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Section 5: Place Shaping Policies Benenden


This response report contains comments received on Section 5: Place Shaping Policies – Benenden section.

Contents

General comments

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_2649

Benenden Parish Council

Benenden - Overview

Benenden Parish Council would ask that the following comments are considered:

Population approx 2,400 - please amend to approx 1,800 - this number excludes Benenden School pupils, who are not permanent residents in the Parish.

Education facilities - there is no pre-school/nursery at East End

Retail - Iden Green - amend to "public house" i.e delete the words 'none' and 'located nearby'. East End - small Cafe at Hospital (not shop)

Policy STR/BE1 - penultimate paragraph beginning "Any major development......" - We acknowledge this is a generic policy for all areas. We would, however, highlight that any windfall of over 4 dwellings would be prohibited by the emerging Benenden Neighbourhood Development Plan (BNDP) windfall policy HS7.

Land at Walkhurst Road - 5.104 - we are not aware of a Tree Preservation Order on this site

Policy AL/BE 1 - Para a. "suitably designed crossing point" - we suggest that this is restricted to dropped kerbs and tactile paving inset at the crossing point.

Policy AL/BE 2:

Uphill - Para 5. - we suggest that the acronym "BAP" is included in the glossary for ease of reference (Biodiversity Action Plan)

Uphill - Para 8 - inclusion of any such comment implies that the land to the north of "Uphill" is earmarked for future development. The BNDP does not provide for this in the Regulation 14 Edition Draft,  therefore Benenden Parish Council (BPC) considers this reference should be excluded.

This policy AL/BE 2 should include reference to DLP policies EN15 Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees; EN20 Rural Landscape; EN21 High Weald AONB; and EN10 Outdoor Lighting.

Policy AL/BE 3 - this policy should include reference to DLP policies EN15 Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees; EN10 Outdoor Lighting.

Map 74 Policy AL/BE 4 - This site map is misleading - the definition of sites allocated for residential development needs clarification, and should be in accordance with the BNDP. Nevertheless, we agree with the overall masterplan approach.

Policy AL/BE 4 - This policy should include references to DLP policies EN15 Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees, EN20 Rural Landscape; EN10 Outdoor Lighting; DLP policies para 6.226; EN21 High Weald AONB

Policy STR/BE 1: The Strategy for Benenden Parish

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_7882

Willcox & Ingham Architects Ltd for Charlotte and Helen Mortimer

The allocated site, Uphills in New Pond Road is of insufficient size to deliver the allocated 18-20 dwellings in a manner which would be in accordance with the policies set out in the plan.

The entire frontage to New Pond Road is also within 90m of the adjacent road junction to Horton Close, so would not meet KCC highways design requirements for adjacent road junctions. The allocated site would only be viable if it were extended to incorporate my client’s site to the north.

A detailed explanation and evidence for why this policy, AL/BE2 is not deliverable in its current form is provided in the attached short report. which includes the details of the site which my client wishes to be incorporated into the housing allocation policy.

Tunbridge Wells Local Plan. Regulation 18 Consultation.

Commentary and Response on behalf of Charlotte and Helen Mortimer, residents, New Pond Road Benenden.

Prepared November 2019 by Martin Ingham,

Willcox & Ingham Architects limited.

Of the 119-129 dwellings allocated onIy 40-45 appear to be sited within Benenden village, with most located away from the centre around the hospital. While this helps protect the existing village character, it does mean that the 2 allocated sites BE1 & BE2 are the only sites providing new dwellings within the village boundary. This puts greater pressure on these 2 sites not onIy to deliver the full allocation of dwellings. but also to do so in a manner which is not damaging to the character of the existing settlement.

STR1 does make allowance for windfall sites, but not on greenfield sites outside the settlement boundary. While this protects the character of the surrounding rural area, it severely restricts any prospect of additional housing by windfall development.

The LBD is drawn so tight to the houses that it excludes all the houses west of New Pond Road, as well as many gardens, which restricts any windfall sites within the settlement boundary. The LBD should reflect the actual settlement boundary, not a theoretical ideal. Where development is continous with the original settlement it should be considered to be part of the LBD. In addition, as gardens can't be extended into outlying rural areas, H17, then those established gardens should be recognised as part of the settlement and in the LBD.

Given the policies protecting Green field sites from development. there is in reality no prospect of any development larger than 00 dwellings on greenfield windfall sites, making additional employment space provision unlikely.

Policy AL/BE 1

This site has an allocation of 22-25 dwellings.

The site a rea is 1.46 Ha giving a density of 7 houses/Ha. This is reasonable for the area. although currently higher than the Benenden average of 10 dwellings per Ha. It is noted that the allocated site is currently considered Greenfield, but presumably the extant permission makes development of the larger site acceptable.

Policy AL/BE 2

  • This site has an allocation of 18-20 dwellings.
  • The site area is 0.78Ha.
  • This gives a target density of 25 houses/Ha.
  • The density of the adjacent site is 17dph.
  • The average density of Benenden is 10dph
  • The existing site includes one dwelling which needs to be kept or added to the allocation to achieve the targeted net increase in dwellings.
  • 50% of the site has mature trees and hedgerows which should be protected and kept under proposed policies.
  • The site is not viable in isolation, due to the proximity of the Hortons Close junction.

The site already includes a single dwelling which would presumably be lost for the development of the site. The allocation does not make clear whether this is taken into account and the figures are net. If the existing house is to be retained then the space for new development is effectively halved.

The site lies below the brow of a steep rise in New Pond Road, up to the cross roads. The hump of the road means that vision towards the oncoming traffic from the cross roads is obscured. making access dangerous, unless the point of access is moved north. away from the brow of the hill.

Much of the site is covered with trees and the access to New Pond Road will require the loss of frontage trees & hedgerow. Either these landscape features will be lost, or the density of development will have to reduce significantly.

The site area is too small for the allocated number of dwellings to be accommodated without a significant increase in density above that of surrounding sites and would inevitably have an adverse impact on the character of the a rea and, in particular the Conservation area

Any access onto the site. will severly restrict any future access onto the site to the north, prejudicing future development of this space. Kent Design technical manual 2.3.3.2 requires 90m spacing of junctions on the same side of a main road.

There is insufficient space in the site for the allocated houses, let alone any public open space provision, retained landscape features, or space for sustainable drainage.

The Land adjacent to New Pond Road Uphills site is too small in isolation and needs to be considered in conjunction with the site to the north, (which is already being considered for a future allocation) so the allocation site needs to be enlarged up to the edge of the ancient woodland to the north.

Site LSI6 Uphill, New Pond Road, Benenden

While the principle of allocating this site for housing is supported, the developable area of the site is considered to be too small for the number of dwellings in the allocation to be delivered, if the density is to remain in keeping with the adjacent settlement areas. If the allocation is to be delivered without damage to the local character, then a larger site is required.

The annotated Google maps views on the following pages show the issues and concerns about the allocation and site and recommend a further extension of the site to incorporate the field to the north.

We propose that the land adjacent to Uphill, which is outlined by the red edging on the attached plan, be included within the scope of the Local Plan in order to help contribute towards the development for the parish. This piece of land will help to improve the suitability of Uphill, for the reasons listed in the representation, for development to help to ensure that the target housing for this area is met with greater ease later in the process.

The land was originally submitted in the call for sites in 2018 but, because it was linked to another larger site, number 158, it was not selected. The site was considered suitable and available and the assessment recognised that this site could be separated from the larger site to the east. The report states “Should the Parish decide to pursue a policy of smaller scattered sites, it might be advantageous to consider developing only the smaller, western part of the site nearest New Pond Road.”

The site owners now wish to promote the site for housing allocation in conjunction with the Uphill site, to ensure that the objectives of the plan are deliverable and see the site as a natural extension of the existing village.

The owner is currently meeting with Parish Council representatives as part of the Neighbourhood Plan consultation to include their site within the site allocations for the village.

[TWBC: for full representation, including images, aerial views and site location plan, see attached].

DLP_458

Evolution Town Planning for Hams Travel

Please find attached our representations on behalf of Hams Travel in relation to the Local Plan policy and allocations around Benenden.  As part of these representations, we are promoting an excellent Brownfield Site, which has only just been confirmed as available for redevelopment.

Unlike many of the sites proposed to be allocated, this is a brownfield site and we consider that it has the potential to support local facilities within Benenden.  The site hasn’t previously been put forward in the Call for Sites, because it is only recently that the business’s plans to enlarge their other yard (in Flimwell) and relocate the Benenden part of the business to that site have been put forward as a planning application (currently live).  That application is progressing well (certainly in relation to the yard expansion at Flimwell and proposals to relocate the Benenden operations to Flimwell).  On this basis, we are confident that the Benenden site will be available for development in the near future.  It offers an excellent opportunity to delivery housing on a brownfield site and provide visual improvements to the ANOB.   We would be grateful if the Policy Team would now consider the benefits of this site, in addition to (or in preference of) some of those allocated.   We would welcome opportunity to discuss this site with you.    We are happy to submit a Call for Sites form if you would include it in that process as well?   In addition, it could be added to the Brownfield register.

Hams Coach Yard, Benenden 

Representations made on behalf of the Hams Travel

1.0 Introduction

1.1 These representations are submitted by Evolution Town Planning Ltd on behalf of our client and site owners, Hams Travel in response to consultation on the Draft Tunbridge Wells Local Plan Consultation (Regulation 18) 2019.

1.2 The representations relate to their site at Benenden, which has not previously been submitted in the ‘Call for Sites’ process (due to uncertainty about whether it would become available). However, as we will set out in this report, Hams Travel are now confident that this site can be released for development as it will shortly be surplus to requirements in the business. We consider that there are substantial benefits in developing this site over the other sites currently allocated and we therefore seek the allocation of this site in preference to, or in addition to, the other sites included around Benenden in the draft Local Plan. The extent of the site available is set out in Appendix 1.

1.3 These representations set out that we:

  • Support the Policy STR 1 (Development Strategy) and suggest that it should include greater flexibility to enable a wider range of windfall development outside of defined settlement boundaries.
  • Object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.
  • Object to policy AL/BE2 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE3 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE4 and suggest revisions.
  • Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard.

3.0 Representations: Objections Policy STR/BE1 and Allocations

3.1 We object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.

Objections and Revisions to the Allocations associated with policy STR/BE1

3.2 Having reviewed the strategy for site allocation in Benenden our main objection is a reliance on greenfield sites, when brownfield sites are available. We also object to the heavy reliance on one large site, which is extremely remote from the main village of Benenden. NPPF is clear that LPAs have a responsibility to make an effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities:

Planning policies and decisions should promote an effective use of land in meeting the need for homes and other uses, while safeguarding and improving the environment and ensuring safe and healthy living conditions. Strategic policies should set out a clear strategy for accommodating objectively assessed needs, in a way that makes as much use as possible of previously-developed or ‘brownfield’ land’ (paragraph 117).

3.3 The NPPF continues that LPAs should ‘give substantial weight to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements for homes and other identified needs, and support appropriate opportunities to remediate despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated or unstable land’ (paragraph 118).

3.4 We have assessed each of the allocations in and around Benenden and set out our comments and objections below:

AL/BE1 Land at Walkhurst Road – No Objection. This site already has planning permission and therefore has been proven to have no significant obstacles to development. We support the inclusion of this site.

AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site including arboricultural, ecological and possible archaeological constraints. We consider it to be a less suitable site for development than Hams Travel’s Coach Yard. Indeed, we question whether the rear part of the site with the most valuable trees and potential for archaeological interest is suitable for development at all. This should not be allocated in advance of brownfield opportunities, such as the Hams Travel site.

AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site and lies adjacent to ancient woodland and a Listed Building. It therefore has a number of constraints and should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, lacking any such constraints. We therefore do not consider that this site should be allocated in advance of the Hams Travel’s Coach Yard, which contains fewer constraints and is a brownfield opportunity.

AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection. Whilst we note this site has planning permission for 24 dwellings, further land for housing is now allocated. The allocation is the largest allocation listed as part of Benenden and yet the site is considerably remote from the settlement of Benenden and is not really part of Benenden at all. Moreover, since other brownfield sites are available in closer proximity to the settlement – such as the Hams Travel site, we do not consider it to be the most sustainable brownfield option available. It therefore should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, nearer to the settlement such as Hams Coach Yard.

3.5 We consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.6 We provide full details of this site’s opportunities for development at section 4 together with an explanation as to why this is being submitted for consideration after the Call for Sites.

3.7 In the meantime we consider that Policy STR/BE 1 (point 1) should be amended to include a 5th housing site in the Benenden area:

Approximately 119-129 129-139 new dwellings will be delivered on four five sites(*) allocated in this Local Plan in the plan period (Policies AL/BE 1-45). (*) Of these sites, the following already have planning permission: AL/BE 1 for 12 dwellings and AL/BE 4 for 22 (net increase) dwellings

3.8 The Hams Travel Coach Yard should provide this 5th housing allocation in the Benenden area, as set out in the following chapter.

3.9 We note that the proposed policy STR/BE 1 states that:

The Limits to Built Development (LBD) around Benenden are defined on the draft Policies Map. The LBD now includes the sites/part sites to be allocated in Benenden at Policies AL/BE 1-2, and 3 (part), but excludes Policy AL/BE 4 (there is no existing LBD at East End). As above, the LBD at Iden Green has been removed as this settlement has limited key facilities and bus services making it unsustainable in this context.’

3.10 If the Council agrees to include the Hams Travel Coach Yard within the allocations, the policy will need to be amended to include reference to Hams Travel’s yard as a 5th allocation, not necessarily within the Defined Settlement Boundary, but an allocation nonetheless.

Objections and Amendments to general policy provided by policy STR/BE1

3.11 In addition to the above general objections to the allocations made, we also object to parts of the remainder of the policy below. If the policy and allocations are not amended to include the Hams Travel site, we set out additional amendments, which we consider will assist in ensuring that the plan is both flexible and deliverable. Given the over reliance on housing delivery in and around Paddock Wood, we consider that these amendments will assist in protecting the plan against non-delivery in a housing market slow down (a major risk with a strategy dependent on large sites and a single housing market), by enabling the development of a wider range of brownfield sites around Benenden.

3.12 We object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Additional housing may be delivered through the redevelopment of appropriate sites and other windfall development in accordance with Policy STR 1’.

Our objection to Policy STR 1 is set out in the previous section. However we would be willing to support this clause of policy STR/BE1, if policy STR 1 is amended to support the allocation of Hams Travel’s Coach Yard and/or if clause (6) of that policy were amended to include support of ‘other suitable windfall developments including brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development;’ Likewise, our support of policy STR/BE1 cross referencing policy STR 1 is only given if clause 8 of that policy is amended to specifically state that there will be support for ‘minor’ applications within the AONB, particularly where these are ‘on brownfield sites where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB’.

3.13 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape;’

3.14 We consider that this clause would be improved if it were expanded to state that the redevelopment of brownfield sites will be considered to make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB, particularly where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements. We therefore suggest the following amendment:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape. The redevelopment of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively. Particularly where proposals will make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB and where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements;’

Summary

3.15 In response to policy STR/BE1, we have submitted that we do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection.

3.16 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.17 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 if it is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and we consider that the policy could be amended make this amendment, offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

3.18 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which could be improved by making clear that the development of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively.

4.0 Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard

4.1 Approximately 1.5km to the west of Benenden, along the B2086 between Benenden and Hartley, lies Hams Travel’s Benenden Coach Yard. Since the early 1990s this yard has provided an overflow facility for the main Hams Travel operation, accommodating their coachworks, workshop and some of the taller and longer vehicles used for international trips. As part of a reordering of the business, involving the expansion of the yard in Flimwell, Hams are due to consolidate operations on a single yard, making this site surplus to requirements.

4.2 Since it is largely brownfield, and NPPF state a preference for Brownfield development in making housing allocations, we propose this site here for inclusion in the next draft of the local plan. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible. The site has not been put forward previously, since there has been some uncertainty as to whether the Flimwell proposals will gain support. However, the yard extension proposals have gained the support of both Highways and the LPA, meaning that Hams Travel is now confident to put forward their Benenden site as a potential housing site in the Local Plan. Given that the LPA have allocated other sites which are not ‘brownfield’ we consider that these need to be reconsidered in light of the ‘substantial weight’ in favour of allocating Hams Travel’s previously developed site.

Site Description

4.3 The site is L shaped and roughly 1ha in size (the boundaries are defined at Appendix 1). The site comprises a substantial area of hard standing and a large workshop to the rear of the site, with an orchard area to the front of the site, transacted by the access road. The coach yard and workshop cover more than half of the site. The site benefits from good visibility splays in both directions and crashmap data reveals that there have been no recorded incidents associated with the access over the last 20 years.

4.4 The site has residential properties directly adjoining it to the south/east and the north. Immediately to the east is an agricultural field associated with Apple Pie Farm. To the west is a large lack, which forms the part of the large grounds at The Moat, a Grade II Listed property immediately to the west.

4.5 The site is within flood zone 1, with the lowest level of flood risk.

Designations

4.6 The site is in the High Weald AONB and a Parsonage Wood SSSI is approximately 500m away from the site. There are no RAMSAR Sites (proposed or existing), SPAs, SACs, Local or National Nature Reserves nearby.

4.7 As with much of Benenden, the site is within AONB. However, unlike other sites currently allocated in the Local Plan, the Hams Travel yard and workshop are brownfield sites which, by their redevelopment, offer the potential for substantial visual improvement and reduced visual impact on the AONB.

Planning History

4.8 Relevant planning history for the site reveals that Change of Use from agriculture to a coach yard with workshop and offices was first granted in 1988. Since then numbers of applications have been approved associated with the use of the site for a coach yard.

Development Potential

4.9 The road out of Benenden towards the Hams Travel yard is scattered with individual houses. The site is in no way an ‘isolated’ and development here would support the shops, school and other services within Benenden. We consider that this site has capacity to accommodate a minor development of around 9 homes, if development were restricted just to the brownfield part of the site and development were built at a density of 30 homes per hectare. If a lower density were sought, it is considered that there could be justification for building on some of the land between the hard-surfaced yard area and the road boundary. Either way, we consider that the site has capacity of around 9-10 homes.

4.10 The site is not known to be constrained by archaeology, being some distance from the likely route of the known roman road. The site is adjacent to a Listed Building, but since this benefits from substantial grounds and since the site is currently a coach yard, it is hoped that any proposals will improve the site’s relationship to the listed building.

4.11 In terms of ecological impacts, this would be assessed. However, we consider that development of the site could lead to ecological net gains as there is potential to strengthen and enhance the orchard, which is a ‘Priority Habitat’.

4.12 Since the site has been operating successfully as a coach yard for over 30 years, there are no anticipated highways concerns. If anything, developing the site would lead to highways benefits, by taking the coach traffic off the local highway network and relocating it over to Flimwell, where that site benefits from direct access onto the A21.

Summary

4.13 In view of the NPPF’s support for brownfield and the requirement that LPAs make effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities (paragraph 117), we consider that the LPA should consider allocated the Hams Travel site. It could make a valuable contribution to local housing supply and development in this location will support local facilities within Benenden. We consider that the site has potential for around 9-10 new homes on a relatively constraint free site. It is therefore preferable to some of the allocated sites and we consider that this site should be a preferred location for development.

5.0 Conclusions

5.1 On behalf of our client, Hams Travel, this report has provided a response to consultation on Draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan (Regulation 18) 2019.

5.2 These representations object to the strategic approach set out in policy STR1. We consider that policy STR1 ought to be amended to include less reliance on the new settlement and Paddock Wood sites and a greater proportion of smaller sites across the Borough. This policy could be amended to include reference to an allocation at our client’s yard. However, in addition we have also recommended amendments to the wording of the policy, to ensure that the plan is positively prepared and effective, allowing a greater flexibility than the policy currently allows. By relying on large developments around Paddock Wood for the majority of the Borough’s housing supply, we consider that in a downturn in the market, the large sites will be vulnerable to slowed delivery and this could risk the plan being found unsound.

5.3 We suggest by amending the policy to state that ‘suitable windfall developments’ could include brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and that in relation to the AONB, minor proposals for housing development would be supported where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB. Both of these amendments would help guard against non-delivery of the larger sites that the plan relies on, should there be a downturn in the housing market. These suggestions will improve the deliverability of the Council’s housing targets.

5.4 These representations also object to the approach set out in policy STR/BE1 in relation to Benenden and the numbers of the allocations relating to development around Benenden. We do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection

5.5 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB, ecological improvements and is without known constraints. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

5.6 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 in policy STR/BE1 if STR 1 is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and also offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

5.7 Our client’s site has not previously been put forward (as it has been in use). However, it is now anticipated to be available in the very near future, is suitable for development (being largely brownfield) and is deliverable for development with no known constraints. This makes the site preferable to numbers of the allocated sites, which are greenfield, contain ecological and archaeological constraints and are not all well related to the settlement of Benenden. We consider that amendments to the Proposals Map should be made to include this site for housing development.

Appendix 1 – Hams Travel Location Plan

These are the notes referred to on the following official copy

The electronic official copy of the title plan follows this message.

Please note that this is the only official copy we will issue. We will not issue a paper official copy.

This official copy was delivered electronically and when printed will not be to scale. You can obtain a paper official copy by ordering one from HM Land Registry.

This official copy is issued on 14 October 2019 shows the state of this title plan on 14 October 2019 at 11:46:56. It is admissible in evidence to the same extent as the original (s.67 Land Registration Act 2002). This title plan shows the general position, not the exact line, of the boundaries. It may be subject to distortions in scale. Measurements scaled from this plan may not match measurements between the same points on the ground.

This title is dealt with by the HM Land Registry, Nottingham Office .

© Crown copyright. Produced by HM Land Registry. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the prior written permission of Ordnance Survey. Licence Number 100026316.

[TWBC: see Appendix 1 Land Registry document and site location plan in full representation].

DLP_8176

Highways England

Location:

No/Type:

Distance to SRN:

Impact:

Current traffic flows:

Recommendations

Sissinghurst

100-115 residential dwellings (5 sites)

+15km

A21 / A299

+25km

M20 J7/J8

No / minimal impact

NA

NA

Cranbrook

718-803 residential dwellings (9 sites)

Some large developments proposed >100  dwellings

Community uses, employment uses, playing fields and sports facilities

Safeguarding land for future primary school expansion

+12km

A21/A268

Some impact expected at the A21/A268 (Forstal Farm roundabout) – even though it is >10km from the sites, this is primary route for vehicles joining A21 northbound.

Current traffic levels show as reasonable at the A21/A268 roundabout during weekday AM and PM peak.

Given multiple proposals are for >100 dwellings, we recommend a full transport assessment accompanies proposal. TA should include junction modelling for A21/A268 roundabout.

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

DLP_8298

NHS West Clinical Commissioning Group

General Observation

Whilst there is not a general practice located in Benenden the CCG confirms that it is expected that contributions will be required towards medical facilities (improvements/ reconfiguration etc.) that cover this area to mitigate the impact of the development.

DLP_1225

Capt J Newman

While giving whole hearted support to the Benenden Neighbourhood Development Plan and in particular the proposed use of brownfield sites, we have strong reservations about para 8. If not controlled this could potentially open a door to future extensive development to the large area of land lying behind to the east (most of Site 158) which runs the whole length of the village to the north. This is a treasured part of the AONB and development here would have a drastic effect on both the community and the countryside. This should be protected at all costs.

DLP_2135

Ms Hazel Strouts

Limits to Built Development the plan shows consistent inconsistency over matters relating to LBDs. The village LBD is to be altered, or rather engineered, to include areas currently outside the LBD but slated for development (AL/BE1, AL/BE2 and AL/BE3) and to exclude those not currently favoured, such as 158 and 222. At Iden Green, where the neighbourhood plan and the LP recommend no development at all, the LBD is to be removed thereby freezing the hamlet in time by stopping all infill. This is inconsistent with Objective 1 urging the growth of existing settlements.

* It is inconsistent to urge under STR1 that “development at other settlements across the borough (be) within their respective Limits to Built Development boundaries” and then also urge development at the East End which is not only entirely outside any LBD but as far outside as it is possible to get and still be within the parish.

DLP_2140

Bernard Phillips

* Limits to Built Development the plan shows consistent inconsistency over matters relating to LBDs. The village LBD is to be altered, or rather engineered, to include areas currently outside the LBD but slated for development (AL/BE1, AL/BE2 and AL/BE3) and to exclude those not currently favoured, such as 158 and 222. At Iden Green, where the neighbourhood plan and the LP recommend no development at all, the LBD is to be removed thereby freezing the hamlet in time by stopping all infill. This is inconsistent with Objective 1 urging the growth of existing settlements.

* It is inconsistent to urge under STR1 that “development at other settlements across the borough (be) within their respective Limits to Built Development boundaries” and then also urge development at the East End which is not only entirely outside any LBD but as far outside as it is possible to get and still be within the parish.

DLP_2175

Mrs Alexandra Betts

SUPPORT

With Benenden being set in large part within the AONB, the decision to identify and earmark brownfield sites with potential for development is preferable to building on greenfield sites, which would only end up putting more pressure on the countryside and our environment.

DLP_2483

Mr Adrian Betts

Whilst I think the allocation of houses for the parish is too large , I am pleased to see that there is a proposed spread of development across the parish rather than a large concentration of housing on one or two sites .

The special character of the village should be maintained and this can be achieved by not having housing condensed into a large site .

DLP_2936

Stuart Collier

Re Policy STR/BE1 (& AL/BE2)

We are writing to express our broad support for the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Draft Local Plan with regards to its approach to development planning for Benenden village.

Having looked at the proposals, we believe it strikes a good balance between the need to ensure a reasonable supply of housing for the future of our community and protecting the green spaces around us so crucial to the character of the village.

With Benenden being set in large part within the AONB, the decision to identify and earmark brownfield sites with potential for development is preferable to building on greenfield sites, which would only end up putting more pressure on the countryside and our environment.

One area which does concern us as Benenden residents however, is Clause 8 within Policy AL/BE 2.

We feel this clause is unnecessary. It actively encourages the future development of the field to the north of Uphill. Development of this piece of land will unlock access to the larger piece of land adjacent to it within the AONB (the majority of Site 158) and open up the potential for unchecked development across a huge swathe of countryside running the entire length of Benenden to the north. We feel this would completely change the character of our community.

We would therefore like to see Clause 8 removed from the Local Plan before it progresses any further.

DLP_3325

Kent County Council (Growth, Environment and Transport)

Highways and Transportation

The Local Highway Authority conditionally supports this policy. The following changes are requested

Paragraph 5 – “Maintenance and enhancement of, and/or linkages to, public footway network, public rights of way and the local strategic cycle network…”

The standard paragraph regarding contributions should feature in this policy - It is expected that mitigation measures will be implemented by the developer. A contribution may be taken if appropriate

Public Rights of Way and Access Service

The specific reference to PRoW in paragraph 5 is supported. It is requested that PRoW enhancements are also included in the list of expected contributions, to mitigate the impact of future development.

DLP_4131

Tunbridge Wells District Committee Campaign to Protect Rural England

Object

The proposal to allocate 119-129 new dwellings at Benenden is another example of the impact of the unrealistic and excessive housing targets on the AONB. We are concerned about the effect of the proposed development around Benenden Hospital (AL/BE4) on the setting of the AONB and on biodiversity, given that we understand the site contains rare acid grassland which needs to be protected.

We are also concerned that the part of this policy referring to developments larger than 100 residential units could encourage applications for major developments which are thoroughly unsuitable in the AONB.  Arguably, for sustainability, any development of more than 20 dwellings in villages and the rural area ought at least to provide some employment possibilities, for example through live/work units.

DLP_4556

Historic England

Policy STR/BE 1: The Strategy for Benenden Parish et seq. - as with the foregoing comments, we would expect the allocation of sites following on from this Strategy policy to be subject to appropriately robust and detailed heritage impact assessment prior to the allocations being adopted.

DLP_3578

Ian Bull Consultancy for Jarvis Strategic Land Ltd

Jarvis Strategic Land Ltd support the proposed allocation at Land adjacent to New Pond Road, Benenden, but request that the site be extended to include the land adjoining the site to the North, edged red on the attached plan. The enlarged site will enable the site to deliver approximately 40 dwellings in a highly sustainable location.

DLP_3580

Ian Bull Consultancy for Jarvis Strategic Land Ltd

Jarvis Strategic Land Ltd request that land on the west side of Greenacres, The Street, Benenden, edged red on the attached plan, be allocated for residential development. Benenden is a highly sustainable settlement and development of the site will contribute both open market and social housing, together with on site amenity and natural green space, together with off site development contributions.

DLP_4776

Trevor Hunt

I object to that section which deals with the parish of Benenden because it is inconsistent with the Objectives and Strategic Policies of the Plan, especially in relation to site AL/BE4. The SHELAA paper also shows inconsistencies in its assessment of various non-allocated sites relative to the plan’s Objectives and Strategies, as well as to the AECOM report (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners).

DLP_4949

Savills for The Benenden Healthcare Society

1. Introduction

1.1. This representation is provided on behalf of the Benenden Healthcare Society (hereinafter referred to as the Society) in response to the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) Local Plan Regulation 18 Consultation, which closes on the 15th November 2019. Please note that this representation reflects the view of the landowner at the current time (the Society)and therefore may be subject to change as contractual agreements with end developers progress.

1.2. The Benenden Healthcare Society owns a significant amount of land which falls within the TWBC boundary, including that surrounding the Benenden Hospital at East End. The landholding of the Society is shown in blue on the plan at Appendix 1.

[TWBC see Appendix 1 plan and full representation].

1.3. Benenden Hospital is the largest employer and occupies a significant complex of buildings within the parish of Benenden, and therefore any development at the site is significant for the parish. As such representations have been submitted to the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan Regulation 14 consultation which closed on the 31st October 2019.

1.4. Any development at Benenden Hospital would also be significant to the borough as the hospital site is not only an important employer but it is also capable of delivering a significant quantum of new houses which will help to meet the borough’s pressing housing need. Consequently, the Society has a keen interest in the progress of the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan (TWLP).

1.5. The Society welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on the draft TWLP at this stage and looks forward to continuing to work with both TWBC and the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group to ensure that the proposed site allocations at the hospital are both appropriate, achievable and acceptable for all parties.

[TWBC: this representation has been split into DLP_4949 (comments on STR/BE 1) and DLP_4956 (comments on Policy AL/BE 4)]

STR/BE 1: The Strategy for Benenden Parish

3.34. In addition to the allocation of the two sites identified above through draft policy AL/BE 4, the TWLP also seeks to create a policy relating to the overall strategy for the Benenden Parish through draft policy STR/BE 1.

3.35. Draft Policy STR/BE 1 outlines that 119-129 new dwellings will be delivered on the allocated sites within Benenden parish. The draft policy acknowledges that extant planning permission exists for an increase of 22 dwellings at AL/BE 4. However, as previously outlined in paragraph 3.35 this appears to be a mistake, Land at Benenden Hospital in fact has an extant permission for 24 dwellings.

3.36. The Society requests that paragraph 1 of draft Policy STR/BE 1, is reworded to read:

“Approximately 119-129 new dwellings will be delivered on four sites allocated in this Local Plan in the plan period (Policies AL/BE 1-4). (*) Of these sites, the following already have planning permission: AL/BE 1 for 12 dwellings and AL/BE 4 for 24 (net increase) dwellings:”

3.37. The remainder of draft policy STR/BE 1 sets out a number of high level requirements for the sites to be allocated in Benenden. Those requirements of STR/BE 1 relevant to the Hospital sites have already been addressed previously in this representation through the Society’s comments in relation to draft policy AL/BE 4.

3.38. Similarly to draft policy AL/BE 4, draft policy STR/BE 1 also sets out a number of developer contributions that may be required for the sites allocated in Benenden. These contributions are provided below alongside the Society’s comments.

a. Primary and secondary education;

b. Health and medical facilities;

c. The provision of buildings and spaces to provide cultural infrastructure.

3.39. The Society has no objections to providing a contribution towards these requirements, commensurate to the quantum of development to be brought forward on site.

d. Improvements to bus services including investigations into the feasibility of a Demand Responsive Bus Services linking Benenden and East End.

3.40. The Society would question whether this obligation is in addition to that set out in draft policy AL/BN 4 – requirement 7, which sets out that the Society should provide a bus service from the Hospital to Benenden and Tenterden. The Society’s comments in relation to requirement 7 are set out previously in this representation.

3.41. If this obligation refers to the same bus service then the Society request that this is made explicit in draft policy STR/BN 1 so that obligations required of the Society are not duplicated. Should this obligation refer to a separate or additional bus service then, notwithstanding the Society’s comments in relation to requirement 7 of draft policy AL/BN 4, the Society ask that TWBC re-consider the amount of contributions that are required in relation to transport infrastructure associated with the development of the Hospital sites in order to ensure that the viability of the development is not jeopardised by the significant quantum of developer contributions being sought.

3.42. The Society would like to elaborate that they are content with having to pay developer contributions to make the development acceptable and to mitigate the adverse impacts of the development. However, the Society would like to request that these are fair and directly related to the development. This is outlined in paragraph 002-20190901 of the Planning Practice Guidance, whereby planning obligations sought should be:

- Necessary to make the development acceptable in planning terms;

- Directly related to the development; and

- Fairly and reasonably related in scale and in kind to the development.

3.43. Should TWBC decide that it is pertinent to retain all of the transport contributions contained within the draft TWLP then the Society request that a mechanism is built into both policies AL/BN4 and SRT/BN 1 to ensure that financial contributions required are proportionate to the quantum of development proposed.

e. Improved broadband and mobile connectivity to serve all of the parish area;

f. Provision of allotments, amenity/natural green space, parks and recreation grounds, children’s play space and youth play space;

g. Other mitigation measures identified through the pre-application process and planning application.

3.44. The Society raises no objection in relation to the above obligations provided that contributions required are appropriate and commensurate to the scale of development brought forward at the site.

3.45. As identified in the previous sections of this representation, both draft policies AL/BE 4 and STR/BE 1 have certain requirements whereby financial contributions will be required towards projects within the parish. The Society’s specific comments in relation to each specific developer contribution have been provided previously in this representation, however the Society also wish to provide some general comments in relation to the proposed developer contributions as set out in draft policies AL/BE 4 and STR/BE 1, and the implications of these in conjunction with the requirements of the draft BNP.

3.46. The Society is aware that, in addition to the community infrastructure requirements set out through AL/BE 4 and STR/BE 1, any development within the Benenden Parish will be subject to obligations through the BNP draft policies T1 – T6 in relation to travel, mitigation, highways etc. These obligations will result in additional costs to the Society when developing the site. These costs are in addition to the cost associated with the development of their previously developed land, which is likely to be considerably higher than those associated with a greenfield site, due to the presence of a considerable amount of built form which will require demolition and ground remediation.

3.47. Accordingly, the Society considers that it is necessary to build a degree of flexibility into the financial contributions required in both policies AL/BE 4 and STR/BE 1 to allow for reduced contributions where justified by robust viability evidence.

3.48. Whilst the Society will strive to provide all of the obligations sought through the BNP and the adopted or emerging TWLP, it is incumbent upon the Plan makers to ensure that allocated sites are viable and policies are realistic and deliverable. This is set out in the Planning Policy Guidance (PPG) (Viability and Plan Making) (Paragraph: 002 Reference ID: 10-002-20190509):

“Viability assessments should not compromise sustainable development but should be used to ensure that policies are realistic, and that the total cumulative cost of all relevant policies will not undermine deliverability of the plan. It is the responsibility of plan makers in collaboration with the local community, developers and other stakeholders, to create realistic, deliverable policies”. 

3.49. The additional flexibility that a clause in Policies AL/BE 4 and STR/BE 1 linking the proposed obligations to viability testing will ensure that the development of the two sites remains viable, deliverable and achievable. This will therefore result in the sites being brought forward for development to deliver the numbers of units allocated through the TWLP and BNP that are desperately required in the parish and indeed the borough as a whole.

3.50. The Society request that a mechanism is built into draft Policies AL/BE 4 and STR/BE 1 to allow for a reduced contribution, where fully justified by robust viability evidence.

4. Conclusions

4.1. The Society are supportive of the allocation of sites 424 – The South East Quadrant and site 41 - The North East Quadrant through draft policy AL/BN 4 for development of between 66 – 72 additional dwellings, and hereby confirm the availability of this land for development.

4.2. The Society are broadly supportive of draft policies STR/BN 1 and AL/BN 4 and the various policy requirements, with the exception of requirements 2, 3, 4 and 7 which the Society do not object to in principal but consider should be altered as set out in these representations.

4.3. We trust that these representations are of assistance to the TWBC. The Society would be happy to meet with the TWBC to discuss the TWLP or the allocated sites in more detail if this would be of assistance. Details of the Society’s retained planning consultants can be found at the end of this document.

4.4. Overall, the TWLP policies need to be in conformity with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). They also need to be in adherence with the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) regulations. A number of the policy requirements listed in these draft policies, notably the requirement for an active travel link (requirement 1 – AL/BN 4) and the requirement for the bus link (requirement 7 – AL/BN 4) will need to be formally added to the CIL Regulation 123 list, so that TWBC are able to legitimately seek specific financial contributions towards them when subsequent planning applications are under consideration.

4.5. The Society are grateful for the opportunity to comment on the draft policies at this early stage and look forward to continuing the positive working relationship with TWBC which has been established.

DLP_5153

Herbert Boxall

I am writing to object to the part of the Tunbridge Wells Draft which deals with the parish of Benenden and, in particular, with that part which deals with the hamlet of Iden Green. within that parish. I am a former resident of Iden Green and I am an owner of land there. My objections are as follows:

First, the allocation of new housing throughout the parish is seriously imbalanced with over half of the total for the whole parish allocated to the East End and none at all to Iden Green. I submit that new housing should be distributed much more evenly and fairly around the parish. In particular the site that I own (LS8, adjacent to the Congregational Church) would offer a modest 26 units according to its Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) – a worthwhile and proportionate contribution.

Second, the SHELAA for the site gives its remote location from “services and facilities” as a reason for rejecting it. Regarding facilities, as noted in the SHELAA, it adjoins the Congregational Church which also houses a nursery, the community hall and recreation ground (with tennis courts) are alongside, and The Woodcock, a well established pub and restaurant, lies within easy walking distance. These are all worthwhile facilities, while others such as the village shop and the primary school are only a mile away in Benenden. They are, moreover, easily accessible by footpath, which is safe for schoolchildren and pleasant to walk particularly through Hilly Fields. None of these facilities exist at the East End – three times further than Iden Green from Benenden.

Third, the site’s SHELAA also rejects it on grounds of remoteness from public transport. There are is in fact an occasional bus service with a stop near to the site – not ideal but that serving the East End is, I believe, no more adequate. Rail services are some distance away, but this is true for all parts of the parish. In the Overview of Benenden (pp264 & 265 of the Plan) Staplehurst Station is not mentioned for Iden Green and should be shown, at a distance only 0.2km greater than for the East End, while the distances to Etchingham for Benenden and Iden Green appear to be inconsistent. Access to public transport for Iden Green and site LS8 in particular are thus no worse than for Benenden centre or the East End so not a valid reason for rejection of thesite.

Fourth, the SHELAA claims that site LS8 is “likely to adversely impact upon the Conservation Area” (of Iden Green), because development allocation would influence “loss of Greenfield land within the AONB … adjacent to an Historic Settlement.” Exactly the same could be said of any of the allocated sites, indeed 98% of the whole parish lies within the AONB and LS8’s impact on Greenfield land would be relatively slight – certainly less severe than for some of the others, notably AL/BE1, 3 and 4, given it’s relatively small size and flatness, with well grown boundaries as acknowledged in the SHELAA. The prominence of sites 421 and 424 at the East End makes them significantly more damaging. LS8 would in fact round out the “Historic Settlement”, since it lies within it so would be infilling, not an extension of the settlement as implied by “adjacent to”. It would thus on balance be a preferable site for development allocation.

Fifth, it is noted that LS8 is outside the Limits to Built Development as presently drawn. If the Local Plan is adopted unamended then Iden Green’s LBD will no longer exist. The reasons for the LBD’s removal repeat those already addressed above. I contend that sites such as LS8, which provide relatively modest infilling offer housing to help meet needs with minimal impact upon visual amenities.

Finally, I understand that your Borough Council has recently established a cross-party Task Force with the objective of reducing carbon emissions and thus to make a positive contribution to climate change. To respect this aim, allocation of sites such as LS8 within feasible walking distance of the village should take precedence over sites where every family would require at least two cars.

I request that these objections are given full consideration in the review of the draft plan. Site LS8 is worthy of inclusion in the plan. Building within a long-established settlement contributes much more to conserving our landscape and protecting wildlife than building three miles outside it, as proposed for the East End hospital area.

I should appreciate it if you would kindly acknowledge receipt of my letter.

DLP_5369

William MacPherson

As a resident of Benenden, I wish to register my objections to the draft plan for Benenden.

  1. The plan as drafted proposes that virtually all the new housing in the Benenden parish should be sited in the East End. The East End is one of three interlinked settlements in the Benenden parish. It is the most northerly, and (by far) the smallest.

    The plan states (page 88) that it balances “a maximum of 50 new homes at East End in addition to 44 new homes in Benenden village”. However, there is already permission for c40 new homes on the same sites in East End, and it is not reasonable to ignore these when counting the number of new houses. In effect, (if I understand it correctly), if the plan were to be approved on the basis as drafted, two thirds of all the new houses are to be built in the East End. On any level, this is unfair.

    I do not know the exact numbers of dwellings in each of the three settlements, but in rough terms suspect it would lead to 100% increase in number of houses in this settlement; compared to perhaps a 5% increase in Benenden village itself; and a 0% increase in the number of houses in Iden Green.

    Apart from the unfairness of allocating new housing so unevenly; the percentage increase in East End that the NDP proposes would fundamentally change the character of the smallest settlement with the East End being converted into a separate, modern satellite village, but one without local services. (The trouble is the enlarged settlement would be still too small to develop shop, pub or school and so would just be a car-based community.

    While there is justification for some housing on the sites in the East End, this should be at the density presently proposed (and approved). There is no sensible room for more housing beyond the already approved levels. The plan claims to have “balanced” these factors. But the plan is drafted (as I understand it) by villagers principally from Benenden village centre and Iden Green. Of course one can fully understand their desire to keep new housing away from their homes, and I do not doubt their good intentions generally, but the proposals, if accepted, would be unfair on the unrepresented settlement.

