Skip to main content

Section 6: Development Management Policies General Comments


This response report contains comments received on Section 6: Development Management Policies - General Comments.

Contents

General comments

Comment No.

Name/Organisation

Response

DLP_818

Warwick Park Residents Association

Draft Local Plan - Section 6 - Open Space, Sport and Recreation:

This response is made of behalf of Tunbridge Wells Rugby Football Club Limited (TWRFCL) who run the sports facilities and activities at St Mark’s Recreation Ground.

Tunbridge Wells rugby club is the premier club in the Borough. It fields 4 senior teams and has a youth and ladies section totalling some 700 juniors. It runs junior festivals, most recently this month with 81 teams and over 500 players.

The Borderers cricket club has two senior sides and has a mixed youth section of 140 boys and girls in 12 sides of which 3 are exclusively for girls.

Already the facilities at St Mark’s are inadequate for the numbers involved, especially in the youth sections. With the local population expanding, the situation will deteriorate without additional resources.

The benefits flowing from the use of St Mark’s to the local Community include the wider public health policy objectives and in particular the anti-obesity drive. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) encourages the provision of sports and recreation facilities. The Council’s Open Space, Sport and Recreation Study (2018) concluded that the quality of sport and recreation provision should be improved and provision for new facilities sought and supported.With the increasing numbers and rising standards, further investment to provide more usable space and facilities needs to be made in sports facilities at St Mark’s.

Conclusion:

TWRFCL therefore:

  1. fully supports the proposed Policy OSSR 1 on retention of open space for sports and recreation, and Policy OSSR 2 on the provision of sports and recreation facilities as part of new developments; and
  2. seeks assurance that high priority is placed on the implementation of these policies.

DLP_1581

Ms Nicola Gooch

Policy H1

Whilst I applaud the Council’s ambition to increase the level of housing delivery within the borough, requiring the implementation of consents within two years could be problematic – particularly for outline consents, which will require the submission of reserved matters within that time frame.

There are  likely to be issues on sites which require complex site assembly, such as the proposed urban extension at paddock wood, or the use of compulsory purchase orders to ensure delivery. On these types of scheme, there is a real risk that the planning permission will lapse before the site assembly issues have been fully resolved.

The policy is also vulnerable to changes in market conditions – particularly given the current uncertainties surrounding Brexit and its impact on a) house prices and b) the ability of developers to source contractors and materials.

Given that is no longer legally possible to extend the lifespan of a planning permission, unless the procedures for dealing with post-grant applications are streamlined significantly, there is a real risk that this attempt to increase the rate of housing delivery may instead increase the number of resubmissions that the Council receives.

If the two year implementation period is to be achievable, then the Council will have to be extremely disciplined about the number and scope of the pre-commencement conditions that it imposes on consents. It will also need to ensure that the planning department is sufficiently well resourced to be able to process applications for the discharge of conditions or the approval of reserved matters within a timely fashion. There will be a similar need to ensure that any statutory consultees who will be involved in the approval or discharge of pre-commencement issues are equally able to respond in a truncated time-frame.

Given the current market uncertainties it may be sensible to build greater flexibility into the policy. Instead of only deviating from the two year time period in ‘exceptional circumstances’ it may be preferable to treat the two year period as a ‘default’ which can varied in the event that a longer implementation period is more appropriate. This would enable the Council to respond more rapidly to changes in the market or to site specific requirements without the need to revisit the local plan policy.

As an aside, whilst the use of appropriate template or standardised s.106 agreements is to be encouraged. This will not assist developers or the Council with speeding up the implementation of planning consents – s.106 Agreements cause delay prior to the grant of permission (as the consent is not granted until the agreement has been signed); rather than prior to implementation. The types of legal agreement that are required post consent – such as s.278 Agreements or Drainage Agreements, are not within the gift of the Council. These standard agreements are negotiated with the Highways Authorities and statutory undertakers, over whom the Council has limited control.

Policy H5

A target of 60% of a site's affordable housing provision being provided as social rent is likely to be difficult to acheive, as this particular tenure is not popular amoungst registered providers. It can be difficult to find RPs who are willing to take units for social rent - affordable rented tenures are easier to place appropriately.

Policy H5 includes the ability to flex the level of affordable housing provision on site (or its location) on the basis that the developer cannot find a registered provider willing to take the units on site. It would be sensible to include a similar policy in relation to the affordable housing tenure mix. It may well be that there is no demand for units for social rent on a site; but that an RP could be found to run them as affordable rented units or as some form of intermediate product.

