear whether some of the development proposed at Paddock Wood/east Capel could be more sustainably located at Tudeley.

9. Questions arise concerning the identification, prioritisation and phasing of specific infrastructure schemes and hence the deliverability of the strategy. In respect of their prioritisation, more infrastructure may be critical and essential than desirable. Of particular concern is how critical many of the projects are, the magnitude of cost, the uncertainty concerning their phasing and the funding position overall. For example, the IDP lists the new Colts Hill bypass as being critical (p94), as needing to be in place before sites come forward for development, yet the all-important policy STR1(2) refers to the bypass in terms of it being a potential scheme.

Comment follows [below] on improvements required to the highway network to accommodate the development proposed. These improvements are needed to add to capacity locally and to mitigate impacts upon air quality.

10. The viability of the Plan is unconfirmed – whilst the Stage 1 Viability Assessment says the consultant’s find reasonable viability prospects available borough-wide to support the Plan’s delivery, the viability of the larger/strategic site allocations has yet to be addressed in a Stage 2 assessment.

Dute to cooperate

OBJECT as above

DLP_4103

Tunbridge Wells District Committee Campaign to Protect Rural England

It does not appear to CPRE’s Tunbridge Wells District Committee that the key concerns expressed in the hundreds of responses to the Issues and Options document have been adequately met in this new draft Plan, which 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 the very reasonable and justified concerns of the local population.  That said, we recognise the constraints imposed by Government policies and legislation and by the Council’s limited powers.

Please see our and CPRE Kent’s Head Office’s comments on Policies for more detail.

DLP_4448

Paddock Wood Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group

The Plan is confined to the borough’s boundary. The strategy proposes transformational change to Paddock Wood/east Capel, and a new settlement at Tudeley, close to Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge. Paddock Wood would no longer remain a small rural town. The strategy proposed would more sharply divide the borough into an urban west and rural east.

Although outside the Neighbourhood Plan designated area we are very concerned about the loss of Green Belt between Paddock Wood and Capel.

For development to be sustainable it must be supported by infrastructure that is reasonably necessary. All the housing sites identified in the Key Diagram and under AL/PW1 require flood compensation.  This will absorb developer contributions better put elsewhere and compromises the garden village ideal that underpins the strategy for Paddock Wood/east Capel.

Questions arise concerning the identification, prioritisation and phasing of specific infrastructure schemes and hence the deliverability of the strategy. In respect of their prioritisation, more infrastructure may be critical and essential than desirable. Of particular concern is how critical many of the projects are, the magnitude of cost and the uncertainty concerning their phasing, and the funding position overall. For example, the IDP lists the new Colts Hill bypass as being critical (p94), as needing to be in place before sites come forward for development, yet the all-important policy STR1(2) refers to the bypass in terms of it being a potential scheme.

The Plan proposes masterplanning and betterment.  The NP group still has to be convinced that TWBC can deliver this.

DLP_7265

Mrs Katie Lee-Amies

Section 1, para 1.7

1. The consideration of responses to the 2017 Issues and Options Consultation (September 2019) is skewed to suit the location of a new settlement in Tudeley. 67% of responses disagreed with The Vision; 60% of responses ranked Option 4 (Growth corridor-led approach) as most preferred. However, TWBC dismiss the feedback and respond that one of their three development strategy options is:

  • “Exploring further the potential for ‘new settlement growth’, as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options”

The above statement is misleading. TWBC need to explain why they have selected Option 5 development strategy.

2. The other two development strategy options are:

  • “Further consideration of Option 4 - the growth corridor-led approach. However, this raised particular issues in relation to accessibility, linear development and associated tendency towards coalescence”
  • “Further consideration of Option 1- focused growth. Although, considered a little more favourable than the remaining options, it was countered to some extent by traffic concerns around Royal Tunbridge Wells”

Negative issues associated with the second and third strategy options implies that the first option is more favourable. This is a deliberate unbalanced view and also misleading. The strategic development selection process has not been objective.

3. When asked about views of a new settlement in TWB, the majority of responses suggested that the new settlement should be outside the AONB and Green Belt. Some suggested that there is no suitable location in TWB for a new settlement with 5,000 – 7,000 homes. The emerging Local Plan has dismissed the findings of the Consultation and cherry picked responses as justification for pursuing Tudeley as a legitimate growth option.

DLP_7498

Sarah Parrish

Why was no one approached in seeking early views”.

DLP_7826

Andrew Chandler

The draft Local Plan does not represent a 15 year strategic plan for Sissinghurst. All sites included for development are subject to current development proposals and so this is at best a 3 year plan for our village. It is in reaction to and an endorsement of recent aggressive development proposals and you should not suggest otherwise. We have been let down by the TWBC planning department in recent years and these proposals will perpetuate that situation and irretrievably change the character and settlement pattern immediately adjacent to the High Weald AONB. This is not good planning.

Public consultation: how to get involved

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_37

Thomas Weinberg

Comments the Introduction – Pubic Consultation – para 1.15 - p.15

The process can also be called discriminatory due to the failure to support those residents without access to a computer. If a resident has no access to a computer then failing to acknowledge hand written, posted letters leaves them at a serious disadvantage to other residents. They will not receive an acknowledgement of their letter (unlike receipts sent for emails or portal submissions) and they will not be able to view their submission alongside other submissions.

Draft Local Plan (Regulation 18) Response Form 20 September to 01 November 2019 3

In Capel, many households are under the control of the landowner proposing thousands of new houses in Tudeley. They need an assurance that their submissions will have all personal information, including their names and addresses, redacted from submissions which are made public and that the landowner will never know who sent which form in to the public consultation process.

The landowner has already terminated the tenancies of three families, allegedly to raise funds for masterplanning by selling houses. Tenants and employees of this landowner are fearful that if they speak out with valid concerns about the land allocated for development within the draft Local Plan, they will be fired or evicted.

DLP_81

Roger Bishop

Summary

The Plan contravenes Government policy on the Green Belt, and TWBC’s policies and aspirations with regard to, for example, the environment and biodiversity, climate change, transport, and heritage assets, all in the pursuit of meeting a stated housing need which it is acknowledged is not soundly based.

Detailed comments are below.

Introduction – Pubic Consultation – para 1.15 - p15

The demographics of Capel mean that many residents are unable to use a computer and/or have no access to one. They are penalized twice over. First, they are unable to access and read the Plan. This is especially worrying as you have said that if they don’t relate their comments to a specific section of the Plan or Sustainability Appraisal they may be misinterpreted or ignored. Secondly, they will receive no acknowledgement of any comments they send by post (and these people have no alternative), nor be able to view the comments of others.

[TWBC: see also comments DLP_81 to 93].

DLP_122

Gregg Newman

We live directly opposite the residence of the landowner proposing the development in Tudeley. When we place posters regarding the SaveCapel.com campaign on the hedges outside our property, they mysteriously disappear as soon as we are no longer watching. There is no doubt that besides the inability of many older residents to have their voices heard (because of lack of access to internet or simply inability to communicate effectively in the modern environment), there is a concerted and sinister campaign by a very wealthy landowner to stifle the voices of poorer and less influential residents. There are definite echoes of the feudal era here.

DLP_850

Ian Pattenden

Comments the Introduction – Pubic Consultation – para 1.15 - p.15

You have stated that if we don’t relate our comments to a specific section of the Plan or Sustainability Appraisal they may be misinterpreted or ignored. This appears to me that a conscious effort has been made to make the consultation process overcomplicated and difficult to respond. You have spent years producing huge amounts of technical documents, yet we as ley persons have just 6 weeks to digest all of this technical information and make comments to specific paragraphs. Moreover, it is clear that whilst small developments have been carefully considered, the vast majority of the Borough’s proposed development is in Capel and that aspect is vague, confused and lacks detail.

DLP_1560

Peter Hay

1.11 Period for consultation is wrong

1.13 and 1.14 Process for making comments is very confusing and not clear where to go or what the process is. Seems to be conflicting website addresses giving completely different layout beta on non beta?

1.19 Consultation times was poor and not sufficient for those who work some distance from exhibition locations and were unable to reach the venue before closing. 7pm far too early.

DLP_1970

Ms Jacqueline Stanton

I strongly object to the public consultation process for the Draft Local Plan.

Whilst the public exhibition was useful, the whole process for making comments discriminates against a large section of the population.

1.  People with accessibility needs (for websites etc) would not be able to view the documents;

2.  People who do not own a computer cannot easily record their comments, thus making it unlikely they will bother doing so;

3.  The many hundreds of pages and variety of documents are difficult to understand;

4.  The online system expects a level of understanding of policies and legislation the general public may not have and references many other policies and legislation.