  2. The discrete nature of the three communities (Iden Green, Benenden village and East End, ought to require each to construct their own plan. Otherwise it is too easy for the majority to saddle the housing on the smallest settlement. The East End residents are under-represented in the planning committee, and outvoted by the largest settlements. Their interests are not taken account of in this plan.
  3. However, even worse, the effect of building a satellite village at East End will have a deleterious effect on quality of life of ALL Benenden village residents, as East End residents would have to rely on car journeys to get to the village. There will be more traffic and more parking problems when the residents of the new houses from the East End come to the shop, drop their children at school or attend village events.
  4. There is an effort to claim there will be a reduction in car use by promising a new cycle lane (TA 2) and school minibus. As the owner of the agricultural land of Pympne Manor, I can confirm we would have no intention to agree to change the rural footpaths that run through our land (both proposed options) into cycle lanes. This would disturb the agriculture and urbanise a country environment. We are very happy the footpaths give general access by foot to a beautiful part of the countryside, and believe tarmac-ing countryside to make cycle land is unwanted urbanisation of a special landscape. It is important this mistaken impression in the supporting documents is removed because it suggests something which would be impossible. Both routes proposed are footpaths in the definitive map, and we own the land. It is astonishing to make such a proposal; and use it as evidence to support the plan, without having made any effort to contact the farmers/land owners involved.
  5. A school minibus is not sufficient mitigation to avoid thousands more car journeys each year.  Both these items (the unenforeable promise of a school minibus, and a notional impossible-to-build cycle lane smell of a desire to justify an option that simply does not make sense. In total, because of effectively building an isolated, car-based new community, this is a deeply environmentally hostile plan which is wholly inappropriate in the current climate.
  6. As a final point, I would just note how difficult it has been to access documents; to know by when, to whom, or where to submit feedback; and that much of the detail around additional housing seems to have been made obscure (for example not counting the approved, but unbuilt, housing in the East End, in the totals of new houses, and for example proposing a cycle path over a route that will be impossible to build). In my opinion this fails the basic tests of consultation.

Please confirm receipt of this email.

Please advise of the next steps in your process.

DLP_5637

Robert and Lynne Mills

We write to express our support of the above Draft Plan for the village of Benenden in principal.

As large areas of Benenden are set within the AONB the decision to identify and promote the use of Brownfield sites for development in preference to building on Greenfield sites will help to preserve the overall character of the area with its stunning views, Green spaces, ancient woodland and wildlife.

Site LS16 Uphill, a brownfield site is suitable for development and it is noted that this area has now been included within the revised Limits to Built Development.

However, we are extremely concerned regarding Policy AL/BE 2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road (known as Uphill) (CfS reference late site 16) 8 wording page 267:

“The layout, including hard and soft landscaping, to be designed so as not to prejudice the future provision of a suitable vehicular access with appropriate visibility splay(s) to the land located to the north, which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan.” 

We request that this paragraph should be removed from the Draft as this appears to be contrary to the Benenden NDP and would leave the Uphill site open to further ribbon development stretching unchecked across a massive swathe of countryside running the entire length of Benenden to the north and through to Walkhurst Road and Goddards Green Road.  This would completely change the character of our community and is completely unacceptable.

It is also noted that the SHELAA published in the TWBC Local Plan July 2019 for Site 158 includes Site LS16 (Uphill) which is incorrect and should be amended so that Site LS16 is shown as an individual Site. Again, this appears to be contrary to the Benenden NDP.

Site 277, Land Adjacent to Feoffee Cottages, although not a brownfield site is fully supported with regard to its location being near to Rothermere Close and existing affordable housing

The two sites at Benenden Hospital are fully supported for development, both being existing brownfield sites and particularly Site 424/LS40 which is currently a blot on the countryside with derelict buildings surrounded by unsightly hoarding.  With sympathetic development this area would be vastly improved and bring a much needed balance to the area surrounding the existing hospital complex.

DLP_5682

Jan Dunkley

We support the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s Draft Local Plan for the village of Benenden.

We are very pleased that brownfield sites have been found to take up much of the building development in the village which is preferable to using greenfield sites. The hospital area is already a community and would benefit from extra housing and families living there, making a proper little village rather like Iden Green on the other side of Benenden.

As Benenden has in part AONB status, the decision to use brownfield sites is very welcome so as to avoid compromising the environment in a beautiful part of the Kent countryside.

DLP_5721

Suki Abbott

I object to that section which deals with the parish of Benenden because it is inconsistent with the Objectives and Strategic Policies of the Plan, especially in relation to site AL/BE4. The SHELAA paper also shows inconsistencies in its assessment of various non-allocated sites relative to the plan’s Objectives and Strategies, as well as to the AECOM report (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners).

DLP_5766

Norman Heath

We, the undersigned, who are mainly, but not entirely residents of East End at Benenden, object to the Local Plan (LP) in so far as it affects Benenden. In essence, our case is that the proposed development at the East End is excessive, inappropriate and unsustainable, and that it contravenes well-established policies. The East End is a sparsely populated rural area containing about 74 households. The housing allocation can readily be met on sites nearer to the village centre which are consonant with policies in the draft LP, in particular STR/BE1, item 4, STR 2, 6 and 10, EN 20 and 21 and TP2, and with common sense.

DLP_5841

Rachel Casement

I object to the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan because its site specific policies often undermine and/or are inconsistent with its stated environmental objectives and policies, housing supply objectives and policies, and transport and community infrastructure objectives and policies. Further, the justifications for site assessments are often inconsistent one with another.

* The Neighbourhood Plan’s suggestion that 50 new houses are planned for sites LS41 and 424 at the East End while 45 are planned for the village is misleading because it ignores 24 houses already approved for the hospital but not yet built, as well as the 18 new houses planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village and disproportionate for the East End which is a rural area of only 76 households. The 42 planned houses are already a challenge to the locality. 50 new houses on top of that 42 will totally overwhelm it. The proposal is contrary to Policy HS8 that “housing... be well integrated into and enhance the local built environment” (p.36)

* The East End is a remote site, three miles out of the village, with no nursery school, no bike path link to the village (the route proposed in the plan is opposed by all concerned landowners), and no community hall. Site LS41 and 424 undermine the Housing Supply objective of supporting “sustainable and economically viable sites” (p.27)

* Iden Green is only a mile from the village, has a long established and highly successful nursery school, a popular pub/restaurant at the Woodcock, a well-used community hall and a paved footpath used by children attending the primary school in the village (and which leads through a roadside nature reserve and through Hilly Fields), and yet it is rated as being too remote for development. See the site review of LS8 (behind the Congregational Church in Iden Green). This is inconsistent with the assessment of sites LS41 and 424 which are more remote and less sustainable yet put forward for development.

* In the Site Assessment paper, Site 158 is recommended for development on a restricted scale because “the village only consists of 250 houses so the scale of development should be restricted to avoid overwhelming the scale and facilities of the existing settlement” yet the Steering Committee disregards the need not to overwhelm in relation to site LS41 and 424. This demonstrates confirmatory bias and inconsistency.

* Site 158 and site LS8, among others, are dismissed for being greenfield and within the AONB yet sites AL/BE1 (in the TW Local Plan) and site 277 (AL/BE3) are both greenfield and within the AONB. So being greenfield is not a consistent reason for dismissal. Nor is being within the AONB. Further, Sites LS41 and 424 are allocated because they are brownfield but in fact they include greenfield areas (a field) and 2 Local Wildlife Sites. The LWS are described by the High Weald AONB (see their submission on the TW draft Local Plan) as being “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Sites LS41 and 424 also include land within the AONB, a fact which is more easily discerned in the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan than in the map on page 38 of the Benenden plan. In short, Sites LS41 and 424 have greenfield and AONB land within them, yet these elements are ignored in the Benenden Plan. There is confirmatory bias in the use of the term “brownfield”. Benenden planners are turning a blind eye to the greenfield areas in sites LS41 and 424.

* By allocating sites LS41 and 424, the plan disregards the High Weald AONB’s views clearly stated in their comments on the Tunbridge Wells draft Local Plan. The HW AONB objects to hospital development on the following grounds:

o The High Weald AONB Management Plan (to which all councils with AONB land have subscribed) says councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2), not by building new satellite settlements of 92 new houses which will overwhelm the locality.

o Land immediately adjacent to AONBs (or indeed land virtually surrounded by AONB designated land as in the case of LS41 and 424), contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB. This is especially true of sites where there are long views. The hospital site was originally a sanatorium sited on a ridge running west to east across the northern part of the parish to take advantage of long views to the south, the clean air and the remoteness. The site, being on a high ridge, will be visible for miles, though out of sight of the village centre.

o The sanatorium which was established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which the AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air and a tranquil setting. This plan disregards the goals of the AONB by assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.

o The redundant hospital pavilion building, a rare example of early British modernism, provides an important contribution to the cultural history of the High Weald (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Instititute of British Architects’ Journal. By allocating site 424, the plan disregards this fact and undermines the plan’s professed objective of protecting the environment. It also disregards Policy HS8 that development “be well integrated into and enhance(s) the local built environment”.

* Under the Site allocation review, site 158 is recommended for “development.. .(which) could offer the opportunity for a sensitively designed scheme that could potentially be integrated into the existing village centre.” However, the Plan eventually recommends against such development because the parish has been offered large brownfield sites, two of which lie adjacent to each other at the hospital, LS41 and 424. This argument, where it is applied to an area 3 miles distant from the village, undercuts the plan’s stated Environmental Objective of protecting the landscape because landscape and wildlife habitat are best protected where housing is developed organically, growing outward from an existing developed centre, not spotted at 3 miles distance from the centre so that travel links between the two have to be established. Such links invariably eat into wild life habitat and degrade the natural landscape. By allocating sites LS41 and 424, the plan puts at odds the two objectives of “enhancing connectivity within the parish” (page 71) and the objective of protecting “valued environmental assets” (page 13). Connectivity presumably means wider roads, better junctions (such as at Walkhurst and Goddards Green Road which is now adjacent to a Green Space) paved bike paths and pavements. None of these, when they take place outside the built-up area, enhance the landscape and improve wildlife habitat. Further, a large housing site of 92 houses set in a rural part of the parish of itself diminishes the natural environment.

* By allocating sites LS41 and 424 for so many houses, the plan directly challenges Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s Task Force on reducing carbon emissions. Recognising the expense of living at such a distance from village facilities, and the need for at least two family cars, the plan recommends little affordable housing at the hospital site. Children will be driven to school, parents will drive to work and to all village amenities such as the village shop, the church, the pub/restaurant and community gatherings of all kinds. There is no possibility, as there would be at Iden Green or at sites 158 or 222, of walking children to school. At a time when the country, the TW Borough Council included, is especially aware of the issue of climate change, this plan deliberately turns a blind eye. By so doing, the plan fails to meet its stated objective of enhancing the environment.

* I also, of course, subscribe to the arguments put forward by the Friends of East End.

DLP_5960

Gerald Conyngham

I am writing with comments about the part of the local plan which deals with housing allocation in Benenden. And in particular about site 158 which has been dropped from the plan as a possible site for development:

* This site was considered as a possible site for the new primary school and later TWBC officers considered it as a possible site for 174 houses. Under policy ALBE2, there is an acknowledgement that site 158 is suitable, via the request for an access road through site AL/BE2 to ‘the land located to the north ( ie 158), which may be allocated for development as part of a future local plan’. If suitable then, why is it not considered suitable now?.

* In the draft Benenden Neighbourhood Plan, it states that ‘the sustainability credentials of this site are high’.

* We are open minded about the number of houses that might be built on the site and do not have any particular number in mind at this time. We would be happy with a more modest development than 174. We would want a high proportion to be affordable, be open to local people, and meet the needs of elderly people and people with disabilities. And to be built in ways which fit into the local environment in terms of building design. We would seek a developer who could meet these criteria.

* In relation to Limits to Built Development it appears that sites were chosen first and then a line drawn round them to exclude other sites. Thus it appears that the line is somewhat arbitrary.

* The site lies at the heart of the village and building here would prevent ribbon development or development in random sites in the rural parts of the parish. In that sense it would preserve the rural nature of the parish in making it less necessary to build houses outside the built up village centre.

* It is a very good site from the point of view of sustainability and reducing pollution. People living there could walk to the village school, village shops, church and local meetings. There is no need for an extra car and the extra carbon emissions which would be essential for people living 3 miles from the heart of the village. Pedestrian access is already available to the site.

* It doesn’t make good planning sense to plan a large development at the East End and leave the village centre for development at some later time. It goes against the environmental interests of everyone.

* Using brownfield sites is said to be a priority yet the plan being proposed eats into the countryside since travel links, and the pollution associated with them, would be needed between the new settlement at the East End and the village. We believe that sustainability should be considered as the primary goal.

* In the comments on the original Neighbourhood Plan It was agreed that site 158 is not a site of particular wildlife significance. And is not visible thus reducing its attractiveness as a green field site.

* It does not block views and is discreetly hidden behind the Street, as are the current recent developments at St George’s Close and Horton’s Close.

* Development here supports the Borough Council’s recent commitment to make the District carbon neutral by 2030.

* The site 158 is specifically mentioned in the Strategic Housing and Land Availability Assessment paper (SHELAA) and I would make the following comments:

* It states that ‘the land lacks services and facilities including public transport’ yet it is central to the village and near bus stops so this is clearly inaccurate.

* It also states that the site is ‘sensitive in landscape terms and there is concern regarding scale and impact on the landscape’. However the site is hidden and well tucked away, unlike some of the other developments being approved. Also the scale of any development would be sensitively managed to ensure it fits well with the environment of the village.

* The site is also analysed in the Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan and is given a rating of ‘likely positive effect’ under the headings of Population and Community, Health and Well being, and Transport.

* Under Population and Community it states that ‘Allocation of the site will contribute positively to meeting local housing needs. The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c 300m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities’.

* Under Health and Well being, it states that ‘The site is accessible to the village’s public rights of way and green infrastructure networks.

* Under Transportation it makes the same point as in the Population and community above. And adds that ‘The site is approximately 250 m from the nearest bus stop with hourly services.’

All these points from the AECOM report reinforce the points made earlier in this submission.

In the light of all the points above, we conclude that the site is well placed for development and we recommend that the development takes place at the same time as the other sites approved .

DLP_5964

Sara Rowan & Peter Stennett

We are writing to confirm our support for the above BNDP Regulation 14 Draft.

The sites that have been put forward seem to take into account  the need to preserve the overall appeal of Benenden and the surrounding areas , the (AONB), ancient woodland and the wildlife that lives in and around our village. On our own small patch we are visited daily by deer, badgers, foxes, bats , a vast array of birds and are host to a wide range of amphibians.

The four sites appear to offer a good balance for the supply of new houses which we are told by the Government and in turn the Local Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are required for the future of our community,  we must at all costs protect the character of Benenden village, the green spaces, beautiful countryside and vistas in our parish.

As a large part of Benenden is within the AONB ,  the decision to develop on brownfield sites has to be preferable to building on greenfield sites, to us that is just common sense.

Putting together this Plan must have been no easy task, taking into account the many sensitive issues and conflicting interests , we feel that the best possible compromises  have been made and therefore fully support it.

DLP_6492

Woolf Bond Planning for Millwood Designer Homes Ltd

Site 222: Land on the west side of Iden Green Road, Benenden, TN17 4ES

Policy STR/BE 1: The Strategy for Benenden Parish

Representation

The strategy at Benenden Parish for providing 119 – 129 new dwellings is supported, as Benenden is a settlement with a Limits to Built Development boundary (LBD). However, this figure should be expressed as a minimum.

The draft policy identifies 4 sites to be allocated, this includes sites with planning permission.

The largest proportion of new dwellings to be met in Benenden Parish are directed towards Benenden Hospital (Policy AL/BE 4 refers).

This location, whilst being close to a major employment site, is considered unsustainable in all other respects. It is not close to existing schools, local shops, main roads or sustainable transport modes. It is considered unsustainable and inappropriate to direct development towards an isolated countryside location.

Omission Site: Land west of Iden Green Road, Benenden

Our client’s site comprising land to the west of Iden Green Road, Benenden (Site Ref: 222) is considered suitable either as an alternative or as an additional housing site. The Site is edged red on Plan P318/LP/1001 and extends to approximately 2.5ha.

We have undertaken a thorough assessment of the character of the site and surrounding area and consider that it affords a sustainable development opportunity for approximately 28 dwellings, to include the creation of a larger publicly accessible area of green space and reinstatement of the pond in the north east corner of the site. We consider this would enhance the public realm and would enable a high- quality scheme for a small number of dwellings to be located within walking distance from local services and facilities, helping to further sustain and support local businesses.

The potential to provide for the development of the site has been considered in relation to heritage, landscape and ecology, which matters can be summarised as follows:

* Development of the site for housing and a large publicly accessible area of green space provides an opportunity to enhance the appearance of part of the Conservation Area through the creation of an attractive and sensitively designed residential extension to the village.

* A scheme can also be designed in relation to the desirability of preserving the setting of the listed buildings considered to be affected and the special character and appearance of the Benenden Conservation Area.


* Figure 3 has been prepared following a detailed review of the landscape character of the site and surrounding area and enables the retention of substantial trees on the site, most notably the lime trees along the frontage.

* A suite of ecological surveys has been undertaken across the site throughout spring and summer 2018, including an Extended Phase 1 Habitat survey, bat surveys, reptile surveys and great crested newt surveys.

* The majority of the site comprises semi-improved grassland of limited ecological value. Several semi-mature trees, principally oak, are present in and around the site. These have some ecological value, offer potential bat roosting opportunities, as well as sites for nesting birds.

* The pond on the northern boundary is relatively small and although it contains water, is becoming choked with sediment and debris. It also contains a large area of the highly invasive New Zealand pygmy weed.

* There are ample opportunities within the site to provide ecological enhancement measures. These will need to include improvements for the slow worm population as well as improvement to the newt pond – possibly dredging it out and removing the pygmy weed.

* The Parish has highlighted in their assessment of the site, the potential benefit of developing this site is enhancing the pond, which would have not only an ecological benefit, but would improve the Conservation Area, thus positively supporting the local heritage value. These benefits are unique to this site in being able to deliver environmental benefits in addition to the social and economic benefits brought about through the provision of new housing.

Including for the reasons set out in response to Policy EN17 below, the suggested designation of the site as a Local Green Space is not supported by the Council’s assessment. Moreover, we have undertaken our own analysis of the position, including in relation to the application of the approach set out at paragraphs 99 and 100 of the NPPF. This demonstrates that designation of the site as a local green space does not accord with the approach at paragraph 99 of the NPPF and nor does it satisfy the test at paragraph 100(b) of the NPPF for it to be demonstrably special to a coal community and holds a particular local significance.

Suggested Change

Allocate land west of Iden Green Road as a housing allocation for approximately 28 dwellings.

[TWBC: see full representation, Figure 3 Landscape Strategy, Heritage & LGS Assessment, and site location plan].

[TWBC: see also Comment Numbers DLP_6485, 6487-6489, 6491-6494]

DLP_7405

Judith Marks

Firstly I would like to point out a number of inaccuracies regarding East End in the tabulated Overview:

  • AONB – you state that East End is outside the AONB. In fact the majority of East End (97%) is within the AONB. The exception is the “bite” into the AONB boundary made around Benenden Hospital, which is already highly visible from the AONB to the South.
  • Rail transport – the nearest station to East End is Headcorn (approx 7 miles) via the Castleton’s Oak crossroads (accident black spot). Staplehurst and Etchingham are not viable options.
  • Education facilities – there is no longer a pre-school/nursery in East End.
  • Retail – the small shop at the hospital was closed several years ago. There is no shop in East End.

These inaccuracies do not give confidence that they are a sound basis on which to make decisions that will have a profound impact on the rural area of East End.

Draft Local Plan

Strategy for Benenden Parish (P265)

  1. A significant element would be provided around Benenden Hospital (approx 44-50%) would be provided around Benenden Hospital at East End. While the services provided at East End are considerably less than at Benenden, Benenden Hospital is a major employment site, contains significant areas of previously developed land, is not within the AONB, and there is good potential to increase the connectivity to Benenden.

I object to the Draft Strategy for Benenden Parish for the following reasons:

  • There is a completely unequal allocation of the development around the parish.  Up to half of the new dwellings proposed for Benenden are allocated to the area of East End. The Draft Strategy proposes to create a whole new satellite village in East End by allocating up to a further 50 houses. Added to those already approved, this means doubling the number of households in East End and overwhelming it.  As a comparison, if you doubled the number of houses in Benenden village, that would mean adding 250.  I am not suggesting this should be done, but it gives an idea of the impact. The proposed development is not related in scale to the current area of East End or in location to Benenden village and its services.
  • There are no community services or facilities currently in East End around which to base a new settlement (see Overview comments above).
  • Development in East End will do little to enhance or maintain the vitality of Benenden or support services there. As residents of the proposed new settlement would have to get into their private cars to go anywhere, they would shop and use services in nearby Tenterden. The only service likely to be used in Benenden itself would be the village school, which again would be accessed by car along narrow rural lanes.
  • The Strategic Objectives address critical environmental issues such as climate change explicitly. STR6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements .... to help reduce the need to travel”. By placing the proposed new settlement at such a distance from the village, residents would be entirely car-dependent, which would increase traffic and carbon emissions leading to poorer air quality. Other sites closer to the village centre would not have this impact.
  • East End has always been a scattered collection of farms and houses rather than a discrete village or hamlet, and any clustering has been due to Benenden Hospital building a small amount of its own staff housing.  On the other hand, Benenden village and Iden Green are already distinct settlements and have been defined as conservation areas, whereas East End is not a distinct settlement and therefore remains as part of the wider landscape.

At the time of the last conservation area review in 2005, the wider landscape setting remained outside the boundary of the conservation area as “it is currently protected through Local Plan policies and other designations, particularly the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty” (Benenden and Iden Green Conservation Areas Appraisal 2005, 1.15). It appears that any protection from Local Plan policies is now being removed from the wider landscape setting.

  • The TWBC Landscape Strategy is to ensure that the existing pattern of settlement i.e. small-scale dispersed rural buildings which are not visually prominent and are hidden by the landform and woodland cover, is protected. The proposed development in East End lies along the ridgeway and would be highly visually prominent.
  • I would dispute that there is potential to increase the connectivity to Benenden, which is 3 miles away. Residents would rely almost completely on private cars.

- There is a current 12 month trial by KCC of a weekday “Hopper Service” twice daily (not at school or working day start/end times) but there is no guarantee that this will continue beyond the trial period. This service also connects to Iden Green, which the assessment suggests is “remote” and with no potential to improve connectivity.

- There has been some suggestion of a cross-country cycle/footpath along narrow lanes and the route of n existing public footpath, but this is not a practical option for connectivity. If it were to happen, it would be purely recreational. The route crosses three steep-sided valleys and tarring or otherwise hard surfacing the existing footpath where it passes along the old green lane through undeveloped woodland and farmland would be detrimental to the landscape and environment within the AONB.

- Any suggestion that Benenden Hospital Trust could be made responsible for school transport is not credible.

  • The proposed Limits to Built Development around Benenden appear to have been simply redrawn to accommodate the preferred sites. It would therefore be possible to extend them to encompass other highly feasible sites in the village which would be close to and support services and improve the sustainability of the village. Planning policies should identify opportunities for villages to grow and thrive, especially where this will support local services.
  • The Strategy proposes that the LBD at Iden Green is removed “as the settlement has limited key facilities and bus services, making it unsustainable in this context”. Iden Green has considerably more services than East End and is only 1 mile from services in Benenden village with an established hard-surfaced footpath, whereas East End is 3 miles from the village. If development in Iden Green is unsustainable, surely development in East End is even more so.
  • The NPPF states, at paragraph 115, that “great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in … Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which have the highest status of protection in relation to landscape and scenic beauty.” Benenden Hospital and the proposed development sites at East End lie along the ridgeway and watershed between the Rother and the Medway.  As such they occupy an elevated position and are highly visible from within the AONB. In fact the boundary of the AONB appears to have been drawn round the Hospital site so it impacts the views in many directions. The Hospital and its extensive car parks are already highly lit at night, despite apparent representations from the Parish. Further development on the watershed will intrude even more into the views from within the AONB, counter to the AONB Management Plan, which the Borough Council has adopted.
  • One reason given for the suitability of development in East End is that AL/BE4 is mostly previously developed land. The hospital has been allowed to develop its new wing and associated car parks on undeveloped land, and in fact during construction a paddock on the opposite side of Goddards Green Road was hard-surfaced to provide contractors car parking and has never been reinstated. It has now become permanent car parking and is shown as part of AL/BE4. This creeping appropriation of undeveloped land and corresponding release of previously developed land is apparently now being rewarded by TWBC by allocating it for housing development. If the issue of whether or not land has been previously developed is paramount, then the right thing to have done would have been to make the encroachment onto greenfield dependent on the hospital reinstating an equivalent amount of brownfield land, which it now says it no longer requires.
  • The SHELAA states that the site could be deliverable in the period of the Local Plan. This assertion is not supported by the fact that no development has taken place in the area in the south-east quadrant of the site, where planning permission was granted some time ago, and this land appears to have been “banked”.
  • The Sustainability Appraisal states that “the education objective does not deteriorate when considering cumulative effects as the schools in Tenterden will be a viable option for residents in East End and thus are likely to take the pressure off Benenden Primary School”. This may be a possibility for secondary schools, but both Tenterden Primary School and Infants School are already over-subscribed, and therefore these schools will not be a viable option for residents in East End. Children living in any proposed new development in East End would have to be accommodated at Benenden Primary School.

I would like to make the following counter proposals to help meet the housing allocation imposed on the parish:

  • That other sites in Benenden village and Iden Green be reconsidered, and in particular Sites 66, 158, 222, LS8 and 437 (part), and the LBD adjusted to take account of suitable sites.
  • That the 18 semi-detached houses in Wood Lane and along Goddards Green Road, which the hospital no longer requires for its own staff, be taken out of AL/BE4 and offered for sale individually as affordable housing to local people, who could refurbish them themselves. Alternatively, they could be offered to a housing association for refurbishment. These houses may be outdated and no longer required to meet the Hospital’s accommodation needs, but their current dilapidation is overstated. Rather than standing empty and eventually being demolished to make way for new housing, these empty homes could meet an immediate housing need and the Hospital could realise immediate benefit from their sale. One of the key issues for the villages highlighted in the Core Strategy is to meet local needs for affordable housing.

While I fully support the localism agenda, the neighbourhood plan for Benenden has been prepared without representation from the area of East End. I have submitted detailed objections to the neighbourhood plan, but I have no confidence in the process and my impression is that it has been prepared with a complete focus on limiting development in Benenden Village and Iden Green at the expense of the outlying parts of the parish.

I also fully subscribe to the objections put forward by the Friends of East End.

DLP_8256

Emily and Victoria Pettit

Background

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government cites sustainability as many as fifty times and the needs of future generations five times in their National Planning Policy Framework.

This letter seeks to address how sustainability and consideration of future generations have been applied in the draft Local Plan for the Parish of Benenden and to abandon inconsistencies in methodology and contradictions to goals. We are landowners, but we also care about the sustainable growth of Benenden Village as it will benefit everyone.

In its current form, the Local Plan takes a fluctuating approach over consistency in the application of methodology:

1. Greenfield is not a consistent reason for dismissal as some sites in the draft allocation are greenfield. AONB is not a consistent reason for dismissal as some sites in the draft allocation are in AONB.

2. Brownfield does not automatically equate to sustainability.

3. An “out of sight” motion leads to lack of community and lack of fully integrated social cohesion.

In its current form, the Local Plan promotes:

1. potential ribbon development over greenfield, AONB sites

2. the creation of a large, remote outpost with lack of services

3. unsustainable increase of traffic to reach services, with particular

over-burden on the single-lane country road of Walkhurst that is the

most direct route from East End to Benenden and its wider services

Response and General Position (in order of the above)

It is of grave concern if ribbon development will effectively be enabled by granting development on Site 16 with relatively higher density of dwellings over just 2 acres and most crucially: “The layout, including hard and soft landscaping, to be designed so as not to prejudice the future provision of a suitable vehicular access with appropriate visibility splay(s) to the land located to the north [site 158], which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan”. As you are familiar, site 158 is a costly 1 site to develop due to its topography and therefore developers will plausibly look to economies of scale to achieve an ROI on it. It will ruin Benenden village forever if this is condoned by the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council now. Conversely, if high value housing only is allowed, it does not deliver the much-needed affordable housing for future generations. The undersigned supports balanced and capped development on this site only.

The brownfield hospital site at East End lacks access to services.

While provision of employment is one factor, the incursion of un sustainability (lack of services, increased traffic on unsustainable direct route to reach Benenden’s services, not to mention lack of sense place and therefore community, all contribute to outweigh the one factor of nearby employment for some). The undersigned supports balanced and capped development on this site only.

Since access to all services at East End, with the exception of the hospital, will require vehicular transport, this and potential ribbon development on Site 158, will lead to enormous pressure of traffic through the direct route from East End to Benenden village of Walkhurst Road that cannot sustain high volumes of two-way traffic.

A Sense of Place for future generations

A sense of place arguably holds the same meaning it has done for hundreds of years:- good design in a community setting.

The sustainability for future generations of a rural village surely relies at its core in adding affordability and accessibility to the above, in order to:- attract young families through affordable, quality homes that give a sense of place and community; provide easy access through a close commute, or better still, walking distance, to schools and services; facilitate much-needed home-based jobs to stay-at-home parents through existing infrastructure of a community and places to meet (shop, hall) and enjoy outdoor spaces (designed green spaces, picturesque walks).

Stripping away the pretension, preciousness and promises of great design from other developers who do not in reality deviate from a cookie-cutter approach, the reality, should it be allowed to happen, will concentrate on an unsustainable outpost of housing at East End in an isolated satellite, and uninspiring ribbon development from high density on Site 16 on to Site 158.

Conclusion

As you are aware, Benenden Village is fortunate to be uniquely placed in its provision for future generations through long-established facilities of a pre-school, Benenden Church of England Primary School, Benenden Girls’ School, Village Hall and Church, within a greater area of AONB. The nearest large employer is Benenden Girls’ School.

Every thinking parishioner from whom the undersigned has heard, acknowledges that development is a given. The parishioners of Benenden time and time again have expressed a desire for proportionately balanced development, i.e. smaller-scale developments spread across the Parish that respect the need for the village to evolve in a holistic fashion. Parity is then achieved and kicking the can down the road for disproportionate development in Benenden in future plans is averted. Conservation areas do not need to be touched. Ancient woodland can be left in peace. Panoramic views of existing residents may even be kept. The evolution and enhancement of the village, both architecturally and environmentally, can be synchronised.

I object to the Benenden Local Plan in its current form as it lacks proportionality and balance. It also does not demonstrate a sufficiently objective application of guidelines and it does not give full consideration of quality of life of new residents. If asked, are you able to honestly say with hand on heart that you would choose to live in a remote outpost and not in the heart of a thriving village community such as Benenden and not offer that opportunity to others, especially young families?

Responsible development should not purely exist to serve the interests of large corporations, nor should it be about putting development largely away or out of sight of the village to jeopardise social cohesion, and it certainly should never be about protecting the interests of a few (unelected) influencers, to the loss of benefits to the wider community.

You have, as you know, an opportunity to provide a final plan of balanced development that grows the village in a sustainable way, providing well-designed housing - that is the recipe for a quality of life for its residents and a sense of connectedness, the essential ingredient in that quality of life, especially important for younger and older parishioners. The most responsible development with values should take into account the lives of those who will inhabit that development, creating nuanced, vernacular architecture that mirrors what one finds in The Street at Benenden today.

We are landowners, but we also care about the sustainable growth of Benenden Village. It will be all parishioners’ loss if unbalanced planning leads to an outpost and ribbon developments in unsustainable developments that do not marry past and future.

Policy AL/BE 1: Land at Walkhurst Road

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Object/support/support with conditions/general observation

Response

DLP_459

Evolution Town Planning for Hams Travel

Object

Please find attached our representations on behalf of Hams Travel in relation to the Local Plan policy and allocations around Benenden.  As part of these representations, we are promoting an excellent Brownfield Site, which has only just been confirmed as available for redevelopment.

Unlike many of the sites proposed to be allocated, this is a brownfield site and we consider that it has the potential to support local facilities within Benenden.  The site hasn’t previously been put forward in the Call for Sites, because it is only recently that the business’s plans to enlarge their other yard (in Flimwell) and relocate the Benenden part of the business to that site have been put forward as a planning application (currently live).  That application is progressing well (certainly in relation to the yard expansion at Flimwell and proposals to relocate the Benenden operations to Flimwell).  On this basis, we are confident that the Benenden site will be available for development in the near future.  It offers an excellent opportunity to delivery housing on a brownfield site and provide visual improvements to the ANOB.   We would be grateful if the Policy Team would now consider the benefits of this site, in addition to (or in preference of) some of those allocated.   We would welcome opportunity to discuss this site with you.    We are happy to submit a Call for Sites form if you would include it in that process as well? In addition, it could be added to the Brownfield register.

Hams Coach Yard, Benenden 

Representations made on behalf of the Hams Travel

1.0 Introduction

1.1 These representations are submitted by Evolution Town Planning Ltd on behalf of our client and site owners, Hams Travel in response to consultation on the Draft Tunbridge Wells Local Plan Consultation (Regulation 18) 2019.

1.2 The representations relate to their site at Benenden, which has not previously been submitted in the ‘Call for Sites’ process (due to uncertainty about whether it would become available). However, as we will set out in this report, Hams Travel are now confident that this site can be released for development as it will shortly be surplus to requirements in the business. We consider that there are substantial benefits in developing this site over the other sites currently allocated and we therefore seek the allocation of this site in preference to, or in addition to, the other sites included around Benenden in the draft Local Plan. The extent of the site available is set out in Appendix 1.

1.3 These representations set out that we:

  • Support the Policy STR 1 (Development Strategy) and suggest that it should include greater flexibility to enable a wider range of windfall development outside of defined settlement boundaries.
  • Object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.
  • Object to policy AL/BE2 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE3 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE4 and suggest revisions.
  • Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard.

3.0 Representations: Objections Policy STR/BE1 and Allocations

3.1 We object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.

Objections and Revisions to the Allocations associated with policy STR/BE1

3.2 Having reviewed the strategy for site allocation in Benenden our main objection is a reliance on greenfield sites, when brownfield sites are available. We also object to the heavy reliance on one large site, which is extremely remote from the main village of Benenden. NPPF is clear that LPAs have a responsibility to make an effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities:

Planning policies and decisions should promote an effective use of land in meeting the need for homes and other uses, while safeguarding and improving the environment and ensuring safe and healthy living conditions. Strategic policies should set out a clear strategy for accommodating objectively assessed needs, in a way that makes as much use as possible of previously-developed or ‘brownfield’ land’ (paragraph 117).

3.3 The NPPF continues that LPAs should ‘give substantial weight to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements for homes and other identified needs, and support appropriate opportunities to remediate despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated or unstable land’ (paragraph 118).

3.4 We have assessed each of the allocations in and around Benenden and set out our comments and objections below:

AL/BE1 Land at Walkhurst Road – No Objection. This site already has planning permission and therefore has been proven to have no significant obstacles to development. We support the inclusion of this site.

AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site including arboricultural, ecological and possible archaeological constraints. We consider it to be a less suitable site for development than Hams Travel’s Coach Yard. Indeed, we question whether the rear part of the site with the most valuable trees and potential for archaeological interest is suitable for development at all. This should not be allocated in advance of brownfield opportunities, such as the Hams Travel site.

AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site and lies adjacent to ancient woodland and a Listed Building. It therefore has a number of constraints and should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, lacking any such constraints. We therefore do not consider that this site should be allocated in advance of the Hams Travel’s Coach Yard, which contains fewer constraints and is a brownfield opportunity.

AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection. Whilst we note this site has planning permission for 24 dwellings, further land for housing is now allocated. The allocation is the largest allocation listed as part of Benenden and yet the site is considerably remote from the settlement of Benenden and is not really part of Benenden at all. Moreover, since other brownfield sites are available in closer proximity to the settlement – such as the Hams Travel site, we do not consider it to be the most sustainable brownfield option available. It therefore should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, nearer to the settlement such as Hams Coach Yard.

3.5 We consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.6 We provide full details of this site’s opportunities for development at section 4 together with an explanation as to why this is being submitted for consideration after the Call for Sites.

3.7 In the meantime we consider that Policy STR/BE 1 (point 1) should be amended to include a 5th housing site in the Benenden area:

Approximately 119-129 129-139 new dwellings will be delivered on four five sites(*) allocated in this Local Plan in the plan period (Policies AL/BE 1-45). (*) Of these sites, the following already have planning permission: AL/BE 1 for 12 dwellings and AL/BE 4 for 22 (net increase) dwellings

3.8 The Hams Travel Coach Yard should provide this 5th housing allocation in the Benenden area, as set out in the following chapter.

3.9 We note that the proposed policy STR/BE 1 states that:

The Limits to Built Development (LBD) around Benenden are defined on the draft Policies Map. The LBD now includes the sites/part sites to be allocated in Benenden at Policies AL/BE 1-2, and 3 (part), but excludes Policy AL/BE 4 (there is no existing LBD at East End). As above, the LBD at Iden Green has been removed as this settlement has limited key facilities and bus services making it unsustainable in this context.’

3.10 If the Council agrees to include the Hams Travel Coach Yard within the allocations, the policy will need to be amended to include reference to Hams Travel’s yard as a 5th allocation, not necessarily within the Defined Settlement Boundary, but an allocation nonetheless.

Objections and Amendments to general policy provided by policy STR/BE1

3.11 In addition to the above general objections to the allocations made, we also object to parts of the remainder of the policy below. If the policy and allocations are not amended to include the Hams Travel site, we set out additional amendments, which we consider will assist in ensuring that the plan is both flexible and deliverable. Given the over reliance on housing delivery in and around Paddock Wood, we consider that these amendments will assist in protecting the plan against non-delivery in a housing market slow down (a major risk with a strategy dependent on large sites and a single housing market), by enabling the development of a wider range of brownfield sites around Benenden.

3.12 We object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Additional housing may be delivered through the redevelopment of appropriate sites and other windfall development in accordance with Policy STR 1’.

Our objection to Policy STR 1 is set out in the previous section. However we would be willing to support this clause of policy STR/BE1, if policy STR 1 is amended to support the allocation of Hams Travel’s Coach Yard and/or if clause (6) of that policy were amended to include support of ‘other suitable windfall developments including brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development;’ Likewise, our support of policy STR/BE1 cross referencing policy STR 1 is only given if clause 8 of that policy is amended to specifically state that there will be support for ‘minor’ applications within the AONB, particularly where these are ‘on brownfield sites where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB’.

3.13 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape;’

3.14 We consider that this clause would be improved if it were expanded to state that the redevelopment of brownfield sites will be considered to make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB, particularly where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements. We therefore suggest the following amendment:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape. The redevelopment of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively. Particularly where proposals will make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB and where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements;’

Summary

3.15 In response to policy STR/BE1, we have submitted that we do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection.

3.16 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.17 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 if it is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and we consider that the policy could be amended make this amendment, offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

3.18 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which could be improved by making clear that the development of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively.

4.0 Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard

4.1 Approximately 1.5km to the west of Benenden, along the B2086 between Benenden and Hartley, lies Hams Travel’s Benenden Coach Yard. Since the early 1990s this yard has provided an overflow facility for the main Hams Travel operation, accommodating their coachworks, workshop and some of the taller and longer vehicles used for international trips. As part of a reordering of the business, involving the expansion of the yard in Flimwell, Hams are due to consolidate operations on a single yard, making this site surplus to requirements.

4.2 Since it is largely brownfield, and NPPF state a preference for Brownfield development in making housing allocations, we propose this site here for inclusion in the next draft of the local plan. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible. The site has not been put forward previously, since there has been some uncertainty as to whether the Flimwell proposals will gain support. However, the yard extension proposals have gained the support of both Highways and the LPA, meaning that Hams Travel is now confident to put forward their Benenden site as a potential housing site in the Local Plan. Given that the LPA have allocated other sites which are not ‘brownfield’ we consider that these need to be reconsidered in light of the ‘substantial weight’ in favour of allocating Hams Travel’s previously developed site.

Site Description

4.3 The site is L shaped and roughly 1ha in size (the boundaries are defined at Appendix 1). The site comprises a substantial area of hard standing and a large workshop to the rear of the site, with an orchard area to the front of the site, transacted by the access road. The coach yard and workshop cover more than half of the site. The site benefits from good visibility splays in both directions and crashmap data reveals that there have been no recorded incidents associated with the access over the last 20 years.

4.4 The site has residential properties directly adjoining it to the south/east and the north. Immediately to the east is an agricultural field associated with Apple Pie Farm. To the west is a large lack, which forms the part of the large grounds at The Moat, a Grade II Listed property immediately to the west.

4.5 The site is within flood zone 1, with the lowest level of flood risk.

Designations

4.6 The site is in the High Weald AONB and a Parsonage Wood SSSI is approximately 500m away from the site. There are no RAMSAR Sites (proposed or existing), SPAs, SACs, Local or National Nature Reserves nearby.

4.7 As with much of Benenden, the site is within AONB. However, unlike other sites currently allocated in the Local Plan, the Hams Travel yard and workshop are brownfield sites which, by their redevelopment, offer the potential for substantial visual improvement and reduced visual impact on the AONB.

Planning History

4.8 Relevant planning history for the site reveals that Change of Use from agriculture to a coach yard with workshop and offices was first granted in 1988. Since then numbers of applications have been approved associated with the use of the site for a coach yard.

Development Potential

4.9 The road out of Benenden towards the Hams Travel yard is scattered with individual houses. The site is in no way an ‘isolated’ and development here would support the shops, school and other services within Benenden. We consider that this site has capacity to accommodate a minor development of around 9 homes, if development were restricted just to the brownfield part of the site and development were built at a density of 30 homes per hectare. If a lower density were sought, it is considered that there could be justification for building on some of the land between the hard-surfaced yard area and the road boundary. Either way, we consider that the site has capacity of around 9-10 homes.

4.10 The site is not known to be constrained by archaeology, being some distance from the likely route of the known roman road. The site is adjacent to a Listed Building, but since this benefits from substantial grounds and since the site is currently a coach yard, it is hoped that any proposals will improve the site’s relationship to the listed building.

4.11 In terms of ecological impacts, this would be assessed. However, we consider that development of the site could lead to ecological net gains as there is potential to strengthen and enhance the orchard, which is a ‘Priority Habitat’.

4.12 Since the site has been operating successfully as a coach yard for over 30 years, there are no anticipated highways concerns. If anything, developing the site would lead to highways benefits, by taking the coach traffic off the local highway network and relocating it over to Flimwell, where that site benefits from direct access onto the A21.

Summary

4.13 In view of the NPPF’s support for brownfield and the requirement that LPAs make effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities (paragraph 117), we consider that the LPA should consider allocated the Hams Travel site. It could make a valuable contribution to local housing supply and development in this location will support local facilities within Benenden. We consider that the site has potential for around 9-10 new homes on a relatively constraint free site. It is therefore preferable to some of the allocated sites and we consider that this site should be a preferred location for development.

5.0 Conclusions

5.1 On behalf of our client, Hams Travel, this report has provided a response to consultation on Draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan (Regulation 18) 2019.

5.2 These representations object to the strategic approach set out in policy STR1. We consider that policy STR1 ought to be amended to include less reliance on the new settlement and Paddock Wood sites and a greater proportion of smaller sites across the Borough. This policy could be amended to include reference to an allocation at our client’s yard. However, in addition we have also recommended amendments to the wording of the policy, to ensure that the plan is positively prepared and effective, allowing a greater flexibility than the policy currently allows. By relying on large developments around Paddock Wood for the majority of the Borough’s housing supply, we consider that in a downturn in the market, the large sites will be vulnerable to slowed delivery and this could risk the plan being found unsound.