At present, the policy makes it easier to reduce the overall level of affordable housing provision on site than it does to adjust the tenure mix. Allowing greater flexibility over tenure mix may well help protect the overall levels of provision and should be explored first - before you turn to reducing the percentage rate or exploring the possibilty of payment in lieu.

Policy H9

I think you may need to revisit the list of retirement living developments which have been classified as C3 within the text of the policy – as a number of them – in particular Sheltered Accommodation, Extra Care Accommodation, Assisted Living, Close Care, and Continuing Care – may well in fact be in C2 use.

The definition of Class C2 accommodation appears in the Town & Country Planning (Use Classes) Order 1987 (as amended). As

“Use for the provision of residential accommodation and care to people in need of care (other than use within Class C3 (dwelling houses)). Use as a hospital or nursing home. Use as a residential school, college or training centre”.

‘Care’ is defined in the Use Classes Order as follows: ‘Personal care for people in need of such care by reason of old age, disablement, past or

present dependence on alcohol or drugs or past or present mental disorder … and treatment’.

The distinction between C2 and C3 actually comes down to the level of care provided to those living in the developments, rather than the development typologies involved.

As such – the policy as drafted runs the risk of categorising forms of development without properly analysing the actual circumstances of the proposed scheme.

It would work a lot better if the relevant text simply read “All Class C3 older persons’ accommodation should provide affordable housing, in accordance with the general affordable housing policy.

Where a development includes a mixture of Class C2 and C3 units, regard will be given to the development as a whole, and contributions will be sought from the Class C3 provision where applicable”

Policy EN11

Given the current highly uncertain political climate, and the cross party focus on environmental issues at present, I would recommend keeping this policy under close review. It is highly likely that legislation picking up on biodiversity net gain and other environmental issues will be high on the list of priorities for the new government come December, and this policy may need to be adjusted in the light of the proposals that DEFRA brings forward

TWBC: these comments have been duplicated under the separate policies.

DLP_1687

Emma Nightingale

6.312 - We have registered the Frittenden Community Land Trust and we would ask the Council to require that the freehold of the affordable housing that will be provided on SHELAA reference : Late Site 28 will be retained by that CLT subject to the Council being satisfied that the homes will be managed and maintained as affordable housing.

DLP_1701

Brenchley and Matfield Parish Council

6. Development Management Policies

a. There is concern, both within the Council and in the community-at-large, regarding the language used in the description and definition of policies; it is often imprecise, leaving open the possibility of flexible interpretation when planning decisions are made. For example, and has been highlighted by residents, it includes phrases such as “consideration will be given to…,” “… will not normally be permitted,” “where possible…” and “encourage improvements.” Used in that way, the language is not considered sufficiently robust to achieve consistency and transparency; nor is there any confidence in achieving the specific protection to which it refers. We urge TWBC to consider strengthening the language it uses, to limit interpretations that could undermine the policies it seeks to describe and define.

[TWBC: part of whole comment number DLP_1683].

DLP_2489

Mr Raymond Moon

Section 6. Development Management Policies.

These policies should be used as a framework for the proposed masterplan.

Policy EN1. OBJECT. Environment & Design.

6.4 Reference should be made to the numbers of Social housing and Affordable housing in the Draft Plan. The new house should incorporate higher standards to accommodate disabled residents in the future to help reduce the burden on the NHS and enable them to be cared for at home. Better wheel chair access and other facilities in the new houses and developers should be made to provide a higher standard of houses and not just have small patch work gardens.

Policy EN5.OBJECT. Climate Change Adaption.

Developers should be forced to implement this policy such as Solar panels and improved insulation and non use of Gas Boilers to provide new ways central heating in the new houses. Government Legislation and TWBC should implement this initiative as part of the 2030 neutral carbon emissions policy.

Policy EN12.OBJECT. Protection of Designated Sites and Hbitats

Foalhurst Wood nature reserve owned by PWTC in Paddock Wood is not mentioned in this section and should be protected in the same way as the reserves owned by TWBC. 350 houses where agreed next to the FHW reserve and this allocation was & is a serious threat to the existing Dormouse population in the woodland. This reserve need the up most protection and requires By law’s as those that exist for Barnets Wood owned by TWBC.

Policy EN17.OBJECT. Local Green spaces.