In addition, the whole process is complicated and not user-friendly, thus, again, putting off people making comments.

DLP_1973

Mr Jeremy Waters

Even as a regular, experienced computer user I have found this process extremely tiresome and frustrating so I am certain that a very large proportion of respondents will give up trying. The forms are very time-consuming and confusing to complete and requires respondents to cross-refer codes to the plan. Overall I think that it is discriminatory against residents who are unable to devote the time and perseverance to completing it.

DLP_2016
DLP_2143

Penelope Ennis
Michael O'Brien

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

Comment relating to the procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

This is an impenetrable procedure designed to dissuade comment from an already ‘battle weary’ community besieged with planning applications. I know that a few members of our community will able to work online and offline to complete the document you have provided. Those who do put something on paper will undoubtedly complete the process in a way that you do not consider valid and others will not comment. You may interpret this as disinterest I fear but our community is anything but disinterested.

I have concerns over your Consultation Process. I was unable to attend the public event but I hear that you ran out of material for residents to take away. It takes 4 maybe 5 clicks to reach the point that residents can comment on the document and I believe that to be against the principles of consultation.

DLP_2278

Jackie Bourne

I Object:

This whole Planning process seems very complicated, and not resident friendly. It really needs simplifying. In addition to the DLP (500+ pages long), there are numerous other reference documents to consider, if you wish residents to make, and the Council to receive, meaningful, relevant and constructive comments. Naturally, subjects can cross over a number of Sections and Documents, so it makes the process very time consuming and complex to fully understand. Not everyone, particularly those working full time and with families, may not have the time, or are disheartened with the process, or are not familiar with vast official Documents and Forms. However, whatever the reason, the majority will not pursue such an onerous task, and make meaningful or constructive comments, no matter how many weeks consultation there is. Personally, I have already spent a few hours on the process.

In fact, this complex process could disenfranchise residents.

DLP_2686

Stephen Crane

Para 1.13 Consultation Portal together with 1.14 and 1.15 Response form in MSWord

Many people have been very frustrated with each of the proposed methods of submitting comments. I am well aware that the Portal has great benefits for the collation of the submitted data into policy areas, indeed from this point of view it is a very elegant solution (I am commenting as someone who has been involved with the design of database in these situations in industry) .

Unfortunately, there is a very big BUT! The input to any database should consider first the ease of input by the user (resident). The designer of the database should consider the ease of use and speed of entry to be paramount, the moment there are built in frustrations errors will occur. In this case the frustrations were so great that, to my knowledge, many residents just gave up trying, indeed I know of several that had trouble with the Word document (even the printed version that we made available)!

Needless to say, those residents having the most difficulty/frustration are the more elderly amongst us, although I have had several comments from those of an age group that one would consider to be technically aware as to how confusing the system was to use.

A great pity, an opportunity lost!

DLP_2745

Rosanna Taylor-Smith

I attended the event in Hawkhurst on 30/9/2019. The timing was not convenient for many residents who work and there were insufficient numbers of the outline draft local plan brochure as there were none left mid way through the event.  No forms were available to take away with details of how to comment and for many without access to a computer, this means that they were left without details on how to respond. The process of responding online is also fairly difficult to navigate and personally I have had significant difficulties in accessing much of the consultation on many occasions.  Page not found and error messages are repeatedly what I find when coming back to answer more sections. Not good enough TWBC. (I have responded on other occasions to draft local plans in 2 other local authority areas with far less difficulty)

DLP_2828

Helen Parrish

Cross-referenced, detailed, reasons for my Objection:

The communications are not fully inclusive

DLP_2860

Chris Gow

If you want the consultation to be fully participated by the local community, the process could be much simpler, the navigation of the response is not user friendly to less able and computer inexperienced participants.

The amount of supporting documentation and the use of numerical titles rather the friendly names does not make the process helpful.

The downloads are 1.5Gb of data, and result in 16641 pages, (including title and blank pages), so it is not easy to fully understand and even read everything that relates to the Local Plan.

This does not readily appear to be a clear and transparent delivery of the relevant material, and more use of summary documents could have been available to help your respondents.

I attended the display of the plan in the Victoria Centre where staff were available for discussion. It was difficult to have conversation in the noisy open area of the concourse and this was a disadvantage, and a better option would have been the quieter location, where a fully recorded discussion may have been held.

DLP_3048 Mr Adrian Cory

I find the process mandated by the Council for commenting on the Draft Local Plan to be extremely onerous. The process does not allow for the submission of narrative commentaries, but instead prescribes two highly structured and complex proforma, one hosted online and an offline alternative in similar form.

The online form is unlikely to be used by those who are not comfortable with the technology and also by those who (like myself) are expert users of IT but whose experience leads them to distrust Web-based forms owing to their propensity to malfunction, losing previously entered content.

The offline form is long and complex, requiring comments to be assigned to the correct text boxes (which are sometimes ambiguous) and requiring sections of tables to be copied and pasted. This, again, will deter those who are not comfortable dealing with Word documents. Both proforma require comments to be structured in a form which is clearly designed to assist officials in consolidating comments at the expense of complexity in completing the form.

The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that this is a deliberate tactic by TWBC to minimise public response to the proposals.

1.35. The importance of producing and complying with neighbourhood plans (NDPs) is correctly described here. What is not explained is why, therefore, the Council has pointedly failed to recognise the existence of the 2019 NDP for Hawkhurst, duly prepared after local referendum and submitted in March 2019. And why the Council’s plans (and, indeed, many of its recent planning decisions) so flagrantly fly in the face of the NDP. There is substantial local opposition to the proposal (which has already been the subject of an application for outline planning permission) to build over the Hawkhurst golf course. It would be profoundly oppressive and undemocratic for the Council to ride roughshod over the clearly stated wish of local residents to preserve their village and their rural way of life.

DLP_3419
DLP_3434

Mr A J Holding
Jean & John Tune

TWBC: the following standard response was submitted by the list of responders on the left:
PS. I would have submitted the above via the website had the access to it been easier; I was not prepared to waste any more time in trying to logon. Is this part of a plan to restrict objections to the local community and so claim that few comments/objections have been received?

DLP_3753

John Windeatt

I assume that comments submitted by letter will be considerd equally with those more formally submitted on the Response Form as suggested and referred to in this clause. I refer particularly to my letter to Stephen Baugham dated 20 May 2019, and another letter to Kevin Hope dated 19 September 2019 both of which refer to the proposed development at the Hawkhurst Golf Club. Please confirm your receipt of these letters and that they will be included with the other responses

DLP_4984

Kristina Edwards

Procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting. Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments as a narrative.  The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35.  The importance of producing and complying with neighbourhood plans (NDPs) is correctly described here. What is not explained is why, therefore, the Council has pointedly failed to recognise the existence of the 2019 NDP for Hawkhurst, duly prepared after local referendum and submitted in March 2019. And why the Council’s plans (and, indeed, many of its recent planning decisions) so flagrantly fly in the face of the NDP. There is substantial local opposition to the proposal (which has already been the subject of an application for outline planning permission) to build over the Hawkhurst golf course. It would be profoundly oppressive and undemocratic for the Council to ride roughshod over the clearly stated wish of local residents to preserve their village and their rural way of life.

2.7.  This section (and the Plan itself) misleadingly equates the village of Hawkhurst with the much larger towns of Paddock Wood and Cranbrook.  The Plan wrongly treats Hawkhurst as an urban area and applies strategic planning policies designed for urban areas to the rural village. This is a major error in the Plan. As a village, Hawkhurst should be counted among the “variety of villages and hamlets” mentioned in paragraph 2.8, not bracketed together with towns like Paddock Wood and Cranbrook.

2.11. The Draft Local Plan claims that the infrastructure needs associated with new developments will be assessed and addressed. This claim lacks credibility because the council either does not have the necessary powers of compulsion in relation to infrastructure, or has a track record of failing to use the powers it does possess. We therefore cannot rely on this reassurance.

2.13. This paragraph records that sustainable development is a key theme underpinning national planning policy. This submission argues that many of the proposals in the Plan (including those for Hawkhurst) do not remotely meet the sustainability criteria, or reflect provisions in the NPPF relating to AONBs.