5.3 We suggest by amending the policy to state that ‘suitable windfall developments’ could include brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and that in relation to the AONB, minor proposals for housing development would be supported where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB. Both of these amendments would help guard against non-delivery of the larger sites that the plan relies on, should there be a downturn in the housing market. These suggestions will improve the deliverability of the Council’s housing targets.

5.4 These representations also object to the approach set out in policy STR/BE1 in relation to Benenden and the numbers of the allocations relating to development around Benenden. We do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection

5.5 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB, ecological improvements and is without known constraints. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

5.6 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 in policy STR/BE1 if STR 1 is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and also offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

5.7 Our client’s site has not previously been put forward (as it has been in use). However, it is now anticipated to be available in the very near future, is suitable for development (being largely brownfield) and is deliverable for development with no known constraints. This makes the site preferable to numbers of the allocated sites, which are greenfield, contain ecological and archaeological constraints and are not all well related to the settlement of Benenden. We consider that amendments to the Proposals Map should be made to include this site for housing development.

Appendix 1 – Hams Travel Location Plan

These are the notes referred to on the following official copy

The electronic official copy of the title plan follows this message.

Please note that this is the only official copy we will issue. We will not issue a paper official copy.

This official copy was delivered electronically and when printed will not be to scale. You can obtain a paper official copy by ordering one from HM Land Registry.

This official copy is issued on 14 October 2019 shows the state of this title plan on 14 October 2019 at 11:46:56. It is admissible in evidence to the same extent as the original (s.67 Land Registration Act 2002). This title plan shows the general position, not the exact line, of the boundaries. It may be subject to distortions in scale. Measurements scaled from this plan may not match measurements between the same points on the ground.

This title is dealt with by the HM Land Registry, Nottingham Office .

© Crown copyright. Produced by HM Land Registry. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the prior written permission of Ordnance Survey. Licence Number 100026316.

[TWBC: see Appendix 1 Land Registry document and site location plan in full representation].

DLP_2935

Stuart Collier

Support with conditions

Re Policy AL/BE1 (& AL/BE2)

We are writing to express our broad support for the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Draft Local Plan with regards to its approach to development planning for Benenden village.

Having looked at the proposals, we believe it strikes a good balance between the need to ensure a reasonable supply of housing for the future of our community and protecting the green spaces around us so crucial to the character of the village.

With Benenden being set in large part within the AONB, the decision to identify and earmark brownfield sites with potential for development is preferable to building on greenfield sites, which would only end up putting more pressure on the countryside and our environment.

One area which does concern us as Benenden residents however, is Clause 8 within Policy AL/BE 2.

We feel this clause is unnecessary. It actively encourages the future development of the field to the north of Uphill. Development of this piece of land will unlock access to the larger piece of land adjacent to it within the AONB (the majority of Site 158) and open up the potential for unchecked development across a huge swathe of countryside running the entire length of Benenden to the north. We feel this would completely change the character of our community.

We would therefore like to see Clause 8 removed from the Local Plan before it progresses any further.

DLP_3326

Kent County Council (Growth, Environment and Transport)

Support with conditions

Highways and TransportationThe Local Highway Authority conditionally supports this policy. The following changes are requested

Paragraph 2 - “Provision of an internal footway and extension of footway in Walkhurst Road to link to existing footway to the south”

The standard paragraph regarding contributions should feature in this policy - It is expected that mitigation measures will be implemented by the developer. A contribution may be taken if appropriate

Heritage Conservation

Scale 4 - Low level archaeology anticipated which could be dealt with through suitable conditions on a planning approval.

Some potential for prehistoric or later remains

Policy AL/BE 2: Land adjacent to New Pond Road (known as Uphill)

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Object/support/support with conditions/general observation

Response

DLP_315

Colin Inwood

Object

  • AL/BE2: the plan acknowledges by the   request for an access road through site AL/BE2  to "the land   located to the north (158) which may be allocated for development as   part of a future Local Plan", that 158 is suitable.  If suitable   then, why not suitable now? 158 is a much more sustainable location than   AL/BE4.  158 was considered as a site for a primary school   and, at one point, as a site for 174 houses.

DLP_344

Maureen Inwood

Object

AL/BE2: the plan acknowledges by the request for an access road through site AL/BE2 to "the land located to the north (158) which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan", that 158 is suitable. If suitable then, why not suitable now? 158 is a much more sustainable location than AL/BE4. 158 was considered as a site for a primary school and, at one point, as a site for 174 houses.

DLP_460

Evolution Town Planning for Hams Travel

Object

Please find attached our representations on behalf of Hams Travel in relation to the Local Plan policy and allocations around Benenden.  As part of these representations, we are promoting an excellent Brownfield Site, which has only just been confirmed as available for redevelopment.

Unlike many of the sites proposed to be allocated, this is a brownfield site and we consider that it has the potential to support local facilities within Benenden.  The site hasn’t previously been put forward in the Call for Sites, because it is only recently that the business’s plans to enlarge their other yard (in Flimwell) and relocate the Benenden part of the business to that site have been put forward as a planning application (currently live).  That application is progressing well (certainly in relation to the yard expansion at Flimwell and proposals to relocate the Benenden operations to Flimwell).  On this basis, we are confident that the Benenden site will be available for development in the near future.  It offers an excellent opportunity to delivery housing on a brownfield site and provide visual improvements to the ANOB.   We would be grateful if the Policy Team would now consider the benefits of this site, in addition to (or in preference of) some of those allocated.   We would welcome opportunity to discuss this site with you.    We are happy to submit a Call for Sites form if you would include it in that process as well? In addition, it could be added to the Brownfield register.

Hams Coach Yard, Benenden 

Representations made on behalf of the Hams Travel

1.0 Introduction

1.1 These representations are submitted by Evolution Town Planning Ltd on behalf of our client and site owners, Hams Travel in response to consultation on the Draft Tunbridge Wells Local Plan Consultation (Regulation 18) 2019.

1.2 The representations relate to their site at Benenden, which has not previously been submitted in the ‘Call for Sites’ process (due to uncertainty about whether it would become available). However, as we will set out in this report, Hams Travel are now confident that this site can be released for development as it will shortly be surplus to requirements in the business. We consider that there are substantial benefits in developing this site over the other sites currently allocated and we therefore seek the allocation of this site in preference to, or in addition to, the other sites included around Benenden in the draft Local Plan. The extent of the site available is set out in Appendix 1.

1.3 These representations set out that we:

  • Support the Policy STR 1 (Development Strategy) and suggest that it should include greater flexibility to enable a wider range of windfall development outside of defined settlement boundaries.
  • Object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.
  • Object to policy AL/BE2 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE3 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE4 and suggest revisions.
  • Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard.

3.0 Representations: Objections Policy STR/BE1 and Allocations

3.1 We object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.

Objections and Revisions to the Allocations associated with policy STR/BE1

3.2 Having reviewed the strategy for site allocation in Benenden our main objection is a reliance on greenfield sites, when brownfield sites are available. We also object to the heavy reliance on one large site, which is extremely remote from the main village of Benenden. NPPF is clear that LPAs have a responsibility to make an effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities:

Planning policies and decisions should promote an effective use of land in meeting the need for homes and other uses, while safeguarding and improving the environment and ensuring safe and healthy living conditions. Strategic policies should set out a clear strategy for accommodating objectively assessed needs, in a way that makes as much use as possible of previously-developed or ‘brownfield’ land’ (paragraph 117).

3.3 The NPPF continues that LPAs should ‘give substantial weight to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements for homes and other identified needs, and support appropriate opportunities to remediate despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated or unstable land’ (paragraph 118).

3.4 We have assessed each of the allocations in and around Benenden and set out our comments and objections below:

AL/BE1 Land at Walkhurst Road – No Objection. This site already has planning permission and therefore has been proven to have no significant obstacles to development. We support the inclusion of this site.

AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site including arboricultural, ecological and possible archaeological constraints. We consider it to be a less suitable site for development than Hams Travel’s Coach Yard. Indeed, we question whether the rear part of the site with the most valuable trees and potential for archaeological interest is suitable for development at all. This should not be allocated in advance of brownfield opportunities, such as the Hams Travel site.

AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site and lies adjacent to ancient woodland and a Listed Building. It therefore has a number of constraints and should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, lacking any such constraints. We therefore do not consider that this site should be allocated in advance of the Hams Travel’s Coach Yard, which contains fewer constraints and is a brownfield opportunity.

AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection. Whilst we note this site has planning permission for 24 dwellings, further land for housing is now allocated. The allocation is the largest allocation listed as part of Benenden and yet the site is considerably remote from the settlement of Benenden and is not really part of Benenden at all. Moreover, since other brownfield sites are available in closer proximity to the settlement – such as the Hams Travel site, we do not consider it to be the most sustainable brownfield option available. It therefore should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, nearer to the settlement such as Hams Coach Yard.

3.5 We consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.6 We provide full details of this site’s opportunities for development at section 4 together with an explanation as to why this is being submitted for consideration after the Call for Sites.

3.7 In the meantime we consider that Policy STR/BE 1 (point 1) should be amended to include a 5th housing site in the Benenden area:

Approximately 119-129 129-139 new dwellings will be delivered on four five sites(*) allocated in this Local Plan in the plan period (Policies AL/BE 1-45). (*) Of these sites, the following already have planning permission: AL/BE 1 for 12 dwellings and AL/BE 4 for 22 (net increase) dwellings

3.8 The Hams Travel Coach Yard should provide this 5th housing allocation in the Benenden area, as set out in the following chapter.

3.9 We note that the proposed policy STR/BE 1 states that:

The Limits to Built Development (LBD) around Benenden are defined on the draft Policies Map. The LBD now includes the sites/part sites to be allocated in Benenden at Policies AL/BE 1-2, and 3 (part), but excludes Policy AL/BE 4 (there is no existing LBD at East End). As above, the LBD at Iden Green has been removed as this settlement has limited key facilities and bus services making it unsustainable in this context.’

3.10 If the Council agrees to include the Hams Travel Coach Yard within the allocations, the policy will need to be amended to include reference to Hams Travel’s yard as a 5th allocation, not necessarily within the Defined Settlement Boundary, but an allocation nonetheless.

Objections and Amendments to general policy provided by policy STR/BE1

3.11 In addition to the above general objections to the allocations made, we also object to parts of the remainder of the policy below. If the policy and allocations are not amended to include the Hams Travel site, we set out additional amendments, which we consider will assist in ensuring that the plan is both flexible and deliverable. Given the over reliance on housing delivery in and around Paddock Wood, we consider that these amendments will assist in protecting the plan against non-delivery in a housing market slow down (a major risk with a strategy dependent on large sites and a single housing market), by enabling the development of a wider range of brownfield sites around Benenden.

3.12 We object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Additional housing may be delivered through the redevelopment of appropriate sites and other windfall development in accordance with Policy STR 1’.

Our objection to Policy STR 1 is set out in the previous section. However we would be willing to support this clause of policy STR/BE1, if policy STR 1 is amended to support the allocation of Hams Travel’s Coach Yard and/or if clause (6) of that policy were amended to include support of ‘other suitable windfall developments including brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development;’ Likewise, our support of policy STR/BE1 cross referencing policy STR 1 is only given if clause 8 of that policy is amended to specifically state that there will be support for ‘minor’ applications within the AONB, particularly where these are ‘on brownfield sites where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB’.

3.13 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape;’

3.14 We consider that this clause would be improved if it were expanded to state that the redevelopment of brownfield sites will be considered to make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB, particularly where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements. We therefore suggest the following amendment:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape. The redevelopment of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively. Particularly where proposals will make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB and where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements;’

Summary

3.15 In response to policy STR/BE1, we have submitted that we do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection.

3.16 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.17 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 if it is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and we consider that the policy could be amended make this amendment, offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

3.18 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which could be improved by making clear that the development of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively.

4.0 Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard

4.1 Approximately 1.5km to the west of Benenden, along the B2086 between Benenden and Hartley, lies Hams Travel’s Benenden Coach Yard. Since the early 1990s this yard has provided an overflow facility for the main Hams Travel operation, accommodating their coachworks, workshop and some of the taller and longer vehicles used for international trips. As part of a reordering of the business, involving the expansion of the yard in Flimwell, Hams are due to consolidate operations on a single yard, making this site surplus to requirements.

4.2 Since it is largely brownfield, and NPPF state a preference for Brownfield development in making housing allocations, we propose this site here for inclusion in the next draft of the local plan. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible. The site has not been put forward previously, since there has been some uncertainty as to whether the Flimwell proposals will gain support. However, the yard extension proposals have gained the support of both Highways and the LPA, meaning that Hams Travel is now confident to put forward their Benenden site as a potential housing site in the Local Plan. Given that the LPA have allocated other sites which are not ‘brownfield’ we consider that these need to be reconsidered in light of the ‘substantial weight’ in favour of allocating Hams Travel’s previously developed site.

Site Description

4.3 The site is L shaped and roughly 1ha in size (the boundaries are defined at Appendix 1). The site comprises a substantial area of hard standing and a large workshop to the rear of the site, with an orchard area to the front of the site, transacted by the access road. The coach yard and workshop cover more than half of the site. The site benefits from good visibility splays in both directions and crashmap data reveals that there have been no recorded incidents associated with the access over the last 20 years.

4.4 The site has residential properties directly adjoining it to the south/east and the north. Immediately to the east is an agricultural field associated with Apple Pie Farm. To the west is a large lack, which forms the part of the large grounds at The Moat, a Grade II Listed property immediately to the west.

4.5 The site is within flood zone 1, with the lowest level of flood risk.

Designations

4.6 The site is in the High Weald AONB and a Parsonage Wood SSSI is approximately 500m away from the site. There are no RAMSAR Sites (proposed or existing), SPAs, SACs, Local or National Nature Reserves nearby.

4.7 As with much of Benenden, the site is within AONB. However, unlike other sites currently allocated in the Local Plan, the Hams Travel yard and workshop are brownfield sites which, by their redevelopment, offer the potential for substantial visual improvement and reduced visual impact on the AONB.

Planning History

4.8 Relevant planning history for the site reveals that Change of Use from agriculture to a coach yard with workshop and offices was first granted in 1988. Since then numbers of applications have been approved associated with the use of the site for a coach yard.

Development Potential

4.9 The road out of Benenden towards the Hams Travel yard is scattered with individual houses. The site is in no way an ‘isolated’ and development here would support the shops, school and other services within Benenden. We consider that this site has capacity to accommodate a minor development of around 9 homes, if development were restricted just to the brownfield part of the site and development were built at a density of 30 homes per hectare. If a lower density were sought, it is considered that there could be justification for building on some of the land between the hard-surfaced yard area and the road boundary. Either way, we consider that the site has capacity of around 9-10 homes.

4.10 The site is not known to be constrained by archaeology, being some distance from the likely route of the known roman road. The site is adjacent to a Listed Building, but since this benefits from substantial grounds and since the site is currently a coach yard, it is hoped that any proposals will improve the site’s relationship to the listed building.

4.11 In terms of ecological impacts, this would be assessed. However, we consider that development of the site could lead to ecological net gains as there is potential to strengthen and enhance the orchard, which is a ‘Priority Habitat’.

4.12 Since the site has been operating successfully as a coach yard for over 30 years, there are no anticipated highways concerns. If anything, developing the site would lead to highways benefits, by taking the coach traffic off the local highway network and relocating it over to Flimwell, where that site benefits from direct access onto the A21.

Summary

4.13 In view of the NPPF’s support for brownfield and the requirement that LPAs make effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities (paragraph 117), we consider that the LPA should consider allocated the Hams Travel site. It could make a valuable contribution to local housing supply and development in this location will support local facilities within Benenden. We consider that the site has potential for around 9-10 new homes on a relatively constraint free site. It is therefore preferable to some of the allocated sites and we consider that this site should be a preferred location for development.


5.0 Conclusions

5.1 On behalf of our client, Hams Travel, this report has provided a response to consultation on Draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan (Regulation 18) 2019.

5.2 These representations object to the strategic approach set out in policy STR1. We consider that policy STR1 ought to be amended to include less reliance on the new settlement and Paddock Wood sites and a greater proportion of smaller sites across the Borough. This policy could be amended to include reference to an allocation at our client’s yard. However, in addition we have also recommended amendments to the wording of the policy, to ensure that the plan is positively prepared and effective, allowing a greater flexibility than the policy currently allows. By relying on large developments around Paddock Wood for the majority of the Borough’s housing supply, we consider that in a downturn in the market, the large sites will be vulnerable to slowed delivery and this could risk the plan being found unsound.

5.3 We suggest by amending the policy to state that ‘suitable windfall developments’ could include brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and that in relation to the AONB, minor proposals for housing development would be supported where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB. Both of these amendments would help guard against non-delivery of the larger sites that the plan relies on, should there be a downturn in the housing market. These suggestions will improve the deliverability of the Council’s housing targets.

5.4 These representations also object to the approach set out in policy STR/BE1 in relation to Benenden and the numbers of the allocations relating to development around Benenden. We do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection

5.5 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB, ecological improvements and is without known constraints. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

5.6 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 in policy STR/BE1 if STR 1 is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and also offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

5.7 Our client’s site has not previously been put forward (as it has been in use). However, it is now anticipated to be available in the very near future, is suitable for development (being largely brownfield) and is deliverable for development with no known constraints. This makes the site preferable to numbers of the allocated sites, which are greenfield, contain ecological and archaeological constraints and are not all well related to the settlement of Benenden. We consider that amendments to the Proposals Map should be made to include this site for housing development.

Appendix 1 – Hams Travel Location Plan

These are the notes referred to on the following official copy

The electronic official copy of the title plan follows this message.

Please note that this is the only official copy we will issue. We will not issue a paper official copy.

This official copy was delivered electronically and when printed will not be to scale. You can obtain a paper official copy by ordering one from HM Land Registry.

This official copy is issued on 14 October 2019 shows the state of this title plan on 14 October 2019 at 11:46:56. It is admissible in evidence to the same extent as the original (s.67 Land Registration Act 2002). This title plan shows the general position, not the exact line, of the boundaries. It may be subject to distortions in scale. Measurements scaled from this plan may not match measurements between the same points on the ground.

This title is dealt with by the HM Land Registry, Nottingham Office .

© Crown copyright. Produced by HM Land Registry. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the prior written permission of Ordnance Survey. Licence Number 100026316.

[TWBC: see Appendix 1 Land Registry document and site location plan in full representation].

DLP_473

Robert and Lynne Mills

General Observation

We also note in the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment for Draft Local Plan – Regulation 18 Consultation, Site Assessment Sheets for Benenden Parish July 2019 that the SHELAAs for Draft Local Plan our property is mentioned in conjunction with Site 158 and it states in the heading site address “Land to the rear of Greenacres and adjacent to New Pond Road”, This statement is incorrect. It should read “Land to the front of Greenacres and adjacent to New Pond Road.” can this be amended accordingly?

We would appreciate if you could look into these points that we have raised and let us know if amendments to the above matters can be dealt with.

DLP_550

Amanda Petch

Object

I object to the section in the Local Plan on the parish of Benenden for the following reasons:

  • AL/BE2: the plan acknowledges that 158 is suitable (via the request for an access road through site AL/BE2 to “the land located to the north (158), which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan”). If suitable then, why not suitable now? 158 is a much more sustainable location than AL/BE4. It was considered as a site for a primary school and, at one point, as a site for 174 houses.

Please read and take note of each of these points and do not allow AL/BE4 to go ahead.

DLP_553

Sam Andrews

Object

AL/BE2: the plan acknowledges that 158 is suitable (via the request for an access road through site AL/BE2 to “the land located to the north (158), which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan”). If suitable then, why not suitable now? 158 is a much more sustainable location than AL/BE4. 158 was considered as a site for a primary school and, at one point, as a site for 174 houses.

DLP_556

Christina Andrews

Object

AL/BE2: the plan acknowledges that 158 is suitable (via the request for an access road through site AL/BE2 to “the land located to the north (158), which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan”). If suitable then, why not suitable now? 158 is a much more sustainable location than AL/BE4. 158 was considered as a site for a primary school and, at one point, as a site for 174 houses.

DLP_2795

Mr Derek E Catlin

Object

TWBC. Draft Local Plan Consultation Document. Approval subject to Deletion of Policy 8 under AL/BE2

We wish to state our support for the draft village plan as now published. It produces approximately 95 new houses which were called for by TWBC sited on 4 parcels of land which are mostly brownfield sites although not exclusively. The choice of these limited sites avoids the building of a large estate which would ruin this beautiful village’s environment within the Wealds protected area of AONB.

Our support for the draft village plan is subject to Policy 8 under the conditions AL/BE2 being deleted. It is not relevant to this village plan because the site at Uphill is a brownfield site, (existing house and garden), whereas the land to the north of this, is a greenfield site which lays within the AONB.

We are aware of objections from some local residents to the development of sites at East End close to Benenden Hospital. With the recent development of the hospital, there will be a definite demand for housing nearby. Both of the proposed sites are on brown field land which is outside the ANOB.

DLP_2099

Terry Everest

Object

Object

Site has considerable numbers of trees and should not be developed over.

DLP_1753

Derek & Mary Catlin

 

We wish to state our support for the draft village plan as now published. It produces approximately 95 new houses which were called for by TWBC sited on 4 parcels of land which are mostly brownfield sites although not exclusively. The choice of these limited sites avoids the building of a large estate which would ruin this beautiful village’s environment within the Wealds protected area of AONB.

Our support for the draft village plan is subject to Policy 8 under the conditions AL/BE2 being deleted. It is not relevant to this village plan because the site at Uphill is a brownfield site, (existing house and garden), whereas the land to the north of this, is a greenfield site which lays within the AONB.

We are aware of objections from some local residents to the development of sites at East End close to Benenden Hospital. With the recent development of the hospital, there will be a definite demand for housing nearby. Both of the proposed sites are on brown field land which is outside the ANOB.

DLP_2179

Mrs Alexandra Betts

Support with conditions

Section 5 Policy AL/BE 2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road (known as Uphill) (CfS reference: Late Site 16)

With regards to Al/BE2 Uphill I agree that this is a suitable site in that it is a brownfield site, and am happy that it has been added to the redrawn plan of LBD of the village.

However, I urge TWBC to remove clause 8 to policy AL/BE2 (site LS16 Uphill) page 267:

The layout, including hard and soft landscaping, to be designed so as not to prejudice the future provision of a suitable vehicular access with appropriate visibility splay(s) to the land located to the north, which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan;

This is without doubt contrary to the wishes of the Benenden NDP–and leaves ourselves open to further development on top of the 100 odd new homes already put forward. This clause should be removed from the TW Local Draft Plan, because this clause is unnecessary. It actively encourages the future development of the field to the north of Uphill. Development of this piece of land will unlock access to the larger piece of land adjacent to it within the AONB (the majority of Site 158) and open up the potential for unchecked development across a huge swathe of countryside running the entire length of Benenden to the north. This would completely change the character of our community.

Clause 8 must be removed from the Local Plan before it progresses any further.

The SHELAA published July 2019 which includes both sites 16 and incorrectly including site 158 must be amended.

DLP_2484

Mr Adrian Betts

Support with conditions

I support this site as it is on the edge of the village and is of no particular landscape merit being a brownfield site .

Any planning consent should not lead to further development in adjoining land.

DLP_2391

Robert Petch

Object

I object to the section in the Local Plan on the parish of Benenden for the following reasons:

* AL/BE2: the plan acknowledges that 158 is suitable (via the request for an access road through site AL/BE2 to “the land located to the north (158), which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan”). If suitable then, why not suitable now? 158 is a much more sustainable location than AL/BE4. It was considered as a site for a primary school and, at one point, as a site for 174 houses.

DLP_3001

DHA Planning for Mr and Mrs B Gear

 

1 Introduction

1.1 Purpose of this report

1.1.1 This representation has been prepared on behalf of Mr and Mrs B Gear in response to the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (‘TWBC’) Draft Local Plan Consultation, which runs until 15th November 2019.

1.1.2 Mr and Mrs Gear own Uphill, Benenden, which is identified as an allocation for potential residential development within the emerging Local Plan. In terms of context, an established residential dwelling situated on the outer edge of the village. It lies outside of the defined ‘limits to built development’ (LBD), but adjacent to a predominantly residential area close to village services

1.1.3 The site is located within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (which washes over the whole village). However, it is otherwise free from any restrictive planning designations.

1.1.4 Based on the current national and local planning context, we agree with the Council that the site to be suitable for formal allocation and we consider there to be the ‘exceptional circumstances’ to allow development within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (‘AONB’). Give this context, this representation responds to the content of the draft plan (and relevant supporting documents), reinforces why the site remains suitable and deliverable.

2 The Tunbridge Wells Draft Local Plan

2.1 Overview

2.1.1 The TWBC Draft Local Plan (herein referred to as ‘the plan’) sets out the spatial vision, strategic objectives, and overarching development strategy for the borough. It details overarching place shaping policies for each parish and settlement, as well as site specific allocations to deliver the strategy and detailed policies to be applied to all new development.

2.1.2 The plan will set the agenda for development across the borough to 2036 and replace the current Development Plan, which comprises the Local Plan 2006 (saved policies), the Core Strategy 2010, and the Site Allocations Local Plan 2016.

2.1.3 This representation comments on the following elements of the plan:

  • Vision and Strategic Objectives;
  • Development Strategy and Strategic Policies; and
  • Place Shaping Policies for the Parish of Benenden.

2.2 Vision and Strategic Objectives

2.2.1 The TWBC draft Local Plan is underpinned by a future vision up to 2036 and beyond. The vision is for Tunbridge Wells to be vibrant and prosperous and there is also an expectation that it will have grown significantly. The Council aim for growth to be infrastructure led and largely funded by new development. The key components of the vision are summarised below:

  • The heart of Royal Tunbridge Wells and Southborough will be culturally rich, full of vitality, and will have the flexibility, robustness, and adaptability to cope with changes in the economy and other circumstances.
  • Paddock Wood as a settlement will have developed considerably (including on land in eastern Capel parish) on the basis of garden settlement principles, using a comprehensive, master-planned approach.
  • A new garden settlement will have been established at Tudeley Village, including homes, employment, and community facilities (which will continue to develop into the following years).
  • High quality development at other settlements across the borough will have been realised, with the timely provision of relevant infrastructure
  • Rural enterprise will have been supported, and the exceptional quality of the built and natural environments will have been protected and enhanced.

2.2.2 The plan stresses that all development will achieve high quality design, responding to the distinctive character of particular locations and in certain instances valued and protected landscapes. Further, the timely delivery of infrastructure will be central to the plan.

2.2.3 In order to turn this vision into reality the plan sets a number of strategic objectives.

  1. To deliver the housing, economic, and other needs identified for the borough by the end of the plan period through well designed, sustainable, plan led, and high quality development;
  2. To achieve the delivery of all forms of infrastructure to mitigate the impact of development and where possible to result in 'betterment';
  3. To prioritise active travel, but where necessary to plan appropriately for use by private motor vehicle, in particular embracing new technology;
  4. To boost significantly the supply of affordable housing, and to seek to redress the disparity between house prices and income in the borough;
  5. To ensure that the borough is vibrant, culturally rich, and economically buoyant;
  6. To protect the valued heritage, and built and natural environments of the borough, including the AONB and to achieve net gains for nature;
  7. To release appropriate land from the Green Belt through a plan-led approach, and to increase public accessibility, and to protect the openness of remaining Green Belt land;
  8. To tackle climate change and minimise the impact of development on communities, the economy, and the environment with carefully considered design and by embracing technology, such as renewable energy generation;
  9. To establish garden settlements as a model for the future delivery of development in the borough;
  10. To work with neighbourhood plan groups to ensure the formation of locally-led policies, with this reflected in decisions on planning applications.

2.2.4 We support the general thrust of these objectives, which seek to meet identified housing needs in full and boosting significantly the supply of new affordable homes. However, we would suggest some minor modification to clarify that the plan is positively prepared and fully aligned with the provisions of the National Planning Policy Framework (‘NPPF’). Indeed, we acknowledge that the Plan aspires to achieve the full development needs of the borough and therefore we consider that objective 1 should be modified to make certain on this point.

“To deliver the full housing, economic and other needs identified for the borough by the end of the plan period through well designed, sustainable, plan led and high quality development”

2.3 Development Strategy and Strategic Policies (Policy STR1)

2.3.1 The purpose of the Development Strategy is to outline how much development will be provided to meet the needs of the borough and where that development will be located.

2.3.2 In terms of the amount of housing, paragraph 59 of the NPPF states that to support the Government’s objective of significantly boosting the supply of homes, it is important that a sufficient amount and variety of land can come forward where it is needed. Further, to determine the number of homes needed, strategic policies should be informed by a local housing needs assessment conducted using the standard method in national planning guidance – unless exceptional circumstances justify an alternative approach which also reflects current and future demographic trends and market signals.

2.3.3 The Council confirm that their housing need target for the plan period 2016-2036 is 13,560 dwellings (678 dwellings per annum), which is calculated using the Governments standard method and the 2014-based household projections.

2.3.4 In terms of the different supply components, the Council consider that the Local Plan must (as a minimum) include additional allocations to accommodate 7,593 homes. This figure was formulated taking into account; completions since April 2016 (1,552); extant planning permissions (3,127); outstanding site allocations (588) and a windfall allowance (700 dwellings). The Council have applied a 10% non-delivery rate to these figures to err on the side of caution and consider that the plan would exceed the minimum housing requirement if all of the supply components were achieved.

2.3.5 We agree that TWBC is capable of meeting its need in full and support this approach to plan-making. Likewise, we support the general thrust of the development strategy, which proposes a strategy to meet the housing needs of the borough with a dispersed growth approach. Nonetheless, we have concerns regarding the deliverability of the strategy and the potentially over optimistic housing trajectory, particularly in respect of the delivery from key strategic sites (as outlined below).

2.3.6 We note that the emerging strategy is consolidated by Policy STR1, which sets out the quantum of development that will be allocated within or around settlements to meet the identified needs of the borough over the plan period. This strategy would seek to meet the majority of the Council’s housing need through the strategic extension of Paddock Wood and via a new Garden Village at Tudeley. The remaining growth would then be dispersed proportionately to other settlements in the borough.

2.3.7 We support the general principle of proportionately spreading the benefits of growth. Adopting a pattern of dispersed growth approach would allow a number of sites to be developed at the same time, serving different segments of the local housing market, which is preferable to saturation of the market in a single area.

2.3.8 Nonetheless, we have some concerns regarding the balance between strategic and non-strategic scale allocations and the anticipated delivery trajectory. For example, 65% of new allocations would be delivered as part of the strategic extension to Paddock Wood (4,000 homes) and the new Garden Village at Tudeley (1,900 homes within the plan period), both of which require a fully master-planned approach, which is a time-consuming process. Furthermore, there are a significant number of existing commitments within Paddock Wood that have been slower at coming forward than had originally been envisaged. A cautious approach is therefore needed.

2.3.9 In this regard, we would draw the Council’s attention back to the 2016 document published by Nathaniel Lichfield’s and Partners (NLP) - ‘Start to Finish: How Quickly do Large-Scale Housing Sites Deliver’, which provides evidence pertaining to the speed and rate of delivery of large-scale housing, based on a large number of sites across England and Wales. It identifies that the average lead in time for the submission of a planning application is 3.9 years, from the date the site is first identified. In terms of the planning approval period, for larger scale sites (2,000 + homes) this is circa 6 years. After planning permission is granted, larger sites start to deliver within a year and the average build out rate thereafter is 161 dwellings per annum, although it can be as high as 301 dwellings per annum.

2.3.10 On the basis of this research, if the Local plan is adopted by 2021, planning permission approved by 2023 and delivery commences within 6 years (2029), the likely deliver for the plan period would be no more than 966 homes.

2.3.11 Despite this evidence, TWBC has set a much more optimistic trajectory for delivery of Tudeley Garden Village and the strategic extension of Paddock Wood, which is detailed in the Housing Trajectory Paper. The Council forecast that the Tudeley Garden Village will begin to deliver homes from 2025/26 onward, with an initial build out rate of 150 dwellings per-annum, rising to 200 dwellings per annum from year 6 onward. Likewise, the Council suggests that the extension to Paddock Wood will start to deliver in 2024/25 at an average build out rate of 333 dwellings per annum – which is nearly double the average rate for larger schemes identified in the NLP document. This higher build out trajectory is predicated on an assumption that there would be a number of house builders involved the construction of different parts/phases. However, by their own admission, TWBC do not currently know who or how many housebuilders will be involved.

2.3.12 Taking the above into account, our view is that the Council have applied overly optimistic development trajectory for the delivery of strategic sites, both in terms of the start date for completions and the expected build out rates. Accordingly, we would encourage the Council to increase the balance of small and medium sized sites, which can deliver quickly and usually require limited intervention to infrastructure. Furthermore, it is essential that draft allocations such as our clients are retained and encouraged given the advancement of planning applications emphasises the deliverability of the land.

2.3.13 Given the absence of any similar scale strategic sites in Tunbridge Wells Borough as a point of comparison, one could have regard to similar scale delivery in neighbouring authority Tonbridge and Malling Borough. In this respect, we provide evidence below of its three key strategic sites and the associated delivery rates (derived from the Tonbridge and Malling BV Annual Monitoring Report 2017).

2.3.14 Kings Hill is an extremely prudent example to consider in the context of the Paddock Wood extension and new garden village at Tudeley, how deliverable this would be. Indeed, Kings Hill was a new village started in 1989 near land previously occupied by RAF West Malling. The concept was for a multipurpose site of both residential and office business space. The development is still being delivered some 30 years later, despite having multiple national housebuilders delivering different phases concurrently. Based on the most up-to-date delivery data for the last decade, Kings Hill has only delivered 131 dwellings per annum, despite multiple developers delivering concurrently. Furthermore, the earlier delivery phases we delivered at lower rates given the need to front load infrastructure.

2.3.15 Therefore, we consider that whilst some development may come forward in the plan period from the two proposed strategic sites, in reality these strategic allocations are longer terms aspirations that will extend beyond 2036.

2.3.16 Accordingly, we would encourage the Council to increase the balance of small and medium sized sites, which can deliver quickly and usually require limited intervention to infrastructure, particularly settlements such as Benenden and to reduce the reliance upon Tudeley within this current plan period.

2.4 Place Shaping Policies

2.4.1 The place shaping policies establish the spatial priorities for different areas in the borough, organised according to non-parish and parish areas. For each area, there is an overarching policy that development should adhere to and details are provided for individual allocated sites that will deliver the quantum of development proposed. The site-specific allocations provide both strategic and development management guidance.

Benenden

2.4.2 Policy STR/BE1 sets the proposed strategy for Benenden and states that Approximately 119-129 new dwellings will be delivered on four sites, including our client’s land at Uphill AL/BE 2.

2.4.3 Policy AL/BE 2 states that the land is allocated for residential development, including approximately 18-20 dwellings. Development on the site shall accord with the following requirements:

  1. A single point of access onto New Pond Road;
  2. The provision of a pedestrian footway from the site entrance, past Hortons Close, to the junction of New Pond Road and the B2086 (on highways land);
  3. Regard to be given to existing hedgerows and mature trees on site, with the layout and design of the development protecting those of most amenity value;
  4. an assessment of potential adverse effects on the Parsonage Wood SSSI;
  5. The MAGIC web site(41) identifies the potential for Woodpasture or Parkland, a BAP priority habitat, to be within 25m of the site. This should be taken into consideration as part of any detailed site-specific studies to inform development and any required mitigation (see Policy EN 12: Protection of designated sites and habitats);
  6. Design shall be sensitive to the approach and setting of the Benenden Conservation Area;
  7. Demonstration that the proposal will not have a materially harmful impact on the archaeological environment;
  8. The layout, including hard and soft landscaping, to be designed so as not to prejudice the future provision of a suitable vehicular access with appropriate visibility splay(s) to the land located to the north;
  9. affordable housing on-site to be in accordance with Policy H 5: Affordable Housing;
  10. Provision of on-site amenity/natural green space, and improvements to existing allotments, parks and recreation grounds, children’s play space and youth play.

2.4.4 Having regard to these draft requirements, our clients support the principle of the proposed allocation. The site represents a sustainable, logical and proportionate addition to the settlement boundary that would respect the established pattern of the village without altering its role or function within the settlement hierarchy.

2.4.5 The site is previously developed having regard to the principles established by the High Court case of Dartford Borough Council v Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government (Ref: CO/4129/2015). This case clarified that gardens in rural areas are brownfield. Furthermore, the land cannot be considered to be ‘isolated’ given it is surrounded by residential properties and lies on the edge of the village.

2.4.6 In respect of wider constraints, the site is located outside of the village conservation area and a reasonable distance from the closest listed building. The Grade II Old Manor House is located on the junction of The Street and New Pond Road. The boundary of the village conservation area ends south of the appraisal site but is separated by Horton Close. We therefore do not envisage any significant heritage concerns that would prohibit redevelopment. Any harm that is identified is likely to fall within the ‘less than substantial’ category and capable of being outweighed by the public benefits of the new housing.

2.4.7 It is acknowledged that any future application will need to be supported by a comprehensive transport statement. This would have regard to:

  • Access suitability;
  • Public Transport Links;
  • Accessibility to services;
  • Road Safety ;
  • Trip Generation;
  • Access; and
  • Servicing.

2.4.8 The total parking spaces will also have to be be provided in accordance with the Kent County Council IGN3 standards reflecting the size of the units proposed. Cycle parking spaces/storage should also be integrated into any future design.

2.4.9 An initial review by our sister company, DHA Transport, has been carried out and we consider there to be no transport related reasons to prohibit development.

2.4.10 We recognise that paragraph 163 of the NPPF states when determining planning applications, local planning authorities should ensure flood risk is not increased and should only consider development appropriate in areas at risk of flooding where, informed by a site-specific flood risk assessment. According to Environment Agency Flood Risk Mapping the site falls within Flood Zone 1 which has the lowest risk of flooding.

2.4.11 There are trees on site that would need to be assessed early in the design process, both for the arboricultural and ecological potential. However, the majority of trees are located on the boundary and could largely be retained. Trees that do require removal can likely be offset by compensatory planting as part of a future landscaping scheme. Any application will be informed by the appropriate ecological assessments.

2.4.12 Finally, we can confirm that the land is deliverable. In this regard, the landowner is at an advanced stage of considering a suitable development partner and is willing to enter into contract so that detailed masterplanning and site investigation can commence.

2.5 Exceptional Circumstances

2.5.1 Paragraph 172 of the NPPF states that great weight should be given to conserving landscape and scenic beauty in Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, which have the highest status of protection. It goes on to state that planning permission should be refused for major developments in AONB areas except in exceptional circumstances and where it can be demonstrated they are in the public interest.

2.5.2 Consideration of such major applications should include an assessment of:

(1) the need for the development, including in terms of any national considerations, and the impact of permitting it, or refusing it, upon the local economy;

(2) the cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere outside the designated area, or meeting the need for it in some other way; and

(3) any detrimental effect on the environment, the landscape and recreational opportunities, and the extent to which that could be moderated.

2.5.3 It is important to stress that footnote 55 of the NPPF is clear that for the purposes of paragraphs 172 and 173, whether a proposal is ‘major development’ is a matter for the decision maker, taking into account its nature, scale and setting, and whether it could have a significant adverse impact on the purposes for which the area has been designated or defined. The term has no direct correlation with the definitions set out in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) (England) Order 2015.

2.5.4 In our view the provision of 18 to 20 units on this largely enclosed site would not fall within the definition of ‘major development’. Nonetheless, for the sake of completeness we still set out below why we consider exceptional circumstances exist for the allocation of this site within the AONB.

2.6 The need for the development

2.6.1 As outlined by the plan, there is an overriding and growing housing need within the Borough. The Council’s SHMA findings initially identified the future need to plan for some 648 new homes per year. This in turn has seen a further uplift as a result of the standard methodology for calculating housing need, which based on the most credible set of population projections suggests a further uplift to circa 680 new homes per year.

2.6.2 In addition to the need moving forward, the previous difficulties in keeping pace with delivery has resulted in a need to accommodate a significant number of dwellings in the short term with a deficit in five year supply.

2.6.3 Given the current development plan has seen documented difficulties in meeting the existing core strategy housing target, the need for new housing is compelling and indisputable and must be addressed by the new plan as a priority.

2.7 The cost of, and scope for, developing elsewhere

2.7.1 Tunbridge Wells is a constrained borough. There are a number of archaeological and heritage sites, including 45 Historic Parks and Gardens, 25 Conservation Areas and 11 Scheduled Ancient Monuments. In addition, there are approximately 3,000 Listed Buildings.

2.7.2 The landscape of the High Weald AONB contains numerous historic landscape features, including field patterns, settlements and ancient woodland, whilst the borough also hosts a number of, or is close to, areas of ecological importance. These include:

  1. Ancient Woodland (approximately 16% of the borough)
  2. Circa 60 Local Wildlife Sites (approximately 11% of the borough)
  3. Ten Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)
  4. Five Local Nature Reserves (including one Community Woodland)
  5. One Regionally Important Geological Site, at Scotney Castle Quarry.

    2.7.3 The nearby Ashdown Forest is a designated Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and Special Protection Area (SPA).

2.7.4 Although not an environmental constraint, the Metropolitan Green Belt covers 22% of Tunbridge Wells borough.

2.7.5 Given the above constraints, it is acknowledged that planning for housing requires the need to balance a number of core environmental and planning matters in order to reach a sensitive future development strategy.

2.8 Any detrimental effects and the extent to which that could be moderated

2.8.1 Opportunity exists to moderate the effects of development, including substantial areas of landscaping and associated ecological and heritage buffers and the opportunity to increase public access to the land.

In summary, we support the Council’s conclusions that exceptional circumstances exist to justify the allocation of sustainable AONB land.

3 Section 6: Development Management Policies

3.1.1 In addition to our comments on the strategy, we have reviewed the proposed replacement development management policies as set out in chapter 6 of the document.

3.1.2 In general terms, we would refer back to paragraph 15 of the NPPF that promotes succinct and up-to-date plans, which provide a positive vision. In contrast, the draft policies currently proposed are of such prescriptive detail that they are neither positively prepared nor flexible enough to allow for a range of different circumstances. Furthermore, many aspirations result in inevitable conflict. On this basis, we would recommend that the majority of proposed policies are simplified and where additional guidance is needed, this be included within secondary Supplementary Planning Documents.

3.1.3 Turning to detailed policies, there are a number of contradictory elements that need to be remedied before the plan proceeds to Regulation 19. For example, policy EN1 seeks to ensure development is consistent with the established character and surrounding form. However, policy EN4 places significant emphasis on measures to radically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The provision of a step change towards more sustainable construction and climate change is, inevitably going to result in a need for a change in attitude towards design, material and construction. Accordingly, a cohesive policy approach is needed that allows innovative and different design if supported on wider environmental and planning grounds. As drafted the policies are too inconsistent.

3.1.4 A number of policies also seek to provide guidance rather than policy. For example, policy EN6 seeks to clarify what information is needed in order to assess a heritage proposal. This level of information should instead feature within a support SPD not policy.