As part of the Draft local plan with the proposed 4,000 houses it is suggested that a number of green open spaces are provided to protect the status of PW and the surrounding villages. Restrictions should be provided to ensure these green open places ( GOP) are protected. The question is who will pay for the maintenance of these GOP?

Policy EN23.OBJECT.Air Quality.

As we take on the challenges of Climate change and the protection of the environment the impact of air pollution has a major impact on the health of the population. Increased traffic movements around the town and the town centre will pose a serious threat and the Draft Plan fails to give details of mitigation to solve this problem. Pedestrianisation of Commercial Road between the two existing car parks to the War Memorial and the new development of the Town centre should be an option.

Policy EN 26 OBJECT.

Water Quality, Supply, and Treatment

There appears to be no mention of how the 4,000 new houses will be supplied with fresh water by South East Water. SEW should provide details ie of new reservoirs etc and have in place as part of the Masterplan the infrastructure to provide this water before any more new houses are built in PW.

Policy EN 28 OBJECT.

Flood Risk

The present infrastructure in place cannot even cope with the existing and already agreed 900 new houses in PW. Surface Water flooding and Foul Water flooding in PW is already serious and as part of the Masterplan adequate infrastructure must be in place before any more houses are built. Data supplied by Southern Water is inconsistent and flawed with many contradictions. Existing documents such as the SFRA and the SWMP are unclear in the approach to this problem in PW. There needs to be a “joined up” strategy as part of the Masterplan to ensure the required infrastructure is in place before any new houses are built in PW.

  1. HOUSING. Delivery of housing.

POLICY H3. Housing Mix. OBJECT.

Within the housing mix there is no detail concerning the actual percentages of the mix proposed in PW. There should be an high percentage of Social Housing and Affordable housing to ensure low income families can afford and live and work in PW.

POLICY H5. Affordable Housing. OBJECT.

National policy and borough need context 

There is no mention in this policy for more Social housing within the 4,000 new houses. TWBC should stipulate is intention to provide adequate Social housing in PW as part of the Draft Local Plan. Data is provided for Affordable housing but none for Social housing.

Policy ED 9 OBJECT.

Defined Town and Rural Service Centres

6.484 The Town Centre of Paddock Wood. Parts of the centre of PW behind “Barsleys” has remained derelict and overgrown for many years and its redevelopment should be part of the Draft Local Plan and the Masterplan. The development of this land should be instigated by TWBC without the need for Compulsory Purchase Orders but through negotiation and goodwill with the local landowners. The pedestrianisation of the Commercial Road should be implemented as part of the redevelopment of PW Town Centre.

Transport and Parking

Transport and Parking in Tunbridge Wells

Policy TP 3 & Policy TP 4 OBJECT.

Public Car Parks

Parking Standards & Public Car Parks.

As part of the “ joined up” thinking for the TWBC retail centres and their regeneration it should be policy to reintroduce “ free” parking” in PW as was previously in place. This will increase footfall in the town centre and support our local shops. This policy should also include a Public Transport network fit for purpose and affordable to encourage more visitors not using their cars in the town centre.

Policy TP 5 SUPPORT.

Railways

Safeguarding Railway Land

The Former Paddock Wood to Hawkhurst (Hop Pickers) Line

6.533. 6.534. This policy is very much welcome in the Draft Local Plan as it safeguards the original Paddock Wood to Hawkhurst ( Hop Pickers) line and acknowledges the work carried out already by the Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group (HPLHG) and ensures support for the future.

POLICY TP 6.Road Infrastructure OBJECT.

Safeguarding Roads

Mention should be made to the improvements of the existing Roads in PW and Capel to ensure the proposed new houses are sustainable in the Draft Local Plan. There is a strong argument to provide a new By Pass for PW to the east of PW.

TWBC: these comments have been duplicated under the separate policies.

DLP_2673

St. John's Road Residents Association

Transport and Parking

We completely endorse Paragraph 4.59 which promotes active travel. We agree that bicycle infrastructure needs to be put into place so that residents can be confident that cycling is safe. Only then can we increase cycling usage on our roads and thereby reduce air pollution on our most polluted roads, the A26 being one of the most polluted in the county. Transport is the biggest source of green house gas in the UK. We need to see this fall by 20-60%. We also need to see the proportion of journeys by public transport double. In Tunbridge Wells 19% of people commute by public transport; 16% walk and only 1% cycle.

We urge the council to keep to their targets on their Air Quality Action Plan and reduce poor emissions in their Air Quality Management Areas.