2.32.  The Draft Local Plan demonstrates that the council is failing in its duty as custodian of the AONB within its boundaries. There is very little content in the Plan which recognises its responsibilities to preserve the AONB, which accounts for 70% of the Borough. The reference in this paragraph to ensuring that development “does not have an unacceptable adverse impact on the character and setting of the natural and build environment of the borough” is ironic in view of the many proposals in the Plan which will clearly have such an adverse impact.

2.46.  The assertion, here, that the Plan will encourage the provision of community leisure and recreation facilities is called in question by the proposal to replace the Hawkhurst golf course with a housing estate. It is merely one example of the insincerity and “lip service” which pervades the whole Plan.

DLP_5104
DLP_5124
DLP_7299
DLP_8090

Mr Peter Brudenall
Alistair Nichols
Kylie Brudenall
Mary Curry

TWBC: the following standard response was submitted by the list of responders on the left:Procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting. Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments as a narrative.  The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35.  The importance of producing and complying with neighbourhood plans (NDPs) is correctly described here. What is not explained is why, therefore, the Council has pointedly failed to recognise the existence of the 2019 NDP for Hawkhurst, duly prepared after local referendum and submitted in March 2019. And why the Council’s plans (and, indeed, many of its recent planning decisions) so flagrantly fly in the face of the NDP. There is substantial local opposition to the proposal (which has already been the subject of an application for outline planning permission) to build over the Hawkhurst golf course. It would be profoundly oppressive and undemocratic for the Council to ride roughshod over the clearly stated wish of local residents to preserve their village and their rural way of life.

DLP_5273

Rachel Smith

I am a resident of Paddock Wood and have lived in 3 homes within the town over a period of around 30 years.

I am providing my remarks in an email as I do not have the time to get to grips with the planning portal and risk losing my comments, as has been reported in social media. Indeed, the first point I wish to make is that I am aware that many individuals are not responding for this very reason. The production of the 8-page outline document has been very helpful but people I know do not have the time or patience to research the full Draft Local Plan and comment as advised. I concur with the points made by Mr David Smith (no relation) as published in your response report ‘the structure of the on-line commenting process where the complete plan for the entire area is set out in full and then broken down into ever more detailed sections makes it extremely time consuming and tedious for a resident of any specific town or village to locate the appropriate section in which to make their comments. It is a highly structured bureaucratic process which may seem easy to those already familiar with it but which requires a good deal of concentration in the on-line situation which some residents might find challenging and therefore give up on. Whilst this form of consultation may be very efficient for the council staff who therefore do not have this categorisation work themselves, it is clearly very likely to dissuade some less academically gifted or computer literate individuals from using that form of commenting and therefore underestimate considerably the strength of feeling in the community.’

DLP_5279

Susan Lovell

I am very upset that the consultation was not made easy for people who find it difficult to respond, such as the elderly, infirm, those who have mental health problems, etc.  I do not believe TWBC has served its residents at all well in this process.

DLP_5702

Mrs Jacqueline Cobell

ACTUALLY I OBJECT TO YOU THREATENING TO IGNORE MY COMMENTS IF I DON’T RELATE EACH COMMENT TO A SPECIFIC SECTION AND PARAGRAPH. BEARING IN MIND THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW YOUR DRAFT LOCAL PLAN LIKE THE BACK OF YOUR HAND YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO RELATE ALL MY COMMENTS TO YOUR SECTIONS AND PARAGRAPHS.

THIS OBJECTION LETTER THAT WE ARE SUPPOSED TO WRITE ON YOUR TERMS IS INTIMIDATING, CONDESCENDING, AGEIST AND DONE ON PURPOSE TO CONFUSE THE ORDINARY FOLK.  HUMANITY IS THE GREATEST QUALITY THAT MAN CAN HAVE, ARROGANCE IS UNDOUBTEDLY THE WORST !!

I’M SURE MY FRIEND AT THE BBC WILL BE VERY INTERESTED TO KNOW HOW THE NUMBER OF OBJECTORS HAS BEEN KEPT LOW DUE TO THE HOOPS AND HURDLES THAT THEY HAVE HAD TO MEET TO AVOID BEING IGNORED 

DLP_5817
DLP_5843
DLP_6174
DLP_6576
DLP_6753
DLP_7024
DLP_7416
DLP_7432
DLP_7451
DLP_7473

Charles Vernede
Mrs Sarah Vernede
May Corfield
Vivien Halley
Linda Beverley
Sally Hookham
Simon Parrish
Catherine Baker
Patrick Thomson
Sally Thomson

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

Procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting. Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments as a narrative.  The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

DLP_5898

Tim Elliott

The complete document is not easy to read nor access, it is clear that the plan has been written by experts, but they need to use language that is accessible to the residents of Tunbridge Wells. It uses too much impenetrable jargon.

The consultation website is poor. It is very difficult to access on apple Macs and difficult to leave a comment. Registration is complex and I have failed 3 times to do so. It is almost if  TWBC does not actually want anyone to comment.

DLP_5957

Mr Chris Austen

Regarding the Draft Local Plan for Hawkhurst it was very disappointing that TWBC Planning Department only showed the plan for one afternoon from 4.00pm -7.00pm This prevented anybody who works away from the village, especially commuters, to be unable to come to the display and talk to the Planning Dpt. When the NDP was being prepared we stayed available until 10.00pm in the evenings and were also available on Saturday mornings giving all residents the opportunity to come and discuss the NDP with us. We feel that the consultation for this DLP is nothing more than ticking a box to say that there was a display of some kind.

DLP_6113

Charlotte Walter

As a resident who suffers from post stroke fatigue, I have found it very difficult to be able to submit my comments as the portal is not user friendly, nor is the form below. It feels intentional that TWBC have made this process difficult to dissuade older residents or those with mental health problems to not be able to respond.

DLP_6117

Charlotte Walter

I have attached the form to object to the over development of Paddock Wood. It is not completed in all the boxes as I found it very difficult to navigate.

I feel that it is intentional of TWBC to make a response so complicated to put people off. What about people, such as myself, who suffer with a disability and find the form and online portal difficult to understand? What about the older generation who don't use computers and don't have the mental energy to try and understand how to fill in all the boxes?

[TWBC: comments in response form submitted have been entered into the relevant sections].

DLP_6201

Marion Cranmer

1.10

This is an opportunity for you to have further input into the Council’s preparation of a new Local Plan for the borough…

It is a problem that a response cannot be made without having your name put forward in public. Why can a response not be identified as, for example, ‘Resident, TN17, name held by TWBC’?

The inability to do this is clearly discriminatory. Anyone who has been subjected to domestic abuse, stalking, or any other form of hate crime is unlikely to respond.

Having spoken to a senior member of TWBC about this discrimination, and the inability to overcome it, his response was beyond lack of empathy or understanding, it was truly shocking.

1.17 The consultation documents can be viewed on the Council's website

1.18 The documents can also be viewed at the following locations for those without access to a computer:

The access to such a major document has been woefully poor for anyone without a computer! The amount of time needed to read and consider even small parts of the document, within the restricted hours of local libraries, means that very few people have had proper access to it.

It is, yet again, an example of a huge number of residents of the parish being discriminated against due to the digital divide.

There was a single exhibition for Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, which was poorly publicised as also for Frittenden and Benenden. The shortness and time of day made it hard for many parents/carers/people in work to attend, and it was certainly not good enough to have been told by TWBC that those people could go elsewhere. This was not real consultation.

The portal for responding was frequently not working properly, and despite some extension to the consultation period to compensate, it still often performed badly, and many people were so put off by their experiences that they gave up. This is not true consultation.

DLP_6253

Claire Penney

Accessibility to proposals: Can you advise how you have shared these proposals, other than to display in TW Gateway and libraries in the borough? I’m intrigued to know how many residents you believe you are reaching through these portals, as many people will set foot in neither from year to year. Information should be shared in local print media, on social media, and where local to residents, should be leafleted door to door. There will be many Southborough residents who are not aware of these proposals, which could impact heavily on their day-to-day lives. It is imperative that you share these proposals more widely, aiming to reach every single household that will be affected. You must surely be aiming to avoid the mistakes made through lack of consultation on the Calverley Park development catastrophe.

DLP_6259

Anne Trevillion

It is not easy to respond – the document is so long, and there are so many sections and paragraphs. Much of the language is opaque, there is a lot of repetition between sections, and I imagine many people would find it very daunting to attempt to comment. I could not cope with the consultation portal – that was too difficult to work with.

DLP_6419

Hawkhurst Parish Council

p.16, para. 1.21: “Some policies in the Hawkhurst Neighbourhood Development Plan will be superseded.”