3.1.5 In respect of the natural environment, policy EN20 seeks to protect the rural landscape. It states that development will be required to:

‘1. Conserve and enhance the unique and diverse variety and juxtaposition of the borough’s landscape and the special features that contribute positively to the local sense of place; and

2. Not cause significant harm to the landscape setting of settlements, including historic farmsteads and hamlets; and

3. Not result in unsympathetic change to the character of a rural lane, which is of landscape, amenity, nature conservation, or historic or archaeological importance; and

4. Restore landscape character where it has been eroded; and

5. Preserve intrinsically dark landscapes in accordance with Policy EN 10: Outdoor Lighting and Dark Skies’.

3.1.6 We support the principle of the policy but consider amendments are needed to ensure that it does not result in a blanket reason to refusal otherwise sustainable greenfield development. We suggest it be amended to read:

‘1. Conserve and enhance the unique and diverse variety and juxtaposition of the borough’s landscape and the special features that contribute positively to the local sense of place; and

2. Not cause Include appropriate mitigation to ensure against significant harm to the landscape setting of settlements, including historic farmsteads and hamlets; and

3. Not result in unsympathetic change to the character of a rural lane, which is of landscape, amenity, nature conservation, or historic or archaeological importance; and

4. Restore Enhance landscape character where it has been eroded; and

5. Preserve intrinsically dark landscapes in accordance with Policy EN 10: Outdoor Lighting and Dark Skies’.

3.1.7 Turning to housing policies, we have significant concerns about the drafting of several policies, that show a degree of misunderstanding of the development industry. For example, policy H1 states:

‘Unless there are exceptional circumstances due to specific site or development constraints, a condition will be attached to any grant of planning permission for new major residential development (including change of use) requiring one or the other of the following conditions:

1. That the permission be implemented within two years from the date of decision; or

2. That groundworks and the construction of the ground floor base of at least two buildings be completed within three years of the permission’.

3.1.8 Whilst the majority of developers would aspire to be ‘on site’ and under construction within 2 years, the reality is that there are often processes that need to be adhered to that are outside of the applicant’s control, including the need to formally conclude land purchases, to discharge conditions and to deliver off site mitigation. There are also ‘non-planning’ consents that need to be achieved for example Section 278 Highway works, infrastructure agreements (S38 of the Water Industry Act), ecology licensing etc

3.1.9 The Council will also be aware that commencement of development is often prohibited by seasonal restrictions in respect of ecology and wider constraints.

3.1.10 The second requirement for two buildings to be commenced is arbitrary, for example what is the test for single unit schemes or conversion works? The correct test should be as set out in statute i.e. ‘a material start’.

3.1.11 With the above in mind, we consider the Council’s policy should be deleted or modified to the extent that it will endeavour to agree a two year start date based on site circumstances.

3.1.12 In respect of policy H2, and the preference for Multi-developer schemes and comprehensive masterplanning, we understand the aspiration. However, in reality such stringent requests often result in conflict and further delay and the Council should be careful not to try and impose itself on wider commercial arrangements that may prohibit rather than assist delivery. With this in mind, it is our view that the Council should shift focus away from how it wishes to change development industry practices and instead concentrate on what it can influence, namely the provision of detailed guidance for the proposed site allocations (including potential phasing plans and areas zoned for different forms of development). The Council could also consider imposing an illustrative delivery trajectory as part of the validation process.

3.1.13 We note that policies H3 and H4 have regard to housing mix and density yet provide little or no detailed requirement. On the basis that mixes must reflect market requirements, we consider any aspirational densities would be better placed being inserted into the wider reaching policy EN1.

3.1.14 Finally, policy H5 sets out affordable housing requirements. Whilst we support the general thrust of the objectives and the securing of affordable provision, we object to the rounding up of the calculations and contributions being based on a net rather than gross number of units. For small scale proposals this will often see the proposed percentage increase to closer to 45% and 35% respectively. Such thresholds would therefore need to be tested and justified by evidence. A pragmatic approach would be to apply traditional rounding up or down.

3.1.15 The phasing of affordable provision also needs to be sufficiently flexible so as to not prohibit wider delivery. In this regard, we consider that entering into contract with a registered affordable prior ahead of the 50% occupation should provide the certainty of delivery, but without risking a wider delay in market delivery.

3.1.16 We also object to the expectation of sites that provide between one and nine units to pay a contribution towards affordable housing. This conflicts with Paragraph: 023 Reference ID: 23b-023-20190901 of National Planning Practice Guidance, which states planning obligations for affordable housing should only be sought for residential developments that are major developments. Any reduced threshold should be restricted to designated areas only and should be underpinned by detailed evidence.

3.1.17 The Council will be aware of wider country wide discussions regarding the viability of providing social rented accommodation as part of a wider offer. Such provision is becoming increasingly difficult and without robust policy in place that addresses this matter, this matter is likely to significantly slow delivery.

3.1.18 Finally, we note that the Council is only willing to allow the use of Vacant Building Credits in exceptional circumstances. However, the test proposed appear significantly more onerous than have been considered and applied elsewhere. Based on the tests proposed, we fear that there will be a delay in genuinely vacant buildings, that are entitled to use of VBC, to be delayed in coming forward in order to meet the overly onerous criteria.

3.1.19 In summary, whilst this overview is not exhaustive, we do have concerns about the nature of the proposed policy framework and the degree to which it appears to be trying to limit and frustrate development. Accordingly, in the interests of positive planning, we recommend that the policy framework is simplified and refined and subject to further detailed consultation and focussed on planning matters.

[TWBC: see the following comments on development management policies:

DLP_8348-8349: Policy EN1 and Policy EN4
DLP_8350: Policy EN6
DLP_8351: Policy EN20
DLP_8352: Policy H1
DLP_8353: Policy H2
DLP_8354-8355: Policies H3 and H4
DLP_8356: Policy H5
DLP_8357: Policy H8].

4 Conclusion

4.1.1 This representation has been prepared on behalf of Mr and Mrs B Gear in response to the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Draft Local Plan Consultation. The purpose being to provide comment on the Council’s proposed development strategy and the associated policies.

4.1.2 In this respect, we support the aspiration to meet housing need in full and consider that a dispersed growth strategy represents the optimum means to achieve this. Furthermore, we support the inclusion of our client’s site in Benenden.

4.1.3 It is important that such sites are retained within the Regulation 19 draft as we consider that the Local Plan strategy relies too heavily on the delivery of strategic sites that would require the provision of supporting infrastructure. Moreover, the Council have applied overly optimistic projections to the delivery of housing for the extension of Paddock Wood and the Tudeley Garden Village, largely disregarding the NLP 2016 report and the time it would take to masterplan the strategic sites and deliver the required infrastructure.

4.1.4 We trust the contents of this representation are clear and hope that the comments are useful in guiding the forthcoming stage of the plan making process.

DLP_3327

Kent County Council (Growth, Environment and Transport)

Support with conditions

Highways and Transportation

The Local Highway Authority conditionally supports this policy. The following changes are requested

Paragraph 2 - “The provision of a pedestrian footway from the site entrance, past Hortons Close, to the junction of New Pond Road and the B2086 (on highways land). This shall…”

The standard paragraph regarding contributions should feature in this policy - It is expected that mitigation measures will be implemented by the developer. A contribution may be taken if appropriate

With regards to point b in this policy, KCC is unaware of any works proposed for this junction. Therefore the removal and change to Any other highway works is requested.

Heritage Conservation

Scale 4 - Low level archaeology anticipated which could be dealt with through suitable conditions on a planning approval.

Some potential for prehistoric or later remains

DLP_3618

Southern Water Services Plc

Support with conditions

Southern Water is the statutory wastewater undertaker for Benenden. As such, we have undertaken a preliminary assessment of the capacity of our existing infrastructure and its ability to meet the forecast demand for this proposal. The assessment reveals that existing local sewerage infrastructure to the site has limited capacity to accommodate the proposed development. Limited capacity is not a constraint to development provided that planning policy and subsequent conditions ensure that occupation of the development is phased to align with the delivery of new wastewater infrastructure.

Proposals for 28 dwellings at this site will generate a need for reinforcement of the wastewater network in order to provide additional capacity to serve the development. This reinforcement will be provided through the New Infrastructure ch0rge to developers, and Southern Water will need to work with site promoters to understand the development program and to review whether the delivery of network reinforcement aligns with the occupation of the development. Connection of new development at this site ahead of new infrastructure delivery could lead to an increased risk of flooding unless the requisite works are implemented in advance of occupation. Southern Water has limited powers to prevent connections to the sewerage network, even when capacity is limited. Planning policies and conditions, therefore, play an important role in ensuring that development is coordinated with the provision of necessary infrastructure, and does not contribute to pollution of the environment, in line with paragraph 170(e) of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2019).

In consideration of the above, we recommend the following criterion is added to Policy AL/BE 2

Occupation of development will be phased to align with the delivery of sewerage infrastructure, in liaison with the service provider.

DLP_3579

Ian Bull Consultancy for Jarvis Strategic Land Ltd

Support with conditions

Jarvis Strategic Land Ltd support the proposed allocation at Land adjacent to New Pond Road, Benenden, but request that the site be extended to include the land adjoining the site to the North, edged red on the attached plan. The enlarged site will enable the site to deliver approximately 40 dwellings in a highly sustainable location.

DLP_5289

Wilf Andrews

 

AL/BE2: the plan acknowledges that 158 is suitable (via the request for an access road through site AL/BE2 to “the land located to the north (158), which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan”). If suitable then, why not suitable now? 158 is a much more sustainable location than AL/BE4. 158 was considered as a site for a  primary school and, at one point, as a site for 174 houses.

DLP_5638

Robert and Lynne Mills

 

However, we are extremely concerned regarding Policy AL/BE 2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road (known as Uphill) (CfS reference late site 16) 8 wording page 267:

“The layout, including hard and soft landscaping, to be designed so as not to prejudice the future provision of a suitable vehicular access with appropriate visibility splay(s) to the land located to the north, which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan.” 

We request that this paragraph should be removed from the Draft as this appears to be contrary to the Benenden NDP and would leave the Uphill site open to further ribbon development stretching unchecked across a massive swathe of countryside running the entire length of Benenden to the north and through to Walkhurst Road and Goddards Green Road.  This would completely change the character of our community and is completely unacceptable.

DLP_5684

Jan Dunkley

Object

With regard to Uphill, we are concerned by the addition of Clause 8 within PolicyAL/BE 2. We believe this to be a dangerous precedent as it could open up unchecked development across an area the north of the village which would completely change the character of this community. We would like to see Clause 8 removed from the Local Plan.

DLP_5953

Christopher & Mary Parkinson

Object

We are writing in support of the NDP produced by our Parish Council, and in favour of the use of the brown field sites at East End, where the community will be made more viable, rather than less, by the addition of more houses.

However, clause 8 within Policy AL/BE2 would appear to open the door to future development of the whole area of farmland bounded by New Pond Road, Goddards Green Road, Walkhurst Road and The Street, which must surely be avoided.

DLP_5962

Gerald Conyngham

Object

I am writing with comments about the part of the local plan which deals with housing allocation in Benenden. And in particular about site 158 which has been dropped from the plan as a possible site for development:

* This site was considered as a possible site for the new primary school and later TWBC officers considered it as a possible site for 174 houses. Under policy ALBE2, there is an acknowledgement that site 158 is suitable, via the request for an access road through site AL/BE2 to ‘the land located to the north ( ie 158), which may be allocated for development as part of a future local plan’. If suitable then, why is it not considered suitable now?.

* In the draft Benenden Neighbourhood Plan, it states that ‘the sustainability credentials of this site are high’.

* We are open minded about the number of houses that might be built on the site and do not have any particular number in mind at this time. We would be happy with a more modest development than 174. We would want a high proportion to be affordable, be open to local people, and meet the needs of elderly people and people with disabilities. And to be built in ways which fit into the local environment in terms of building design. We would seek a developer who could meet these criteria.

* In relation to Limits to Built Development it appears that sites were chosen first and then a line drawn round them to exclude other sites. Thus it appears that the line is somewhat arbitrary.

* The site lies at the heart of the village and building here would prevent ribbon development or development in random sites in the rural parts of the parish. In that sense it would preserve the rural nature of the parish in making it less necessary to build houses outside the built up village centre.

* It is a very good site from the point of view of sustainability and reducing pollution. People living there could walk to the village school, village shops, church and local meetings. There is no need for an extra car and the extra carbon emissions which would be essential for people living 3 miles from the heart of the village. Pedestrian access is already available to the site.

* It doesn’t make good planning sense to plan a large development at the East End and leave the village centre for development at some later time. It goes against the environmental interests of everyone.

* Using brownfield sites is said to be a priority yet the plan being proposed eats into the countryside since travel links, and the pollution associated with them, would be needed between the new settlement at the East End and the village. We believe that sustainability should be considered as the primary goal.

* In the comments on the original Neighbourhood Plan It was agreed that site 158 is not a site of particular wildlife significance. And is not visible thus reducing its attractiveness as a green field site.

* It does not block views and is discreetly hidden behind the Street, as are the current recent developments at St George’s Close and Horton’s Close.

* Development here supports the Borough Council’s recent commitment to make the District carbon neutral by 2030.

* The site 158 is specifically mentioned in the Strategic Housing and Land Availability Assessment paper (SHELAA) and I would make the following comments:

* It states that ‘the land lacks services and facilities including public transport’ yet it is central to the village and near bus stops so this is clearly inaccurate.

* It also states that the site is ‘sensitive in landscape terms and there is concern regarding scale and impact on the landscape’. However the site is hidden and well tucked away, unlike some of the other developments being approved. Also the scale of any development would be sensitively managed to ensure it fits well with the environment of the village.

* The site is also analysed in the Strategic Environmental Assessment for the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan and is given a rating of ‘likely positive effect’ under the headings of Population and Community, Health and Well being, and Transport.

* Under Population and Community it states that ‘Allocation of the site will contribute positively to meeting local housing needs. The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c 300m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities’.

* Under Health and Well being, it states that ‘The site is accessible to the village’s public rights of way and green infrastructure networks. ‘

* Under Transportation it makes the same point as in the Population and community above. And adds that ‘The site is approximately 250 m from the nearest bus stop with hourly services.’

All these points from the AECOM report reinforce the points made earlier in this submission.

In the light of all the points above, we conclude that the site is well placed for development and we recommend that the development takes place at the same time as the other sites approved .

DLP_5963

Sara Rowan & Peter Stennett

Object

We are writing to confirm our support for the above BNDP Regulation 14 Draft.

The sites that have been put forward seem to take into account  the need to preserve the overall appeal of Benenden and the surrounding areas , the (AONB), ancient woodland and the wildlife that lives in and around our village. On our own small patch we are visited daily by deer, badgers, foxes, bats , a vast array of birds and are host to a wide range of amphibians.

The four sites appear to offer a good balance for the supply of new houses which we are told by the Government and in turn the Local Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are required for the future of our community,  we must at all costs protect the character of Benenden village, the green spaces, beautiful countryside and vistas in our parish.

We feel that Site LS16 Uphill, as a  brownfield site is suitable for development .  However we are extremely concerned that in the TWBC Local Plan for this site AL/BE2 page 267 the wording under Section 8 reads: The layout, including hard and soft landscaping, to be designed so as not to prejudice the future provision of a suitable vehicular access with appropriate visibility splay(s) to the land located to the north, which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan.  This comment appears to be contrary to the Benenden NDP and would leave the Uphill site open to further ribbon development stretching unchecked across a massive swathe of countryside running the entire length of Benenden to the north and through to Walkhurst Road and Goddards Green Road.  This would completely change the character of our community and is completely unacceptable.

Clause 8 must therefore be removed from the TWBC Local Plan before it progresses any further.  It is also noted that the SHELAA published in the TWBC Local Plan July 2019 for Site 158 includes Site 16 which is incorrect and should be amended so that Site 16 is shown as an individual Site. Again this appears to be contrary to the Benenden NDP.  Both these comments are being made directly to TWBC.

As a large part of Benenden is within the AONB ,  the decision to develop on brownfield sites has to be preferable to building on greenfield sites, to us that is just common sense.

Putting together this Plan must have been no easy task, taking into account the many sensitive issues and conflicting interests , we feel that the best possible compromises  have been made and therefore fully support it.

Policy AL/BE 3: Feoffee Cottages and land, Walkhurst Road

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Object/support/support with conditions/general observation

Response

DLP_461

Evolution Town Planning for Hams Travel

Object

Please find attached our representations on behalf of Hams Travel in relation to the Local Plan policy and allocations around Benenden.  As part of these representations, we are promoting an excellent Brownfield Site, which has only just been confirmed as available for redevelopment.

Unlike many of the sites proposed to be allocated, this is a brownfield site and we consider that it has the potential to support local facilities within Benenden.  The site hasn’t previously been put forward in the Call for Sites, because it is only recently that the business’s plans to enlarge their other yard (in Flimwell) and relocate the Benenden part of the business to that site have been put forward as a planning application (currently live).  That application is progressing well (certainly in relation to the yard expansion at Flimwell and proposals to relocate the Benenden operations to Flimwell).  On this basis, we are confident that the Benenden site will be available for development in the near future.  It offers an excellent opportunity to delivery housing on a brownfield site and provide visual improvements to the ANOB.   We would be grateful if the Policy Team would now consider the benefits of this site, in addition to (or in preference of) some of those allocated.   We would welcome opportunity to discuss this site with you.    We are happy to submit a Call for Sites form if you would include it in that process as well?   In addition, it could be added to the Brownfield register.

Hams Coach Yard, Benenden 

Representations made on behalf of the Hams Travel

1.0 Introduction

1.1 These representations are submitted by Evolution Town Planning Ltd on behalf of our client and site owners, Hams Travel in response to consultation on the Draft Tunbridge Wells Local Plan Consultation (Regulation 18) 2019.

1.2 The representations relate to their site at Benenden, which has not previously been submitted in the ‘Call for Sites’ process (due to uncertainty about whether it would become available). However, as we will set out in this report, Hams Travel are now confident that this site can be released for development as it will shortly be surplus to requirements in the business. We consider that there are substantial benefits in developing this site over the other sites currently allocated and we therefore seek the allocation of this site in preference to, or in addition to, the other sites included around Benenden in the draft Local Plan. The extent of the site available is set out in Appendix 1.

1.3 These representations set out that we:

  • Support the Policy STR 1 (Development Strategy) and suggest that it should include greater flexibility to enable a wider range of windfall development outside of defined settlement boundaries.
  • Object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.
  • Object to policy AL/BE2 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE3 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE4 and suggest revisions.
  • Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard.

3.0 Representations: Objections Policy STR/BE1 and Allocations

3.1 We object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.

Objections and Revisions to the Allocations associated with policy STR/BE1

3.2 Having reviewed the strategy for site allocation in Benenden our main objection is a reliance on greenfield sites, when brownfield sites are available. We also object to the heavy reliance on one large site, which is extremely remote from the main village of Benenden. NPPF is clear that LPAs have a responsibility to make an effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities:

Planning policies and decisions should promote an effective use of land in meeting the need for homes and other uses, while safeguarding and improving the environment and ensuring safe and healthy living conditions. Strategic policies should set out a clear strategy for accommodating objectively assessed needs, in a way that makes as much use as possible of previously-developed or ‘brownfield’ land’ (paragraph 117).

3.3 The NPPF continues that LPAs should ‘give substantial weight to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements for homes and other identified needs, and support appropriate opportunities to remediate despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated or unstable land’ (paragraph 118).

3.4 We have assessed each of the allocations in and around Benenden and set out our comments and objections below:

AL/BE1 Land at Walkhurst Road – No Objection. This site already has planning permission and therefore has been proven to have no significant obstacles to development. We support the inclusion of this site.

AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site including arboricultural, ecological and possible archaeological constraints. We consider it to be a less suitable site for development than Hams Travel’s Coach Yard. Indeed, we question whether the rear part of the site with the most valuable trees and potential for archaeological interest is suitable for development at all. This should not be allocated in advance of brownfield opportunities, such as the Hams Travel site.

AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site and lies adjacent to ancient woodland and a Listed Building. It therefore has a number of constraints and should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, lacking any such constraints. We therefore do not consider that this site should be allocated in advance of the Hams Travel’s Coach Yard, which contains fewer constraints and is a brownfield opportunity.

AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection. Whilst we note this site has planning permission for 24 dwellings, further land for housing is now allocated. The allocation is the largest allocation listed as part of Benenden and yet the site is considerably remote from the settlement of Benenden and is not really part of Benenden at all. Moreover, since other brownfield sites are available in closer proximity to the settlement – such as the Hams Travel site, we do not consider it to be the most sustainable brownfield option available. It therefore should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, nearer to the settlement such as Hams Coach Yard.

3.5 We consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.6 We provide full details of this site’s opportunities for development at section 4 together with an explanation as to why this is being submitted for consideration after the Call for Sites.

3.7 In the meantime we consider that Policy STR/BE 1 (point 1) should be amended to include a 5th housing site in the Benenden area:

Approximately 119-129 129-139 new dwellings will be delivered on four five sites(*) allocated in this Local Plan in the plan period (Policies AL/BE 1-45). (*) Of these sites, the following already have planning permission: AL/BE 1 for 12 dwellings and AL/BE 4 for 22 (net increase) dwellings

3.8 The Hams Travel Coach Yard should provide this 5th housing allocation in the Benenden area, as set out in the following chapter.

3.9 We note that the proposed policy STR/BE 1 states that:

The Limits to Built Development (LBD) around Benenden are defined on the draft Policies Map. The LBD now includes the sites/part sites to be allocated in Benenden at Policies AL/BE 1-2, and 3 (part), but excludes Policy AL/BE 4 (there is no existing LBD at East End). As above, the LBD at Iden Green has been removed as this settlement has limited key facilities and bus services making it unsustainable in this context.’

3.10 If the Council agrees to include the Hams Travel Coach Yard within the allocations, the policy will need to be amended to include reference to Hams Travel’s yard as a 5th allocation, not necessarily within the Defined Settlement Boundary, but an allocation nonetheless.

Objections and Amendments to general policy provided by policy STR/BE1

3.11 In addition to the above general objections to the allocations made, we also object to parts of the remainder of the policy below. If the policy and allocations are not amended to include the Hams Travel site, we set out additional amendments, which we consider will assist in ensuring that the plan is both flexible and deliverable. Given the over reliance on housing delivery in and around Paddock Wood, we consider that these amendments will assist in protecting the plan against non-delivery in a housing market slow down (a major risk with a strategy dependent on large sites and a single housing market), by enabling the development of a wider range of brownfield sites around Benenden.

3.12 We object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Additional housing may be delivered through the redevelopment of appropriate sites and other windfall development in accordance with Policy STR 1’.

Our objection to Policy STR 1 is set out in the previous section. However we would be willing to support this clause of policy STR/BE1, if policy STR 1 is amended to support the allocation of Hams Travel’s Coach Yard and/or if clause (6) of that policy were amended to include support of ‘other suitable windfall developments including brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development;’ Likewise, our support of policy STR/BE1 cross referencing policy STR 1 is only given if clause 8 of that policy is amended to specifically state that there will be support for ‘minor’ applications within the AONB, particularly where these are ‘on brownfield sites where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB’.

3.13 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape;’

3.14 We consider that this clause would be improved if it were expanded to state that the redevelopment of brownfield sites will be considered to make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB, particularly where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements. We therefore suggest the following amendment:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape. The redevelopment of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively. Particularly where proposals will make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB and where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements;’

Summary

3.15 In response to policy STR/BE1, we have submitted that we do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection.

3.16 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.17 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 if it is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and we consider that the policy could be amended make this amendment, offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

3.18 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which could be improved by making clear that the development of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively.

4.0 Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard

4.1 Approximately 1.5km to the west of Benenden, along the B2086 between Benenden and Hartley, lies Hams Travel’s Benenden Coach Yard. Since the early 1990s this yard has provided an overflow facility for the main Hams Travel operation, accommodating their coachworks, workshop and some of the taller and longer vehicles used for international trips. As part of a reordering of the business, involving the expansion of the yard in Flimwell, Hams are due to consolidate operations on a single yard, making this site surplus to requirements.

4.2 Since it is largely brownfield, and NPPF state a preference for Brownfield development in making housing allocations, we propose this site here for inclusion in the next draft of the local plan. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible. The site has not been put forward previously, since there has been some uncertainty as to whether the Flimwell proposals will gain support. However, the yard extension proposals have gained the support of both Highways and the LPA, meaning that Hams Travel is now confident to put forward their Benenden site as a potential housing site in the Local Plan. Given that the LPA have allocated other sites which are not ‘brownfield’ we consider that these need to be reconsidered in light of the ‘substantial weight’ in favour of allocating Hams Travel’s previously developed site.

Site Description

4.3 The site is L shaped and roughly 1ha in size (the boundaries are defined at Appendix 1). The site comprises a substantial area of hard standing and a large workshop to the rear of the site, with an orchard area to the front of the site, transacted by the access road. The coach yard and workshop cover more than half of the site. The site benefits from good visibility splays in both directions and crashmap data reveals that there have been no recorded incidents associated with the access over the last 20 years.

4.4 The site has residential properties directly adjoining it to the south/east and the north. Immediately to the east is an agricultural field associated with Apple Pie Farm. To the west is a large lack, which forms the part of the large grounds at The Moat, a Grade II Listed property immediately to the west.

4.5 The site is within flood zone 1, with the lowest level of flood risk.

Designations

4.6 The site is in the High Weald AONB and a Parsonage Wood SSSI is approximately 500m away from the site. There are no RAMSAR Sites (proposed or existing), SPAs, SACs, Local or National Nature Reserves nearby.

4.7 As with much of Benenden, the site is within AONB. However, unlike other sites currently allocated in the Local Plan, the Hams Travel yard and workshop are brownfield sites which, by their redevelopment, offer the potential for substantial visual improvement and reduced visual impact on the AONB.

Planning History

4.8 Relevant planning history for the site reveals that Change of Use from agriculture to a coach yard with workshop and offices was first granted in 1988. Since then numbers of applications have been approved associated with the use of the site for a coach yard.

Development Potential

4.9 The road out of Benenden towards the Hams Travel yard is scattered with individual houses. The site is in no way an ‘isolated’ and development here would support the shops, school and other services within Benenden. We consider that this site has capacity to accommodate a minor development of around 9 homes, if development were restricted just to the brownfield part of the site and development were built at a density of 30 homes per hectare. If a lower density were sought, it is considered that there could be justification for building on some of the land between the hard-surfaced yard area and the road boundary. Either way, we consider that the site has capacity of around 9-10 homes.

4.10 The site is not known to be constrained by archaeology, being some distance from the likely route of the known roman road. The site is adjacent to a Listed Building, but since this benefits from substantial grounds and since the site is currently a coach yard, it is hoped that any proposals will improve the site’s relationship to the listed building.

4.11 In terms of ecological impacts, this would be assessed. However, we consider that development of the site could lead to ecological net gains as there is potential to strengthen and enhance the orchard, which is a ‘Priority Habitat’.

4.12 Since the site has been operating successfully as a coach yard for over 30 years, there are no anticipated highways concerns. If anything, developing the site would lead to highways benefits, by taking the coach traffic off the local highway network and relocating it over to Flimwell, where that site benefits from direct access onto the A21.

Summary

4.13 In view of the NPPF’s support for brownfield and the requirement that LPAs make effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities (paragraph 117), we consider that the LPA should consider allocated the Hams Travel site. It could make a valuable contribution to local housing supply and development in this location will support local facilities within Benenden. We consider that the site has potential for around 9-10 new homes on a relatively constraint free site. It is therefore preferable to some of the allocated sites and we consider that this site should be a preferred location for development.

5.0 Conclusions

5.1 On behalf of our client, Hams Travel, this report has provided a response to consultation on Draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan (Regulation 18) 2019.

5.2 These representations object to the strategic approach set out in policy STR1. We consider that policy STR1 ought to be amended to include less reliance on the new settlement and Paddock Wood sites and a greater proportion of smaller sites across the Borough. This policy could be amended to include reference to an allocation at our client’s yard. However, in addition we have also recommended amendments to the wording of the policy, to ensure that the plan is positively prepared and effective, allowing a greater flexibility than the policy currently allows. By relying on large developments around Paddock Wood for the majority of the Borough’s housing supply, we consider that in a downturn in the market, the large sites will be vulnerable to slowed delivery and this could risk the plan being found unsound.

5.3 We suggest by amending the policy to state that ‘suitable windfall developments’ could include brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and that in relation to the AONB, minor proposals for housing development would be supported where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB. Both of these amendments would help guard against non-delivery of the larger sites that the plan relies on, should there be a downturn in the housing market. These suggestions will improve the deliverability of the Council’s housing targets.

5.4 These representations also object to the approach set out in policy STR/BE1 in relation to Benenden and the numbers of the allocations relating to development around Benenden. We do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection

5.5 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB, ecological improvements and is without known constraints. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

5.6 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 in policy STR/BE1 if STR 1 is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and also offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

5.7 Our client’s site has not previously been put forward (as it has been in use). However, it is now anticipated to be available in the very near future, is suitable for development (being largely brownfield) and is deliverable for development with no known constraints. This makes the site preferable to numbers of the allocated sites, which are greenfield, contain ecological and archaeological constraints and are not all well related to the settlement of Benenden. We consider that amendments to the Proposals Map should be made to include this site for housing development.

Appendix 1 – Hams Travel Location Plan

These are the notes referred to on the following official copy

The electronic official copy of the title plan follows this message.

Please note that this is the only official copy we will issue. We will not issue a paper official copy.

This official copy was delivered electronically and when printed will not be to scale. You can obtain a paper official copy by ordering one from HM Land Registry.

This official copy is issued on 14 October 2019 shows the state of this title plan on 14 October 2019 at 11:46:56. It is admissible in evidence to the same extent as the original (s.67 Land Registration Act 2002). This title plan shows the general position, not the exact line, of the boundaries. It may be subject to distortions in scale. Measurements scaled from this plan may not match measurements between the same points on the ground.

This title is dealt with by the HM Land Registry, Nottingham Office .

© Crown copyright. Produced by HM Land Registry. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the prior written permission of Ordnance Survey. Licence Number 100026316.

[TWBC: see Appendix 1 Land Registry document and site location plan in full representation].

DLP_2100

Terry Everest

Object

Object

A reduction in the size of the development and numbers of buildings is called for to improve its amenity in context.

DLP_3328

Kent County Council (Growth, Environment and Transport)

Support with conditions

Highways and Transportation

The Local Highway Authority conditionally supports this policy. The following change is requested:

The standard paragraph regarding contributions should feature in this policy - It is expected that mitigation measures will be implemented by the developer. A contribution may be taken if appropriate

Heritage Conservation

Scale 4 - Low level archaeology anticipated which could be dealt with through suitable conditions on a planning approval.

Some potential for prehistoric or later remains

DLP_3619

Southern Water Services Plc

Support with conditions

Southern Water is the statutory wastewater undertaker for Benenden. As such, we have undertaken a preliminary assessment of the capacity of our existing infrastructure and its ability to meet the forecast demand for this proposal. The assessment reveals that existing local sewerage infrastructure to the site has limited capacity to accommodate the proposed development. Limited capacity is not a constraint to development provided that planning policy and subsequent conditions ensure that occupation of the development is phased to align with the delivery of new wastewater infrastructure.

Proposals for 25 dwellings at this site will generate a need for reinforcement of the wastewater network in order to provide additional capacity to serve the development. This reinforcement will be provided through the New Infrastructure charge to developers, and Southern Water will need to work with site promoters to understand the development program and to review whether the delivery of network reinforcement aligns with the occupation of the development. Connection of new development at this site ahead of new infrastructure delivery could lead to an increased risk of flooding unless the requisite works are implemented in advance of occupation. Southern Water has limited powers to prevent connections to the sewerage network, even when capacity is limited. Planning policies and conditions, therefore, play an important role in ensuring that development is coordinated with the provision of necessary infrastructure, and does not contribute to pollution of the environment, in line with paragraph 170(e) of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2019).

In consideration of the above, we recommend the following criterion is added to Policy AL/BE 3

Occupation of development will be phased to align with the delivery of sewerage infrastructure, in liaison with the service provider.

DLP_5971

Sara Rowan & Peter Stennett

Support

We are writing to confirm our support for the above BNDP Regulation 14 Draft.

The sites that have been put forward seem to take into account  the need to preserve the overall appeal of Benenden and the surrounding areas , the (AONB), ancient woodland and the wildlife that lives in and around our village. On our own small patch we are visited daily by deer, badgers, foxes, bats , a vast array of birds and are host to a wide range of amphibians.

The four sites appear to offer a good balance for the supply of new houses which we are told by the Government and in turn the Local Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are required for the future of our community,  we must at all costs protect the character of Benenden village, the green spaces, beautiful countryside and vistas in our parish.

Site 277, Land Adjacent to Feoffee Cottages, although not a brownfield site is fully supported with regard to its location, almost an infill area along with being near to Rothermere Close and existing affordable housing.

As a large part of Benenden is within the AONB ,  the decision to develop on brownfield sites has to be preferable to building on greenfield sites, to us that is just common sense.

Putting together this Plan must have been no easy task, taking into account the many sensitive issues and conflicting interests , we feel that the best possible compromises  have been made and therefore fully support it.

Policy AL/BE 4: Land at Benenden Hospital

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Object/support/support with conditions/general observation

Response

DLP_7738

Fiona Chapman

Object

I object to that section which deals with the parish of Benenden because it is inconsistent with the Objectives and Strategic Policies of the Plan, especially in relation to site AL/BE4. The SHELAA paper also shows inconsistencies in its assessment of various non-allocated sites relative to the plan’s Objectives and Strategies, as well as to the AECOM report (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners).

AL/BE4 The Local Plan states that 50 new houses are planned for the East End while 57 are planned for the village and none at all for Iden Green. This misleads. In calculating the number of new houses in the village, the Local Plan includes 12 houses on Walkhurst road now under construction. It should therefore also include 24 houses approved at the hospital site, but not yet built and 18 new houses, also at the hospital which are planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village (at AL/BE 1, 2 & 3) and of course to the number of zero houses planned for Iden Green.

AL/BE4. The East End is a remote, rural area covering almost one third of the parish and the hospital site is 3 miles from the village. It contains 76 households. (There are 840 households in the parish as a whole). The 42 new houses already planned is a more than 50% increase in the number of households. 50 new houses on top of that will overwhelm the East End and fundamentally change its character. AL/BE4 is inconsistent with Objective 1 (Vision) which talks about “garden settlements” in relation to Paddock Wood and Tudely BUT about “growth” at “other settlements across the borough”. The proposed East End development, so distant from the existing village, is not growth but a new settlement.

* The East End has no nursery school, no pub, no restaurant, no community hall and no footpath or bike path links to the village (the bike route proposed in the plan is vigorously opposed by all concerned landowners). It was never a hamlet and has no main street lined with old weather boarded houses. Unlike Benenden and Iden Green, its name does not derive from a ‘den’ but from a 17th century division of the parish into three sections for taxation purposes. It is because of its remoteness that it was chosen as a site for a sanatorium. Increasing the housing to this extent and at this site is contrary to Objective 2 to “deliver housing ..through… sustainable development.” It is also contrary to STR 2 which promises a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that is not for its own sake, but growth that brings benefits for the environment and all sectors of the community.” This growth benefits primarily Benenden Healthcare Society, a mutual fund based in York and shirt sponsor of the York football Club. Not exactly a local interest group.

AL/BE4 is contrary to STR 5 which talks about the importance of access to “early years” education and access to play spaces. There is no nursery school at the site and use of the hospital’s tennis courts are being offered only to those who live on site. There is no cultural infrastructure, not even a community hall.

* The plan is inconsistent with 4.59 which talks of the need to “reduce private car dependence”. This site will have fewer than normal affordable houses because only families who can afford two or more cars would find everyday life on this remote site feasible. Yet STR 6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements… to help reduce the need to travel”. The Local Plan says it wishes to “reduce the need to travel” but AL/BE4 increases it.

AL/BE4 is inconsistent with the aims of the TW Council’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Panel. The Council is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in relation to borough council assets, while forcing them up , through BE4, in relation to private development. We recall Objective 2 “to tackle climate change”.

AL/BE4 is inconsistent with STR5 which talks of the need to provide adequate means for “dealing with the removal of foul water”. The East End is not connected to a mains sewage system.

* The Local Plan makes much of the fact that most of BE4 is a brownfield site but disregards STR 2 which urges a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that brings benefits for the environment.” Further, this environment contains one valuable Local Wildlife Site and two others sit on the boundary of the site. The Kent Wildlife Trust sees these as SSSI standard (see KWT letter to TWBC 4 March 2013 the site fulfils “the criteria for it to be considered a SSSI”)) and the High Weald AONB states, in its objections to the Local Plan, that these sites constitute “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Nowhere in the LP objectives does it state that brownfield considerations override either sustainability or environmental considerations. On the contrary, STR2 suggests the opposite. Further, being greenfield is no barrier to development (see sites AL/BE1 and AL/BE3). Similarly, being a brownfield site should be no barrier to protecting the environment and insisting on sustainable development. We recall Objective 2, to “deliver ..housing …through.. sustainable development” and “to protect the …natural environment.”

AL/BE4 is allocated because it is outside the AONB. The implication is that this is out of respect for the AONB, yet the Local Plan development site at BE4 overlaps the boundary with the AONB in four separate points.

AL/BE4 undermines TWBC’s Management Plan with the High Weald AONB which states in their comments on the draft Local Plan that councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2)rather than by creating a new settlement in a rural area which will overwhelm the locality. The High Weald AONB also points out several other objections which are dealt with more fully in this paper:

o by developing on the high ridge which runs east to west across the northern part of the parish, the Council is planning a new settlement which will dominate the landscape to the south for miles, though it will not be visible from the built-up area of the village.

o because the hospital site itself was deliberately left out of the AONB boundary when it was set up, the site forms a bubble bulging into the AONB landscape and so the truism that land immediately adjacent to AONBs contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB is exceptionally applicable at this site.

o chosen as a site for a sanatorium BE4 has long views to the south facing the south westerlies which carry clean sea air inland, and because it is remote.

o the sanatorium, established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air in a tranquil setting. Unfortunately, the draft TW Local Plan disregards these goals, assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.

o The site is home to important historic architecture. There is the Grade II listed Lister Building on one side and the redundant hospital pavilion building on the other. The latter, built by the architect Augustus William West, who won King Edward VII’s 1902 competition to build a new sanatorium for England, is a rare example of early British modernism. It makes an important contribution to the cultural history not only of the High Weald but also nationally (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal). BE4 would see the demolition of this important heritage building. It therefore undermines Policy STR8 which talks of the importance of “conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment”, and point 10 of that Policy, which talks of the need for “the positive management of heritage assets”. The plan is at odds with Objective 2 “to protect the valued heritage …. of the borough.”

DLP_7915

Fiona Dagger

Object

The development at Benenden Hospital will have a significant effect on the purposes on the AONB landscape and this issue has not been properly considered by the Plan.

The Section 85 ‘duty of regard’ requires all relevant authorities to have regard to the purpose of AONBs when coming to decisions or carrying out their activities relating to, or affecting land within these areas. The PPG says of AONBs “Land within the setting of these areas often makes an important contribution to maintaining their natural beauty, and where poorly located or designed development can do significant harm. This is especially the case where long views from or to the designated landscape are identified as important, or where the landscape character of land within and adjoining the designated area is complementary. Development within the settings of these areas will therefore need sensitive handling that takes these potential impacts into account” (Paragraph: 042 Reference ID: 8-042-20190721, revised 21 07 2019).

Impacts will not just be confined to the visual or physical effects such as on habitats or watercourses connecting the AONB with its surroundings, but will also add to the visitor numbers using the AONB and the traffic travelling through it, affecting the same sense of naturalness, remoteness, tranquillity and dark skies referred to above.

The redundant hospital building, an example of early British Modernism, provides an important contribution to the cultural history of the High Weald. It embodies the ambition of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, under which AONBs are designated, which was to provide a natural health service to mirror the National Health Service created one year previously. Funded by the union movement, Benenden Sanatorium was built for postal workers suffering from tuberculosis. It occupies a rural location with clean air and long views over typical High Weald countryside.

This site includes rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.

DLP_314

Colin Inwood

Object

I object to the plan on the following grounds, all of them relating to the section dealing with the parish of Benenden:

  • AL/BE4: the plan almost doubles the area of land to be developed at the hospital without identifying the number of houses to go onto this new area. It increases the number of houses to go in the area on the eastern side of the hospital site (the one cited in the Neighbourhood Plan) to 90.  The East End has 74 households.  It is the most rural part of the village which is why it was chosen as the site for a sanatorium.  It will be swamped with 90 houses. The number is ruinous in terms of the rural nature of the landscape of the parish of Benenden. It will indelibly alter our AONB, our parish and our village. These are not just lots of houses but houses with no centre, with no historic heart.
  • AL/BE4: there is great imbalance in a plan for 90 houses at the East End and only 57 in the village. Further, the East End is the most rural part of the parish with only 74 households. You propose more than doubling our population, and giving us, a rural area, almost half the total of houses allocated for the parish. Why this imbalance?
  • AL/BE4: your housing numbers mislead.  You should include the numbers of those already approved but not built (24) and the numbers for replacing existing small semi-detached houses without garages, with large separate new buildings with garages (18)
  • AL/BE4: it is contrary to planning policy to build outside a village. On this scale, it creates satellite village
  • AL/BE4: TWBC has just set up a cross-party task force on sustainability and biodiversity. Its aim is to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. How does the AL/BE4 comply with the task force's mission? There will be no affordable housing because it is too far from the village. Every household will have at least 2 cars and probably more.
  • AL/BE4: traffic along Goddards Green Road is already problematic.  Where are the plans to widen Goddards Green Road? The plan more than doubles the number of cars in the East End as it more than doubles the number of households. It threatens a severe increase in pollution.
  • AL/BE4: you almost double the size of the area up for development at the East End (compared to the Neighbourhood Plan). This does not increase your control of the hospital's housing plans.  It lessens it.

AL/BE4: the plan is for an area surrounded by AONB land and projecting directly into the AONB at four points. It does not respect AONB regulations.

DLP_343

Maureen Inwood

Object

I object to the plan on the following grounds, all of them relating to the section dealing with the parish of Benenden:


* AL/BE4: the plan almost doubles the area of land to be developed at the hospital without identifying the number of houses to go onto this new area. It increases the number of houses to go in the area on the eastern side of the hospital site (the one cited in the Neighbourhood Plan) to 90. The East End has 74 households. It is the most rural part of the village which is why it was chosen as the site for a sanatorium. It will be swamped with 90 houses. The number is ruinous in terms of the rural nature of the landscape of the parish of Benenden. It will indelibly alter our AONB, our parish and our village. These are not just lots of houses but houses with no centre, with no historic heart.

* AL/BE4: there is great imbalance in a plan for 90 houses at the East End and only 57 in the village. Further, the East End is the most rural part of the parish with only 74 households. You propose more than doubling our population, and giving us, a rural area, almost half the total of houses allocated for the parish. Why this imbalance?