As other councils have shown a Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) is an annual fee paid by businesses with 10 or more employee-parking spaces.

The council uses all the money to improve public transport and support businesses to encourage employees to leave their cars at home.

It’s been an unprecedented success – saving millions of car journeys (and the associated pollution), tackling congestion and leading to some of the highest public transport use in the UK. More trams, better train connections and cleaner buses.

Furthermore, despite media-scare stories, business is booming and other cities are now interested in the scheme.

This is a great example of how our council could cut climate-change emissions and air pollution from road traffic.

The Workplace Parking Levy (WPL) was launched in 2012. It cost £4 million to set up but in the first 7 years it had raised the council almost £64 million, money which was ringfenced to improve public transport and tackle congestion.

The annual £415 charge, per liable parking place, paid by the employer (which will increase in line with inflation) was invested into 3 main areas to lever in funding to:

enabling investment in electric vehicles.

The WPL also pays for a workplace travel advisor who supports businesses to make travel plans.

More than £500,000 in grants have been awarded to help employers make sustainable transport measures more possible by cycle infrastructure, including cycle parking, showers, pool bikes plus electric vehicle charge points and car park management systems.

Walking and Cycling and Public Transport

To increase cycling and walking Tunbridge Wells needs to take key actions and prepare a costed Tunbridge Wells Borough Climate Change Strategy and Action Plan. We require stronger powers to deliver cycling and walking infrastructure and effective public transport management.  We need powers to regulate bus services, allowing a comprehensive network of reliable, frequent service with a through ticketing system.  Support the bus network and increase passenger journeys per year. The intention is to continue investing money raised by the WPL into transport.

Best European practice to ensure that all vehicles are zero emission are: putting in place a Clean Air Zone, installing more EV charing points; promoting car-sharing; requiring all taxis to be electric through licensing; deliver a rapid transition of the council's own fleet to electric; require deliveries to the council to be by electric vehicles; introduce differential charges for parking permits or other car related charges and reduce the need to own a car throughmanaging developments in the local plan.

Housing

Provisions in paragraph 6.21- 6.22 require retro-fitting of council owned properties with high levels of insulation rather than demolition;  help energy companies to target fuel poor households with energy efficiency measures; enforce minimum energy efficiency standards in the private rented sector; require higher standards than curent national standards for privately build homes; enforce building standards; require homes built on council land or community trust land to be extremely energy efficient, using the Passivhaus standard or similar; develop a heating and energy efficiency strategy for the area.

Provisions in Paragraph 6.41 encouraging combined heat and power and district heating in new developments could usefully be imported into Policy EN5. Tunbridge Wells produces 46MW of renewable energy at present. To match the best local authority, it would have to produce 2.5 times this amount ie. 116MW. Each new build should have solar panels and water saving mechanisms installed as standard.

The borough could increase its onshore wind and solar power capacity for heating and transport. A 25 acre solar farm produces enough electricity for around 625 homes.

In Paragraph 6.240 we welcome the statement that even if NO2 levels drop on the A26 AQMA, an Air Quality Protection Zone would be introduced. We believe that such a zone should be considered for a wider network of residential streets which are subject to excessive traffic movements.

In paragraph 6.243, we take issue with the statement that burning biomass is a low carbon technology. Even if this is claimed to be so in the NPPF, it is subject to serious contrary expert opinion and the informative notices mentioned in paragraph 6.244 about the significant dangers to health of residents of wood burning stoves is evidence that the NPPF may be regarded as flawed.

DLP_2729

Paddock Wood Labour Party

Section 6. Development Management Policies.

These policies should be used as a framework for the proposed masterplan.

Policy EN1. OBJECT. Environment & Design.

6.4 Reference should be made to the numbers of Social housing and Affordable housing in the Draft Plan. The new house should incorporate higher standards to accommodate disabled residents in the future to help reduce the burden on the NHS and enable them to be cared for at home. Better wheel chair access and other facilities in the new houses and developers should be made to provide a higher standard of houses and not just have small patch work gardens.

Policy EN3. OBJECT. Sustainable design standards.

Adaptations/suitability for disabilities

New homes should be fit for the future and meet the needs of all residents for their whole lives. In an age where residents are living longer homes need to be adaptable so that residents who have mobility limiting disabilities in the future can continue to live there. Ensuring a new home can be fully adaptable only costs around an additional £1500 and we believe that all new homes should meet these minimum standards as it saves money in the long term and reduces pressure on the NHS and Social services.