It is a concern that the draft TWBC Local Plan intends to supersede the NDP without any explanation, justification or further details. For the statement to be included in the draft document, there must be some level of confidence within the TWBC planning team that this will indeed be the case. It is not yet two years since the NDP was adopted and it still has 13 years to run as the statutory planning document for the designated area. The key questions arising from this situation are:

  1. Why did TWBC not write to Hawkhurst PC, if only as a courtesy, to provide advance notice of this situation? Why was there no discussion of the unfolding situation that could fundamentally undermine the effectiveness of the NDP?
  2. Why does this section of the draft TWBC Local Plan not provide the necessary further details about which and/or how many NDP policies will be superseded to allow a full and proper response to be made by the community of Hawkhurst?
  3. Why are any Hawkhurst NDP policies to be superseded anyway? Why does the TWBC Local Plan not work with and around the made policies of the Hawkhurst NDP that was so overwhelming supported at referendum in March 2018?

TWBC planners must engage with HPC and the NDP Group to discuss this in detail before this is set out in the Pre-submission version of the Local Plan.

DLP_6429

Hawkhurst Parish Council

Concerns over the Consultation Programme

The Parish Council considers that the consultation programme for the draft TWBC Local Plan is flawed and falls short of the 3rd Gunning principle for LGA consultation that “there is adequate time for consideration and response” It goes on to state,

“There must be sufficient opportunity for consultees to participate in the consultation. There is no set timeframe for consultation, despite the widely accepted twelve-week consultation period, as the length of time given for consultee to respond can vary depending on the subject and extent of impact of the consultation”.

TWBC initial consultation period was from 20th September 2019 – 1st November 2019 (six weeks) An extension of two weeks to the consultation materialised halfway through October 2019. This meant the consultation was still only 8 weeks rather than the expected 12 weeks for such a large document with numerous supporting documents and a subject as important as the future of the Borough.

There was only one visit to Hawkhurst (Monday 30th September) at the Unity Hall, in the Royal British Legion, and at a time (4 pm until 7 pm) when few could attend.

This late afternoon slot is very congested for working families – it is either the afterschool rush of supporting children in sports and activities or commuting home from work outside the parish. Selecting this time slot is seen by many as a deliberate way to prevent a high turnout and frustrate the views of local people.

The Parish Council see no reason why, for example, a 7 pm until 10 pm time slot could not have been used. Indeed, during the preparation of the NDP, the parish regularly made use of the same venue throughout the daytime and late into the evening to ensure maximum opportunity for people to contribute ideas and thoughts.

In addition, the exhibition boards were misleading, for instance

“Government’s figures identify a housing need for the borough of 13,560 dwellings over the period 2016-2036.”

What it did not say was that TWBC had the opportunity to reduce the number as a significant portion of the borough is within the High Weald AONB, but in fact, TWBC decided to increase the housing number.

With regards to the online consultation, the Local Plan consultation on the TWBC website is hidden. There is limited access to the online consultation – it is not on TWBC home page and hidden “four clicks” away, buried in the planning section of the website. If residents can battle their way through TWBC’s website to the consultation form the complex nature of the consultation form has left many residents baffled.

DLP_6458

Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council

  1. CONCERNS OVER THE CONSULTATION EXHIBITION PROGRAMME
  • The Parish Council considers that the consultation exhibition programme for the draft TWBC Local Plan was very limited. There was only one visit to Cranbrook and Sissinghurst (Friday 27th September) at the Vestry Hall, Cranbrook, and at a time (4pm until 7pm) when few could attend. Furthermore, there was very little publicity to make it clear that Frittenden and Benenden were also being covered in the same exhibition.
  • This late afternoon slot is not convenient for working families – it is either the after-school rush of supporting children in sports and activities or commuting home from work outside the Parish. Selecting this time slot is seen by many as a deliberate way to prevent a high turnout and frustrate the views of local people and, we believe, will have reduced footfall dramatically.
  • The Parish Council see no reason why, for example, a 7pm until 10pm time slot could not have been used. Indeed, during the preparation of the emerging Neighbourhood Plan, the Parish has regularly made use of the same venue throughout the daytime and late into the evening to ensure maximum opportunity for people to contribute ideas and thoughts.
  • “Staying late and listening to everybody” has been a key part of our Neighbourhood Plan process. The TWBC Local Plan process could learn from this.

[TWBC: see full representation].

DLP_7223

Elizabeth Daley

Officers from did meet with representatives of the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst NDP group. Little discussion took place and despite repeated requests, no memorandum of understanding was ever forthcoming.

This appeared to be a process of dictating policy, not a process of discussing policy.

DLP_7266

Mrs Katie Lee-Amies

Section 1, para 1.13

  1. I have resorted to emailing my comments on the Draft Local Plan to TWBC because the online forms are overcomplicated and the site has crashed twice whilst completing my form. There must be others who have experienced the same frustration and this will deter residents submitting comments.

DLP_7448

Catherine Pearse

Comment relating to the procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting.  I certainly have and just hope this gets through so it can be taken note of!  Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments in their own words.  The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35   I would draw your attention to the FACT that Hawkhurst has a Neighbourhood Development Plan which has been “made” and it is therefore a requirement that TWBC takes this into account when developing the Local Plan.  Clearly when reading the Local Plan it is obvious that TWBC have ignored the NDP for Hawkhurst.

DLP_7500

Sarah Parrish

Why are communications not fully inclusive?

DLP_7585

Victoria Dare

I have borrowed (with permission) the wording of another objector to this draft plan because it is far more eloquent and detailed than I would be able to achieve myself. This is no way diminishes my conviction on these points, many of which I have already commented on at length elsewhere to TWBC.

Procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting. Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments as a narrative.  The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

DLP_7609

Jeremy Thompson

You have really not made this easy to make comments, perhaps that is what is intended.

DLP_7753

Annie Hopper

The process of commenting on the draft LP has not been easy. Going online and registering resulted in no confirmation email being sent in many cases and numerous people have said that this put them off commenting – this is not acceptable – the comment response process should be as simple as possible to enable as many people as possible to comment? The response form itself requires a lot of thought to fill it in, cutting and pasting sections to enable multiple comments to be made. Why is it necessary to fill in different types of comment boxes for each type of comment – the whole process could have been much simpler and easier?

There have been lots of comments within the Parish of how difficult the process has been for those who do not have access to a computer and needed to send written comments. We were told at the only public engagement that was held in Cranbrook during the consultation period that TWBC ‘discouraged written comments preferring electronic comments as it was too much work transcribing written comments when received.’ There was not even one printed form available for people to take away with them!

This is such an important document that affects so many Parishes in the borough that it is completely unacceptable that it has been made so difficult to comment!

DLP_7853

Phillip Tew

I am commenting on the Draft New Local Plan. I am a resident of Speldhurst and we have lived in Speldhurst for 25 years bringing up our children during this time.

I would first like to object to the way in which the consultation process has been undertaken. The advertising of the Draft New Local Plan has been very poor, the maps contained within the Draft New Local Plan are almost impossible to decipher as they are poorly reproduced and this, in combination with the very short timetable given to the consultation process, ( I know it has been extended by a relatively trivial additional time ) will inevitably mean that a very large number of effected people will simply be unaware of the Draft New Local Plan and the proposals contained within it. I do not think you should assume that the responses you have received properly reflect the views of residents.

DLP_7985

Chris Callander

Initial comments

Firstly, I should like to apologies for not using your form structure or the online portal. I feel the systems put in place are far too complicated for the local residents to understand. It is clear they have been developed to make the work needed by the planning department easy, and not to make it easy for residents and members of the community to make their views heard. This was evidenced by comments from Stephen Baughan at a recent community meeting where he urged us to use the forms, otherwise the planning teams “would have to read the responses”!

That was just one comment, or action, from the team driving this plan which has cast doubt over either the competency or the motives of the people involved.

DLP_8012

Penny Ansell

Comment relating to the procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan. 

How can The Council say that “it is quick and easy to comment online” when it is extremely difficult to do so. I have been onto the site quoted in ‘LOCAL’ - tunbridgewells.gov.uk/localplan- a number of times and have found it impossible to make any comment at all since none of the various instructions/sections I clicked on opened up a space for actually submitting comments. Nor did it allow me to download the appropriate comments form.

The principle of consultation is that it should be easy and straightforward and the Council needs to provide a much simpler way of communicating either by email or by letter. Also, it is exceptionally tedious for ordinary, busy people to have to wade through the draft plan identifying the specific sections/paragraphs to which they wish to respond. I imagine it is also very tedious for whomever is analysing the responses since they will come across endless repetition!