* AL/BE4: your housing numbers mislead. You should include the numbers of those already approved but not built (24) and the numbers for replacing existing small semi-detached houses without garages, with large separate new buildings with garages (18)

* AL/BE4: it is contrary to planning policy to build outside a village. On this scale, it creates satellite village

* AL/BE4: TWBC has just set up a cross-party task force on sustainability and biodiversity. Its aim is to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. How does the AL/BE4 comply with the task force's mission? There will be no affordable housing because it is too far from the village. Every household will have at least 2 cars and probably more.

* AL/BE4: traffic along Goddards Green Road is already problematic. Where are the plans to widen Goddards Green Road? The plan more than doubles the number of cars in the East End as it more than doubles the number of households. It threatens a severe increase in pollution.

* AL/BE4: you almost double the size of the area up for development at the East End (compared to the Neighbourhood Plan). This does not increase your control of the hospital's housing plans. It lessens it.

* AL/BE4: the plan is for an area surrounded by AONB land and projecting directly into the AONB at four points. It does not respect AONB regulations.

DLP_396

Andrew Wadsworth

Object

We, the undersigned, object to the Local Plan (LP) in so far as it affects Benenden. In essence, our case is that the proposed development at the East End is excessive, inappropriate and unsustainable, and that it contravenes well-established policies. The East End is a sparsely populated rural area containing about 74 households. The housing allocation can readily be met on sites nearer to the village centre which are consonant with common sense policies.

1. The unsuitability of the Site AL/BE4 (LP page 273 on)

(a)  The area outlined in this proposal includes not only the sites 424 and 41 allocated in the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan (NP) but also the part of the hospital which is still in use as such, and the new part recently built on a greenfield site west of the original building. In four separate areas, this allocated site overlaps the boundary of the AONB. The part of BE4 west of Green Lane was not included in the call for sites. The LP page 274 suggests 66 to 72 residential units, of which there is extant permission for 22 new dwellings on the south side, an increase of 44 - 50. Counting in the existing largely unused dwellings which are intended or likely to be replaced, 18 on the north side and 2 on the south, the total number comes out at 86-92 new houses. That is the overall total when the development is complete, on a site which was described correctly in the original draft NP as unsustainable.  Many of the existing houses are not occupied and the sites currently do not contribute to traffic movements on Goddards Green Road. These figures are in agreement with those in the NP.

(b)  Since the housing allocations are limited to the sites 424 and 41 (NP) the increased size of area BE4 in the LP to include the hospital site west of Green Lane serves no purpose other than to show that sites 41 and 424 are the thin end of the wedge. The whole of the allocations fit into sites 424 and 41, as the NP shows. The excess should be omitted from BE4.

(c)  The hospital site is on a prominence and is visible form the south for a long way. It is divided by Goddard Green Road (GGR), running from New Pond Road in the west to Castleton's Oak crossroads in the east, on the edge of the parish. This is a narrow rural lane with one lane in each direction, but with barely room for two lorries to pass. There is no other practical route which traffic can take between the site and the village centre. At present, the hospital accounts for some 400 traffic movements per day. The average numbers of cars packed there is 250 per day, almost all of which get there and back on GGR. which will continue whatever the outcome of the consultation. At present the traffic movements emanating from the sites 41 and 424 are virtually nil. 424 is boarded off. So the development of these sites will necessarily add to traffic movements on the inadequate road. 80 to 90 new houses will produce at least 240 traffic movements, and more likely 300, especially as these sites include limited affordable housing and are built almost three miles from the school, shops and meeting places in the village. This is an increase of 75%. There is no proposal to widen GGR, with or without s.106 contributions or CIL payment, if that system is adopted.

(d) If the new housing stock is occupied by families, there will be a need regularly to go to and from the village centre for school, shops and its other facilities, none of which is present in the East End. Contrary to the statement on page 204, there is neither a pre-school nursery in the East End nor a shop at the hospital. Facilities which are not publicly available (page 265) are of no value to the community. The Plan seeks to remedy the absence of facilities in its Policy AL/BE4, page 274, by requiring means to secure the public use of the cafe at the hospital and the provision of a small publicly accessible shop within the existing hospital buildings and a daily minibus service. This cannot be done as planning obligation under a S.106 agreement, since it is all taking place off-site, but can only require a payment under that provision to TWBC. There is however, the extraordinary provision on page 274, Policy AL/BE 4 item ii, that an application for part of the site only must include mechanisms to ensure that the minibus and retail store provision, active travel link and public access to the cafe can be provided through that part of the site alone. This means that the facilities are not open to the public outside the site in question. Why would those living on the site need access to the cafe? What would the shop be required to sell? And how much would such a condition or S.106 agreement be enforced? These conditions are fanciful and do not bear examination. Nor do they create a viable basis for a new community.

(e) The SHELAA assessment (site assessment sheets for Benenden Parish) says "Residents will rely heavily on private cars and thus air quality and travel objectives score negatively". Although promoted by policy, shared transport and active travel options are unlikely to take precedence over private vehicle use, thus air quality and climate change also score negatively. This has been ignored in spite of the fact that TWBC has recently appointed a cross-party task force to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. This Plan undermines the Borough Council's declared environmental goals.

(f) The reason given for its suitability is that this is mostly a PDL (Previously Developed Land) site that already benefits from an extant planning consent. This is a non-sequitur. The existence of a so-far unused planning consent for 24 houses is not a reason for increasing the number three and half times over. Rather, it is a reason not to. The effect on the localilty of a small, self-contained development of 24 houses is wholly different from a vast estate of up to 90 houses.

(g) Although neither the plan not the supporting documents say so, there may be two other factors which have encouraged the planners to allocate a large housing estate to the hospital site. One is that since the hospital trust has charitable status it is obliged to maximise the value of its assets by developing as much of its unused land as it can. That is of course not a planning reason, since the planning system does not exist to assist organisations, however worthy, to make money. Rather it is a reason to be firm in setting limits to development which can be sustained. It was the hospital's choice to move westwards on to a greenfield site, thereby releasing land which had previously been used for its main function. The planning system is there for the benefit of the community, not the individual organisation.

(h)  The second matter relied upon is that the hospital is likely to, or may threaten to, apply for planning permission in any event on the basis that these are brownfield sites, and will if necessary take the matter to court. Fear of litigation is not a valid planning reason. In any application for permission the Local Plan carries considerable weight. The fact that a site has become a brownfield site does not override every other factor, and a strongly argued well supported local plan can be effective. Sustainability is a far more relevant factor.

(i)  Page 275 - contributions required. This is not acceptable. Measures relating to the highways are the province of Kent County Council which has made no commitment to carry out any works here or in the locality. While the TWBC may collect the contributions under S.106, they cannot require them to be spent on highways. If they choose to levy a CIL, the contributions could be spent anywhere. These are therefore ineffective ideals. Expressions such as the "public realm in the centre of Benenden" and "other highway-related matters" are tenuous, vague and therefore meaningless.

(j)  The proposed cycle link cannot be achieved without the agreement of landowners. The principle landowner has refused his consent. It does not provide direct access to the village centre, but at best, a recreational activity. The reality, as stated in the SHELAA report is that private cars will be used. Car parking in Benenden is limited to kerbside parking, the village hall and a small strip at the north end of Cherryfields.

2. Alternative Sites

There are several alternative sites which are capable of taking up the number of houses required to meet the target, if the dwellings allocated to the hospital site are left at the present number, that is, 24 new houses on site 424 (BE4). These sites are 158, next to site 16 and incorporated in AL/BE2, site 222 and site 66 in Benenden centre, and sites 8 and 437 East in Iden Green.

(a) The Limit to Built Development (LBD) is an artificial line drawn where the planners want to exclude some sites and include others. The decision on inclusion of sites comes first, and the line is drawn round to include them. In fact the LBD line line should reflect what is on the ground, see LBD Topic Paper paragrapgh 7.1 (a). Benenden's does not. It extends eastwards beyond the primary school on Rolveden Road, but stops at the crossroads - as far as the public school gates on both sides. Excluding this part of the built development has the effect of preserving the houses along the B2086 west of the crossroads from unwelcome infilling. There is clearly no prospect of infilling in the suggested tightly drawn LBD to the east of the crossroads. Sites 222 and 158 are outside the LBD, as currently drawn, but could as well be in it had it been drawn fairly. There is a deficit in process here, in failing to to include the obvious built development. Site 158 is adjacent to site 16, Uphill, which was outside the LBD before the re-drawing The process is therefore to allocate a site, then draw the LBD line round it and say "Look, it is fine because it is in the LBD."

(b) Similarly, the proposed removal of a LBD entirely from Iden Green intentionally prevents the allocation of housing to infill sites, see page 4, paragraph 7.5, item 2 and page 7, paragraph 8.1 (b) of the Limit to Built Development Topic paper, which says: The removal of two LBDs at Iden Green (Benenden) ....... as both of these settlemnts are considered to be unsuitable for further development as they have limited key facilities and bus services making them unsustainable in this context. This part of the parish is currently subject to an LBD which would give rise to the presumption that both of these sites, 8 and 437 East, would be developed. The proposed removal of the LBD would remove that presumption.

(c)  Site 158. This is next to Uphill, site BE2, which was included within the LBD by adjusting the boundary. Page 270, item 8, requires the layout not to prejudice the provision of vehicular access to site 158 "which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan." It is not needed now only because of the over-allocation of houses at the East End. The SHELAA aggregates sites 158 and 16. The potential yield of the two sites together is given as 50-65 houses. The site is within walking distance of the village amenities. And so the sustainability assessment, which refers to lack of services and facilities including public transport is misconceived. The reason given for the rejection of the area outside of site 16 (that is 158) does not bear examination and is vague. This site is regarded as suitable for allocation in a future Local Plan. Its landscape impact is the same as it is on 16. This site was originally one of two sites considered as the site of the new village primary school and it was earmarked in early discussions with the TWBC planners as suitable for housing. The TWBC proposed 174 dwellings for this site in 2018.

(d)  Site 222. This site is on the southwest corner of the crossroads apart from the area around the pond which is directly on that corner and which is to be left as a green space for the future village use (it is not currently open to  the public) is only outside the LBD because that line has been perversely drawn to exclude that built development to the west. The experience of sites BE1 and BE2 show that LBD can be adjusted to enclose an allocated site or it can be ignored, as in the case of site BE4. The SHELAA report is basically wrong. Part of the site is not within the Benenden Conservation area. It is within walking distance of all village amenities so the alleged lack of services and facilities, including public transport is totally wrong.

(e) Site 66 is analysed in the NP HSA sheets, pages 9 and 10. It is regarded as suitable and achievable. There is no valid reason to reject it..

(f)  The Iden Green sites. The reasons given for rejecting them is that they are outside the LBD. That is not true at present. It would become true if the proposed removal of the LBD is adopted. It is said taht there are no amenities, but Iden Green is in fact only a mile from the village, and has a pub/restaurant, a nursery school and a community hall. There is a paved footpath link to the village giving access to the primary school, church and village centre. This path follows a Roadside Nature Reserve for less than half a mile and the becomes a metalled footpath through fields to a church and adjacent primary school. Compare this with the sites in the East End, three miles from the village centre, which has no such facilities nor a direct link with the village except by car.

(g) Iden Green has had several parcels of land offered in the call for sites yet each has been rejected. Site 8, for example, a site for 26 houses lying between Chapel Lane and Iden Green Road and surrounded by houses in the heart of a hamlet, has been rejected on the grounds that it is in "a remote location from services and facilities and public transport", (see SHELAA, and site assessment sheets Appendix K) which is a good description of the East End but not of this site. Site 8 is a greenfield site and within the AONB but this is also true of the two sites on Walkhurst Road, the primary school and the hospital site which includes Local Wildlife Sites and overlaps into the AONB.

(h) Other sites in Iden Green have been rejected, such as 437, a very large site, as if it were only available in one piece for a very large number of houses. In fact, a small group of houses could be considered in a small suitable section of the whole, for example, that part of this site which lies to the easy of Iden Green and in the centre of the hamlet, adjacent to an existing housing estate and close to the pavement which connects the hamlet to the Village.

3. Conclusion

In the circumstances we invite the Borough Council to reject that part of the Local Plan which relates to Benenden. Its effect would be to create a satellite village in the East End with currently no amenities, no realistic prospect of obtaining any, and requiring greatly increased vehicle movements on unsuitable roads. The fact that it is said to be a brownfield site is not sufficient to override the fact that it is plainly an unsustainable site, nor to exclude more suitable sites in the village centre, where the complicated and probably unattainable conditions suggested for this site will not be needed.

DLP_462

Evolution Town Planning for Hams Travel

Object

Please find attached our representations on behalf of Hams Travel in relation to the Local Plan policy and allocations around Benenden.  As part of these representations, we are promoting an excellent Brownfield Site, which has only just been confirmed as available for redevelopment.

Unlike many of the sites proposed to be allocated, this is a brownfield site and we consider that it has the potential to support local facilities within Benenden.  The site hasn’t previously been put forward in the Call for Sites, because it is only recently that the business’s plans to enlarge their other yard (in Flimwell) and relocate the Benenden part of the business to that site have been put forward as a planning application (currently live).  That application is progressing well (certainly in relation to the yard expansion at Flimwell and proposals to relocate the Benenden operations to Flimwell).  On this basis, we are confident that the Benenden site will be available for development in the near future.  It offers an excellent opportunity to delivery housing on a brownfield site and provide visual improvements to the ANOB.   We would be grateful if the Policy Team would now consider the benefits of this site, in addition to (or in preference of) some of those allocated.   We would welcome opportunity to discuss this site with you.    We are happy to submit a Call for Sites form if you would include it in that process as well?   In addition, it could be added to the Brownfield register.

Hams Coach Yard, Benenden 

Representations made on behalf of the Hams Travel

1.0 Introduction

1.1 These representations are submitted by Evolution Town Planning Ltd on behalf of our client and site owners, Hams Travel in response to consultation on the Draft Tunbridge Wells Local Plan Consultation (Regulation 18) 2019.

1.2 The representations relate to their site at Benenden, which has not previously been submitted in the ‘Call for Sites’ process (due to uncertainty about whether it would become available). However, as we will set out in this report, Hams Travel are now confident that this site can be released for development as it will shortly be surplus to requirements in the business. We consider that there are substantial benefits in developing this site over the other sites currently allocated and we therefore seek the allocation of this site in preference to, or in addition to, the other sites included around Benenden in the draft Local Plan. The extent of the site available is set out in Appendix 1.

1.3 These representations set out that we:

  • Support the Policy STR 1 (Development Strategy) and suggest that it should include greater flexibility to enable a wider range of windfall development outside of defined settlement boundaries.
  • Object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.
  • Object to policy AL/BE2 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE3 and suggest removal or revisions.
  • Object to policy AL/BE4 and suggest revisions.
  • Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard.

3.0 Representations: Objections Policy STR/BE1 and Allocations

3.1 We object to policy STR/BE1 and suggest revisions including the allocation of Hams Travel’s Surplus Yard.

Objections and Revisions to the Allocations associated with policy STR/BE1

3.2 Having reviewed the strategy for site allocation in Benenden our main objection is a reliance on greenfield sites, when brownfield sites are available. We also object to the heavy reliance on one large site, which is extremely remote from the main village of Benenden. NPPF is clear that LPAs have a responsibility to make an effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities:

Planning policies and decisions should promote an effective use of land in meeting the need for homes and other uses, while safeguarding and improving the environment and ensuring safe and healthy living conditions. Strategic policies should set out a clear strategy for accommodating objectively assessed needs, in a way that makes as much use as possible of previously-developed or ‘brownfield’ land’ (paragraph 117).

3.3 The NPPF continues that LPAs should ‘give substantial weight to the value of using suitable brownfield land within settlements for homes and other identified needs, and support appropriate opportunities to remediate despoiled, degraded, derelict, contaminated or unstable land’ (paragraph 118).

3.4 We have assessed each of the allocations in and around Benenden and set out our comments and objections below:

AL/BE1 Land at Walkhurst Road – No Objection. This site already has planning permission and therefore has been proven to have no significant obstacles to development. We support the inclusion of this site.

AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site including arboricultural, ecological and possible archaeological constraints. We consider it to be a less suitable site for development than Hams Travel’s Coach Yard. Indeed, we question whether the rear part of the site with the most valuable trees and potential for archaeological interest is suitable for development at all. This should not be allocated in advance of brownfield opportunities, such as the Hams Travel site.

AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection. This is a greenfield site and lies adjacent to ancient woodland and a Listed Building. It therefore has a number of constraints and should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, lacking any such constraints. We therefore do not consider that this site should be allocated in advance of the Hams Travel’s Coach Yard, which contains fewer constraints and is a brownfield opportunity.

AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection. Whilst we note this site has planning permission for 24 dwellings, further land for housing is now allocated. The allocation is the largest allocation listed as part of Benenden and yet the site is considerably remote from the settlement of Benenden and is not really part of Benenden at all. Moreover, since other brownfield sites are available in closer proximity to the settlement – such as the Hams Travel site, we do not consider it to be the most sustainable brownfield option available. It therefore should not be allocated in advance of brownfield sites, nearer to the settlement such as Hams Coach Yard.

3.5 We consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.6 We provide full details of this site’s opportunities for development at section 4 together with an explanation as to why this is being submitted for consideration after the Call for Sites.

3.7 In the meantime we consider that Policy STR/BE 1 (point 1) should be amended to include a 5th housing site in the Benenden area:

Approximately 119-129 129-139 new dwellings will be delivered on four five sites(*) allocated in this Local Plan in the plan period (Policies AL/BE 1-45). (*) Of these sites, the following already have planning permission: AL/BE 1 for 12 dwellings and AL/BE 4 for 22 (net increase) dwellings

3.8 The Hams Travel Coach Yard should provide this 5th housing allocation in the Benenden area, as set out in the following chapter.

3.9 We note that the proposed policy STR/BE 1 states that:

The Limits to Built Development (LBD) around Benenden are defined on the draft Policies Map. The LBD now includes the sites/part sites to be allocated in Benenden at Policies AL/BE 1-2, and 3 (part), but excludes Policy AL/BE 4 (there is no existing LBD at East End). As above, the LBD at Iden Green has been removed as this settlement has limited key facilities and bus services making it unsustainable in this context.’

3.10 If the Council agrees to include the Hams Travel Coach Yard within the allocations, the policy will need to be amended to include reference to Hams Travel’s yard as a 5th allocation, not necessarily within the Defined Settlement Boundary, but an allocation nonetheless.

Objections and Amendments to general policy provided by policy STR/BE1

3.11 In addition to the above general objections to the allocations made, we also object to parts of the remainder of the policy below. If the policy and allocations are not amended to include the Hams Travel site, we set out additional amendments, which we consider will assist in ensuring that the plan is both flexible and deliverable. Given the over reliance on housing delivery in and around Paddock Wood, we consider that these amendments will assist in protecting the plan against non-delivery in a housing market slow down (a major risk with a strategy dependent on large sites and a single housing market), by enabling the development of a wider range of brownfield sites around Benenden.

3.12 We object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Additional housing may be delivered through the redevelopment of appropriate sites and other windfall development in accordance with Policy STR 1’.

Our objection to Policy STR 1 is set out in the previous section. However we would be willing to support this clause of policy STR/BE1, if policy STR 1 is amended to support the allocation of Hams Travel’s Coach Yard and/or if clause (6) of that policy were amended to include support of ‘other suitable windfall developments including brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development;’ Likewise, our support of policy STR/BE1 cross referencing policy STR 1 is only given if clause 8 of that policy is amended to specifically state that there will be support for ‘minor’ applications within the AONB, particularly where these are ‘on brownfield sites where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB’.

3.13 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which states:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape;’

3.14 We consider that this clause would be improved if it were expanded to state that the redevelopment of brownfield sites will be considered to make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB, particularly where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements. We therefore suggest the following amendment:

Where a site is within the AONB, it should be demonstrated that the proposal will make a positive contribution towards achieving the objectives of the most recent AONB Management Plan and show how relevant guidance from the AONB Joint Advisory Committee has been considered to meet the high standards required of the other policies in this Plan for the High Weald AONB landscape. The redevelopment of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively. Particularly where proposals will make a positive contribution towards the objectives of managing the AONB and where they can be demonstrated to have visual improvements;’

Summary

3.15 In response to policy STR/BE1, we have submitted that we do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection.
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection.

3.16 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

3.17 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 if it is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and we consider that the policy could be amended make this amendment, offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

3.18 We also object to clause 2 of policy STR/BE1 which could be improved by making clear that the development of redundant brownfield sites will be considered positively.

4.0 Suggest Inclusion of new allocation, to allocate Hams Travel’s Surplus Bus Yard

4.1 Approximately 1.5km to the west of Benenden, along the B2086 between Benenden and Hartley, lies Hams Travel’s Benenden Coach Yard. Since the early 1990s this yard has provided an overflow facility for the main Hams Travel operation, accommodating their coachworks, workshop and some of the taller and longer vehicles used for international trips. As part of a reordering of the business, involving the expansion of the yard in Flimwell, Hams are due to consolidate operations on a single yard, making this site surplus to requirements.

4.2 Since it is largely brownfield, and NPPF state a preference for Brownfield development in making housing allocations, we propose this site here for inclusion in the next draft of the local plan. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible. The site has not been put forward previously, since there has been some uncertainty as to whether the Flimwell proposals will gain support. However, the yard extension proposals have gained the support of both Highways and the LPA, meaning that Hams Travel is now confident to put forward their Benenden site as a potential housing site in the Local Plan. Given that the LPA have allocated other sites which are not ‘brownfield’ we consider that these need to be reconsidered in light of the ‘substantial weight’ in favour of allocating Hams Travel’s previously developed site.

Site Description

4.3 The site is L shaped and roughly 1ha in size (the boundaries are defined at Appendix 1). The site comprises a substantial area of hard standing and a large workshop to the rear of the site, with an orchard area to the front of the site, transacted by the access road. The coach yard and workshop cover more than half of the site. The site benefits from good visibility splays in both directions and crashmap data reveals that there have been no recorded incidents associated with the access over the last 20 years.

4.4 The site has residential properties directly adjoining it to the south/east and the north. Immediately to the east is an agricultural field associated with Apple Pie Farm. To the west is a large lack, which forms the part of the large grounds at The Moat, a Grade II Listed property immediately to the west.

4.5 The site is within flood zone 1, with the lowest level of flood risk.

Designations

4.6 The site is in the High Weald AONB and a Parsonage Wood SSSI is approximately 500m away from the site. There are no RAMSAR Sites (proposed or existing), SPAs, SACs, Local or National Nature Reserves nearby.

4.7 As with much of Benenden, the site is within AONB. However, unlike other sites currently allocated in the Local Plan, the Hams Travel yard and workshop are brownfield sites which, by their redevelopment, offer the potential for substantial visual improvement and reduced visual impact on the AONB.

Planning History

4.8 Relevant planning history for the site reveals that Change of Use from agriculture to a coach yard with workshop and offices was first granted in 1988. Since then numbers of applications have been approved associated with the use of the site for a coach yard.

Development Potential

4.9 The road out of Benenden towards the Hams Travel yard is scattered with individual houses. The site is in no way an ‘isolated’ and development here would support the shops, school and other services within Benenden. We consider that this site has capacity to accommodate a minor development of around 9 homes, if development were restricted just to the brownfield part of the site and development were built at a density of 30 homes per hectare. If a lower density were sought, it is considered that there could be justification for building on some of the land between the hard-surfaced yard area and the road boundary. Either way, we consider that the site has capacity of around 9-10 homes.

4.10 The site is not known to be constrained by archaeology, being some distance from the likely route of the known roman road. The site is adjacent to a Listed Building, but since this benefits from substantial grounds and since the site is currently a coach yard, it is hoped that any proposals will improve the site’s relationship to the listed building.

4.11 In terms of ecological impacts, this would be assessed. However, we consider that development of the site could lead to ecological net gains as there is potential to strengthen and enhance the orchard, which is a ‘Priority Habitat’.

4.12 Since the site has been operating successfully as a coach yard for over 30 years, there are no anticipated highways concerns. If anything, developing the site would lead to highways benefits, by taking the coach traffic off the local highway network and relocating it over to Flimwell, where that site benefits from direct access onto the A21.

Summary

4.13 In view of the NPPF’s support for brownfield and the requirement that LPAs make effective use of land, prioritising brownfield land to make ‘as much use as possible’ of brownfield opportunities (paragraph 117), we consider that the LPA should consider allocated the Hams Travel site. It could make a valuable contribution to local housing supply and development in this location will support local facilities within Benenden. We consider that the site has potential for around 9-10 new homes on a relatively constraint free site. It is therefore preferable to some of the allocated sites and we consider that this site should be a preferred location for development.

5.0 Conclusions

5.1 On behalf of our client, Hams Travel, this report has provided a response to consultation on Draft Tunbridge Wells Borough Local Plan (Regulation 18) 2019.

5.2 These representations object to the strategic approach set out in policy STR1. We consider that policy STR1 ought to be amended to include less reliance on the new settlement and Paddock Wood sites and a greater proportion of smaller sites across the Borough. This policy could be amended to include reference to an allocation at our client’s yard. However, in addition we have also recommended amendments to the wording of the policy, to ensure that the plan is positively prepared and effective, allowing a greater flexibility than the policy currently allows. By relying on large developments around Paddock Wood for the majority of the Borough’s housing supply, we consider that in a downturn in the market, the large sites will be vulnerable to slowed delivery and this could risk the plan being found unsound.

5.3 We suggest by amending the policy to state that ‘suitable windfall developments’ could include brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and that in relation to the AONB, minor proposals for housing development would be supported where there are opportunities for enhancements for the AONB. Both of these amendments would help guard against non-delivery of the larger sites that the plan relies on, should there be a downturn in the housing market. These suggestions will improve the deliverability of the Council’s housing targets.

5.4 These representations also object to the approach set out in policy STR/BE1 in relation to Benenden and the numbers of the allocations relating to development around Benenden. We do not support the following allocations in the area around Benenden:

  • AL/BE2 Land adjacent to New Pond Road – Objection
  • AL/BE3 Feoffee Cottage and land, Walkhurst Road – Objection
  • AL/BE4 Benenden Hospital – Objection

5.5 Rather, we consider that a preferable allocation would be Hams Coach Yard, since this is largely brownfield, is surplus to requirements and is nearer to Benenden than the only other brownfield allocation at Benenden Hospital. Development of this site also offers opportunities for visual improvements of the AONB, ecological improvements and is without known constraints. NPPF supports an approach which gives ‘substantial weight’ to the allocation of brownfield sites and which uses as much brownfield land as possible.

5.6 We only support the cross reference to Policy STR 1 in policy STR/BE1 if STR 1 is amended to support the development of brownfield sites outside of the Limits to Built Development and also offering support to minor applications which would offer such an opportunity.

5.7 Our client’s site has not previously been put forward (as it has been in use). However, it is now anticipated to be available in the very near future, is suitable for development (being largely brownfield) and is deliverable for development with no known constraints. This makes the site preferable to numbers of the allocated sites, which are greenfield, contain ecological and archaeological constraints and are not all well related to the settlement of Benenden. We consider that amendments to the Proposals Map should be made to include this site for housing development.

Appendix 1 – Hams Travel Location Plan

These are the notes referred to on the following official copy

The electronic official copy of the title plan follows this message.

Please note that this is the only official copy we will issue. We will not issue a paper official copy.

This official copy was delivered electronically and when printed will not be to scale. You can obtain a paper official copy by ordering one from HM Land Registry.

This official copy is issued on 14 October 2019 shows the state of this title plan on 14 October 2019 at 11:46:56. It is admissible in evidence to the same extent as the original (s.67 Land Registration Act 2002). This title plan shows the general position, not the exact line, of the boundaries. It may be subject to distortions in scale. Measurements scaled from this plan may not match measurements between the same points on the ground.

This title is dealt with by the HM Land Registry, Nottingham Office .

© Crown copyright. Produced by HM Land Registry. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without the prior written permission of Ordnance Survey. Licence Number 100026316.

[TWBC: see Appendix 1 Land Registry document and site location plan in full representation].

DLP_8155

Richard Dowse

Object

Tunbridge Wells Local Plan

Objections to that part which deals with the parish of Benenden

I object to that section which deals with the parish of Benenden because it is inconsistent with the Objectives and Strategic Policies of the Plan, especially in relation to site AL/BE4. The SHELAA paper also shows inconsistencies in its assessment of various non-allocated sites relative to the plan’s Objectives and Strategies, as well as to the AECOM report (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners).

  • AL/BE4 The Local Plan states that 50 new houses are planned for the East End while 57 are planned for the village and none at all for Iden Green. This misleads. In calculating the number of new houses in the village, the Local Plan includes 12 houses on Walkhurst road now under construction. It should therefore also include 24 houses approved at the hospital site, but not yet built and 18 new houses, also at the hospital which are planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village (at AL/BE 1, 2 & 3) and of course to the number of zero houses planned for Iden Green.
  • AL/BE4. The East End is a remote, rural area covering almost one third of the parish and the hospital site is 3 miles from the village. It contains 76 households. (There are 840 households in the parish as a whole). The 42 new houses already planned is a more than 50% increase in the number of households. 50 new houses on top of that will overwhelm the East End and fundamentally change its character. AL/BE4 is inconsistent with Objective 1 (Vision) which talks about “garden settlements” in relation to Paddock Wood and Tudely BUT about “growth” at “other settlements across the borough”.  The proposed East End development, so distant from the existing village, is not growth but a new settlement.
  • The East End has no nursery school, no pub, no restaurant, no community hall and no footpath or bike path links to the village (the bike route proposed in the plan is vigorously opposed by all concerned landowners). It was never a hamlet and has no main street lined with old weather boarded houses. Unlike Benenden and Iden Green, its name does not derive from a ‘den’ but from a 17th century division of the parish into three sections for taxation purposes. It is because of its remoteness that it was chosen as a site for a sanatorium. Increasing the housing to this extent and at this site is contrary to Objective 2 to “deliver housing ..through… sustainable development.” It is also contrary to STR 2 which promises a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that is not for its own sake, but growth that brings benefits for the environment and all sectors of the community.” This growth benefits primarily Benenden Healthcare Society, a mutual fund based in York and shirt sponsor of the York football Club. Not exactly a local interest group.
  • AL/BE4 is contrary to STR 5 which talks about the importance of access to “early years” education and access to play spaces. There is no nursery school at the site and use of the hospital’s tennis courts are being offered only to those who live on site. There is no cultural infrastructure, not even a community hall.
  • The plan is inconsistent with 4.59 which talks of the need to “reduce private car dependence”. This site will have fewer than normal affordable houses because only families who can afford two or more cars would find everyday life on this remote site feasible.  Yet STR 6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements… to help reduce the need to travel”. The Local Plan says it wishes to “reduce the need to travel” but AL/BE4 increases it.
  • AL/BE4 is inconsistent with the aims of the TW Council’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Panel. The Council is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in relation to borough council assets, while forcing them up , through BE4, in relation to private development. We recall Objective 2 “to tackle climate change”.
  • AL/BE4 is inconsistent with STR5 which talks of the need to provide adequate means for “dealing with the removal of foul water”. The East End is not connected to a mains sewage system.
  • The Local Plan makes much of the fact that most of BE4 is a brownfield site but disregards STR 2 which urges a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that brings benefits for the environment.” Further, this environment contains one valuable Local Wildlife Site and two others sit on the boundary of the site. The Kent Wildlife Trust sees these as SSSI standard (see KWT letter to TWBC 4 March 2013 the site fulfils “the criteria for it to be considered a SSSI”)) and the High Weald AONB states, in its objections to the Local Plan, that these sites constitute “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Nowhere in the LP objectives does it state that brownfield considerations override either sustainability or environmental considerations. On the contrary, STR2 suggests the opposite. Further, being greenfield is no barrier to development (see sites AL/BE1 and AL/BE3). Similarly, being a brownfield site should be no barrier to protecting the environment and insisting on sustainable development. We recall Objective 2, to “deliver ..housing …through.. sustainable development” and “to protect the …natural environment.”
  • AL/BE4 is allocated because it is outside the AONB. The implication is that this is out of respect for the AONB, yet the Local Plan development site at BE4 overlaps the boundary with the AONB in four separate points.
  • AL/BE4 undermines TWBC’s Management Plan with the High Weald AONB which states in their comments on the draft Local Plan that councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2) rather than by creating a new settlement in a rural area which will overwhelm the locality. The High Weald AONB also points out several other objections which are dealt with more fully in this paper:
    • by developing on the high ridge which runs east to west across the northern part of the parish, the Council is planning a new settlement which will dominate the landscape to the south for miles, though it will not be visible from the built-up area of the village.
    • because the hospital site itself was deliberately left out of the AONB boundary when it was set up, the site forms a bubble bulging into the AONB landscape and so the truism that land immediately adjacent to AONBs contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB is exceptionally applicable at this site.
    • chosen as a site for a sanatorium BE4 has long views to the south facing the south westerlies which carry clean sea air inland, and because it is remote.
    • the sanatorium, established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air in a tranquil setting. Unfortunately, the draft TW Local Plan disregards these goals, assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.
    • The site is home to important historic architecture. There is the Grade II listed Lister Building on one side and the redundant hospital pavilion building on the other. The latter, built by the architect Augustus William West, who won King Edward VII’s 1902 competition to build a new sanatorium for England, is a rare example of early British modernism. It makes an important contribution to the cultural history not only of the High Weald but also nationally (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal). BE4 would see the demolition of this important heritage building. It therefore undermines Policy STR8 which talks of the importance of “conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment”, and point 10 of that Policy, which talks of the need for “the positive management of heritage assets”. The plan is at odds with Objective 2 “to protect the valued heritage …. of the borough.”
  • Limits to Built Development the plan shows consistent inconsistency over matters relating to LBDs. The village LBD is to be altered, or rather engineered, to include areas currently outside the LBD but slated for development (AL/BE1, AL/BE2 and AL/BE3) and to exclude those not currently favoured, such as 158 and 222. At Iden Green, where the neighbourhood plan and the LP recommend no development at all, the LBD is to be removed thereby freezing the hamlet in time by stopping all infill. This is inconsistent with Objective 1 urging the growth of existing settlements.
  • It is inconsistent to urge under STR1 that “development at other settlements across the borough (be) within their respective Limits to Built Development boundaries” and then also urge development at the East End which is not only entirely outside any LBD but as far outside as it is possible to get and still be within the parish.
  • SHELAA

This paper contains many statements which are so inaccurate as to provoke smiles, if not sighs of disbelief. For example, its assessment of sites 158 and 222, both of which are regarded as unsuitable, for they “lack services and facilities including public transport at the settlement.” Yet the AECOM assessment (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners) says of 222 “Allocation of this site will contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs.  The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c.100m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities.” And of site 158 AECOM reads “allocation of the site will contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs.  The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c.300m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities.”  The reality on the ground agrees with the AECOM argument.

  • Site 158 is rejected but only on a temporary basis. See AL/BE3 which requires an access route be allowed on that site for a road to access development on the land to the north, which is Site 158. This temporary rejection is curious. Delay in building at site 158 and instead building, at least in the first instance, 3 miles distant from the village, means that the parish will endure a double whammy of fairly large scale development. 92 houses at the hospital and 65 at 158 (considered by the council in 2018 as suitable for 174 houses). Building in two areas at some distance from each other, instead of from the settlement centre outwards, maximises damage to the environment and wildlife habitat as “travel connectivity” between the two are established. It threatens the landscape, tranquility and rural nature of the entire parish. It also raises questions of common sense, quite apart from challenging Objective 2, to “protect the valued heritage of the borough” and to “tackle climate change”. It is of interest to know why council officers changed their minds about siting development originally at site 158, once considered a site for building the new primary school. Why the decision to delay building there, at the expense of the East End and eventually, at the expense of the rural nature of the entire parish?
  • Site 222 As already stated, SHELAA conclusions are based on unsound statements on accessibility and the availability of services and transport. Further, the Neighbourhood Plan assessment of the site fails to point out that the pond at the crossroads has been offered to the village as a public space.
  • Site LS8 is not allocated because it is allegedly “remote” and far from local services and facilities and public transport. This for once, echoes the AECOM view which says “The site is located in Iden Green, which has no amenities (with the exception of the nursery school). As such, the location has poor accessibility to day-to-day services and facilities. However the site is located adjacent to a bus stop with relatively frequent services to a range of destinations.” The statement seems to contradict itself and does so even while remaining ignorant of all the amenities of Iden Green: its popular and ancient Woodcock pub-cum-restaurant, its community hall, its tennis courts, and above all its paved footpath used by children attending the village primary school. This path has been used by school crocodiles when children, walking with two parents, take a particularly agreeable route to school in the village centre. The pavement flows from the hamlet through a Roadside Nature Reserve to the kissing gate at the foot of Hilly Fields.  From there, a tarmacked path takes walkers to a second kissing gate into the Beadle’s Platt by the church.  The children walk through the church yard to the new school built the other side of the Glebe Field.  It is a charming, safe, educational and even idyllic walk. The SHELAA conclusion on LS8 is unsound.
  • Lastly, the SHELAA inherits the confirmatory bias of Benenden Neighbourhood Plan which dismissed all the large sites in the parish on the grounds that building on part of any of these sites would mean building on the entire site. This is not the case. Development of that part of 437 East in Iden Green which lies directly beside an existing housing estate, would consolidate the hamlet at its core, as building at site LS8 would also do. This bias is unsound and therefore the decisions subsequent to it, are also unsound.
  • In paragraph 5.107 it is stated that Benenden Hospital is a major employer in Benenden: that may be so, but its employees, apart from one or two, do not live in the parish, nor contribute to the local economy. There is nowhere locally for them to spend their money. In any event, this factor does not entitle the hospital to special privileges in planning terms, particularly where those privileges run counter to the policies set out above.  Planning is intended to be exercised for the benefit of the community.
  • The whole of policy AL/BE4 in paragraph 5.108 seems to have been written by or on behalf of the landowner. For example, item 2 allows development anywhere in the non-hatched area as shown on the map. This includes the whole of the area to the west of Green Lane, even including the newly built section of the hospital and the new car park.
  • Item 3 of the policy leaves it up to the hospital to decide whether or not to incorporate tennis courts, car parks or access to the sports pavilion: it says that the hospital must do this, “unless it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that these facilities are no longer required by the hospital in the short and long term”. Clearly not much of an obligation.
  • Then we get the vaguely worded requirement in paragraph 1 requiring “Provision of an active travel link between the site and Benenden village (see Policy TP 2: …)” The only item in policy TP2 which relates to travel links outside the confines of the site, item 2, is a requirement that “There is public transport service and infrastructure provision within reasonable close proximity.” There is not. A twice a day minibus service does not comply with this requirement, even if it becomes provided.  Its purpose is obviously to avoid the need to use motor cars.
  • The requirements for the public use of the cafe at the hospital and the provision of a retail outlet in the existing hospital buildings are neither attainable nor enforceable: the usual process is for the parcel of land to be sold to a developer, subject to obtaining planning permission, and once planning permission is granted to the chosen developer, that developer will then have no power nor obligation to require the provision of any facilities off site.
  • Neither CIL payments, if that system is adopted, nor section 106 payments can be used to provide facilities on private premises.
  • In any event, even if as a matter of grace or expediency the hospital were to make available any part of its existing building for a cafe or shop, that would be incapable of remedying the manifest absence of normal facilities in this new proposed settlement. Surely no one can suppose that this kind of provision would form a community centre for a new settlement, since it will require access to private premises.
  • I also subscribe to the arguments put forward by the Friends of East End. 

DLP_549

Amanda Petch

Object

I object to the section in the Local Plan on the parish of Benenden for the following reasons:

  • AL/BE4: the East End, is an isolated and rural part of the parish almost three miles from the village, which is why it was chosen as the site for a sanatorium. It is 97% within the AONB and has only 74 households. Unlike Iden Green, it has no main street lined with old cottages, no nursery school, no community hall, no shop, no pub/restaurant. It is an area of rural lanes with one road, Goddard’s Green Road, passing through it from New Pond Road to the highly dangerous crossroads at Castleton’s Oak. It has the same unreliable bus services as Iden Green. It will be swamped with an extra 90 houses, more than double the current number. Your plan will indelibly alter the East End, the AONB and the village.
  • AL/BE4: the plan almost doubles the area of land to be developed at the hospital site without identifying the number of houses to go in this new area. Further, it increases the number of houses for the site referred to in the Neighbourhood Plan from 87 to 90.
  • AL/BE4: there is great imbalance in planning 90 houses at the East End and only 57 in the village. Why push so much to the outer rim of the parish. Why give one area, the East End almost half the total number of all houses allocated for the parish?
  • AL/BE4: your housing numbers mislead. You should include those houses already approved but not built (24) and those houses which will replace 9 buildings, currently largely empty, each with two small semi-detached houses without garages. The 18 new houses will have garages, will not keep to the footprints of the previous buildings and will, presumably be occupied. This brings change to the community.
  • AL/BE4: East End is almost 3 miles outside the village of Benenden: it is contrary to planning policy to build so far outside a village. It creates satellite village.
  • AL/BE4: TWBC has just set up a cross-party task force on sustainability and biodiversity. Its aim is to make the borough carbon-neutral by 2030. How does AL/BE4 comply with the task force's mission? There will be no affordable housing at the hospital because it is too far from the village. Every household will have at least 2 cars and probably more.
  • AL/BE4: traffic along Goddard’s Green Road is already problematic. The plan more than doubles the number of cars in the East End as it more than doubles the number of households. It threatens a severe increase in pollution.
  • AL/BE4: the Local Plan exists to control housing not to pander to the financial problems of a private hospital. Parishioners and borough tax payers are not obliged to meet the needs of a for-profit mutual fund, which has overspent on its grand new buildings recently built on a greenfield site – a development which, incidentally, conveniently created a new brownfield site which the hospital now wants to build on.
  • AL/BE4: the plan is for an area surrounded by AONB land and projecting directly into the AONB at four points. It shows no respect for the AONB.

Please read and take note of each of these points and do not allow AL/BE4 to go ahead.

DLP_551

Graham Ludlow

Object

I the undersigned object to the above plan on the following grounds

AL/BE4 ,the plan almost doubles the area of land be developed at the Hospital site without clearly identifying the numbers of house going into this area.

The total current number of houses in the East End is 74 ,it is the most rural part of the village, if it is to be swamped by circa 90 plus new houses it will destroy an AONB and create a satellite village which goes against planning policy  To increase the amount of traffic on Goddards Green Rd which leads to the accident black spot at the cross roads known as Castleton Oak is dangerous and will lead to more accidents.

The plans seen to date show a complete imbalance between the main village circa 45 being proposed, Iden Green ZERO,and the East End

Circa 90 which takes into account approx 24 planning already apparently granted on the south side of the Hospital The village planning proposals seen seem to completely dismiss sites 158 and 222 in the centre of the village as well as the area called Iden Green which is only 1 mile from the village centre with its facilities compared to 3miles being the distance from the centre to the East End

DLP_552
DLP_555

Sam Andrews
Christina Andrews

Object

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

I write with regard to the proposed housing plan and its impact on East End, Benenden.