Sustainability

The local plan specifies an improvement in sustainable residential design standards, suggesting an increase in standards over time from HQM 3 2021-2025 to 4 2026 onwards, a higher standard is needed that would actually reflect the climate emergency we face (Policy EN3).  

PWLP feels that these enhanced design standards should be implemented now for all new residential buildings regardless of the number of dwellings in a proposed development. 

Developers need to adjust now to the higher standards as it is clear that developments have not done so up to now. It is achievable and It has been estimated that the increase in costs as a result of higher sustainable standards is only 1-2% and fiscally responsible given the higher costs of retrofitting. 

Retrofitting the properties is more expensive than building residential units with the highest sustainable standards. Refurbishment of existing properties, by not adopting these higher standards will create higher future costs to residents & government. 

The current timeframe within the DLP will allow proposed development to fulfil our housing requirements but will be built at a standard that will require retrofitting to make them closer to a higher standard to address the climate emergency. All new houses should be built to the higher standard. We should aim for a “zero carbon” standard in which the day to day running of property through efficiency standards and renewable energy supply via local generation and developer contributions should not increase carbon emissions. 

Areas such as car charging points need more focus and built into the design and delivery of new developments. The Labour Party has set a policy for the country to be carbon neutral by 2030 and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council agreed a motion in July 2019 to declare a climate emergency. The need to take urgent action on climate change needs to be reflected in the approach taken to development across the Borough set out in the Local Plan.

Policy EN5.OBJECT. Climate Change Adaption.

Developers should be forced to implement this policy such as Solar panels and improved insulation and non use of Gas Boilers to provide new ways central heating in the new houses. Government Legislation and TWBC should implement this initiative as part of the 2030 neutral carbon emissions policy.

Policy EN12.OBJECT. Protection of Designated Sites and Habitats

Foalhurst Wood nature reserve owned by PWTC in Paddock Wood is not mentioned in this section and should be protected in the same way as the reserves owned by TWBC. 350 houses where agreed next to the FHW reserve and this allocation was & is a serious threat to the existing Dormouse population in the woodland. This reserve need the up most protection and requires By law’s as those that exist for Barnets Wood owned by TWBC.

Policy EN17.OBJECT. Local Green spaces.

As part of the Draft local plan with the proposed 4,000 houses it is suggested that a number of green open spaces are provided to protect the status of PW and the surrounding villages. Restrictions should be provided to ensure these green open places ( GOP) are protected. The question is who will pay for the maintenance of these GOP?

Policy EN23.OBJECT.Air Quality.

As we take on the challenges of Climate change and the protection of the environment the impact of air pollution has a major impact on the health of the population. Increased traffic movements around the town and the town centre will pose a serious threat and the Draft Plan fails to give details of mitigation to solve this problem. Pedestrianisation of Commercial Road between the two existing car parks to the War Memorial and the new development of the Town centre should be an option.

Policy EN 26 OBJECT.

Water Quality, Supply, and Treatment

There appears to be no mention of how the 4,000 new houses will be supplied with fresh water by South East Water. SEW should provide details ie of new reservoirs etc and have in place as part of the Masterplan the infrastructure to provide this water before any more new houses are built in PW.

Policy EN 28 OBJECT.

Flood Risk

The present infrastructure in place cannot even cope with the existing and already agreed 900 new houses in PW. Surface Water flooding and Foul Water flooding in PW is already serious and as part of the Masterplan adequate infrastructure must be in place before any more houses are built. Data supplied by Southern Water is inconsistent and flawed with many contradictions. Existing documents such as the SFRA and the SWMP are unclear in the approach to this problem in PW. There needs to be a “joined up” strategy as part of the Masterplan to ensure the required infrastructure is in place before any new houses are built in PW.

  1. HOUSING. Delivery of housing.

POLICY H3. Housing Mix. OBJECT.

Within the housing mix there is no detail concerning the actual percentages of the mix proposed in PW. There should be an high percentage of Social Housing and Affordable housing to ensure low income families can afford and live and work in PW.

POLICY H5. Affordable Housing. OBJECT.

National policy and borough need context 

Affordable & Social Housing

PWLP welcomes the commitments in the Local Plan to increase the proportion of affordable housing in the Borough to 40% in all developments of 10 Units or more. We are concerned though that the definition of affordable continues to include the discredited notion that 80% of market rent is affordable. Also we recognise that other intermediate forms of affordable housing such as shared ownership are an important part of the mix which meet the needs of some residents who whilst on good incomes cannot afford to buy their own home at current market rates. It is also noted that there is no mention of Social housing provision or percentages in the Draft local Plan (DLP). The lack of Social housing in PW should be addressed and included in the DLP.