As a result of this unnecessarily complicated procedure, you will probably get a much lower response rate than desirable.

1.29 ‘the local plan should be:

“positively prepared    - as a minimum, seeks to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs”

“justified, an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives and based on proportionate evidence”

I  would  be interested in knowing how ‘objectively assessed needs’ and ‘appropriateness’ result in a housing allocation of average 1,271 for Tunbridge Wells (2011 pop’n, 48,324)

and average 668 for Hawkhurst (2011 pop’n, 4991) but more of this later. Please note points in 4.38 and 4.40 at end of this section.

DLP_8156

Myriam Ruelle

About Capel:  the proposed “green settlement” was included as an easy option due to the fact one big landowner only is involved.  This landowner has already been using bullying tactics with his tenants and this is extremely worrying.  People from Tudeley commenting on the DLP wish to remain anonymous due to fear of reprisal. Are we in the 21st Century or back in mediaeval times?   This particular point only should merit further investigation and criminal investigation if needed.  The Council should never support any proposition clearly made to the benefit of one individual and threatening a whole community, their lives and livelihoods.  Anyone should be able to voice their concerns without any fear.

The new town at Capel must be rejected.

Producing a new Local Plan

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_66

The Access Group

My members having looked at the proposed Draft Local Plan have instructed me to make the following observations and legal demands:

  1. LEGAL DEMANDS
  • All proposed buildings, dwellings and workplaces must be "independently accessible to all", that means they must be wheelchair accessible throughout. That will require a major redesign.
  • All townscapes and infrastructure must be independently accessible to all by 2025.

1.1 These are current conditions imposed by the Planning Inspector, the current Planning Minister and are legal requirements set out under Articles 9, 19 & 28 UN Convention on the Right of People with Disabilities, adopted 2000 and Formerly Ratified by Parliament in 2009; the legally binding UK Disability Strategy 2012 with particular reference to Part 6 requiring total compliance with all the articles of the UN Convention by 2025; The Equality Act 2010 & The Human Rights Act 1998 to ensure "inclusion and to ensure that no person is excluded or discriminated against in any way whatsoever".

DLP_82

Roger Bishop

Summary

The Plan contravenes Government policy on the Green Belt, and TWBC’s policies and aspirations with regard to, for example, the environment and biodiversity, climate change, transport, and heritage assets, all in the pursuit of meeting a stated housing need which it is acknowledged is not soundly based.

Detailed comments are below.

Evidence and other strategies – para 1.30 – p18

You state that, “As set out in the NPPF, each local planning authority should ensure that its Local Plan is based on adequate, proportionate, up to date, and relevant evidence about the economic, social, and environmental characteristics and prospects of the area.”

But you are aware that the ONS statistics which you have used to arrive at the housing need figure are out of date, and lead to the housing need being overstated.

In addition, it is hardly proportionate to put over 25% of the planned new houses for the borough in one rural parish (out of a borough total of 16 parishes and towns), especially when that parish represents by area and population about 2% of the borough total.

[TWBC: see also comments DLP_81 to 93].

DLP_1737

Peter Hay

It is a FACT that Hawkhurst has a Neighbourhood Development Plan which has been “made” and it is therefore a requirement that TWBC takes this into account when developing the Local Plan. Clearly when reading the Local Plan it is obvious that TWBC have ignored the NDP for Hawkhurst.

DLP_2962

Michael Alder

1.35:- Hawkhurst has commissioned and submitted a Neighbourhood Development Plan which has been MADE which gives a requirement to TWBC the responsibility to take this into account when developing the Local Plan. It is obvious from the text of the Local Plan that the Hawkhurst NDP has been ignored.

DLP_3160

Kent County Council (Growth, Environment and Transport)

Provision and Delivery of County Council Community Services

The County Council considers that whilst neighbourhood level funding for park benches and planters is important - KCC considers that in some instances, critical infrastructure such as education facilities should take precedence.

DLP_3755

John Windeatt

Rather than repeat all the comments made by Keith Lagden on his Response Form, I would simply say that I agree with his comments and reiterate our total objection to this development and to the loss of the sporting facilities provided by the Golf Club (even though the facilities have been intentionally run down as the scheme has been developed)

DLP_3769

Mary Jefferies

Procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting. Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments as a narrative. The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35. The importance of producing and complying with neighbourhood plans (NDPs) is correctly described here. What is not explained is why, therefore, the Council has pointedly failed to recognise the existence of the 2019 NDP for Hawkhurst, duly prepared after local referendum and submitted in March 2019. A Council representative at the consultation meeting on 30th September was totally dismissive of the Hawkhurst NDP. For what reason? Also, why the Council’s plans (and, indeed, many of its recent planning decisions) so flagrantly fly in the face of the NDP. There is substantial local opposition to the proposal (which has already been the subject of an application for outline planning permission) to build over the Hawkhurst golf course. Local residents wish to preserve their village and their rural way of life.

DLP_3859
DLP_3884
DLP_3903
DLP_3936
DLP_3952
DLP_3979
DLP_4064
DLP_4613

Geraldine Harrington
E Leggett
N T Harrington
Rob Crouch
Geraldine Harrington
B Draper
Nicki Poland
Diana Robson

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

Procedure for submitting comments on the Draft Local Plan.

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting. Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments as a narrative. The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35. The importance of producing and complying with neighbourhood plans (NDPs) is correctly described here. What is not explained is why, therefore, the Council has pointedly failed to recognise the existence of the 2019 NDP for Hawkhurst, duly prepared after local referendum and submitted in March 2019. And why the Council’s plans (and, indeed, many of its recent planning decisions) so flagrantly fly in the face of the NDP. There is substantial local opposition to the proposal (which has already been the subject of an application for outline planning permission) to build over the Hawkhurst golf course. It would be profoundly oppressive and undemocratic for the Council to ride roughshod over the clearly stated wish of the majority of local residents and the Hawkhurst Parish Council, to preserve their village and their rural way of life.

DLP_4228

East Sussex County Council

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Draft Local Plan. The following are officer comments from East Sussex County Council.

Duty to Cooperate

We welcome the continued engagement between our two authorities particularly on transport matters. We are happy to be involved in the transport assessment work for the Local Plan regarding the A21 junctions.

As previously raised as part of the Infrastructure Delivery Plan consultation we will be considering a potential future Major Roads Network study/bid for the A26 in East Sussex.

The study will need to take account of proposed development within Tunbridge Wells Borough as well as proposed development within East Sussex, with potentially looking at a holistic cross-boundary approach for bidding for Major Road Network funding, as there may be infrastructure requirements on both sides of the county boundary. We therefore want to reiterate our wish to work with both Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Kent County Council on any future study/bid.

DLP_4231

Rother District Council

There has been positive, active engagement between the two councils on strategic cross boundary issues, such as in relation to international wildlife sites, housing provision and related major infrastructure, notably transport, and conservation of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), together with a high degree of consistency between the “Development Management” policies.

DLP_5818
DLP_5844
DLP_6173
DLP_6577
DLP_6754
DLP_7025
DLP_7417
DLP_7433
DLP_7452
DLP_7474
DLP_7586

Charles Vernede
Mrs Sarah Vernede
May Corfield
Vivien Halley
Linda Beverley
Sally Hookham
Simon Parrish
Catherine Baker
Patrick Thomson
Sally Thomson
Victoria Dare

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

1.35.  The importance of producing and complying with neighbourhood plans (NDPs) is correctly described here. What is not explained is why, therefore, the Council has pointedly failed to recognise the existence of the 2019 NDP for Hawkhurst, duly prepared after local referendum and submitted in March 2019. And why the Council’s plans (and, indeed, many of its recent planning decisions) so flagrantly fly in the face of the NDP. There is substantial local opposition to the proposal (which has already been the subject of an application for outline planning permission) to build over the Hawkhurst golf course. It would be profoundly oppressive and undemocratic for the Council to ride roughshod over the clearly stated wish of local residents to preserve their village and their rural way of life.

DLP_5946

Mr Andrew Constable

We have looked at the draft local plan and attended the presentation at the Royal British legion in Hawkhurst.   As residents of Hawkhurst for over 20 years we feel extremely concerned that the extent of proposed development in the village is completely disproportionate to the size of the village and its facilities and infrastructure.

The plan appears to show that a similar number of dwellings are proposed around Tunbridge Wells as there are in Hawkhurst – that fact alone speaks volumes for the inappropriateness of the development now proposed in the small village of Hawkhurst.