AL/BE4: the plan almost doubles the area of land to be developed at the hospital without identifying the number of houses to go onto this new area. It increases the number of houses to go in the area on the eastern side of the hospital site (the one cited in the Neighbourhood Plan) to 90. The East End has 74 households, it is the most rural part of the village, which is why it was chosen as the site for a sanatorium. It will be swamped with 90 houses. The number is ruinous in terms of the rural nature of the landscape of the parish of Benenden. It will indelibly alter our AONB, our parish and our village. These are not just lots of houses but houses with no centre, with no historic heart.

AL/BE4: there is great imbalance in a plan for 90 houses at the East End and only 57 in the village. Further, the East End is the most rural part of the parish with only 74 households. You propose more than doubling our population, and giving us, a rural area, almost half the total of houses allocated for the parish. Why this imbalance?

AL/BE4: your housing numbers mislead. You should include the numbers of those already approved but not built (24) and the numbers for replacing existing small semi-detached houses without garages, with large separate new buildings with garages (18)

AL/BE4: it is contrary to planning policy to build outside a village. On this scale, it creates satellite village

AL/BE4: TWBC has just set up a cross-party task force on sustainability and biodiversity. Its aim is to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. How does the AL/BE4 comply with the task force’s mission? There will be no affordable housing because it is too far from the village. Every household will have at least two cars and probably more (we are four adults in this house and have four cars).

AL/BE4: traffic along Goddards Green Road is already problematic. Where are the plans to widen Goddards Green Road and the surrounding single track roads? The plan more than doubles the number of cars in the East End as it more than doubles the number of households. It threatens a severe increase in pollution.

AL/BE4: you almost double the size of the area up for development at the East End (compared to the Neighbourhood Plan). This does not increase your control of the hospital's housing plans. It lessens it. Parishioners are not obliged to meet the needs of a for-profit organisation, a mutual fund, which has lost over a million pounds because of the behaviour of its finance officer and because it has overspent in its grand new building set on a formerly greenfield site, beside the old hospital site (thereby creating a new brownfield site).

AL/BE4: the plan is for an area surrounded by AONB land and projecting directly into the AONB at four points. It does not respect AONB regulations.

DLP_558

Paul Chapman

Object

I would like to put on record my objections to this part of the Plan:

  1. The plan almost doubles the area of the land to be developed at the Hospital Site and specifies 90 houses to go into this Site.
  2. The East End is an isolated part of the Parish and almost 3 miles from the centre of the village.
  3. Unlike Iden Green, it has no main street, no nursery school, no Community Hall, no shop and no pub.
  4. The road system around the East End is currently inadequate without major redevelopment.
  5. Why put 90 houses in the East End and only 57 in the village itself?
  6. Surely it is contrary to Planning Policy to build so far out of the village itself and create a satellite village?
  7. Because of its distance from the village, it is unlikely that there will be any affordable housing.
  8. A Local Plan exists to control housing development not to benefit any particular organisation such as a non-profit Hospital.
  9. The NDP shows little regard for what is mainly an AONB.
  10. As far as I can determine Site 158, which is more suitable, has not been considered.

DLP_561

Colin Czapiewski

Object

We have lived in Benenden for 27 years.

I am very surprised that Benenden Hospital grounds have been proposed for a large number of new houses.

I have read through the Draft Local Plan papers produced by Tunbridge Wells Borough.

Although there has been considerable good work performed in the production of the papers, the conclusions do not follow on from the information produced, and they are not logical.

Conversely, the underlying information within the DLP seems to indicate that the Hospital is NOT the best place for new houses.

Both the existing residents of Benenden and those living in the proposed new houses at the Hospital would be adversely affected, and significantly so.

Personally, we are not directly affected as we live about a mile from the proposed development, but we care deeply about our village and the adverse implications that this proposed new development would have on existing residents of Benenden as well as those occupiers of the proposed new houses.

Some of the other sites in the Benenden are far more logical, sensible and reasonable.

Having a wider distribution of building, and within reasonable and safe walking distance of the village, would seem to be far more sensible than having so much building on one single, remote site.

It would also be much more in line within the DLP for other villages.

I have a number of reasons why the Hospital site is not appropriate:

  1. Safety is a major issue for any DLP.

This seems to have been given a very low profile within the DLP for Benenden.

Anyone walking or cycling from the proposed new Hospital development to Benenden village will be doing so on extremely narrow, windy and dangerous roads.

Although driving is the only effective means of getting to Benenden village, if a car has a problem or does not start, walking along this dangerous route may be the only option.

This is especially so for children going to and from the Benenden village Primary School.

  1. Services and amenities at East End basically do not exist.

There was a church there, St Margaret’s, until about 20 years ago.

The Hospital shop closed perhaps 10 years ago.

The Hospital choir does not sing at the Parish Church any more, and I am not sure whether it still exists.

There was a crèche and pre School at the Hospital, but I am not sure whether it still exists.

The tennis courts are for Hospital use only, I believe.

Hence, everyone at the new proposed Hospital site would have to travel to the village for the services and amenities that exist there.

  1. Transport effectively means driving only; not an environmentally suitable proposition.

The roads adjacent to the proposed development are single track roads, being Green Lane and Mockbeggar Lane. Cars need to stop to pass each other and these narrow lanes are certainly not safe for pedestrians.

Goddards Green Road divides the Hospital site, and it is narrow and windy. Although cars can pass each other, lorries often have to stop to do so. Goddards Green Road has a history of black ice and flooding.

Walkhurst road, which is on the direct route to Benenden village, is again a single track road. It can only become a “rat run” if the houses are built at the Hospital. The northern end of Walkhurst Road is particularly difficult in winter when there is ice and snow. Cars often have to be assisted by pushing. Those living in Walkhurst road would seem to be those most adversely affected by the proposals.

Clearly, the combination of such small roads means that Transport is a major issue and the cost of widening the above roads would be exorbitant, as would a cycle path.

I would expect that the Kent County Council Highways department would object to the TWB DLP proposal on these grounds.

  1. Pollution would be an increasing problem with the significant increase in vehicular traffic, most especially in the centre of Benenden village.

This is not just on the route from the proposed site to Benenden village, but also as cars wait for parking spaces (especially at the Primary School), and at the junctions as these would become far more congested.

I would expect that the Kent County Council Environmental department would object on these grounds.

  1. Parking is becoming a major problem in Benenden now, especially around the village shop.

As I am disabled, and I cannot walk far, even on crutches, this is particularly noticeable to me.

This parking problem, with increased traffic, would worsen and I cannot see where the new parking spaces, that would certainly be needed, could be situated.

New houses built nearer to the village shop would result in safer and easier walking, and would hence alleviate this to a considerable extent.

  1. Further development in the future is an issue that should be considered.

If the proposal was to go ahead, there would be a great temptation to develop more houses on the Hospital grounds, and these could only be on AONB land. These would aggravate the situation further. The preferable alternative of more small scale development nearer to the village would be far less tempting for yet more housebuilding.

  1. Community spirit is essential in a village such as Benenden.

The result of building a substantial number of new houses about 2 miles from the village would most certainly create a “them and us” situation, especially given the resultant transport, pollution and parking issues that will emerge.

I would be delighted to discuss the above further.

Also, I would appreciate any balanced argument for the Hospital site and especially why the other clearly preferable sites within walking distance of Benenden village were not put forward. This was not discussed properly in the TWB DLP.

DLP_8231

Andrew Marks

Object

Tunbridge Wells Local Plan

Objections to that part which deals with the parish of Benenden

I object to that section which deals with the parish of Benenden because it is inconsistent with the Objectives and Strategic Policies of the Plan, especially in relation to site AL/BE4. The SHELAA paper also shows inconsistencies in its assessment of various non-allocated sites relative to the plan’s Objectives and Strategies, as well as to the AECOM report (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners).

  • AL/BE4 The Local Plan states that 50 new houses are planned for the East End while 57 are planned for the village and none at all for Iden Green. This misleads. In calculating the number of new houses in the village, the Local Plan includes 12 houses on Walkhurst road now under construction. It should therefore also include 24 houses approved at the hospital site, but not yet built and 18 new houses, also at the hospital which are planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village (at AL/BE 1, 2 & 3) and of course to the number of zero houses planned for Iden Green.
  • AL/BE4. The East End is a remote, rural area covering almost one third of the parish and the hospital site is 3 miles from the village. It contains 76 households. (There are 840 households in the parish as a whole). The 42 new houses already planned is a more than 50% increase in the number of households. 50 new houses on top of that will overwhelm the East End and fundamentally change its character. AL/BE4 is inconsistent with Objective 1 (Vision) which talks about “garden settlements” in relation to Paddock Wood and Tudely BUT about “growth” at “other settlements across the borough”.  The proposed East End development, so distant from the existing village, is not growth but a new settlement.
  • The East End has no nursery school, no pub, no restaurant, no community hall and no footpath or bike path links to the village (the bike route proposed in the plan is vigorously opposed by all concerned landowners). It was never a hamlet and has no main street lined with old weather boarded houses. Unlike Benenden and Iden Green, its name does not derive from a ‘den’ but from a 17th century division of the parish into three sections for taxation purposes. It is because of its remoteness that it was chosen as a site for a sanatorium. Increasing the housing to this extent and at this site is contrary to Objective 2 to “deliver housing ..through… sustainable development.” It is also contrary to STR 2 which promises a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that is not for its own sake, but growth that brings benefits for the environment and all sectors of the community.” This growth benefits primarily Benenden Healthcare Society, a mutual fund based in York and shirt sponsor of the York football Club. Not exactly a local interest group.
  • AL/BE4 is contrary to STR 5 which talks about the importance of access to “early years” education and access to play spaces. There is no nursery school at the site and use of the hospital’s tennis courts are being offered only to those who live on site. There is no cultural infrastructure, not even a community hall.
  • The plan is inconsistent with 4.59 which talks of the need to “reduce private car dependence”. This site will have fewer than normal affordable houses because only families who can afford two or more cars would find everyday life on this remote site feasible.  Yet STR 6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements… to help reduce the need to travel”. The Local Plan says it wishes to “reduce the need to travel” but AL/BE4 increases it.
  • AL/BE4 is inconsistent with the aims of the TW Council’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Panel. The Council is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in relation to borough council assets, while forcing them up , through BE4, in relation to private development. We recall Objective 2 “to tackle climate change”.
  • AL/BE4 is inconsistent with STR5 which talks of the need to provide adequate means for “dealing with the removal of foul water”. The East End is not connected to a mains sewage system.
  • The Local Plan makes much of the fact that most of BE4 is a brownfield site but disregards STR 2 which urges a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that brings benefits for the environment.” Further, this environment contains one valuable Local Wildlife Site and two others sit on the boundary of the site. The Kent Wildlife Trust sees these as SSSI standard (see KWT letter to TWBC 4 March 2013 the site fulfils “the criteria for it to be considered a SSSI”)) and the High Weald AONB states, in its objections to the Local Plan, that these sites constitute “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Nowhere in the LP objectives does it state that brownfield considerations override either sustainability or environmental considerations. On the contrary, STR2 suggests the opposite. Further, being greenfield is no barrier to development (see sites AL/BE1 and AL/BE3). Similarly, being a brownfield site should be no barrier to protecting the environment and insisting on sustainable development. We recall Objective 2, to “deliver ..housing …through.. sustainable development” and “to protect the …natural environment.”
  • AL/BE4 is allocated because it is outside the AONB. The implication is that this is out of respect for the AONB, yet the Local Plan development site at BE4 overlaps the boundary with the AONB in four separate points.
  • AL/BE4 undermines TWBC’s Management Plan with the High Weald AONB which states in their comments on the draft Local Plan that councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2) rather than by creating a new settlement in a rural area which will overwhelm the locality. The High Weald AONB also points out several other objections which are dealt with more fully in this paper:
    • by developing on the high ridge which runs east to west across the northern part of the parish, the Council is planning a new settlement which will dominate the landscape to the south for miles, though it will not be visible from the built-up area of the village.
    • because the hospital site itself was deliberately left out of the AONB boundary when it was set up, the site forms a bubble bulging into the AONB landscape and so the truism that land immediately adjacent to AONBs contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB is exceptionally applicable at this site.
    • chosen as a site for a sanatorium BE4 has long views to the south facing the south westerlies which carry clean sea air inland, and because it is remote.
    • the sanatorium, established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air in a tranquil setting. Unfortunately, the draft TW Local Plan disregards these goals, assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.
    • The site is home to important historic architecture. There is the Grade II listed Lister Building on one side and the redundant hospital pavilion building on the other. The latter, built by the architect Augustus William West, who won King Edward VII’s 1902 competition to build a new sanatorium for England, is a rare example of early British modernism. It makes an important contribution to the cultural history not only of the High Weald but also nationally (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal). BE4 would see the demolition of this important heritage building. It therefore undermines Policy STR8 which talks of the importance of “conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment”, and point 10 of that Policy, which talks of the need for “the positive management of heritage assets”. The plan is at odds with Objective 2 “to protect the valued heritage …. of the borough.”
  • Limits to Built Development the plan shows consistent inconsistency over matters relating to LBDs. The village LBD is to be altered, or rather engineered, to include areas currently outside the LBD but slated for development (AL/BE1, AL/BE2 and AL/BE3) and to exclude those not currently favoured, such as 158 and 222. At Iden Green, where the neighbourhood plan and the LP recommend no development at all, the LBD is to be removed thereby freezing the hamlet in time by stopping all infill. This is inconsistent with Objective 1 urging the growth of existing settlements.
  • It is inconsistent to urge under STR1 that “development at other settlements across the borough (be) within their respective Limits to Built Development boundaries” and then also urge development at the East End which is not only entirely outside any LBD but as far outside as it is possible to get and still be within the parish.
  • SHELAA

This paper contains many statements which are so inaccurate as to provoke smiles, if not sighs of disbelief. For example, its assessment of sites 158 and 222, both of which are regarded as unsuitable, for they “lack services and facilities including public transport at the settlement.” Yet the AECOM assessment (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners) says of 222 “Allocation of this site will contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs.  The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c.100m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities.” And of site 158 AECOM reads “allocation of the site will contribute positively towards meeting local housing needs.  The site is located in good proximity to the services and facilities located in Benenden village centre (c.300m) which will limit the need for residents to travel for some day-to-day services and facilities.”  The reality on the ground agrees with the AECOM argument.

  • Site 158 is rejected but only on a temporary basis. See AL/BE3 which requires an access route be allowed on that site for a road to access development on the land to the north, which is Site 158. This temporary rejection is curious. Delay in building at site 158 and instead building, at least in the first instance, 3 miles distant from the village, means that the parish will endure a double whammy of fairly large scale development. 92 houses at the hospital and 65 at 158 (considered by the council in 2018 as suitable for 174 houses). Building in two areas at some distance from each other, instead of from the settlement centre outwards, maximises damage to the environment and wildlife habitat as “travel connectivity” between the two are established. It threatens the landscape, tranquility and rural nature of the entire parish. It also raises questions of common sense, quite apart from challenging Objective 2, to “protect the valued heritage of the borough” and to “tackle climate change”. It is of interest to know why council officers changed their minds about siting development originally at site 158, once considered a site for building the new primary school. Why the decision to delay building there, at the expense of the East End and eventually, at the expense of the rural nature of the entire parish?
  • Site 222 As already stated, SHELAA conclusions are based on unsound statements on accessibility and the availability of services and transport. Further, the Neighbourhood Plan assessment of the site fails to point out that the pond at the crossroads has been offered to the village as a public space.
  • Site LS8 is not allocated because it is allegedly “remote” and far from local services and facilities and public transport. This for once, echoes the AECOM view which says “The site is located in Iden Green, which has no amenities (with the exception of the nursery school). As such, the location has poor accessibility to day-to-day services and facilities. However the site is located adjacent to a bus stop with relatively frequent services to a range of destinations.” The statement seems to contradict itself and does so even while remaining ignorant of all the amenities of Iden Green: its popular and ancient Woodcock pub-cum-restaurant, its community hall, its tennis courts, and above all its paved footpath used by children attending the village primary school. This path has been used by school crocodiles when children, walking with two parents, take a particularly agreeable route to school in the village centre. The pavement flows from the hamlet through a Roadside Nature Reserve to the kissing gate at the foot of Hilly Fields.  From there, a tarmacked path takes walkers to a second kissing gate into the Beadle’s Platt by the church.  The children walk through the church yard to the new school built the other side of the Glebe Field.  It is a charming, safe, educational and even idyllic walk. The SHELAA conclusion on LS8 is unsound.
  • Lastly, the SHELAA inherits the confirmatory bias of Benenden Neighbourhood Plan which dismissed all the large sites in the parish on the grounds that building on part of any of these sites would mean building on the entire site. This is not the case. Development of that part of 437 East in Iden Green which lies directly beside an existing housing estate, would consolidate the hamlet at its core, as building at site LS8 would also do. This bias is unsound and therefore the decisions subsequent to it, are also unsound.
  • In paragraph 5.107 it is stated that Benenden Hospital is a major employer in Benenden: that may be so, but its employees, apart from one or two, do not live in the parish, nor contribute to the local economy. There is nowhere locally for them to spend their money. In any event, this factor does not entitle the hospital to special privileges in planning terms, particularly where those privileges run counter to the policies set out above.  Planning is intended to be exercised for the benefit of the community.
  • The whole of policy AL/BE4 in paragraph 5.108 seems to have been written by or on behalf of the landowner. For example, item 2 allows development anywhere in the non-hatched area as shown on the map. This includes the whole of the area to the west of Green Lane, even including the newly built section of the hospital and the new car park.
  • Item 3 of the policy leaves it up to the hospital to decide whether or not to incorporate tennis courts, car parks or access to the sports pavilion: it says that the hospital must do this, “unless it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that these facilities are no longer required by the hospital in the short and long term”. Clearly not much of an obligation.
  • Then we get the vaguely worded requirement in paragraph 1 requiring “Provision of an active travel link between the site and Benenden village (see Policy TP 2: …)” The only item in policy TP2 which relates to travel links outside the confines of the site, item 2, is a requirement that “There is public transport service and infrastructure provision within reasonable close proximity.” There is not. A twice a day minibus service does not comply with this requirement, even if it becomes provided.  Its purpose is obviously to avoid the need to use motor cars.
  • The requirements for the public use of the cafe at the hospital and the provision of a retail outlet in the existing hospital buildings are neither attainable nor enforceable: the usual process is for the parcel of land to be sold to a developer, subject to obtaining planning permission, and once planning permission is granted to the chosen developer, that developer will then have no power nor obligation to require the provision of any facilities off site.
  • Neither CIL payments, if that system is adopted, nor section 106 payments can be used to provide facilities on private premises.
  • In any event, even if as a matter of grace or expediency the hospital were to make available any part of its existing building for a cafe or shop, that would be incapable of remedying the manifest absence of normal facilities in this new proposed settlement. Surely no one can suppose that this kind of provision would form a community centre for a new settlement, since it will require access to private premises.
  • I also subscribe to the arguments put forward by the Friends of East End. 

DLP_8233

Andrew Marks

Object

I object to the draft local plan as far as it concerns the parish of Benenden for the reasons set out in the attached paper and others as follow [TWBC: contents of the attachment are copied below.

  • The LP consultation draft has omitted to list Headcorn station in the Parish's rail transport links. This is particularly significant for East End, for which Headcorn is by far the closest station. Much of the traffic increase resulting from any development at East End would be of commuters using the Benenden Road to reach Headcorn station, Ashford or Maidstone. This traffic would inevitably add to the dangers already present at the Castleton's Oak crossroads; the Neighbourhood Development Plan seeks to highlight the dangers of traffic at Benenden village crossroads however the accident record at the Castleton's Oak is far worse with over three times as many recorded accident in any comparable period. The Highway has, over the years, attempted to mitigate the hazards but with only limited success and any development so close to this crossing would be a retrograde step in terms of road safety.
  • In general, the glossy magazine format of the NDP cannot cover the many errors of fact and logic that it contains. I have objected to the NDP for this reason as, I believe have many others. These objections were raised with the Parish Council at the end of October and copied to you. The NDP cannot be considered a sound basis for developing a Local Plan and many of the sites which it has rejected should be reconsidered.
  • The SHELAA report for the Draft Local Plan notes, in the description of the Benenden Hospital site that "The topography of the site falls to the south. There are long range views from the site". Another, and possibly more relevant, way of putting this of course is that the site is highly visible from a long way off; indeed from the south, inside the AONB, which would be adversely affected.
  • The LP and NDP make out that many of the drawbacks resulting from the isolated nature of the East End site can be mitigated by transport links, shops and social facilities which Benenden Hospital would provide. As the Hospital administration has previously shut down a shop and social facilities that were already serving the community and any commitment would be very difficult or impossible to enforce, the expectation that this would provide a workable long term solution is naive and unrealistic.

DLP_650

Biddenden Parish Council

Object

Please find attached a letter which was sent to the Head of Strategic Planning objecting to the development of the Benenden Hospital site together with correspondence sent to Benenden Parish Council. The parish council has been asked to submit its comments directly to your local plan by Steven Baughen.

The letters very clearly set out the objections that Biddenden Parish Council have to the development of the Benenden Hospital site in terms of the building of new dwellings. The knock-on effect on Biddenden is significant, but very little consideration appears to have been given to the issues that the parish council has raised. In fact, no replies have been received to date to indicate that the issues raised by Biddenden Parish Council have been taken into consideration by those involved in the planning or to clarify any of the points raised.

The parish council looks forward to hearing from you shortly.

Letter from Biddenden Parish Council to Head of Strategic Planning, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, on 17 September 2019

I am writing on behalf of Biddenden Parish Council with regard to the Benenden Parish Council Neighbourhood Plan in order to register the council’s concerns regarding the impact upon Biddenden, specifically the Castletons Oak Crossroads and Benenden Road to Woopack Corner, by the proposed Benenden Hospital develops detailed within their Neighbourhood Plan.

Biddenden Parish Council wrote to the parish council in April 2019 and again in response to their Regulation 14 consultation for the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan. I am attaching copies of both letters so that you can see the reasons for Biddenden Parish Council’s concerns.

Whilst Biddenden Parish Council appreciates that new developments are being built everywhere, the impact of Site 424 and Site 41 (late site), will impact upon Biddenden, not least because of the increase in traffic in two key areas: Castletons Oak and Benenden Road to Woolpack Corner. Castletons Oak crossroads is an extremely dangerous crossroads and has been the site of several recent accidents. Benenden Road will be the main access to Biddenden Village, and this road is already busy and suffering speeding cars in a residential area, with hidden driveways and an s school. An increase in speed in these two areas causes the parish council great concern and the impact of the two developments mentioned doesn’t appear to have taken this into account.

The two letters attached make the parish council’s concerns quite clear, and we look forward to hearing from you shortly.

Letter to NDP Feedback, Benenden Parish Council dated 13 September 2019

I have been asked to reply to you regarding the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan Regulation 14 consultation on behalf of Biddenden Parish Council.

You will recall that when the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan was first published that Biddenden Parish Council wrote a letter to the Chairman objecting to the developments on the hospital site. It is noted that the site remains int the plan, and for this reason, a copy of this letter will be sent to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and a copy of the first letter is attached for ease of reference.

As the "Constraints" section on page 49 of the Regulation 14 consultation document states, the Castletons Oak crossroads is a narrow and dangerous crossroads. The accident record on this crossroads is poor and two accidents have recently taken place. The increase in traffic that would arise from such development on the hospital site trying to reach the station in Headcorn or driving to amenities in Biddenden, would make this crossroads even more dangerous than it currently is and compromises public safety.

With the increase in housing on the hospital site, there will also be an increase in traffic on the Benenden Road. This road has a speed limit of 60 mph, which is not suitable for a road with a good deal of housing, hidden driveways and a school on it. Parishioners in Biddenden have already reported issues with speeding of vehicles and tractors alike. The traffic is already reasonably heavy. An increase in traffic will also have a knock-on effect in Biddenden which is possible closer, or at least as close, than Benenden Village.

It is for these reasons that Biddenden Parish Council object to the development of the hospital site.

Letter from Biddenden Parish Council to Cllr Nicola Thomas, Chair, Benenden Parish Council, dated 25 April 2019

Dear Cllr Thomas

Biddenden Parish Council has been sent a copy of the draft Benenden Neighbourhood Plan and has noted the proposed development at East End. The parish council has discussed these developments and does have concerns about how the developments will affect Biddenden.

1. Castletons Oak Crossroads

Castleton's Oak crossroads has been a discussion point for many years in Biddenden. It is a dangerous crossing and several different methods have been tried over the years, without success, to slow the traffic down and prevent accidents. The parish council believes that the increase in traffic using this junction will be detrimental and dangerous, and if the proposed developments go ahead then Benenden parish council should be aware of their impact upon the local roads and, indeed, the impact on a neighbouring village as Biddenden is possibly closer to the developments than Benenden village centre given the boundary is up to Mockbeggar Lane.

2. Woolpack Corner/Benenden Road

This is another dangerous corner in Biddenden which will be the recipient of increased traffic from the new developments. This road connects Cranbrook Road to Tenterden Road and provides a cut through to Headcorn and the station. It does get a high volume of traffic and these developments will exacerbate the problems already experienced there.

Biddenden Parish Council asks that when working on the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan consideration is given to these issues. They may not affect the centre of Bendenden or the majority of Benenden's residents, but they will impact upon Biddenden as the traffic flowing through will be increased and these two areas, in particular, are not capable of withstanding large traffic increases if safety is compromised.

DLP_1033

R & C Jackson and N Heath

Object

Ref: Proposed planning application for 86 homes at Benenden Hospital

Our propoerty is in Ashford borough, the parish & borough boundaries run along one side of the gardfen but we are less than half am mile from the proposed development.

We wish to state that we object the development on the following grounds:

Benenden East End is a remote site some 3 miles from Benenden village, adding the planned number of dwellins will turn the area into a satellite village in it's own right.

We understand that the hospital itself is outside the AONB but it is virtually surrounded by it. The High Weald AONB Management Plan (to which all councils with AONB land have subscribed) says councils should "seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development", not by building new satellite settlements of 86 new houses which will overwhelm the locality.

Unlike Benenden village itself there is no primary or nursery school, shop, public transport, community hall, pub etc. at East End.

The poor road network in either direction does not have footpaths or cycleways, so for safety reasons most residents will travel by car. I would estimate an increase of some 200 vehicles using what are inadequate poorly maintained country lanes.

The increase in traffic travelling north towards biddenden & Headcorn is of a particular worry to us. Castletons Oak crossroads lies a mile or so to the north. It has very poor sight lines & as a consequence a terrible accident record, we have personal experience of this as we lived on the crossroads for 20 years in the late 1980's. Kent Highways have made slight alterations over the years which appear to have had little or no effect.

In summary it appears to us that the site is totally unsuitable for this size of development & a better solution would be to consider other sites in the village itself whereby safe access to the local facilities including public transport would not involve constant use of cars, surely an important factor today with regard to the environment.

DLP_2527

Mr Guy Dagger

Object

The development at Benenden Hospital will have a significant effect on the purposes on the AONB landscape and this issue has not been properly considered by the Plan.

The Section 85 ‘duty of regard’ requires all relevant authorities to have regard to the purpose of AONBs when coming to decisions or carrying out their activities relating to, or affecting land within these areas. The PPG says of AONBs “Land within the setting of these areas often makes an important contribution to maintaining their natural beauty, and where poorly located or designed development can do significant harm. This is especially the case where long views from or to the designated landscape are identified as important, or where the landscape character of land within and adjoining the designated area is complementary. Development within the settings of these areas will therefore need sensitive handling that takes these potential impacts into account” (Paragraph: 042 Reference ID: 8-042-20190721, revised 21 07 2019).

Impacts will not just be confined to the visual or physical effects such as on habitats or watercourses connecting the AONB with its surroundings, but will also add to the visitor numbers using the AONB and the traffic travelling through it, affecting the same sense of naturalness, remoteness, tranquillity and dark skies referred to above.

The redundant hospital building, an example of early British Modernism, provides an important contribution to the cultural history of the High Weald. It embodies the ambition of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, under which AONBs are designated, which was to provide a natural health service to mirror the National Health Service created one year previously. Funded by the union movement, Benenden Sanatorium was built for postal workers suffering from tuberculosis. It occupies a rural location with clean air and long views over typical High Weald countryside.

This site includes rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.

DLP_3458

High Weald AONB Unit

Object

The Section 85 ‘duty of regard’ requires all relevant authorities to have regard to the purpose of AONBs when coming to decisions or carrying out their activities relating to, or affecting land within these areas. The PPG says of AONBs “Land within the setting of these areas often makes an important contribution to maintaining their natural beauty, and where poorly located or designed development can do significant harm. This is especially the case where long views from or to the designated landscape are identified as important, or where the landscape character of land within and adjoining the designated area is complementary. Development within the settings of these areas will therefore need sensitive handling that takes these potential impacts into account” (Paragraph: 042 Reference ID: 8-042-20190721, revised 21 07 2019).

Impacts will not just be confined to the visual or physical effects such as on habitats or watercourses connecting the AONB with its surroundings, but will also add to the visitor numbers using the AONB and the traffic travelling through it, affecting the sense of naturalness, remoteness, tranquillity and dark skies.

The redundant hospital building, an example of early British Modernism, provides an important contribution to the cultural history of the High Weald. It embodies the ambition of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, under which AONBs are designated, which was to provide a natural health service to mirror the National Health Service created one year previously. Funded by the union movement, Benenden Sanatorium was built for postal workers suffering from tuberculosis. It occupies a rural location with clean air and long views over typical High Weald countryside.

This site includes rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.

In our view the development at Benenden Hospital will have a significant effect on the setting of the AONB and the purposes of its designation and this issue has not been properly considered by the Plan. 

DLP_2125

Ms Hazel Strouts

Object

I object to that section which deals with the parish of Benenden because it is inconsistent with the Objectives and Strategic Policies of the Plan, especially in relation to site AL/BE4. The SHELAA paper also shows inconsistencies in its assessment of various non-allocated sites relative to the plan’s Objectives and Strategies, as well as to the AECOM report (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners).

* AL/BE4 The Local Plan states that 50 new houses are planned for the East End while 57 are planned for the village and none at all for Iden Green. This misleads. In calculating the number of new houses in the village, the Local Plan includes 12 houses on Walkhurst road now under construction. It should therefore also include 24 houses approved at the hospital site, but not yet built and 18 new houses, also at the hospital which are planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village (at AL/BE 1, 2 & 3) and of course to the number of zero houses planned for Iden Green.

* AL/BE4. The East End is a remote, rural area covering almost one third of the parish and the hospital site is 3 miles from the village. It contains 76 households. (There are 840 households in the parish as a whole). The 42 new houses already planned is a more than 50% increase in the number of households. 50 new houses on top of that will overwhelm the East End and fundamentally change its character. AL/BE4 is inconsistent with Objective 1 (Vision) which talks about “garden settlements” in relation to Paddock Wood and Tudely BUT about “growth” at “other settlements across the borough”. The proposed East End development, so distant from the existing village, is not growth but a new settlement.

* The East End has no nursery school, no pub, no restaurant, no community hall and no footpath or bike path links to the village (the bike route proposed in the plan is vigorously opposed by all concerned landowners). It was never a hamlet and has no main street lined with old weather boarded houses. Unlike Benenden and Iden Green, its name does not derive from a ‘den’ but from a 17th century division of the parish into three sections for taxation purposes. It is because of its remoteness that it was chosen as a site for a sanatorium. Increasing the housing to this extent and at this site is contrary to Objective 2 to “deliver housing ..through… sustainable development.” It is also contrary to STR 2 which promises a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that is not for its own sake, but growth that brings benefits for the environment and all sectors of the community.” This growth benefits primarily Benenden Healthcare Society, a mutual fund based in York and shirt sponsor of the York football Club. Not exactly a local interest group.

* AL/BE4 is contrary to STR 5 which talks about the importance of access to “early years” education and access to play spaces. There is no nursery school at the site and use of the hospital’s tennis courts are being offered only to those who live on site. There is no cultural infrastructure, not even a community hall.

* The plan is inconsistent with 4.59 which talks of the need to “reduce private car dependence”. This site will have fewer than normal affordable houses because only families who can afford two or more cars would find everyday life on this remote site feasible. Yet STR 6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements… to help reduce the need to travel”. The Local Plan says it wishes to “reduce the need to travel” but AL/BE4 increases it.

* AL/BE4 is inconsistent with the aims of the TW Council’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Panel. The Council is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in relation to borough council assets, while forcing them up, through BE4, in relation to private development. We recall Objective 2 “to tackle climate change”.

* AL/BE4 is inconsistent with STR5 which talks of the need to provide adequate means for “dealing with the removal of foul water”. The East End is not connected to a mains sewage system.

* The Local Plan makes much of the fact that most of BE4 is a brownfield site but disregards STR 2 which urges a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that brings benefits for the environment.” Further, this environment contains one valuable Local Wildlife Site and two others sit on the boundary of the site. The Kent Wildlife Trust sees these as SSSI standard (see KWT letter to TWBC 4 March 2013 the site fulfils “the criteria for it to be considered an SSSI”)) and the High Weald AONB states, in its objections to the Local Plan, that these sites constitute “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Nowhere in the LP objectives does it state that brownfield considerations override either sustainability or environmental considerations. On the contrary, STR2 suggests the opposite. Further, being greenfield is no barrier to development (see sites AL/BE1 and AL/BE3). Similarly, being a brownfield site should be no barrier to protecting the environment and insisting on sustainable development. We recall Objective 2, to “deliver ..housing …through.. sustainable development” and “to protect the …natural environment.”

* AL/BE4 is allocated because it is outside the AONB. The implication is that this is out of respect for the AONB, yet the Local Plan development site at BE4 overlaps the boundary with the AONB in four separate points.

* AL/BE4 undermines TWBC’s Management Plan with the High Weald AONB which states in their comments on the draft Local Plan that councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2) rather than by creating a new settlement in a rural area which will overwhelm the locality. The High Weald AONB points out several other objections which are dealt with more fully in this paper:

o by developing on the high ridge which runs east to west across the northern part of the parish, the Council is planning a new settlement which will dominate the landscape to the south for miles, though it will not be visible from the built-up area of the village.

o because the hospital site itself was deliberately left out of the AONB boundary when it was set up, the site forms a bubble bulging into the AONB landscape and so the truism that land immediately adjacent to AONBs contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB is exceptionally applicable at this site.

o chosen as a site for a sanatorium BE4 has long views to the south facing the south westerlies which carry clean sea air inland, and because it is remote.

o the sanatorium, established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air in a tranquil setting. Unfortunately, the draft TW Local Plan disregards these goals, assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.

o The site is home to important historic architecture. There is the Grade II listed Lister Building on one side and the redundant hospital pavilion building on the other. The latter, built by the architect Augustus William West, who won King Edward VII’s 1902 competition to build a new sanatorium for England, is a rare example of early British modernism. It makes an important contribution to the cultural history not only of the High Weald but also nationally (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal). BE4 would see the demolition of this important heritage building. It therefore undermines Policy STR8 which talks of the importance of “conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment”, and point 10 of that Policy, which talks of the need for “the positive management of heritage assets”. The plan is at odds with Objective 2 “to protect the valued heritage …. of the borough.”

[TWBC: additional information submitted on 15 November, as follows]:

Dear Independent Examiner,

Protesting the Process

I wish to protest against the Neighbourhood Plan (NP) process in the parish of Benenden. It is seriously flawed because of the absence of consultation and inclusion. The group, the Friends of East End expected to absorb the bulk of new building in their area, have never been consulted although we drew up a major statement of objection with 127 signatures following the first draft. Since the Benenden NP and the Local Plan refer to each other repeatedly and often justify their positions in relation to each other, I think it appropriate that a flawed NP process should be considered by the Examiner of the Local Plan. Further, I address the Independent Examiner since it would be inappropriate for the Benenden Steering Committee (SC) and the Parish Council, who review our objections, to be both judge and jury.

As an example of the absence of consultation, I draw your attention to a village meeting on the first draft held on February 23rd 2019. At this meeting, the SC chair gave out copies of the draft only at the end of the meeting, as people left. Without being able to read the plan and consider it as a whole, it was next to impossible to object during the meeting.

Friends of the East End members have written to the Parish Magazine but have only once been able to get letters published. That one occasion was a joint letter signed by six parishioners and it was published with a response written by the chair of the SC running next to it on the same page, a rare, if not unique event which illustrates the close co-operation of the co-editor of the magazine, Peter Thomas and the SC. There is also close cooperation between the SC and the Parish Council, which is not surprising since the chair of the Committee was appointed by the Parish Council and is answerable to it. The chair of the Council is Nicola Thomas, wife of the co-editor of the magazine. The closeness of those involved in the NP limits the rights of those who wish to express objections. It is difficult to know to whom we can turn. Our local Borough Councillor is also on the NP SC.

I myself served on that Committee as chair of the group dealing with the environment. I was invited in December 2017 to do so by the chair whom I did not know and who did not know me. On meeting him for the first time, he said that “As far as I am concerned, all the houses can go in the East End.” The only witness to that remark, apart from myself, was his wife.

I called James Boot, our outside consultant, to discuss what I should do following this remark. He said that the chair’s statement arose from inexperience and encouraged me to stay on. I decided to do so in the hope of steering the group towards a more moderate outcome.

In April 2018, I was at a SC meeting discussing Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s suggestion of siting 174 houses on site 158. A self-selected group from the committee was to meet council officers. The intention appeared to be to talk down the number in the village centre, talk up the number at the hospital site and to keep the TWBC’s proposals secret. I did not approve this secretiveness and since I was not invited to meet the officers myself, I wrote an email to the Head of Planning TWBC on 25 April 2018, to ensure awareness that the views of those he was meeting were not those of everyone on the Committee nor of many in the village. I also publicised the situation in the village. Shortly afterwards, I was fired by the SC Chair.

When the first draft of the NP was submitted in the spring of 2019, the Friends of East End wrote a statement of objections and many also wrote individually but our objections went to the authors of the plan, who chose what they considered useful. We were not invited to discuss any of the issues we had raised and when the Reg14 draft was issued, our views had been digested and either ignored or re-phrased with mostly unsatisfactory answers appended alongside. At this time, parishioners were told that there would be no individual hard copy but only a few copies in the village shop, which we could read in the shop. After considerable argument, the committee relented and more copies were provided but still no copies of the appendices. Again, emails and telephone calls ensued before we were able to get hardcopy of these which are in fact critical to our critique of the Reg14 draft, and include a paper on the bike paths. Throughout, as is generally the case nowadays, anyone without a computer was at a considerable disadvantage. This matters. One of the landowners of land which the Reg14 draft was proposing for a hard surfaced bike path has no internet. How was she to learn what was afoot? She learnt, thanks to the kindness of neighbours. As for general consultation of the older generation, one of them said to me that he had been left completely out of the loop.

I emailed the SC chair to find out the process following our submission on the Reg14 draft (with 164 signatures) and he replied that I was not to communicate with him using his personal email and would get no reply in future if I did so. He gave me two other email addresses to use which are not the emails of individuals but of groups. I believe no parishioner should be denied the right to consult the Steering Group chairman on issues relating to the NP.

I am writing to my MP to keep her informed of these developments.

DLP_2327
DLP_2313
DLP_2139

Colin Inwood
Maureen Inwood
Bernard Phillips

Object

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

I object to that section which deals with the parish of Benenden because it is inconsistent with the Objectives and Strategic Policies of the Plan, especially in relation to site AL/BE4. The SHELAA paper also shows inconsistencies in its assessment of various non-allocated sites relative to the plan’s Objectives and Strategies, as well as to the AECOM report (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners).

AL/BE4 The Local Plan states that 50 new houses are planned for the East End while 57 are planned for the village and none at all for Iden Green. This misleads. In calculating the number of new houses in the village, the Local Plan includes 12 houses on Walkhurst road now under construction. It should therefore also include 24 houses approved at the hospital site, but not yet built and 18 new houses, also at the hospital which are planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village (at AL/BE 1, 2 & 3) and of course to the number of zero houses planned for Iden Green.

AL/BE4. The East End is a remote, rural area covering almost one third of the parish and the hospital site is 3 miles from the village. It contains 76 households. (There are 840 households in the parish as a whole). The 42 new houses already planned is a more than 50% increase in the number of households. 50 new houses on top of that will overwhelm the East End and fundamentally change its character. AL/BE4 is inconsistent with Objective 1 (Vision) which talks about “garden settlements” in relation to Paddock Wood and Tudely BUT about “growth” at “other settlements across the borough”. The proposed East End development, so distant from the existing village, is not growth but a new settlement.

* The East End has no nursery school, no pub, no restaurant, no community hall and no footpath or bike path links to the village (the bike route proposed in the plan is vigorously opposed by all concerned landowners). It was never a hamlet and has no main street lined with old weather boarded houses. Unlike Benenden and Iden Green, its name does not derive from a ‘den’ but from a 17th century division of the parish into three sections for taxation purposes. It is because of its remoteness that it was chosen as a site for a sanatorium. Increasing the housing to this extent and at this site is contrary to Objective 2 to “deliver housing ..through… sustainable development.” It is also contrary to STR 2 which promises a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that is not for its own sake, but growth that brings benefits for the environment and all sectors of the community.” This growth benefits primarily Benenden Healthcare Society, a mutual fund based in York and shirt sponsor of the York football Club. Not exactly a local interest group.

* AL/BE4 is contrary to STR 5 which talks about the importance of access to “early years” education and access to play spaces. There is no nursery school at the site and use of the hospital’s tennis courts are being offered only to those who live on site. There is no cultural infrastructure, not even a community hall.

* The plan is inconsistent with 4.59 which talks of the need to “reduce private car dependence”. This site will have fewer than normal affordable houses because only families who can afford two or more cars would find everyday life on this remote site feasible. Yet STR 6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements… to help reduce the need to travel”. The Local Plan says it wishes to “reduce the need to travel” but AL/BE4 increases it.

* AL/BE4 is inconsistent with the aims of the TW Council’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Panel. The Council is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in relation to borough council assets, while forcing them up , through BE4, in relation to private development. We recall Objective 2 “to tackle climate change”.

* AL/BE4 is inconsistent with STR5 which talks of the need to provide adequate means for “dealing with the removal of foul water”. The East End is not connected to a mains sewage system.

* The Local Plan makes much of the fact that most of BE4 is a brownfield site but disregards STR 2 which urges a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that brings benefits for the environment.” Further, this environment contains one valuable Local Wildlife Site and two others sit on the boundary of the site. The Kent Wildlife Trust sees these as SSSI standard (see KWT letter to TWBC 4 March 2013 the site fulfils “the criteria for it to be considered a SSSI”)) and the High Weald AONB states, in its objections to the Local Plan, that these sites constitute “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Nowhere in the LP objectives does it state that brownfield considerations override either sustainability or environmental considerations. On the contrary, STR2 suggests the opposite. Further, being greenfield is no barrier to development (see sites AL/BE1 and AL/BE3). Similarly, being a brownfield site should be no barrier to protecting the environment and insisting on sustainable development. We recall Objective 2, to “deliver ..housing …through.. sustainable development” and “to protect the …natural environment.”