The draft plan process.

Firstly, we are very surprised at the lack of actual “planning” that has gone into the selection of sites for development.  The sites in the “plan” are all included simply because their owners have responded to the “call for sites” and want to embark on some property development to make a profit.  It seems to us that TWBC have taken the easy option here by simply including sites that are put forward rather than devising a plan based on what would seem to be the real planning criteria such as: actual need in each location, available infrastructure, transport links, the road network, schools, doctors surgeries, employment and so on.   A TWBC officer at the Hawkhurst event confirmed that this was the approach taken.  It is not right.

[TWBC: See related comments DLP_5946_5949-5952]

DLP_6202

Marion Cranmer

1.29 The Draft Local Plan has been prepared in compliance with national policy. In particular, the NPPF states that, for a local plan to be considered sound, it must comply with the legal and procedural requirements of plan making and demonstrate that it is:

Effective- deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground;

The delivery of housing appears to be almost totally developer led, with very little consideration of the types/sizes/types of tenure truly needed.

The speed at which developers buy up land means that many critical areas are lost to other, better uses. The build out rates are mostly at a rate that means that land is spoilt, even if the properties then take a very long time to sell, or do not sell at all. Circumstances may change radically in the near future, so land needs to be protected, not lost forever.

1.34 The Localism Act (2011) introduced neighbourhood planning as a way of passing decision making to a more local level. This allows communities the option of producing their own neighbourhood plans. A neighbourhood plan is a document produced by the community, for the community, to shape and guide its future development. It may contain a vision, aims, policies, and proposals to provide new development or improve existing facilities, and it may also allocate sites for specific development. Such plans need to be developed through cooperative working and extensive community engagement, and be in general conformity with the strategic policies set out in the Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan, as well as national policy. The Draft Local Plan provides the framework for those local communities preparing a neighbourhood plan.

The experiences of residents in Cranbrook and Sissinghurst parish who have tried to engage through the NDP process have certainly not upheld the feeling that TWBC engage in, or even support the NDP process.

DLP_6454

L Noakes

The Consultation itself.

Whilst I appreciate that the preparation of the Draft Local Plan has been a far from simple exercise, I do not feel that the consultation to the Draft plan has been adequately carried out. The documentation is extensive and does not lend itself easily to the general public  and whilst copies have been made available  in some public  places and on line, the extensiveness of the documents and their complex nature means that making an informed comment on the plan is out of reach of the majority of everyday people as they will not have had the time nor the inclination to read the vast quantity of supplementary documents. Those without access to a computer or online documents will be very unlikely to have read more than what was provided in ‘The Local’ magazine provide by TWBC. The public exhibitions did not adequately fill the gap and explain fully access the core policies etc to the general public as the information was not detailed enough to give a full picture.

In addition to this, the on line consultation process has proven difficult and unwieldy, as well as time consuming, hence this response is sent in a letter format.

I really hope that TWBC will take into consideration the comments I have provided above and that we will see a change in the way they approach tackling this problem for the Borough.

DLP_6666

Gladman

3 LEGAL COMPLIANCE

3.1 Duty to Cooperate

3.1.1 The Duty to Cooperate (DTC) is a legal requirement established through Section 33(A) of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004, as amended by Section 110 of the Localism Act. The DTC requires local planning authorities to engage constructively, actively, and on an ongoing basis with neighbouring authorities on cross-boundary strategic issues through the process of ongoing engagement and collaboration.

3.1.2 As confirmed in Section 2 of this representation, the NPPF 2019 has introduced a number of significant changes for how local planning authorities are expected to cooperate, including a new requirement for the preparation of Statement(s) of Common Ground (SoCG) which demonstrate that a Local Plan has been prepared based on effective cooperation with agreements reached with neighbouring authorities on strategic level cross boundary issues.

3.1.3 The Council will be aware of the recent experience of its neighbour, Sevenoaks District Council and the examination of its emerging Local Plan where the Inspector concluded that the DTC undertaken during the preparation of their Local Plan has been insufficient. This conclusion has meant, that despite the best efforts of the Council in other areas of its plan making, future progress with the Local Plan in its current form is now subject to significant uncertainty and a likely lengthy delay.

3.1.4 The findings of the Inspector at Sevenoaks reflect the changing tests of the 2019 NPPF in comparison to the 2012 NPPF in relation to DTC and underlines the need for constant and proactive engagement between neighbouring authorities and key stakeholders at each step of the plan making process to inform strategic decision and satisfy legal requirements and meet tests of soundness in relation to DTC.

3.1.5 To illustrate actions taken in relation to the DTC to date, the Council has prepared an interim Duty to Cooperate Statement. Inclusive within this are a number of Statements of Common Ground prepared between the Council, its neighbouring authorities, and statutory bodies.

3.1.6 It is recognised by Gladman that DTC in relation to the Local Plan is an evolving process and as such the Interim Duty to Cooperate Statement does not represent the final position. To fully discharge its legal requirements, the Council will need to continue to meet with neighbours and statutory bodies throughout the remaining plan preparation period and beyond, with associated SoCG prepared to date updated in response to the evolving discussion. Most importantly for the Council in the preparation of its Local Plan, noting the recent conclusions of the Sevenoaks Inspector [1 1 See Letter Dated 28th October 2019.], is the need for engagement with its neighbours to formulate a strategy now as to how cross-boundary needs are to be dealt with effectively rather than deferring this to a later plan review.

3.2 Sustainability Appraisal

3.2.1 In accordance with Section 19 of the 2004 Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act, policies that are set out in local plans must be the subject of a Sustainability Appraisal. Incorporating the requirements of the Environmental Assessments of Plans and Programmes Regulations 2004, the SA is a systematic process that should be undertaken at each stage of a plan’s preparation; assessing the effects of a local plans proposals on sustainable development objectives when judged against reasonable alternatives.

3.2.2 The Council should ensure that the results of the SA process conducted through the preparation of the Local Plan clearly justify policy choices made, including proposed site allocations (or decisions not to allocate sites) when considered against reasonable alternatives. In meeting the development needs of the area, it should be clear from the results of the assessment why some policy options have been progressed and others have been rejected.

3.2.3 The SA must demonstrate that a comprehensive testing of options has been undertaken and that it provides evidence and reasoning as to why any reasonable alternatives identified have not been pursued. A failure to adequately give reasons in the SA could lead to a challenge of the Council’s position through the examination process. The SA should inform plan making. Whilst exercising planning judgement on the results of the SA in the Local Plan is expected, the SA should still clearly assess any reasonable alternatives and clearly articulate the results of any such assessment.

[TWBC: the above comments on the Sustainability Appraisal have been entered as a response to the SA consultation. See Comment Number SA_114].

4.1 Plan Period

4.1.1 It is noted that the proposed plan period for the Local Plan runs from 2016 to 2036. The indicative timescale for the remaining stages of plan preparation to adoption as outlined in Figure 1 of the Local Plan show that the Council assume adoption in December 2021. The achievement of this timescale would provide for a plan period which is marginally less than 15-years post adoption contrary to Paragraph 22 of the 2019 NPPF.

4.1.2 Gladman consider that Figure 1 of the Draft Local Plan represents a best-case scenario for the adoption of the Local Plan in Tunbridge Wells, and it is likely this timescale will slip. It is noted that this timescale has already slipped from that outlined at Issues and Options, with plan preparation already falling 1-year behind the timeframe originally anticipated.

4.1.3 Evolving external factors beyond the control of the Council mean that it is likely the Local Plan will be subject to further delay. It is anticipated that the methodology for assessing housing need will be subject to review in 2020, with this completed ahead of the publication of the 2018-based household projections in September 2020. This will need to be reviewed by the Council in due course considering the role and weight both hold in national planning policy for defining housing need and implications this could have on the wider spatial strategy.

4.1.4 Gladman consider that it would be prudent for the Council to build flexibility into its timescales now and accept the potential for a delay over the next 12 months. Gladman consider that at least an additional year should be added to the plan period to account for this, with development requirements and supply increased proportionately. The plan period should therefore end, at the very least, in 2037.

[TWBC: see full representation].

[TWBC: see also Comment Nos. DLP_6656-6695]

DLP_6844

Barton Willmore for Crest Nicholson

3.0 DUTY TO COOPERATE

3.1 Section 11 of the Localism Act 2011 introduced a requirement for Planning Authorities to cooperate with neighbouring LPAs on cross boundary issues. The Draft Local Plan is accompanied by an “interim Duty to Cooperate Statement” which sets out way in which TWBC has sought to meets its obligations under s.110 of the Localism Act 2011.

3.2 The NPPF requires that strategic policy making authorities collaborate to identify the strategic matters to be addressed through their plans and requires that LPAs engage in effective and on-going joint working between strategic policy making authorities and relevant bodies. In order to demonstrate that “the Duty” has been met, the NPPF (para 27) suggests that LPAs prepare and maintain DtC Statements with relevant bodies.

3.3 Tunbridge Wells shares a boundary with six other Local Authorities with which it has a DtC on strategic issues:

* Ashford Borough Council;

* Maidstone Borough Council;

* Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC);

* Sevenoaks District Council;

* Wealden District Council;

* Rother District Council.

3.4 We note that a SoCG has been signed with Maidstone Borough Council, Ashdown Forest Working Group and Sevenoaks District Council, and that discussions with the remaining neighbouring authorities are ongoing. The ‘West Kent Housing Market Area’ extends across Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Crowborough, Hawkhurst and Heathfield. The ‘best fit’ association is Sevenoaks as a borough, with the south and west of Tonbridge and Malling also falling within the same housing market areas as Tunbridge Wells.

3.5 Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks District Council produced a Statement of Common Ground in May 2019. This acknowledges that SDC has a significant housing land shortfall but confirms that TWBC is unable to assist SDC in meeting its unmet housing need.

3.6 The SDC Examination commenced in September 2019 but was recently halted after Hearing statements and sessions highlighted a number of unresolved issues which the Inspector felt could not be addressed in the original Examination timeframe. The headline concern was the lack of constructive engagement by SDC with neighbouring authorities to resolve unmet housing need, but additional issues were raised by the Inspector in relation to the Sustainability Appraisal; the chosen Strategy for Growth; the assessment of the Green Belt; and housing.

3.7 Whilst this does not necessarily place an additional burden on Tunbridge Wells to meet housing need, the Sevenoaks Local Plan Inspector has noted [2 28 October 2019, ED40] that the outcome of that Examination will have an impact on neighbouring Borough’s Local Plans.

3.8 We are also aware that TMBC has written to Tunbridge Wells highlighting its concerns that the scale of development in settlements close to Tonbridge, and that it has reservations about the impact that this would have on infrastructure and services in nearby settlements in its Borough.

3.9 We expect that in order to fulfil their Duty to Cooperate, TWBC will continue to engage with neighbouring authorities to address matters arising from the Sevenoaks Local Plan examination, Draft Local Plan allocations near TMBC, and any other matters that arise during the plan making process.

[[TWBC: see full representation and supporting documents Appendix 1, Appendix 2 Part 1 , Appendix 2 Part 2 and Appendix 3]. See also Comment Numbers DLP_6836, 6844, 6847, 6843, 6855, 6859, 6860, 6863, 6865, 6866, 6869-6870, 6872, 6877, 6883, 6890, 6897, 6909-6911, 6926, 6928, 6931, 6933-6937].

DLP_7201

Mr Michael Armitage

Hawkhurst already has an NDP, therefore TWBC should comply with this.

DLP_7243

Mr John Telling

This is an extremely convoluted and complex document for the 'man/woman in the street' who is not familiar with planning jargon, and with limited access to technology, to respond to, particularly as this consultation has coincided with the main Tunbridge Wells library being closed for computer access.

DLP_7267

Mrs Katie Lee-Amies

1. I disagree. The evidence base does not support a development allocation in Tudeley and therefore it does not support the Draft Local Plan.

  • The 2017 Issues and Options document does not explore or mention Tudeley, although Five Oak Green is identified in group B of the Settlement Hierarchy table. It states that in villages that do not have a defined LBD (like Tudeley), new development is subject to general policies of constraint and is normally only allowed in exceptional circumstances. This document does not support the location of a new settlement in Tudeley.
  • The 2017/2018 Landscape Capacity and Sensitivity studies (LUC) are intended to inform the Local Plan assisting TWBC to identify potential development areas or sites for allocation. The selected study area does not include Tudeley or any of site CA1, presumably because the area is not an appropriate site to even consider for development. The nearest area considered in the study is sub-area PW10 which is noted as having ‘high’ sensitivity to medium and large scale development. There is no evidence in this document to suggest that the proposed settlement site in Tudeley has been assessed and is justified.
  • Site CA1 falls within LCA 13 of the 2017 Landscape Character Assessment study (LUC). The Landscape Strategy does not support the potential for the site to be developed for a new ‘stand alone’ settlement. The proposed Tudeley Garden Village is adjacent to the AONB and lies predominantly in High Weald National Character Area 9 yet the Landscape Strategy states:

The Local Character Area should be considered in the context of the High Weald AONB, particularly the role the character area plays in the setting of the AONB. The valued features and qualities of the landscape should be conserved and enhanced.”

Also, the low and open nature of site CA1 means a large settlement would be widely visible from the extensive network of PROWs within the site, within the adjoining AONB, along the valley floor and from the rising land to the north. There are also long distance panoramic views of the site from Hartlake Road, along the B2017, and from higher ground to the north and south . Mitigation measures cannot screen a 600 acre development. The proposed allocation of such a development undermines the Landscape Strategy:

“Consider the vulnerability of this open lowland landscape to built development which is likely to be very visible in views.”

  • The proposed location of Tudeley Garden Village contradicts the findings of the LUC Green Belt Study - Stage 2 (2017). It establishes that site CA1 spans part of parcel BA3 and BA4 and the release of Green Belt for development would result in the highest level of harm (“very high”) when assessed against the four main Green Belt purposes. This casts considerable doubt on the suitability of option 5 strategic growth in Tudeley when there are demonstrably less sensitive sites in TWB outside of the AONB and Green Belt. There is no justification of “exceptional circumstances” to remove site CA1 from Green Belt; this should be part of the strategic site allocation process not an afterthought.
  • The Settlement Role and Function Study (2017) does not mention Tudeley or Capel and site CA1 is not assessed.
  • The interim SHELAA (2017) states,

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 Local Plan (Reg 18 Consultation), as there is insufficient time to adequately assess such sites.

Site CA1 was not submitted in the call for Sites 2016 and not assessed in the Interim SHELAA. TWBC need to explain their justification for including the Hadlow Estate sites earmarked for Tudeley Garden Village in the Reg 18 Draft Local Plan and demonstrate adequate assessment.

  • The SHELAA (2019) includes sites submitted up to February 2019. The date Hadlow Estates submitted hundreds of hectares of additional sites (446 in particular) in the parish of Capel would help to explain TWBC’s deviation from the evidence base up to 2018.
  • The SHELAA (2019) overview in the Distribution of Development Topic Paper (2019) is inconsistent and the site selection process is not objective. The conclusions state that site 144 in Horsmonden “is considered unsuitable as a potential site allocation.” The same can be said of Tudeley (SHELAA site 448). In addition, it states that Horsmonden “would be a very large scale strategic allocation that would be disproportionate to the size of the settlement, with concern about landscape and heritage.” This is more relevant to the small hamlet of Tudeley, yet the same comment is not made. Horsmonden would have “Severe access difficulties that would render this alternative unviable and thus not a reasonable alternative” However, the lack of road infrastructure on any of the plans emphasises that access to Tudeley Garden Village will be equally difficult and almost certainly harm Green Belt and the AONB and its setting, but this is omitted. The conclusions fail to note that Horsmonden is outside of the Green Belt and the AONB and there is no recognition of the Grade 2 and 3 agricultural land in Tudeley or the visibility/openness of and topography of the areas. The overview presented is incomplete, unbalanced and inadequate.
  • A New Settlement Feasibility Study to identify any final decisions made in respect of a new settlement in the TWB was due to be published in March 2018. This is an extremely important piece of evidence, but it does not exist. Currently, there is no document to demonstrate that alternative Garden Village sites were identified, assessed, shortlisted and appraised to justify a strategic site allocation in Tudeley. There is a lack of information explaining the selection process and there are areas of similar character, outside the Green Belt and AONB that would meet the same criteria.
  • The Reg 18 Draft Local Plan does not include an infrastructure plan illustrating the necessary new roads and strategic transport links for a stand-alone settlement in Tudeley. The existing roads are inadequate to cope with increased traffic and the buses are infrequent. Further harm to the rural landscape character, AONB, Green Belt, views, flooding, biodiversity and the built environment is inevitable as well as increasing noise and air pollution. New roads, bus routes and cycle paths should be key factors in assessing the suitability of a strategic site allocation for a new settlement and the impact and sustainability of large scale plans. This is a serious omission by TWBC and a plan with two indicative arrows representing transport links is inadequate to justify site CA1. The NPPF, para 102, is clear that,

“Transport issues should be considered from the earliest stages of plan-making and development proposals, so that:

1. a) the potential impacts of development on transport networks can be addressed;”

Section 1, para 1.29

1. It appears the overriding reason for taking the Tudeley area forward to a proposed strategic site allocation is the convenience of a single landowner. This strategy is contrary to para 35 of the NPPF which requires that for a Local Plan to be sound it must be justified, based on “proportionate evidence”.