AL/BE4 is allocated because it is outside the AONB. The implication is that this is out of respect for the AONB, yet the Local Plan development site at BE4 overlaps the boundary with the AONB in four separate points.

AL/BE4 undermines TWBC’s Management Plan with the High Weald AONB which states in their comments on the draft Local Plan that councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2)rather than by creating a new settlement in a rural area which will overwhelm the locality. The High Weald AONB also points out several other objections which are dealt with more fully in this paper:

o by developing on the high ridge which runs east to west across the northern part of the parish, the Council is planning a new settlement which will dominate the landscape to the south for miles, though it will not be visible from the built-up area of the village.

o because the hospital site itself was deliberately left out of the AONB boundary when it was set up, the site forms a bubble bulging into the AONB landscape and so the truism that land immediately adjacent to AONBs contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB is exceptionally applicable at this site.

o chosen as a site for a sanatorium BE4 has long views to the south facing the south westerlies which carry clean sea air inland, and because it is remote.

o the sanatorium, established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air in a tranquil setting. Unfortunately, the draft TW Local Plan disregards these goals, assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.

o The site is home to important historic architecture. There is the Grade II listed Lister Building on one side and the redundant hospital pavilion building on the other. The latter, built by the architect Augustus William West, who won King Edward VII’s 1902 competition to build a new sanatorium for England, is a rare example of early British modernism. It makes an important contribution to the cultural history not only of the High Weald but also nationally (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal). BE4 would see the demolition of this important heritage building. It therefore undermines Policy STR8 which talks of the importance of “conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment”, and point 10 of that Policy, which talks of the need for “the positive management of heritage assets”. The plan is at odds with Objective 2 “to protect the valued heritage …. of the borough.”

DLP_2181

Mrs Alexandra Betts

Support

Support

DLP_2485

Mr Adrian Betts

Support

I support this site as it is a brownfield site and it can never be right to build on green fields ahead of brownfield sites . The NPPF is clear that LPA's have a responsibility to make effective use of land , prioritising brownfield land .

As a brownfield site it will have to be developed at some point and a residential use may impact less than any potential commercial uses .

The general feeling now is that protection of the environment for ours and future generations is the single most important factor in today's world . That is why brownfield sites should always take preference over digging up green fields .

DLP_2389

Robert Petch

Object

I object to the section in the Local Plan on the parish of Benenden for the following reasons:

* AL/BE4: the East End, is an isolated and rural part of the parish almost three miles from the village, which is why it was chosen as the site for a sanatorium. It is 97% within the AONB and has only 74 households. Unlike Iden Green, it has no main street lined with old cottages, no nursery school, no community hall, no shop, no pub/restaurant. It is an area of rural lanes with one road, Goddard’s Green Road, passing through it from New Pond Road to the highly dangerous crossroads at Castleton’s Oak. It has the same unreliable bus services as Iden Green. It will be swamped with an extra 90 houses, more than double the current number. Your plan will indelibly alter the East End, the AONB and the village.

* AL/BE4: the plan almost doubles the area of land to be developed at the hospital site without identifying the number of houses to go in this new area. Further, it increases the number of houses for the site referred to in the Neighbourhood Plan from 87 to 90.

* AL/BE4: there is great imbalance in planning 90 houses at the East End and only 57 in the village. Why push so much to the outer rim of the parish. Why give one area, the East End almost half the total number of all houses allocated for the parish?

* AL/BE4: your housing numbers mislead. You should include those houses already approved but not built (24) and those houses which will replace 9 buildings, currently largely empty, each with two small semi-detached houses without garages. The 18 new houses will have garages, will not keep to the footprints of the previous buildings and will, presumably be occupied. This brings change to the community.

* AL/BE4: East End is almost 3 miles outside the village of Benenden: it is contrary to planning policy to build so far outside a village. It creates satellite village.

* AL/BE4: TWBC has just set up a cross-party task force on sustainability and biodiversity. Its aim is to make the borough carbon-neutral by 2030. How does AL/BE4 comply with the task force's mission? There will be no affordable housing at the hospital because it is too far from the village. Every household will have at least 2 cars and probably more.

* AL/BE4: traffic along Goddard’s Green Road is already problematic. The plan more than doubles the number of cars in the East End as it more than doubles the number of households. It threatens a severe increase in pollution.

* AL/BE4: the Local Plan exists to control housing not to pander to the financial problems of a private hospital. Parishioners and borough tax payers are not obliged to meet the needs of a for-profit mutual fund, which has overspent on its grand new buildings recently built on a greenfield site – a development which, incidentally, conveniently created a new brownfield site which the hospital now wants to build on.

* AL/BE4: the plan is for an area surrounded by AONB land and projecting directly into the AONB at four points. It shows no respect for the AONB.

Please read and take note of each of these points and do not allow AL/BE4 to go ahead.

DLP_2430

Residents of East End at Benenden

Object

[TWBC: petition signed by 167 persons - see attachedredacted petition.]

We, the undersigned, who are mainly, but not entirely residents of East End at Benenden, object to the Local Plan (LP) in so far as it affects Benenden. In essence, our case is that the proposed development at the East End is excessive, inappropriate and unsustainable, and that it contravenes well-established policies. The East End is a sparsely populated rural area containing about 74 households. The housing allocation can readily be met on sites nearer to the village centre which are consonant with policies in the draft LP, in particular STR/BE1, item 4, STR 2, 6 and 10, EN 20 and 21 and TP2, and with common sense.

1. The unsuitability of the Site AL/BE4 (LP page 273 on)

(a) The area outlined in this proposal includes not only the sites 424 and 41 allocated in the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan (NP) but also the part of the hospital which is still in use as such, and the new part recently built on a greenfield site west of the original building. In four separate areas, this allocated site overlaps the boundary of the AONB. The part of BE4 west of Green Lane was not included in the call for sites. The LP page 274 suggests 66 to 72 residential units, of which there is extant permission for 22 dwellings on the south side, an increase of 44 - 50. Counting in the existing largely unused dwellings which are intended or likely to be replaced, 18 on the north side and 2 on the south, the total number comes out at 86 -92 new houses. That is the overall total when the development is complete, on a site which was described correctly in the original draft NP as unsustainable. Many of the existing houses are not occupied and the sites currently do not contribute to traffic movements on Goddards Green Road. These figures are in agreement with those in the NP.

(b) In the SHELAA this site is the only site remote from the village centre which is not dismissed as being unsustainable on account of its remoteness. Sites 18, 21, 437 and 8 are far closer to the village centre, but are dismissed as being too remote and therefore unsustainable. there is plainly a defect in methodology here. If the same criterion were applied to site BE4 it would fail.

(c) Since the housing allocations are limited to sites 424 and 41 (NP) the increased size of area BE4 in the LP to include the hospital site west of Green Lane serves no purpose other than to show that sites 41 and 424 are the think end of the wedge. The whole of the allocations fit into sites 424 and 41, as the NP shows. The excess should be omitted from BE4.

(d) The hospital site is on a prominence and is visible from the south for a long way. It is divided by Goddards Green Road (GGR), running from New Pond Road in the west to Castleton's Oak crossroads in the east, on the edge of the parish. This is a narrow rural lane with one lane in each direction, but with barely room for two lorries to pass. There is no other practical route which traffic can take between the site and the village centre. At present, the hospital accounts for some 400 traffic movements per day. The average number of cars parked there is 250 per day, almost all of which get there and back on GGR, which will continue whatever the outcome of the consultation. At present the traffic movements emanating from the sites 41 and 424 are virtually nil. 424 is boarded off. So the development of these sites will necessarily add to traffic movements on the inadequate road. 80 to 90 new houses will produce at least 240 traffic movements, and more likely 300, especially as these sites include limited affordable housing and are built almost three miles from the school, shops and meeting places in the village. this is an increase of 75%. There is no proposal to widen GGR, with or without s.106 contributions or CIL payment, if that system is adopted. It is designated as a rural lane and so policy EN 20, item 3, applies

(e) If the new housing stock is occupied by families, there will be a need regularly to go to and from the village centre for school, shops and its other facilities, none of which is present in the East End. Contrary to the statement on page 264, there is neither a pre-school nursery in the East End nor a shop at the hospital, which brings into question the reliability of this part of the Plan. Facilities which are not publicly available (page 265) are of no value to the community. The Plan seeks to remedy the absence of facilities in its Policy AL/BE4, page 274, by requiring means to secure the public use of the cafe at the hospital and the provision of a small publicly accessible shop within the existing hospital buildings and a daily minibus service. This cannot be done as a planning obligation under a S.106 agreement, since it is all taking place off-site, but can only require a payment under that provision to TWBC. There is however, the extraordinary provision on page 274, Policy AL/BE 4 item ii, that an application for part of the site only must include mechanisms to ensure that the minibus and retail store provision, active travel link and public access to the cafe can be provided through that part of the site alone. Does this mean that the facilities are not open to the public outside the site in question? Why would those living on the site need access to the cafe? What would the shop be required to sell? And how would such a condition or S.106 agreement be enforced? These conditions are fanciful and do not bear examination. Nor do they create a viable basis for a new community.

(f) The SHELAA assessment (site assessment sheets for Benenden Parish) says "Residents will rely heavily on private cars and thus air quality and travel objectives score negatively". Although promoted by the policy, shared transport and active travel options are unlikely to take precedence over private vehicle use, thus air quality and climate change also score negatively. This has been ignored in spite of the fact that TWBC has recently appointed a cross-party task force to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. this Plan undermines the Borough Council's declared environmental goals, and its policies STR2,6 and 10.

(g) the reason for its suitability is that this is mostly a PDL (Previously Development Land) site that already benefits from an extant planning consent. This is a non-sequitur. The existence of a so-far unused planning consent for 24 houses is not a reason for increasing the number three and half times over. Rather, it is a reason not to. The effect on the locality of a small, self-contained development of 24 new houses is wholly different from a vast estate of up to 90 houses.

(h) Although neither the plan nor the supporting documents say so, there may be two other factors which have encouraged the planners to allocated a large housing estate to the hospital site. One is that since the hospital trust has charitable status it is obliged to maximise the value of its assets by developing as much of its unused land as it can. That is of course not a planning reason, since the planning system does not exist to assist organisations, however worthy, to make money. Rather it is a reason to be firm in setting limits to development which can be sustained. It was the hospital's choice to move westwards on to a greenfield site, thereby releasing land which has previously been used for its main function. The planning system is there for the benefit of the community, the promote the public interest, not that of one individual private organisation.

(i) The second matter relied upon is that the hospital is likely to, or may threaten to, apply for planning permission in any event on the basis that these are brownfield sites, and will if necessary take the matter to court. Fear of litigation is not a valid planning reason. In any application for permission the Local Plan carries considerable weight and is in most cases determinative. Section 38(6) PCPA 2004 says that planning applications must be determined in accordance with the development plan. If there is no allocation in the development plan, it makes it less likely that (i) permission would be granted and (ii) an appeal would be successful against refusal of permission. It follows that 'fear of litigation' is permitting development which would not otherwise go ahead. Allocating the site for development in the LP renders it virtually certain that it would be carried out, while excluding it on sensible grounds is likely to prevent such development from happening. The fact that a site has become a brownfield site does not override every other factor, and a strongly argued well supported local plan is most effective. Sustainability is a far more relevant factor.

(j) Page 275 - contributions required. This is not acceptable. Measures relating to the highways are the province of Kent County Council which has made no commitment to carry out any works, either here or in the locality. While the TWBC may collect the contributions under S.106, they cannot require them to be spent on highways. If they choose to levy a CIL, the contributions could be spent anywhere. These are therefore ineffective ideals. Expressions such as the "public realm in the centre of Benenden" and "other highway-related matters" are tenuous, vague and therefore meaningless.

(k) The proposed cycle link cannot be achieved without the agreement of landowners. The principal landowner has refused his consent. It does not provide direct access to the village centre, but at best, a recreational activity. The reality, as stated in the SHELAA report is that private cars will be used. No weight has been given to the unavailability of the land for the preferred cycle route, as it should be. Car parking in Benenden is limited to kerbside parking, the village hall and a small strip at the north end of Cherryfields.

2. Alternative Sites

There are several alternative sites which are capable of taking up the numbers of houses required to meet the target, if the dwellings allocated to the hospital site are left at the present number, that is, 24 new houses on site 424 (BE4). These sites are 158, next to site 16 and incorporated in AL/BE2, site 222 and site 66 in Benenden centre, and sites 8 and 437 East in Iden Green.

(a) The Limit to Built Development (LBD) is an artificial line drawn where the planners want to exclude some sites and include others. The decision on inclusion of sites comes first, and the line is drawn round to include them. In fact the LBD line should reflect what is on the ground, see LBD Topic Paper paragraph 7.1 (a). Benenden's does not. It extends eastwards beyond the primary school on Rolvenden Road, but stops at the crossroads going west. In fact the built development extends westwards well beyond the crossroads - as far as the public school gates on both sides. Excluding this part of the built development has the effect of preserving the houses along the B2086 west of the crossroads from unwelcome infilling. There is clearly no prospect of infilling in the suggested tightly drawn LBD to the east of the crossroads. Sites 222 and 158 are outside the LBD, as currently drawn, but could as well be in it had it been drawn fairly. There is a deficit in process here, in failing to include the obvious built development. Site 158 is adjacent to site 16, Uphill, which was outside the LBD before the re-drawing. The process is therefore to allocate a site, and then draw the LBD line round it and say "Look, it is fine because it is in the LBD."

(b)  Similarly, the proposed removal of a LBD entirely from Iden Green intentionally prevents the allocation of housing to infill sites, see page 4, paragraph 7.5, item 2 and page 7, paragraph 8.1 (b) of the Limit to Built Development Topic paper, which says: The removal of two LBDs at Iden Green (Benenden) ....... as both of these settlemnts are considered to be unsuitable for further development as they have limited key facilities and bus services making them unsustainable in this context. This part of the parish is currently subject to an LBD which would give rise to the presumption that both of these sites, 8 and 437 East, would be developed. The proposed removal of the LBD would remove that presumption.

(c) Site 158. This is next to Uphill, site BE2, which was included within the LBD by adjusting the boundary. Page 270, item 8, requires the layout not to prejudice the provision of vehicular access to site 158 "which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan." It is not needed now only because of the over-allocation of houses at the East End. The SHELAA aggregates sites 158 and 16. The potential yield of the two sites together is given as 50-65 houses. The site is within walking distance of the village amenities. And so the sustainability assessment, which refers to lack of services and facilities including public transport is misconceived. The reason given for the rejection of the area outside of site 16 (that is 158) does not bear examination and is vague. This site is regarded as suitable for allocation in a future Local Plan. Its landscape impact is the same as it is on 16. This site was originally one of two sites considered as the site of the new village primary school and it was earmarked in early discussions with the TWBC planners as suitable for housing. The TWBC proposed 174 dwellings for this site in 2018.

(d) Site 222. This site is on the southwest corner of the crossroads apart from the area around the pond which is directly on that corner and which is to be left as a green space for the future village use (it is not currently open to  the public) is only outside the LBD because that line has been perversely drawn to exclude that built development to the west. The experience of sites BE1 and BE2 show that LBD can be adjusted to enclose an allocated site or it can be ignored, as in the case of site BE4. The SHELAA report is basically wrong. Part of the site is not within the Benenden Conservation area. It is within walking distance of all village amenities so the alleged lack of services and facilities, including public transport is totally wrong.

(e)  Site 66 is analysed in the NP HSA sheets, pages 9 and 10. It is regarded as suitable and achievable. There is no valid reason to reject it..

(f) The Iden Green sites. The reasons given for rejecting them is that they are outside the LBD. That is not true at present. It would become true if the proposed removal of the LBD is adopted. It is said taht there are no amenities, but Iden Green is in fact only a mile from the village, and has a pub/restaurant, a nursery school and a community hall. There is a paved footpath link to the village giving access to the primary school, church and village centre. This path follows a Roadside Nature Reserve for less than half a mile and the becomes a metalled footpath through fields to a church and adjacent primary school. Compare this with the sites in the East End, three miles from the village centre, which has no such facilities nor a direct link with the village except by car.

(g)  Iden Green has had several parcels of land offered in the call for sites yet each has been rejected. Site 8, for example, a site for 26 houses lying between Chapel Lane and Iden Green Road and surrounded by houses in the heart of a hamlet, has been rejected on the grounds that it is in "a remote location from services and facilities and public transport", (see SHELAA, and site assessment sheets Appendix K) which is a good description of the East End but not of this site. Site 8 is a greenfield site and within the AONB but this is also true of the two sites on Walkhurst Road, the primary school and the hospital site which includes Local Wildlife Sites and overlaps into the AONB.

(h)  Other sites in Iden Green have been rejected, such as 437, a very large site, as if it were only available in one piece for a very large number of houses. In fact, a small group of houses could be considered in a small suitable section of the whole, for example, that part of this site which lies to the easy of Iden Green and in the centre of the hamlet, adjacent to an existing housing estate and close to the pavement which connects the hamlet to the Village.

3. Conclusion

In the circumstances we invite the Borough Council to reject that part of the Local Plan which relates to Benenden. Its effect would be to create a satellite village in the East End with currently no amenities, no realistic prospect of obtaining any, and requiring greatly increased vehicle movements on unsuitable roads. The fact that it is said to be a brownfield site is not sufficient to override the fact that it is plainly an unsustainable site, nor to exclude more suitable sites in the village centre, where the complicated and probably unattainable conditions suggested for this site will not be needed.

DLP_2544

Linda Czapiewski

Object

My husband and I have lived in Benenden for 27 years and raised our family here.

I am extremely surprised that Benenden Hospital grounds have been proposed for such a large number of new houses.

It is quite clear that both the existing residents of Benenden and those living in the proposed new houses at the Hospital would be adversely affected, and significantly so.

Personally, we are not directly affected as we live about a mile from the proposed development, but we care deeply about our village and the adverse implications that this proposed new development would have on existing residents of Benenden as well as those occupiers of the proposed new houses.

Some of the other sites in the TWB DLP are far more logical, sensible and reasonable, but seem to have been rejected with no good reasons provided.
Having a wider distribution of building, and within reasonable and safe walking distance of the village, would seem to be far more sensible.

There are a number of reasons why the Hospital site is not appropriate:

Safety is a major issue but given a low profile in the TWB DLP for Benenden.

Anyone walking or cycling from the proposed new Hospital development to Benenden village will be doing so on extremely narrow, windy and dangerous roads.

This is especially dangerous for children going to and from the Benenden village Primary School.

Services and amenities at East End basically do not exist.

There was a church there, St Margaret’s, a shop long closed, a pre School that may no longer exist.

So everyone at the new proposed Hospital site would have to travel to Benenden village for the services and amenities that exist there.

Transport means driving only.

The roads adjacent to the proposed development are single track roads and are certainly not safe for pedestrians.

Goddards Green Road is narrow and windy and it has a history of black ice and flooding.

Walkhurst road is again a single track road.

Clearly, the combination of such small roads means that transport is a major problem if the proposed new houses are built at the Hospital.

Pollution would be an increasing problem with the significant increase in vehicular traffic, most especially in the centre of Benenden village.

Parents and children will be affected considerably, most especially at times when the school starts and finishes.

Parking is becoming a major problem in Benenden now, especially around the village shop.

As my husband is disabled, and I often take my grandchildren into Benenden, this is particularly noticeable to me.

This parking problem, with increased traffic, would worsen and I cannot see where the new parking spaces, that would certainly be needed, could be situated.

New houses built nearer to the village shop would result in safer and easier walking, and would hence alleviate this to a considerable extent.

Community spirit is essential in a village such as Benenden.

The result of building a substantial number of new houses about 2 miles from the village would most certainly create a “them and us” situation, especially given the resultant transport, pollution and parking issues that will emerge.

We would appreciate any balanced argument for the Hospital site and especially why the other clearly preferable sites within walking distance of Benenden village were not put forward. This was not discussed properly in the TWB DLP.

DLP_3329

Kent County Council (Growth, Environment and Transport)

Support with conditions

Highways and Transportation

The Local Highway Authority conditionally supports this policy. The following change is requested:

The standard paragraph regarding contributions should feature in this policy - It is expected that mitigation measures will be implemented by the developer. A contribution may be taken if appropriate

Heritage Conservation

Scale 3 - Significant archaeology could be dealt with through suitable conditions on a planning approval

Some potential for prehistoric or later remains.  The 1st Ed OS map records a smithy on the site and remains associated with post medieval activity may survive on site.

DLP_3462

Sally Marsh

Object

Policy Number: AL/BE 4 Benenden Hospital

The development at Benenden Hospital will have a significant effect on the purposes on the AONB landscape and this issue has not been properly considered by the Plan.

The Section 85 ‘duty of regard’ requires all relevant authorities to have regard to the purpose of AONBs when coming to decisions or carrying out their activities relating to, or affecting land within these areas. The PPG says of AONBs “Land within the setting of these areas often makes an important contribution to maintaining their natural beauty, and where poorly located or designed development can do significant harm. This is especially the case where long views from or to the designated landscape are identified as important, or where the landscape character of land within and adjoining the designated area is complementary. Development within the settings of these areas will therefore need sensitive handling that takes these potential impacts into account” (Paragraph: 042 Reference ID: 8-042-20190721, revised 21 07 2019).

Impacts will not just be confined to the visual or physical effects such as on habitats or watercourses connecting the AONB with its surroundings, but will also add to the visitor numbers using the AONB and the traffic travelling through it, affecting the same sense of naturalness, remoteness, tranquillity and dark skies referred to above.

The redundant hospital building, an example of early British Modernism, provides an important contribution to the cultural history of the High Weald. It embodies the ambition of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act, under which AONBs are designated, which was to provide a natural health service to mirror the National Health Service created one year previously. Funded by the union movement, Benenden Sanatorium was built for postal workers suffering from tuberculosis. It occupies a rural location with clean air and long views over typical High Weald countryside.

This site includes rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.

DLP_4132

Tunbridge Wells District Committee Campaign to Protect Rural England

Object

The draft plan increases the number of houses from 27 already approved to 72.  The increase is another example of the impact of the unrealistic and excessive housing targets. We are concerned about the effect of the proposed development around Benenden Hospital (AL/BE4) on the setting of the AONB (we question its justification under Paragraph 172 of the NPPF) and on biodiversity, given that we understand the site contains rare acid grassland which needs to be protected. We also have concerns about the effect of the increased traffic on the rural lanes, although we recognise the efforts the draft policy makes to address this issue.

However, if the target has to be maintained, the proximity of the development to Benenden Hospital could conceivably make it a suitable location, but only on condition that the development has a high proportion of properties affordable for hospital staff.  To this end, the proposals under paragraph 11 for affordable housing may not be sufficient.

DLP_3620

Southern Water Services Plc

Support with conditions

Southern Water is the statutory wastewater undertaker for Benenden. As such, we have undertaken a preliminary assessment of the capacity of our existing infrastructure and its ability to meet the forecast demand for this proposal. The assessment reveals that existing local sewerage infrastructure to the site has limited capacity to accommodate the proposed development. Limited capacity is not a constraint to development provided that planning policy and subsequent conditions ensure that occupation of the development is phased to align with the delivery of new wastewater infrastructure.

Proposals for 72 dwellings at this site will generate a need for reinforcement of the wastewater network in order to provide additional capacity to serve the development. This reinforcement will be provided through the New Infrastructure charge to developers, and Southern Water will need to work with site promoters to understand the development program and to review whether the delivery of network reinforcement aligns with the occupation of the development. Connection of new development at this site ahead of new infrastructure delivery could lead to an increased risk of flooding unless the requisite works are implemented in advance of occupation. Southern Water has limited powers to prevent connections to the sewerage network, even when capacity is limited. Planning policies and conditions, therefore, play an important role in ensuring that development is coordinated with the provision of necessary infrastructure, and does not contribute to pollution of the environment, in line with paragraph 170(e) of the revised National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) (2019).

In consideration of the above, we recommend the following criterion is added to Policy AL/BE 4

Occupation of development will be phased to align with the delivery of sewerage infrastructure, in liaison with the service provider.

DLP_5460

David Millen

Object

I object to section AL/BE4 in the Local Plan on the parish of Benenden. For the reasons listed by Hazel Strouts. There is no point me repeating them verbatim here. She makes the point so much better than I can.

I would however like to take issue with the following relating to the document 'Draft Local Plan Regulation 18 Consultation Draft 20 September to 1 November 2019 '.

In recent years the hospital expanded massively onto a greenfield site, and abandoned its old buildings and comparatively newly built hotel. The land these occupied conveniently became a brown field site, which now has planning permission for 24 domestic houses. And surely the hotel building will not be replaced, it would be a horrible waste when we are supposed to 'reduce, reuse, and recycle. Benenden Hospital (or trust) apparently have now seen a way to get more money- i.e. further development. Money from land development should not be the solution to financial miss management. Why were perfectly good buildings considered suitable for redevelopment when there is all the land and derelict buildings at Cleveland Farm?

Same applies to the houses in Wood Lane. I've always thought what lovely houses these were with their large lawns and gardens. What is the sense in knocking these down.

There are no facility's at East End. The last remaining one - the tennis courts which although belonging to the hospital were used by the local children, have now been locked - for the first time in the 30 years we have lived here. Despite my request to open them to the public in June 2019, if only for Wimbledon fortnight, they remained locked. I have since read this :

'The proposal must incorporate tennis courts, a similar level of car parking for use by the hospital,and access to the sports pavilion as currently provided, unless it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that these facilities are no longer required by the hospital in the short and long term;'

I assume locking the courts 'satisfactorily demonstrates that these facilities are no longer required' 

The Hospital needs reminding it is a charity – for the good of the common people, not for the good of the directors of the Hospital.

'Provision of an active travel link between the site and Benenden village (see Policy TP 2:

Transport Design and Accessibility);'

What is an 'active travel link' .I have searched for 'active travel link' in the 'Policy TP 2:Transport Design and Accessibility ' but not found it. Is it a path? If it is a path, perhaps you could call it a path.

An off road cycle path is obviously unaffordable and will never happen. Besides, everybody drives a car. Why would anyone want a link to Benenden? People in the East End are going to drive to Tenterden ,Ashford, T wells or Maidstone as they do now.

If you are considering including part of Green Lane and Walkhurst Lane don't forget there is a 60mph speed limit down these lanes, blind bends and pot holes- not ideal for a family cycle ride. I know, I cycle them regularly but will not let my grandchildren.

'The provision of a small, publicly accessible retail outlet within the existing hospital buildings (for a minimum of 10 years from occupation of 50% of the (gross) residential units)'

Is the Hospital really prepared to spend £250,000 + to cover just the retail outlet wage bill for 10 years.

'The provision of a daily trip to/from the hospital site to Benenden and Tenterden by minibus to coincide with the primary school start and finish of the day from Monday to Friday, and an additional service in the morning and late afternoon on a Saturday (for a minimum of 10 years from occupation of 50% of the (gross) residential units); '

Same again, Is the Hospital really prepared to spend the £250,000 or what ever the cost is for ten years.

'It is expected that contributions will be required towards the following if necessary, to mitigate the impact of the development:' We need to know the actual facts, not expectations.

'Existing facilities but may not be publicly available (hospital only): tennis courts, cricket pitch and cafe'

Yes, the tennis courts, cricket pitch and cafe are unavailable to the public. So why list them? Perhaps you would like to add my table tennis table and kitchen to the list.

'Transport - cycleways :'

'Sustrans 18 follows Benenden Route, and Green Lane and Stepneyford Lane ',

So what. The only concession to cyclists is a blue sign post. As I've stated above, there is 60mph speed limit down these lanes, blind bends and pot holes.

'Education facilities: Pre-school/nursery '

No there isn't.

'Health facilities: Benenden Hospital (private).'

Yes, and my medicine cupboard (also private).

'Retail; small shop at Hospital'

No there isn't.

Improvements to the public realm at the centre of Benenden;

How does this effect the East End?

Can I say we did not find out about these plans until after Benenden Neighbourhood Planning committee had held two meetings to discuss them despite the fact that our front door is just 10 meters from the development line. We had no communication from Benenden Neighbourhood Planning until I e-mailed them. I don't know how the planning committee was elected, if they were elected, or what authority they have , but I think they are just happy to have the housing outside of Benenden village.

DLP_4777

Trevor Hunt

Object

AL/BE4 The Local Plan states that 50 new houses are planned for the East End while 57 are planned for the village and none at all for Iden Green. This misleads. In calculating the number of new houses in the village, the Local Plan includes 12 houses on Walkhurst road now under construction. It should therefore also include 24 houses approved at the hospital site, but not yet built and 18 new houses, also at the hospital which are planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village (at AL/BE 1, 2 & 3) and of course to the number of zero houses planned for Iden Green.

AL/BE4. The East End is a remote, rural area covering almost one third of the parish and the hospital site is 3 miles from the village. It contains 76 households. (There are 840 households in the parish as a whole). The 42 new houses already planned is a more than 50% increase in the number of households. 50 new houses on top of that will overwhelm the East End and fundamentally change its character. AL/BE4 is inconsistent with Objective 1 (Vision) which talks about “garden settlements” in relation to Paddock Wood and Tudely BUT about “growth” at “other settlements across the borough”. The proposed East End development, so distant from the existing village, is not growth but a new settlement.

* The East End has no nursery school, no pub, no restaurant, no community hall and no footpath or bike path links to the village (the bike route proposed in the plan is vigorously opposed by all concerned landowners). It was never a hamlet and has no main street lined with old weather boarded houses. Unlike Benenden and Iden Green, its name does not derive from a ‘den’ but from a 17th century division of the parish into three sections for taxation purposes. It is because of its remoteness that it was chosen as a site for a sanatorium. Increasing the housing to this extent and at this site is contrary to Objective 2 to “deliver housing ..through… sustainable development.” It is also contrary to STR 2 which promises a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that is not for its own sake, but growth that brings benefits for the environment and all sectors of the community.” This growth benefits primarily Benenden Healthcare Society, a mutual fund based in York and shirt sponsor of the York football Club. Not exactly a local interest group.

AL/BE4 is contrary to STR 5 which talks about the importance of access to “early years” education and access to play spaces. There is no nursery school at the site and use of the hospital’s tennis courts are being offered only to those who live on site. There is no cultural infrastructure, not even a community hall.

* The plan is inconsistent with 4.59 which talks of the need to “reduce private car dependence”. This site will have fewer than normal affordable houses because only families who can afford two or more cars would find everyday life on this remote site feasible. Yet STR 6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements… to help reduce the need to travel”. The Local Plan says it wishes to “reduce the need to travel” but AL/BE4 increases it.

AL/BE4 is inconsistent with the aims of the TW Council’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Panel. The Council is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in relation to borough council assets, while forcing them up , through BE4, in relation to private development. We recall Objective 2 “to tackle climate change”.

AL/BE4 is inconsistent with STR5 which talks of the need to provide adequate means for “dealing with the removal of foul water”. The East End is not connected to a mains sewage system.

* The Local Plan makes much of the fact that most of BE4 is a brownfield site but disregards STR 2 which urges a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that brings benefits for the environment.” Further, this environment contains one valuable Local Wildlife Site and two others sit on the boundary of the site. The Kent Wildlife Trust sees these as SSSI standard (see KWT letter to TWBC 4 March 2013 the site fulfils “the criteria for it to be considered a SSSI”)) and the High Weald AONB states, in its objections to the Local Plan, that these sites constitute “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Nowhere in the LP objectives does it state that brownfield considerations override either sustainability or environmental considerations. On the contrary, STR2 suggests the opposite. Further, being greenfield is no barrier to development (see sites AL/BE1 and AL/BE3). Similarly, being a brownfield site should be no barrier to protecting the environment and insisting on sustainable development. We recall Objective 2, to “deliver ..housing …through.. sustainable development” and “to protect the …natural environment.”

AL/BE4 is allocated because it is outside the AONB. The implication is that this is out of respect for the AONB, yet the Local Plan development site at BE4 overlaps the boundary with the AONB in four separate points.

AL/BE4 undermines TWBC’s Management Plan with the High Weald AONB which states in their comments on the draft Local Plan that councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2) rather than by creating a new settlement in a rural area which will overwhelm the locality. The High Weald AONB also points out several other objections which are dealt with more fully in this paper:

o by developing on the high ridge which runs east to west across the northern part of the parish, the Council is planning a new settlement which will dominate the landscape to the south for miles, though it will not be visible from the built-up area of the village.

o because the hospital site itself was deliberately left out of the AONB boundary when it was set up, the site forms a bubble bulging into the AONB landscape and so the truism that land immediately adjacent to AONBs contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB is exceptionally applicable at this site.

o chosen as a site for a sanatorium BE4 has long views to the south facing the south westerlies which carry clean sea air inland, and because it is remote.

o the sanatorium, established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air in a tranquil setting. Unfortunately, the draft TW Local Plan disregards these goals, assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.

o The site is home to important historic architecture. There is the Grade II listed Lister Building on one side and the redundant hospital pavilion building on the other. The latter, built by the architect Augustus William West, who won King Edward VII’s 1902 competition to build a new sanatorium for England, is a rare example of early British modernism. It makes an important contribution to the cultural history not only of the High Weald but also nationally (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal). BE4 would see the demolition of this important heritage building. It therefore undermines Policy STR8 which talks of the importance of “conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment”, and point 10 of that Policy, which talks of the need for “the positive management of heritage assets”. The plan is at odds with Objective 2 “to protect the valued heritage …. of the borough.”

DLP_4956

Savills for The Benenden Healthcare Society

Support with conditions

1. Introduction

1.1. This representation is provided on behalf of the Benenden Healthcare Society (hereinafter referred to as the Society) in response to the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) Local Plan Regulation 18 Consultation, which closes on the 15th November 2019. Please note that this representation reflects the view of the landowner at the current time (the Society)and therefore may be subject to change as contractual agreements with end developers progress.

1.2. The Benenden Healthcare Society owns a significant amount of land which falls within the TWBC boundary, including that surrounding the Benenden Hospital at East End. The landholding of the Society is shown in blue on the plan at Appendix 1.

[TWBC: for Appendix 1 plan see full representationattached].

1.3. Benenden Hospital is the largest employer and occupies a significant complex of buildings within the parish of Benenden, and therefore any development at the site is significant for the parish. As such representations have been submitted to the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan Regulation 14 consultation which closed on the 31st October 2019.

1.4. Any development at Benenden Hospital would also be significant to the borough as the hospital site is not only an important employer but it is also capable of delivering a significant quantum of new houses which will help to meet the borough’s pressing housing need. Consequently, the Society has a keen interest in the progress of the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan (TWLP).

1.5. The Society welcomes the opportunity to provide comments on the draft TWLP at this stage and looks forward to continuing to work with both TWBC and the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group to ensure that the proposed site allocations at the hospital are both appropriate, achievable and acceptable for all parties.

[TWBC: this representation has been split into DLP_4949 (comments on STR/BE 1) and DLP_4956 (comments on Policy AL/BE 4)]

2. The Site

2.1. The Society initially put forward two sites for residential development through the TWLP Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA) Consultation. These consisted of the North East Quadrant, a 3.7 hectare site to the north of Goddard’s Green Road (SHELAA reference Site 40) and the South East Quadrant, a 4.2 hectare site to the south of Goddard Green Road (SHELAA reference Site 424). A variation of the South East Quadrant, which included an additional 0.7 ha of land to the east was also submitted at a later date (SHELAA reference Site 41).

2.2. As part of draft Policy AL/BE 4 (Land at Benenden Hospital), both the North East Quadrant and the South East Quadrant have been allocated for development. Whilst these sites were submitted to the SHELAA individually as Site 424 and Site 41, draft Policy AL/BE 4 allocates them together as one site.

The Site: Land at Benenden Hospital

2.3. The Benenden Hospital site contained within draft allocation AL/BE 4 comprises an area of approximately 12.6 ha, bordered to the North by Mockbeggar Lane and a small parcel of houses, and to the South, East and West by agricultural land. Goddards Green Lane / Benenden Road runs east to west through the centre of the site, whilst Green Lane runs north to south through the southern portion of the site.

2.4. The characteristics of the land surrounding the hospital is that of greenfield land which is currently undeveloped. The site itself contains a significant amount of land that is previously developed, including: hospital buildings, residential dwellings, two tennis courts, unused cricket pitch and car parking.

2.5. The hospital site falls just outside of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) which extends to the south, east and west, abutting the site boundary. It is located entirely within Flood Zone 1, which means there is a low risk of flooding.

2.6. The site borders an area of Ancient Woodland to the north and there are designated Local Wildlife Sites (LWS) on the site which include the disused Cricket Pitch.

2.7. The site contains one Listed Building, Benenden Chest Hospital Lister Wing Building, which is situated to the west, across Green Lane, and is Grade II Listed (UID: 1203809).

2.8. The North East Quadrant occupies the North East of the site, bordered to the North and East by Mockbeggar Lane, to the south by Goddards Green Lane / Benenden Road and the West by existing hospital buildings.

2.9. The South East Quadrant occupies the South East of the site, bordered to the north by Goddards Green Lane / Benenden Road, to the West by Green Lane and to the South and East by agricultural land and the High Weald AONB boundary. This contains a significant amount of hospital buildings which are no longer fit for purpose.

3. Representations to the TWBC Local Plan

3.1. The draft TWLP identifies a strategy for development within Benenden Parish through the Benenden Section of the TWLP. This section provides five draft policies specific to Benenden consisting of draft Policy STR/BE 1 – The Strategy for Benenden Parish, AL/BE1 – Land at Walkhurst Road, AL/BE2 – Land Adjacent to New Pond Road, AL/BE3 – Feofee Cottages and land, Walkhurst Road and AL/BE4 – Land at Benenden Hospital.

3.2. Draft Policy STR/BE 1, provides the overall strategy for the parish, whilst draft policies AL/BE 1 – 4 provide residential allocations. This representation focuses on policies STR/BE 1 and AL/BE 4 which are relevant to the Society and its land interests. Whilst STR/BE 1 is the strategic policy for Benenden, the Society has only minor comments in relation to STR/BE 1, and therefore this representation firstly addresses AL/BE 4 and then explores STR/BE 1.

AL/BE 4 Land at Benenden Hospital: Site Specific Policy

Policy Introduction

3.3. The North East and South East Quadrant, allocated in the TWLP under draft Policy AL/BE 4 – Land at Benenden Hospital and are allocated for a net increase of approximately 66-72 residential units above what is existing on site. The draft policy states that this equates to a further 44-50 dwellings in this location as permission has already been granted for 22 dwellings on the South East Quadrant under planning permission 12/03130/EIAMJ. This however is not quite accurate as this extant permission is for 24 dwellings, not 22.

3.4. The Society submitted a representation to the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan (BNP) Regulation 14 Consultation which closed on the 31st October 2019. The Society’s representation to the BNP largely focused upon draft allocations LS40 and 41 which form the North East and South East Quadrants and comprise a significant part of the area covered by draft Policy AL/BE 4 of the TWLP. The BNP supports the refurbishment or redevelopment of 22 – 25 additional homes on both the North East and South East Quadrants, over and above the 24 with extant permission, applying a density of 22dph.

3.5. Given the small error in housing numbers, the society requests that the opening paragraph of draft Policy AL/BE 4 is reworded to read:

“This site, as defined on the Benenden draft Policies Map, is allocated for residential development (C3) to provide a net increase in the number of residential units (above the amount existing on site in January 2019) of approximately 68-74 residential units. Given that planning permission has already been granted for 24 new dwellings at this site, this allocation would result in a further 44-50 dwellings in this location.”

3.6. Unlike the BNP, the TWLP is broader in the site area by providing a boundary encompassing the entire hospital site, yet aside from the discrepancy addressed previously in this representation the two allocations align in terms of proposed numbers. The Society intends to bring forward the development on the two sites identified through the BNP and within the boundary identified in the TWLP. The Society welcomes the consistent approach to unit numbers, and the allocation of both parcels of land through the draft BNP and the TWLP.

3.7. The Society has been in conversation with both the Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group and TWBC regarding the development of land at the hospital, and have entered into a pre-application discussion with TMBC regarding the development of the South East Quadrant of the hospital site.

3.8. The progress to date in relation to the South East Quadrant provides support for the allocations, demonstrating that the site is available and can be brought forward for the proposed quantum of development. As the North East Quadrant does not benefit from an extant permission, it is currently the intention of the Society not to progress proposals on this parcel of land until either the Neighbourhood Plan, or the TWLP have progressed to a more significant stage.

Policy Requirements

3.9. Draft Policy AL/BE 4 also contains 12 site specific requirements which development of the site will be required to conform with. The Society has provided comments in relation to these 12 specific requirements below.

1. Provision of an active travel link between the site and Benenden village.

3.10. The Society notes the aspirations of the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group set out in the BNP through draft Policy T1 for a footpath / bridleway along Green Lane. This aspiration correlates with the first requirement of draft policy AL/BE 4 as outlined above. The Society would like to elucidate that the route proposed in the BNP travels across land not owned by the Society, meaning that the deliverability of this route would be partly out of the Society’s control. The Society would however be happy to provide a proportionate contribution towards the development of such a route.

3.11. As part of a commensurate contribution to this aim, the Society is also happy to consider making some of its own land available for the purposes of a travel link (bridleway / footpath) between the site and Benenden Village should the proposed route alter. However the Society notes that this scheme will not be possible until other land owners have also given consent for the route to traverse their own land. The Society would also highlight that any footpath / bridleway would need to be sensitive to the AONB location and would need to show due consideration to the farmer who uses the Society’s farm land. Ultimately, the Society is broadly supportive of this requirement.

2. Development must take place within the non-hatched areas as defined on the allocations plan, with no new buildings to be constructed within the AONB.

3.12. The Society do not object to the requirement for no new buildings to be located within the High Weald AONB and can confirm that there is no intention to develop new buildings within the AONB. The Society do however consider the green hatched area on the site plan accompanying AL/BE 4 which is to act as a landscape buffer to the north of the Wood Lane to be excessively large. Initial site layouts indicate that some limited development will be required within the southern part of this hatched area and therefore the Society request that the hatched area is reduced in size to provide a circa 30 metre landscape buffer to the north, rather than the 60 metre buffer currently indicated through the allocation site plan.

3.13. It would be the intention of the Society to retain as many of the trees located within this landscape buffer area as possible through any development.

3. The proposal must incorporate tennis courts, a similar level of car parking for use by the hospital, and access to the sports pavilion as currently provided, unless it can be satisfactorily demonstrated that these facilities are no longer required by the hospital in the short and long term.

3.14. The Society can advise that the tennis courts and sports pavilion currently existing on site are rarely used and are not required by the Hospital. As a result, the Society does not propose to retain or reinstate the tennis courts or sports pavilion in any future development of the site. Therefore the Society requests that the requirement to incorporate tennis courts and retain the sports pavilion is removed from the policy.

3.15. In relation to car parking, the Society can confirm that the car parking on site is used by the Hospital and it would be the Society’s intention to re-provide a similar level of car parking within the Hospital site as part of any development. The Society therefore does not object to the requirement to re-provide a similar level of hospital parking on site.

4. The garage block within the open space to the north as defined on the site allocation plan shall be demolished before the occupation of 50% of the residential units, and thereafter the land used and managed in the longer term for the benefit of the Local Wildlife Site and/or sports pitch.

3.16. It is the intention of the Society to demolish the existing garage block to the north of the site as part of the re-development of the North East Quadrant. As it is the Society’s current intention to develop the South East Quadrant for approximately 48 units ahead of the North East Quadrant, the Society request that the demolition of the garage block is triggered upon occupation of 75% of the residential units, rather than 50% to allow the development of the South East Quadrant to be completed ahead of the North East Quadrant.

3.17. In addition, as highlighted in paragraph 3.13 above, the Society do not intend to use the area in which the garage block is located as an extension to the Local Wildlife Site (LWS) or for additional sports provision. As such, the Society request that the requirement to specifically use the land occupied by the existing garage block and manage it in the long term for the benefit of the LWS and / or sports provision is removed from the policy requirement.

5. Means to secure the public use of the cafe at the hospital (for a minimum of 10 years from occupation of 50% of the (gross) residential units); 

6. The provision of a small, publicly accessible retail outlet within the existing hospital buildings (for a minimum of 10 years from occupation of 50% of the (gross) residential units).

3.18. The Society intend to develop a premise as part of the overall proposals that would be available to be leased as a publicly accessible café and retail outlet. As such the Society request that requirements 5 and 6 are reworded to reference provision will be made within the wider development proposals for a cafe and retail outlet, as oppose to existing hospital buildings which have only been designed for hospital use being repurposed.

3.19. In order to generate funding for the proposed café / retail outlet it is the Society’s intention to bring forward the development of the South East Quadrant for circa 48 units prior to the creation of the café / retail outlet premises. Therefore, the Society request that the trigger for the café and retail outlet is altered from occupation of 50% of the residential units to 75%.

7. The provision of a daily trip to/from the hospital site to Benenden and Tenterden by minibus to coincide with the primary school start and finish of the day from Monday to Friday, and an additional service in the morning and late afternoon on a Saturday (for a minimum of 10 years from occupation of 50% of the (gross) residential units).

3.20. The Society raise concerns with this requirement. The Society do not object to providing a contribution towards the provision of a bus service to and from the Hospital site to Benenden and Tenterden, commensurate to the quantum of development being brought forward at the site. However, the Society is not a transport provider and therefore is not capable of establishing or providing such a service directly. Consequently, the Society request that the requirement is reworded to require the Society to provide a proportionate contribution towards the provision of a bus service to and from the Hospital to Benenden and Tenterden rather than to provide the bus service itself.

8. The provision of the long-term management of the Local Wildlife Sites associated with the hospital land (see Policy EN 11: Net Gains for Nature: biodiversity).

3.21. The Society support the requirement for long-term management of the core areas of the LWS associated with the hospital land. This includes all but the modest area within the SEQ adjoining Peek Lodge which is too constraining on the South East Quadrant redevelopment proposals. Accordingly, the soils in the area will be translocated to a nearby receptor site to try to ensure that the rare fungi can continue to thrive in this local area.

9. Regard to be given to existing hedgerows and mature trees on site, with the layout and design of the development protecting those of most amenity value, as informed by an arboricultural survey and landscape and visual impact assessment (see Policy EN 14 : Trees, Woodlands, Hedges, and Development and criterion 3 of Policy EN 1: Design and other development management criteria).

3.22. The Society raises no objection to the requirement to protect trees and hedges of high amenity value and confirms that when development proposals are drawn up for the site great care will be taken to ensure that trees and hedge of greatest amenity value are retained.

10. Reflects existing trees and hedges on the site, and the complex topography (particularly within the southern part of the site) (see criteria 1 and 3 of Policy EN 1: Design and other development management criteria).

3.23. The Society supports this requirement and will try to ensure that development proposals respect the existing hedges, trees and topography of the site.

11. The provision of affordable housing as 35% of the net increase in the number of dwellings. A proportion of this may be provided as a financial contribution for use to provide a higher proportion of affordable housing at Feoffee Cottages and land, with the remainder provided on site (see Policy H5: Affordable Housing).

3.24. The Society supports the requirement to provide a proportion of affordable homes for both aspiring homeowners in the parish and is happy to do so. Furthermore, the Society appreciates the rationality provided by allowing for a financial contribution to be made in lieu of a proportion of the required on site provision. The Society do however request that this same flexibility is built into the requirement, to allow for a lower provision than 35% affordable housing if fully justified by robust viability evidence. This will build flexibility into the allocation to ensure that it remains deliverable should market conditions change.

3.25. Collectively this is an extensive brownfield site with significant built form which will involve significant costs to be removed from the site. This combined with the various contributions sought and additional facilities on site may have some viability implications when affordable housing contributions and normal S106 / Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) contributions are also factored in. Accordingly it would appear prudent to reflect viability considerations in the usual way, and as stipulated by national planning policy.

12. Provision of on-site amenity/natural green space and children’s play space and improvements to existing allotments, parks and recreation grounds and youth play space in accordance with the requirements of Policy OSSR 2: Provision of publicly accessible open space and recreation.

3.26. The Society do not object to this requirement and can confirm that they will aim to provide commensurate open space and play facilities within or adjoining the site.

Developer Contributions

3.27. Draft Policy AL/BE 4 highlights 5 areas for which developer contributions will be required in association with the development of the site.

a. Measures to control the speed of traffic within and around East End.

3.28. Subject to viability considerations the Society do not object to paying a contribution towards traffic calming measures within and around East End that is proportionate to the scale of the proposed development.

b. Suitably designed crossing points across Goddards Green Road.

3.29. Subject to viability considerations the Society is willing to pay an appropriate contribution towards the provision of suitable crossing points across Goddard Green Road.

c. Relevant works to highway junctions as necessary.

3.30. Subject to viability considerations the Society do not object to paying a proportionate contribution towards any highway junction improvements necessary to mitigate the increase in traffic arising for the proposed development.

d. Improvements to the public realm at the centre of Benenden.

3.31. Subject to viability considerations the Society is willing to pay a contribution towards public realm improvements in Benenden, commensurate to the scale of the proposed development.

e. Other highway related works.

3.32. The Society considers it unlikely that highways related works in addition to traffic calming measures, the provision of crossings, and junction improvements as set out in requirements a – c of the draft policy are likely to be necessary as a result of the development of the sites at Benenden Hospital, given the scale of development proposed.

3.33. The Society would also highlight the requirement set out in the draft policy for public transport improvements (requirement 7). Whilst the Society consider it unlikely that additional highways related works are likely to be required, should Kent County Council Highways department consider that additional contributions are necessary in order for the development to be brought forwards the Society would not object to making a proportionate contribution, provided it does not jeopardise the viability of the development of the site.

4. Conclusions

4.1. The Society are supportive of the allocation of sites 424 – The South East Quadrant and site 41 - The North East Quadrant through draft policy AL/BN 4 for development of between 66 – 72 additional dwellings, and hereby confirm the availability of this land for development.

4.2. The Society are broadly supportive of draft policies STR/BN 1 and AL/BN 4 and the various policy requirements, with the exception of requirements 2, 3, 4 and 7 which the Society do not object to in principal but consider should be altered as set out in these representations.

4.3. We trust that these representations are of assistance to the TWBC. The Society would be happy to meet with the TWBC to discuss the TWLP or the allocated sites in more detail if this would be of assistance. Details of the Society’s retained planning consultants can be found at the end of this document.

4.4. Overall, the TWLP policies need to be in conformity with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). They also need to be in adherence with the Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) regulations. A number of the policy requirements listed in these draft policies, notably the requirement for an active travel link (requirement 1 – AL/BN 4) and the requirement for the bus link (requirement 7 – AL/BN 4) will need to be formally added to the CIL Regulation 123 list, so that TWBC are able to legitimately seek specific financial contributions towards them when subsequent planning applications are under consideration.

4.5. The Society are grateful for the opportunity to comment on the draft policies at this early stage and look forward to continuing the positive working relationship with TWBC which has been established.

DLP_5288

Wilf Andrews

Object

I write with regard to the proposed housing plan and its impact on East End, Benenden.

AL/BE4: the plan almost doubles the area of land to be developed at the hospital without identifying the number of houses to go onto this new area. It increases the number of houses to go in the area on the eastern side of the hospital site (the one cited in the Neighbourhood Plan) to 90. The East End has 74 households, it is the most rural part of the village, which is why it was chosen as the site for a sanatorium. It will be swamped with 90 houses. The number is ruinous in terms of the rural nature of the landscape of the parish of Benenden. It will indelibly alter our AONB, our parish and our village. These are not just lots of houses but houses with no centre, with no historic heart.

AL/BE4: there is great imbalance in a plan for 90 houses at the East End and only 57 in the village. Further, the East End is the most rural part of the parish with only 74 households. You propose more than doubling our population, and giving us, a rural area, almost half the total of houses allocated for the parish. Why this imbalance?

AL/BE4: your housing numbers mislead. You should include the numbers of those already approved but not built (24) and the numbers for replacing existing small semi-detached houses without garages, with large separate new buildings with garages (18)

AL/BE4: it is contrary to planning policy to build outside a village. On this scale, it creates satellite village

AL/BE4: TWBC has just set up a cross-party task force on sustainability and biodiversity. Its aim is to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. How does the AL/BE4 comply with the task force’s mission? There will be no affordable housing because it is too far from the village. Every household will have at least two cars and probably more (we are four adults in this house and have four cars).

AL/BE4: traffic along Goddards Green Road is already problematic. Where are the plans to widen Goddards Green Road and the surrounding single track roads? The plan more than doubles the number of cars in the East End as it more than doubles the number of households. It threatens a severe increase in pollution.

AL/BE4: you almost double the size of the area up for development at the East End (compared to the Neighbourhood Plan). This does not increase your control of the hospital's housing plans. It lessens it. Parishioners are not obliged to meet the needs of a for-profit organisation, a mutual fund, which has lost over a million pounds because of the behaviour of its finance officer and because it has overspent in its grand new building set on a formerly greenfield site, beside the old hospital site (thereby creating a new brownfield site).

AL/BE4: the plan is for an area surrounded by AONB land and projecting directly into the AONB at four points. It does not respect AONB regulations.

DLP_5468

Lorraine Millen

Object

I object to sectionAL/BE4 in the Local Plan on the parish of Benenden. For the reasons listed by Hazel Strouts and my husband David Millen.

I would also like to say that we did not find out about these plans until after Benenden Neighbourhood Planning committee had held two meetings to discuss them despite the fact that our front door is just 10 meters from the development line. We had no communication from Benenden Neighbourhood Planning until we e-mailed them. I don't know how the planning committee was elected, if they were elected, or what authority they have.

DLP_5479

Marco Giannangeli

Object

I object to the section which deals with the parish of Benenden in the draft Local Plan. I object to Policy AL/BE4 on the grounds of:

  • Highway safety and Traffic management. I live on Castletons Oak Crossroads, approximately one mile from the proposed site for 87 houses at East End
  • This is an important local crossroads, intersecting the Tenterden/Cranbrook Road with Benenden Road.
  • The Tenterden/Cranbrook Road is the only direct artery linking both towns. It is a notoriously fast road.
  • Benenden Rd is the direct route between East End and Headcorn station, the closest mainline station to the proposed development site
  • Castletons Oak crossroads are already well known by Kent County Council and the Highways Agency. Biddenden Parish Council has written to the chair of Benenden Parish Council to express our concerns, especially centring on safety issues at the crossroads
  • Over the last five years there have been 15 crashes at this intersection.(See list below) and on June 11 2018, a car loured into my living room
  • The current new traffic calming measures are ineffective.  Three more accidents have occurred this year involving motorists approaching from the direction of Benenden and proceeding, after failing to notice oncoming traffic from Tenkterden
  • Car ownership in Benenden is already above the national average and the East End site is not for affordable housing because it is too far from any amenities. People living there will have have at least two cars. Possibly one to drive to work and one to take the children to school and perform errands in.
  • The cross roads is unable to cope with existing traffic. Why add a further 180 cars a day?
  • I am aware of the pressures on housing in Kent and the south east, and it is not my intention simply to object to the necessary building of more homes but please spread the building across the parish rather than siting most of it in the East End.
  • I object to the findings under the Strategic Housing and Economic Land Availability Assessment (SHELAA)which finds that although Iden Green has similar bus services to East End and is far closer to the village (one mile as opposed to two and half to three miles). And although it has a roadside pavement leading through a Roadside Nature Reserve to a paved foot path through fields connecting directly to the new school, no housing is allocated there.
  • There are sites offered in Iden Green(Sites 8 and 437) which have not been taken-up. 8 is criticised for being remote and having no amenities, but these criticisms apply all the more to the East End which actually has no amenities (Iden Green has a nursery school and a pub/restaurant. East End has none)
  • Site 158, north of the village street, once considered a suitable location for the new primary school is also a good location yet it continues to be ignored even though site 16 (Uphill) on New Pond Road (immediately adjacent to 158), is to be developed
  • The advantages of the Iden Green sites and Site 158 are clear:
    • Safety: with the nearest town now Cranbrook, and the nearest mainline station Staplehurst. The necessity to use Castletons Oak Crossroads on a daily basis would diminish. In addition Staplehurst is closer to London and therefore more appealing to commuters
    • Adherence to current planning policy which favours adding new developments to sites where existing development already exists
    • Environmental impact:  The current proposals favour the building of a new and remote enclave, necessitating car/ motorcycle ownership. While  new and costly cycle paths to link it to the village are proposed, there is no guarantee that they would be utilised and, even if they were, that such utilisation would mitigate car/ motorcycle ownership.  Idea Green is within walking distance of the village. The East End is not.

DLP_5723

Suki Abbott

Object

AL/BE4 The Local Plan states that 50 new houses are planned for the East End while 57 are planned for the village and none at all for Iden Green. This misleads. In calculating the number of new houses in the village, the Local Plan includes 12 houses on Walkhurst road now under construction. It should therefore also include 24 houses approved at the hospital site, but not yet built and 18 new houses, also at the hospital which are planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village (at AL/BE 1, 2 & 3) and of course to the number of zero houses planned for Iden Green.

AL/BE4. The East End is a remote, rural area covering almost one third of the parish and the hospital site is 3 miles from the village. It contains 76 households. (There are 840 households in the parish as a whole). The 42 new houses already planned is a more than 50% increase in the number of households. 50 new houses on top of that will overwhelm the East End and fundamentally change its character. AL/BE4 is inconsistent with Objective 1 (Vision) which talks about “garden settlements” in relation to Paddock Wood and Tudely BUT about “growth” at “other settlements across the borough”. The proposed East End development, so distant from the existing village, is not growth but a new settlement.

* The East End has no nursery school, no pub, no restaurant, no community hall and no footpath or bike path links to the village (the bike route proposed in the plan is vigorously opposed by all concerned landowners). It was never a hamlet and has no main street lined with old weather boarded houses. Unlike Benenden and Iden Green, its name does not derive from a ‘den’ but from a 17th century division of the parish into three sections for taxation purposes. It is because of its remoteness that it was chosen as a site for a sanatorium. Increasing the housing to this extent and at this site is contrary to Objective 2 to “deliver housing ..through… sustainable development.” It is also contrary to STR 2 which promises a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that is not for its own sake, but growth that brings benefits for the environment and all sectors of the community.” This growth benefits primarily Benenden Healthcare Society, a mutual fund based in York and shirt sponsor of the York football Club. Not exactly a local interest group.

* AL/BE4 is contrary to STR 5 which talks about the importance of access to “early years” education and access to play spaces. There is no nursery school at the site and use of the hospital’s tennis courts are being offered only to those who live on site. There is no cultural infrastructure, not even a community hall.

* The plan is inconsistent with 4.59 which talks of the need to “reduce private car dependence”. This site will have fewer than normal affordable houses because only families who can afford two or more cars would find everyday life on this remote site feasible. Yet STR 6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements… to help reduce the need to travel”. The Local Plan says it wishes to “reduce the need to travel” but AL/BE4 increases it.

* AL/BE4 is inconsistent with the aims of the TW Council’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Panel. The Council is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in relation to borough council assets, while forcing them up , through BE4, in relation to private development. We recall Objective 2 “to tackle climate change”.

* AL/BE4 is inconsistent with STR5 which talks of the need to provide adequate means for “dealing with the removal of foul water”. The East End is not connected to a mains sewage system.

* The Local Plan makes much of the fact that most of BE4 is a brownfield site but disregards STR 2 which urges a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that brings benefits for the environment.” Further, this environment contains one valuable Local Wildlife Site and two others sit on the boundary of the site. The Kent Wildlife Trust sees these as SSSI standard (see KWT letter to TWBC 4 March 2013 the site fulfils “the criteria for it to be considered a SSSI”)) and the High Weald AONB states, in its objections to the Local Plan, that these sites constitute “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Nowhere in the LP objectives does it state that brownfield considerations override either sustainability or environmental considerations. On the contrary, STR2 suggests the opposite. Further, being greenfield is no barrier to development (see sites AL/BE1 and AL/BE3). Similarly, being a brownfield site should be no barrier to protecting the environment and insisting on sustainable development. We recall Objective 2, to “deliver ..housing …through.. sustainable development” and “to protect the …natural environment.”

* AL/BE4 is allocated because it is outside the AONB. The implication is that this is out of respect for the AONB, yet the Local Plan development site at BE4 overlaps the boundary with the AONB in four separate points.

* AL/BE4 undermines TWBC’s Management Plan with the High Weald AONB which states in their comments on the draft Local Plan that councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2) rather than by creating a new settlement in a rural area which will overwhelm the locality. The High Weald AONB also points out several other objections which are dealt with more fully in this paper:

o by developing on the high ridge which runs east to west across the northern part of the parish, the Council is planning a new settlement which will dominate the landscape to the south for miles, though it will not be visible from the built-up area of the village.

o because the hospital site itself was deliberately left out of the AONB boundary when it was set up, the site forms a bubble bulging into the AONB landscape and so the truism that land immediately adjacent to AONBs contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB is exceptionally applicable at this site.

o chosen as a site for a sanatorium BE4 has long views to the south facing the south westerlies which carry clean sea air inland, and because it is remote.

o the sanatorium, established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air in a tranquil setting. Unfortunately, the draft TW Local Plan disregards these goals, assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.

o The site is home to important historic architecture. There is the Grade II listed Lister Building on one side and the redundant hospital pavilion building on the other. The latter, built by the architect Augustus William West, who won King Edward VII’s 1902 competition to build a new sanatorium for England, is a rare example of early British modernism. It makes an important contribution to the cultural history not only of the High Weald but also nationally (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal). BE4 would see the demolition of this important heritage building. It therefore undermines Policy STR8 which talks of the importance of “conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment”, and point 10 of that Policy, which talks of the need for “the positive management of heritage assets”. The plan is at odds with Objective 2 “to protect the valued heritage …. of the borough.”

DLP_5769

Norman Heath

Object

Alternative Sites

There are several alternative sites which are capable of taking up the numbers of houses required to meet the target, if the dwellings allocated to the hospital site are left at the present number, that is, 24 new houses on site 424 (BE4). These sites are 158, next to site 16 and incorporated in AL/BE2, site 222 and site 66 in Benenden centre, and sites 8 and 437 East in Iden Green.

(a) The Limit to Built Development (LBD) is an artificial line drawn where the planners want to exclude some sites and include others. The decision on inclusion of sites comes first, and the line is drawn round to include them. In fact the LBD line should reflect what is on the ground, see LBD Topic Paper paragraph 7.1 (a). Benenden’s does not. It extends eastwards beyond the primary school on Rolvenden Road, but stops at the crossroads going west. In fact the built development extends westwards well beyond the crossroads – as far as the public school gates on both sides. Excluding this part of the built development has the effect of preserving the houses along the B2086 west of the crossroads from unwelcome infilling. There is clearly no prospect of infilling in the suggested tightly drawn LBD to the east of the crossroads. Sites 222 and 158 are outside the LBD, as currently drawn, but could as well be in it had it been drawn fairly. There is a deficit in process here, in failing to include the obvious built development. Site 158 is adjacent to site 16, Uphill, which was outside the LBD before the re-drawing The process is therefore to allocate a site, and then draw the LBD line round it and say “Look, it is fine because it is in the LBD.”

(b) Similarly, the proposed removal of a LBD entirely from Iden Green intentionally prevents the allocation of housing to infill sites, see page 4, paragraph 7.5, item 2 and page 7, paragraph 8.1(b) of the Limit to Built Development Topic paper, which says: The removal of two LBDs at Iden Green (Benenden) ….... as both of these settlements are considered to be unsuitable for further development as they have limited key facilities and bus services making them unsustainable in this context. As has been done in the centre of Benenden village, the LBD could so easily be drawn to include sites LS8 and 437 East, since they are clearly suitable for development and because the reasons given for their exclusion do not add up.

(c) Site 158. This is next to Uphill, site BE2, which was included within the LBD by adjusting the boundary. Page 270, item 8, requires the layout not to prejudice the provision of vehicular access to site 158 “which may be allocated for development as part of a future Local Plan.” It is not needed now only because of the over-allocation of houses at the East End. The SHELAA aggregates sites 158 and 16. The potential yield of the two sites together is given as 50-65 houses. The site is within walking distance of the village amenities. And so the sustainability assessment, which refers to lack of services and facilities including public transport is misconceived. The reason given for the rejection of the area outside of site 16 (that is 158) does not bear examination and is vague. This site is regarded as suitable for allocation in a future Local Plan. Its landscape impact is the same as it is on 16. This site was originally one of two sites considered as the site of the new village primary school and it was earmarked in early discussions with the TWBC planners as suitable for housing. The TWBC proposed 174 dwellings for this site in 2018.

(d) Site 222. This site on the southwest corner of the crossroads apart from the area around the pond which is directly on that corner and which is to be left as a green space for future village use (it is not currently open to the public) is only outside the LBD because that line has been perversely drawn to exclude the built development to the west. The experience of sites BE1 and BE2 show that the LBD can be adjusted to enclose an allocated site or it can be ignored, as in the case of site BE4. The SHELAA report is basically wrong. Part of the site is not within the Benenden Conservation area. It is within walking distance of all village amenities so the alleged lack of services and facilities, including public transport is totally wrong.

(e) Site 66 This site is analysed in the NP HSA sheets, pages 9 and 10. It is regarded as suitable and achievable. There is no valid reason to reject it.

(f) The Iden Green sites. The reasons given for rejecting them is that there are no amenities, but Iden Green is in fact only a mile from the village, and has a pub/restaurant, a nursery school and a community hall. There is a paved footpath link to the village giving access to the primary school, church and village centre. This path follows a Roadside Nature Reserve for less than half a mile and then becomes a metalled footpath through fields to the church and adjacent primary school. Compare this with the sites in the East End, three miles from the village centre, which has no such facilities nor a direct link with the village except by car.

(g) Iden Green has had several parcels of land offered in the call for sites yet each has been rejected. Site LS8, for example, a site for 26 houses lying between Chapel Lane and Iden Green Road and surrounded by houses in the heart of the hamlet, has been rejected on the grounds that it is in “a remote location from services and facilities and public transport”, (see SHELAA, and site assessment sheets Appendix K) which is a good description of the East End but not of this site. Site LS8 is a greenfield site and within the AONB but this is also true of the two sites on Walkhurst Road, the primary school and the hospital site which includes Local Wildlife Sites and overlaps into the AONB.

(h) Other sites in Iden Green have been rejected, such as 437, a very large site, as if it were only available in one piece for a very large number of houses. In fact, a small group of houses could be considered in a small, suitable section of the whole, for example, that part of this site which lies to the east of Iden Green Road and in the centre of the hamlet, adjacent to an existing housing estate and close to the pavement which connects the hamlet to the Village.

3. Conclusion

In the circumstances we invite the Borough Council to reject that part of the Local Plan which relates to Benenden. Its effect would be to create a satellite village in the East End with currently no amenities, no realistic prospect of obtaining any, and requiring greatly increased vehicle movements on unsuitable roads. The fact that it is said to be a brownfield site is not sufficient to override the fact that it is plainly an unsustainable site, nor to exclude more suitable sites in the village centre, where the complicated and probably unattainable conditions suggested for this site will not be needed.

DLP_5767

Norman Heath

Object

The unsuitability of the Site AL/BE4 (LP page 273 on)

(a) The area outlined in this proposal includes not only the sites 424 and 41 allocated in the Benenden Neighbourhood Plan (NP) but also the part of the hospital which is still in use as such, and the new part recently built on a greenfield site west of the original building. In four separate areas, this allocated site overlaps the boundary of the AONB. The part of BE4 west of Green Lane was not included in the call for sites. The LP page 274 suggests 66 to 72 residential units, of which there is extant permission for 22 new dwellings on the south side, an increase of 44 – 50. Counting in the existing largely unused dwellings which are intended or likely to be replaced, 18 on the north side and 2 on the south, the total number comes out at 86 -92 new houses. That is the overall total when the development is complete, on a site which was described correctly in the original draft NP as unsustainable. Many of the existing houses are not occupied and the sites currently do not contribute to traffic movements on Goddards Green Road. These figures are in agreement with those in the NP.

(b) In the SHELAA this site is the only site remote from the village centre which is not dismissed as being unsustainable on account of its remoteness. Sites 18, 21, 437 and 8 are far closer to the village centre, but are dismissed as being too remote and therefore unsustainable. There is plainly a defect in methodology here. If the same criterion were applied to site BE4 it would fail.

(c) Since the housing allocations are limited to sites 424 and 41 (NP) the increased size of area BE4 in the LP to include the hospital site west of Green Lane serves no purpose other than to show that sites 41 and 424 are the thin end of the wedge. The whole of the allocations fit into sites 424 and 41, as the NP shows. The excess should be omitted from BE4.

(d) The hospital site is on a prominence and is visible from the south for a long way. It is divided by Goddards Green Road (GGR), running from New Pond Road in the west to Castleton’s Oak crossroads in the east, on the edge of the parish. This is a narrow rural lane with one lane in each direction, but with barely room for two lorries to pass. There is no other practical route which traffic can take between the site and the village centre. At present, the hospital accounts for some 400 traffic movements per day. The average number of cars parked there is 250 per day, almost all of which get there and back on GGR, which will continue whatever the outcome of the consultation. At present the traffic movements emanating from the sites 41 and 424 are virtually nil. 424 is boarded off. So the development of these sites will necessarily add to traffic movements on the inadequate road. 80 to 90 new houses will produce at least 240 traffic movements, and more likely 300, especially as these sites include limited affordable housing and are built almost three miles from the school, shops and meeting places in the village. This is an increase of 75%. There is no proposal to widen GGR, with or without s.106 contributions or CIL payment, if that system is adopted. It is designated as a rural lane and so policy EN 20, item 3, applies

(e) If the new housing stock is occupied by families, there will be a need regularly to go to and from the village centre for school, shops and its other facilities, none of which is present in the East End. Contrary to the statement on page 264, there is neither a pre-school nursery in the East End nor a shop at the hospital, which brings into question the reliability of this part of the Plan. Facilities which are not publicly available (page 265) are of no value to the community. The Plan seeks to remedy the absence of facilities in its Policy AL/BE4, page 274, by requiring means to secure the public use of the café at the hospital and the provision of a small publicly accessible shop within the existing hospital buildings and a daily minibus service. This cannot be done as a planning obligation under a S.106 agreement, since it is all taking place off-site, but can only require a payment under that provision to TWBC. There is however, the extraordinary provision on page 274, Policy AL/BE 4 item ii, that an application for part of the site only must include mechanisms to ensure that the minibus and retail store provision, active travel link and public access to the café can be provided through that part of the site alone. Does this mean that the facilities are not open to the public outside the site in question? Why would those living on the site need access to the café? What would the shop be required to sell? And how would such a condition or S.106 agreement be enforced? These conditions are fanciful and do not bear examination. Nor do they create a viable basis for a new community.

(f) The SHELAA assessment (site assessment sheets for Benenden Parish) says “Residents will rely heavily on private cars and thus air quality and travel objectives score negatively”. Although promoted by the policy, shared transport and active travel options are unlikely to take precedence over private vehicle use, thus air quality and climate change also score negatively. This has been ignored in spite of the fact that TWBC has recently appointed a cross-party task force to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030. This Plan undermines the Borough Council’s declared environmental goals, and its policies STR 2,6 and 10.

(g) The reason given for its suitability is that this is mostly a PDL (Previously Developed Land) site that already benefits from an extant planning consent. This is a non-sequitur. The existence of a so-far unused planning consent for 24 houses is not a reason for increasing the number three and half times over. Rather, it is a reason not to. The effect on the locality of a small, self-contained development of 24 new houses is wholly different from a vast estate of up to 90 houses.

(h) Although neither the plan nor the supporting documents say so, there may be two other factors which have encouraged the planners to allocate a large housing estate to the hospital site. One is that since the hospital trust has charitable status it is obliged to maximise the value of its assets by developing as much of its unused land as it can. That is of course not a planning reason, since the planning system does not exist to assist organisations, however worthy, to make money. Rather it is a reason to be firm in setting limits to development which can be sustained. It was the hospital's choice to move westwards on to a greenfield site, thereby releasing land which had previously been used for its main function. The planning system is there for the benefit of the community, to promote the public interest, not that of one individual private organisation.

(i) The second matter relied upon is that the hospital is likely to, or may threaten to, apply for planning permission in any event on the basis that these are brownfield sites, and will if necessary take the matter to court. Fear of litigation is not a valid planning reason. In any application for permission the Local Plan carries considerable weight and is in most cases determinative. Section 38(6) PCPA 2004 says that planning applications must be determined in accordance with the development plan. If there is no allocation in the development plan, it makes it less likely that (i) permission would be granted and (ii) an appeal would be successful against refusal of permission. It follows that ‘fear of litigation’ is permitting development which would not otherwise go ahead. Allocating the site for development in the LP renders it virtually certain that it would be carried out, while excluding it on sensible grounds is likely to prevent such development from happening. The fact that a site has become a brownfield site does not override every other factor, and a strongly argued well supported local plan is most effective. Sustainability is a far more relevant factor.

(j) Page 275 – contributions required. This is not acceptable. Measures relating to the highways are the province of Kent County Council which has made no commitment to carry out any works, either here or in the locality. While the TWBC may collect the contributions under S.106, they cannot require them to be spent on highways. If they choose to levy a CIL, the contributions could be spent anywhere. These are therefore ineffective ideals. Expressions such as the “public realm in the centre of Benenden” and “other highway-related matters” are tenuous, vague and therefore meaningless.

(k) The proposed cycle link cannot be achieved without the agreement of landowners. The principal landowner has refused his consent. It does not provide direct access to the village centre, but at best, a recreational activity. The reality, as stated in the SHELAA report is that private cars will be used. No weight has been given to the unavailability of the land for the preferred cycle route, as it should be. Car parking in Benenden is limited to kerbside parking, the village hall and a small strip at the north end of Cherryfields.

Alternative Sites

There are several alternative sites which are capable of taking up the numbers of houses required to meet the target, if the dwellings allocated to the hospital site are left at the present number, that is, 24 new houses on site 424 (BE4). These sites are 158, next to site 16 and incorporated in AL/BE2, site 222 and site 66 in Benenden centre, and sites 8 and 437 East in Iden Green.

DLP_5966

Sara Rowan & Peter Stennett

Support

We are writing to confirm our support for the above BNDP Regulation 14 Draft.

The sites that have been put forward seem to take into account  the need to preserve the overall appeal of Benenden and the surrounding areas , the (AONB), ancient woodland and the wildlife that lives in and around our village. On our own small patch we are visited daily by deer, badgers, foxes, bats , a vast array of birds and are host to a wide range of amphibians.

The four sites appear to offer a good balance for the supply of new houses which we are told by the Government and in turn the Local Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are required for the future of our community,  we must at all costs protect the character of Benenden village, the green spaces, beautiful countryside and vistas in our parish.

We fully support the two sites at Benenden Hospital  for development, both being existing brownfield sites and particularly Site 424/LS40 which currently is a complete eyesore,  with derelict buildings surrounded by unsightly hoarding.  With sympathetic development this area would be improved and bring a much needed balance to the area surrounding the existing large hospital complex.  It does however seem a great shame that the pavillion building , which is a rare example of British Modernism is doomed to be demolished , when surely this could be converted in to flats or apartments ?

We question the need for a cycle track being created through to Benenden village,  as,  in our opinion, most people do NOT cycle anywhere, let alone walk, they will use their cars.

As a large part of Benenden is within the AONB ,  the decision to develop on brownfield sites has to be preferable to building on greenfield sites, to us that is just common sense.

Putting together this Plan must have been no easy task, taking into account the many sensitive issues and conflicting interests , we feel that the best possible compromises  have been made and therefore fully support it.

DLP_6493

Woolf Bond Planning for Millwood Designer Homes Ltd

Object

Site 222: Land on the west side of Iden Green Road, Benenden, TN17 4ES

Policy AL/BE 4: Land at Benenden Hospital

Representation

We object to the allocation of this site for housing in so far as it is not as sustainable as providing for allocations at the village of Benenden. It is not as sustainable as the alternative of providing for development at the village and cannot be said to be justified.

Suggested Change

Allocate land west of Iden Green Road (Site Ref 222) as an alternative or in addition to AL/BE4.

[TWBC: see full representation, Figure 3 Landscape Strategy, Heritage & LGS Assessment, and site location plan].

[TWBC: see also Comment Numbers DLP_6485, 6487-6489, 6491-6494]

DLP_7616

Marion Stevenson-Rouse

Object

We would like to place on record our objections to this part of the plan.

The Benenden hospital site is nearly 3 miles from the centre of Benenden by car, going down New Pond road (rather than the dangerous Walkhurst Road)
In fact the hospital is more or less equidistant between the two villages of Benenden and Biddenden. While agreeing that the redundant hospital site, being brown field, might be a suitable place for some new housing what worries us is the large number of houses being planned in the BNDP and in the TW local plan for this site.

92 houses (50 new + 24 already granted PP + 18 (many at present  unoccupied houses which will be replaced)) will probably generate over 200 new cars within the area as almost every adult living there will need a car. This could generate approximately 800 car movements a day on average. In addition there will be many more delivery vans delivering to houses in this remote situation.

The surrounding roads are narrow lanes and the nearby Castleton”s oak crossroads has always been dangerous. We have lived in this area for nearly 40 years and there are frequently accidents there. Kent Highways has recently done some work there designed to calm traffic but we know that there have still been accidents there.

The BNDP recognises that all roads leading into and out of the parish are narrow and that traffic growth is a major issue. (page 96 of BNDP Reg 14 Edition-Draft) Why not then concentrate development in the centre of Benenden which means that people can walk to some things rather than having to get in a car?

The number of houses planned for the two hospital sites seems excessive looking at the photos and plans of the sites. The site on the north seems to take in the car park which means that the hospital will require another car park for staff. The draft BNDP mentions the occasional signs of car parking stress already.

Each house planned will need parking for at least two cars (the BNDP Reg 14 edition Draft page 59 says ‘as a rule of thumb 1 place per bedroom plus additional spaces for visitors)

When the 18 houses, currently on the site, were built in the 1950s they were for hospital workers meaning at least one person in each house did not need a car for work. The lives of the people living there revolved around the hospital. In addition to work, there was an active social club with bar, a swimming pool in the summer, public house down the road, chapel, nursery, shop and post office. These staff had transport into the surrounding towns/villages via the hospital minibus.
People moving into the East End now will have no facilities. They will have to travel by car for everything.

We note the proposals for the hospital trust development to provide a shop/café/commercial premises, a community space, possible nursery school, cycle path (very expensive (Biddenden PC looked into this) which would involve probable compulsory purchase) and mini bus service. It is one thing to provide these but who would maintain and operate these? Benenden’s shop is run mostly by volunteers. It is inconceivable that volunteers could be found to run two shops in the parish.

Young families are not likely to put their children in a minibus to take them to school.

Why not build houses from where children can walk to school?  This benefits fitness as well as being more environmentally friendly.

The parking, at present, for the cars transporting primary school children has already proved to be a problem especially in the afternoons when cars (for the school) are forbidden to use the village hall car park.

In the BNDP no good reasons are given for dismissing some of the more central sites for example site 158 which was one of the proposed possible sites for the new primary school.  Sites more central to the village would give more sustainable housing. More people could walk to the shop, café, school, church, village hall. Being able to walk rather than having to get a car out must be beneficial to everyone. Increased car journeys result in increased pollution with associated risk to human and environmental health.

We look forward to hearing your response

DLP_7713

Carol & Graham Redfern

Object

I object to that section which deals with the parish of Benenden because it is inconsistent with the Objectives and Strategic Policies of the Plan, especially in relation to site AL/BE4. The SHELAA paper also shows inconsistencies in its assessment of various non-allocated sites relative to the plan’s Objectives and Strategies, as well as to the AECOM report (used by Benenden Neighbourhood Planners).

AL/BE4 The Local Plan states that 50 new houses are planned for the East End while 57 are planned for the village and none at all for Iden Green. This misleads. In calculating the number of new houses in the village, the Local Plan includes 12 houses on Walkhurst road now under construction. It should therefore also include 24 houses approved at the hospital site, but not yet built and 18 new houses, also at the hospital which are planned to replace 9 buildings containing 18 semi-detached homes with no garages and mostly uninhabited. That’s 42 new houses with 42 new families, plus another 50 which makes a total of 92 new houses for the East End. This number is disproportionate to the number planned for the village (at AL/BE 1, 2 & 3) and of course to the number of zero houses planned for Iden Green.

AL/BE4. The East End is a remote, rural area covering almost one third of the parish and the hospital site is 3 miles from the village. It contains 76 households. (There are 840 households in the parish as a whole). The 42 new houses already planned is a more than 50% increase in the number of households. 50 new houses on top of that will overwhelm the East End and fundamentally change its character. AL/BE4 is inconsistent with Objective 1 (Vision) which talks about “garden settlements” in relation to Paddock Wood and Tudely BUT about “growth” at “other settlements across the borough”. The proposed East End development, so distant from the existing village, is not growth but a new settlement.

* The East End has no nursery school, no pub, no restaurant, no community hall and no footpath or bike path links to the village (the bike route proposed in the plan is vigorously opposed by all concerned landowners). It was never a hamlet and has no main street lined with old weather boarded houses. Unlike Benenden and Iden Green, its name does not derive from a ‘den’ but from a 17th century division of the parish into three sections for taxation purposes. It is because of its remoteness that it was chosen as a site for a sanatorium. Increasing the housing to this extent and at this site is contrary to Objective 2 to “deliver housing ..through… sustainable development.” It is also contrary to STR 2 which promises a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that is not for its own sake, but growth that brings benefits for the environment and all sectors of the community.” This growth benefits primarily Benenden Healthcare Society, a mutual fund based in York and shirt sponsor of the York football Club. Not exactly a local interest group.

AL/BE4 is contrary to STR 5 which talks about the importance of access to “early years” education and access to play spaces. There is no nursery school at the site and use of the hospital’s tennis courts are being offered only to those who live on site. There is no cultural infrastructure, not even a community hall.

* The plan is inconsistent with 4.59 which talks of the need to “reduce private car dependence”. This site will have fewer than normal affordable houses because only families who can afford two or more cars would find everyday life on this remote site feasible. Yet STR 6 states that “future development will be delivered within close proximity to accessible locations of existing settlements… to help reduce the need to travel”. The Local Plan says it wishes to “reduce the need to travel” but AL/BE4 increases it.

AL/BE4 is inconsistent with the aims of the TW Council’s new Climate Emergency Advisory Panel. The Council is hoping to reduce carbon emissions in relation to borough council assets, while forcing them up , through BE4, in relation to private development. We recall Objective 2 “to tackle climate change”.

AL/BE4 is inconsistent with STR5 which talks of the need to provide adequate means for “dealing with the removal of foul water”. The East End is not connected to a mains sewage system.

* The Local Plan makes much of the fact that most of BE4 is a brownfield site but disregards STR 2 which urges a “presumption in favour of sustainable development” and “growth that brings benefits for the environment.” Further, this environment contains one valuable Local Wildlife Site and two others sit on the boundary of the site. The Kent Wildlife Trust sees these as SSSI standard (see KWT letter to TWBC 4 March 2013 the site fulfils “the criteria for it to be considered a SSSI”)) and the High Weald AONB states, in its objections to the Local Plan, that these sites constitute “rare and vulnerable acid grassland which should form a core area for unimproved grassland as part of a High Weald nature recovery network.” Nowhere in the LP objectives does it state that brownfield considerations override either sustainability or environmental considerations. On the contrary, STR2 suggests the opposite. Further, being greenfield is no barrier to development (see sites AL/BE1 and AL/BE3). Similarly, being a brownfield site should be no barrier to protecting the environment and insisting on sustainable development. We recall Objective 2, to “deliver ..housing …through.. sustainable development” and “to protect the …natural environment.”

AL/BE4 is allocated because it is outside the AONB. The implication is that this is out of respect for the AONB, yet the Local Plan development site at BE4 overlaps the boundary with the AONB in four separate points.

AL/BE4 undermines TWBC’s Management Plan with the High Weald AONB which states in their comments on the draft Local Plan that councils should “seek to prioritise the delivery of new housing primarily through small scale development” ((Objective S2)rather than by creating a new settlement in a rural area which will overwhelm the locality. The High Weald AONB also points out several other objections which are dealt with more fully in this paper:

o by developing on the high ridge which runs east to west across the northern part of the parish, the Council is planning a new settlement which will dominate the landscape to the south for miles, though it will not be visible from the built-up area of the village.

o because the hospital site itself was deliberately left out of the AONB boundary when it was set up, the site forms a bubble bulging into the AONB landscape and so the truism that land immediately adjacent to AONBs contributes to the maintenance of the natural beauty of the AONB is exceptionally applicable at this site.

o chosen as a site for a sanatorium BE4 has long views to the south facing the south westerlies which carry clean sea air inland, and because it is remote.

o the sanatorium, established in 1906, foreshadows the aims of the 1949 National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act under which AONBs are designated. This aim is to provide a healthy, natural environment with clean air in a tranquil setting. Unfortunately, the draft TW Local Plan disregards these goals, assuming that land on one side of the AONB boundary has no effect on the natural environment, clean air and tranquility on the other.

o The site is home to important historic architecture. There is the Grade II listed Lister Building on one side and the redundant hospital pavilion building on the other. The latter, built by the architect Augustus William West, who won King Edward VII’s 1902 competition to build a new sanatorium for England, is a rare example of early British modernism. It makes an important contribution to the cultural history not only of the High Weald but also nationally (see the September 2019 issue of the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Journal). BE4 would see the demolition of this important heritage building. It therefore undermines Policy STR8 which talks of the importance of “conserving and enhancing the natural, built and historic environment”, and point 10 of that Policy, which talks of the need for “the positive management of heritage assets”. The plan is at odds with Objective 2 “to protect the valued heritage …. of the borough.”

DLP_8428 Euan Burrows, Mockbeggar Lane and group of East End residents Object

Introduction

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

The Sustainability Appraisal (‘SA’)

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

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

  1. Paragraph 8.1.3 of the SA provides that:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Policy AL/BE4

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

The Principle of Development

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

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

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

[3] Ref: 17/00951/FULL

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

[5] Table 6 SA

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

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