2. I note TWBC have taken a proactive approach to encourage development sites to be submitted by contacting the owners of land around settlements to submit more land. I can find no evidence that TWBC employed the same proactive approach to increase the number of Brownfield sites on their register by contacting and encouraging owners to submit sites if they wished to. This is an unbalanced and inconsistent approach.

Section 1, para 1.30 - 1.33

1. TWBC have not used ”up to date evidence” with regard to housing needs. The level of housing growth is based on 2014 statistics figures (in fact, it is 9% above 2014 figures) and not the latest 2016 figures which would result in a significant reduction in objectively assessed need.

2. As noted above, there are serious omissions in the evidence base to support a stand-alone settlement in Tudeley.

3. The site allocation for a new settlement in Tudeley places low priority on the environment which conflicts with the NPPF and TWBC’s supporting documents. The NPPF states “to promote sustainable development in rural areas, housing should be located where it will enhance or maintain the vitality of rural communities.”. Tudeley Garden Village will not enhance the existing small rural community of Tudeley. It will become a car dependent conurbation of Tonbridge creating unsustainable travel patterns.

Section 1, para 1.39

1. I question whether TWBC have “actively engaged” with neighbouring councils. In July 2019, TMBC advised that they were unaware of an identified site for a proposed new settlement prior to the pre-Draft Local Plan. TWBC should have been actively engaged with TMBC when feasibility studies were carried out for potential settlement sites – assuming they were carried out. There is no evidence base to support this work.

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Campaign to Protect Hawkhurst Village

This section suggests that the Council has been “actively engaging” with neighbouring authorities on a number of cross border issues.

However, from an analysis of the remainder of the Draft Local Plan (DLP), Sustainability Appraisal and associated evidence base, nowhere is there any indication that discussions have been had regarding the impact of the Council’s growth strategy on the Flimwell junction.  There is one cursory mention of this junction in the Hawkhurst strategic policy.

Whilst this junction is outside the Council’s administrative area, the proposed level of growth in the east of the Borough in particular will have a dramatic impact on this junction and the A21 (as part of the strategic road network) – this is evidenced in the Transport Assessment submitted with Planning Application for the Hawkhurst Golf Course which predicts significant worsening of the current congestion even after a proposed scheme of mitigation.

This impact is not assessed in the Transport Evidence Base. The only publicly available information before the Council (the Golf Course Transport Assessment) illustrates the proposed growth will have a hugely detrimental impact on this part of the Strategic Road Network contrary to numerous policies in the NPPF.  There is no evidence that this impact has been taken into account in the preparation of the DLP.

On this basis the policies within the DLP have not been justified (for the purpose of paragraph 35 of the NPPF and the whole growth strategy for the east of the Borough in particular is not “sound”.

For the same reason the Sustainability Appraisal (SA) has not been properly prepared.

Paragraph 1.45 explains that the purpose of the SA is to evaluate the social economic and environmental impacts of policies and strategies, to determine the extent to which they are in agreement with sustainable development objectives.

However, the SA makes various assertions regarding the travel impacts of the allocated sites – which has a direct impact on the conclusions relating to air quality, noise and climate change.

None of the evidence base documents referred to in the methodology section of the SA contain any analysis of the impacts of the growth strategy on traffic at Flimwell, the Hawkhurst crossroads and/or the efficacy of the proposed relief road.

The SA (and therefore the DLP) make the assumption that the relief road will be effective in reducing traffic at the village crossroads.  This assumption is entirely unsubstantiated in the supporting evidence base.

Again, this illustrates that the proposed Hawkhurst allocations (and therefore the overall Growth Strategy) has not been based on “proportionate evidence” and are therefore not justified or sound for the purpose of paragraph 35 of the NPPF.

The response to this fundamental failure is not to retrofit a justification at a later stage of the plan process.

Instead the Council should pause and genuinely reflect on whether the proposed strategy is sound, based on a proper and thorough evidential assessment

Finally, this paragraph notes that the recommendations of the Sustainability Appraisal have at each stage informed the production of the LP.  It is important to note that the interim SA recommended Growth Option 5 coupled with a growth corridor approach Growth Option 4.  The Council has chosen not to follow this previous recommendation.

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Catherine Baker

I simply do not understand how TWBC can choose to completely ignore the supposed planning process.  There is absolutely no point in having a 'process' when we appear to live in a dictatorship.  The NDP for Hawkhurst was clearly a complete waste of time. Why bother with NDPs if they have no influence at all? They should forthwith be abolished. All over the country they are simply wasting people's time and taxpayers' money. There is NO justification for this.

Now I see the Hawkhurst Golf Club development appears to be a foregone conclusion.  Various Hawkhurst residents were advised (via 'golfing' sources close to TWBC's planning department) that this development was a done deal but I simply cannot understand how it can be.   We are supposed to have a planning process.  It appears the greed of a very few who have contacts at TWBC can completely blight the lives of so many. We see this happening over and over again.  How can this be in this country today? The whole proposal re the golf club - unless it involves large scale new roads, new schools, new healthcare and employment opportunities, an overhaul of the A21, the removal of large supermarkets from village centres, and a complete overhaul of the rail network to London  - is simply ludicrous.  This may temporarily solve TWBC's housing allocation problems BUT it has far reaching consequences for all and just shifts and exacerbates problems elsewhere.  I simply cannot understand how this is permissible.

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Keith Peirce
Andrew Hues
Jan Pike

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

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting.  I certainly have and just hope this gets through so it can be taken note of!  Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments in their own words.  The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35   I would draw your attention to the FACT that Hawkhurst has a Neighbourhood Development Plan which has been “made” and it is therefore a requirement that TWBC takes this into account when developing the Local Plan.  Clearly when reading the Local Plan it is obvious that TWBC have ignored the NDP for Hawkhurst.

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Andrew Chandler

The draft NDP for Cranbrook and Sissinghurst is not as advanced as it should be, but this is because TWBC planning department has repeatedly frustrated and delayed attempts to progress with proposals. You should give considerable weight to the 3 years’ work and consultation that have been carried out.

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Penny Ansell

1.35, 4.35 and 4.36 I would draw your attention to the FACT that Hawkhurst has a Neighbourhood Development Plan which has been “made” and it is, therefore, a requirement that TWBC takes this into account when developing the Local Plan. Clearly when reading the Local Plan it is obvious that TWBC have ignored the NDP for Hawkhurst.This was produced at great expense earlier in the year and approved by popular vote. I would also draw your attention to the point made in 1.36 regarding the need to ‘ensure local development issues, needs and aspirations are understood by officers’ (of the Council) and to Strategic Objective 10 “to work with neighbourhood plan groups to ensure the formation of locally-led policies with this reflected in decisions on planning applications”

The recent experience in Hawkhurst is that TWBC takes very little notice of the views and concerns of the Parish Council and the Council’s claim (4.36) that there is a level of agreement with Parish Councils on development sites is, I believe, false. Hawkhurst Parish Council in no way supports the development proposed in the Draft Local Plan.

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Pam Wileman

TWBC: Comment was submitted on 19/11/19 after close of consultation (on 15/11/19).

The Council has made it very difficult to comment on the Draft Local Plan by requiring the completion of a complex form, on or off-line, which people not used to working on Word documents or completing online forms would find very off-putting.  I certainly have and just hope this gets through so it can be taken note of!  Nowhere does the Council encourage people simply to send in their comments in their own words.  The result will, inevitably, be that many people will not submit comments on the Draft Local Plan because they find it too difficult to do so and that the Council will draw misleading conclusions from an artificially low response rate.

1.35   I would draw your attention to the FACT that Hawkhurst has a Neighbourhood Development Plan which has been “made” and it is therefore a requirement that TWBC takes this into account when developing the Local Plan.  Clearly when reading the Local Plan it is obvious that TWBC have ignored the NDP for Hawkhurst.