Unaffordability undermines the fabric of rural communities as people are no longer be able to afford to live in the community that they have grown up in. Lack of affordable housing in rural areas is particularly acute and providing new genuinely affordable options must be a priority. 

PWLP welcomes that the new Local Plan provides greater mechanisms for the Local Authority to ensure that developers provide a greater proportion of genuinely Affordable and Social housing than is currently the case. We also hope that this helps to close loopholes on viability which have seen some developers shirk their responsibilities to provide mixed tenure developments on within the present 900 houses already agreed in PW. 

There is no mention in this policy for more Social housing within the 4,000 new houses. TWBC should stipulate is intention to provide adequate Social housing in PW as part of the Draft Local Plan. Data is provided for Affordable housing but none for Social housing.

Policy ED1 & ED4. OBJECT.

Employment

There is insufficient focus in the employment section on how the Local Plan will seek to build an inclusive economy in Paddock Wood. Development and regeneration should be assessed on the impact on wellbeing and inclusivity as well as economic growth. Growth should provide benefits to everyone and not just those profiting from property development. Long standing residents should not be pushed out of their communities just to make way for wealthier people moving in. Growth should be assessed against the Social Value it is providing to the local area.

In work poverty is a problem where local earnings are below the SE regional average whilst housing costs are high. The challenge of affordability can only be addressing by providing new social rented units for those most in need. The TWBC needs to focus on the quality of jobs being provided and work to improve the range of local jobs to enable more local people to work in the Borough including PW. TWBC must invest and take steps to avoid being a commuter dormitory Borough for London.

Policy ED 9 OBJECT.

Defined Town and Rural Service Centres

6.484 The Town Centre of Paddock Wood. Parts of the centre of PW behind “Barsleys” has remained derelict and overgrown for many years and its redevelopment should be part of the Draft Local Plan and the Masterplan. The development of this land should be instigated by TWBC without the need for Compulsory Purchase Orders but through negotiation and goodwill with the local landowners. The pedestrianisation of the Commercial Road should be implemented as part of the redevelopment of PW Town Centre.

Transport and Parking

Transport and Parking in Tunbridge Wells

Policy TP 3 & Policy TP 4 OBJECT.

Public Car Parks

Parking Standards & Public Car Parks.

As part of the “ joined up” thinking for the TWBC retail centres and their regeneration it should be policy to reintroduce “ free” parking” in PW as was previously in place. This will increase footfall in the town centre and support our local shops. This policy should also include a Public Transport network fit for purpose and affordable to encourage more visitors not using their cars in the town centre.

Policy TP 5 SUPPORT.

Railways

Safeguarding Railway Land

The Former Paddock Wood to Hawkhurst (Hop Pickers) Line

6.533. 6.534. This policy is very much welcome in the Draft Local Plan as it safeguards the original Paddock Wood to Hawkhurst ( Hop Pickers) line and acknowledges the work carried out already by the Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group (HPLHG) and ensures support for the future.

POLICY TP 6. Road Infrastructure OBJECT.

Safeguarding Roads

Mention and more detail should be made to the improvements of the existing Roads in PW and Capel to ensure the proposed new houses are sustainable in the Draft Local Plan. There is a strong argument to provide a new By Pass for PW to the east of PW.

TWBC: these comments have been duplicated under the separate policies.

DLP_4155

Tunbridge Wells District Committee Campaign to Protect Rural England

General observation on the draft Development Management Policies 

CPRE Kent are concerned that the language used in the definition of policies is often imprecise, allowing flexible interpretation (or even non-compliance) when planning decisions are made. For example, phrases such as  “will not normally be permitted,” “where possible”, “encourage improvements”, “consideration will be given to” and  “will seek the provision of” are not  sufficiently robust to provide confidence to residents that the intended protection will actually be achieved or clarity for developers as to what is required. We strongly recommend that TWBC strengthen the language used so as to limit interpretations that could undermine the policies.

DLP_4569

Historic England

The local plan will be the starting point for decisions on planning applications; consequently, specific development management policies are needed for each type of heritage asset in order for decision-takers to determine how they should react to an application affecting a heritage asset.

DLP_4769

DHA Planning Ltd for Caenwood Estates and Dandara

3.4 Development Management Policies

3.4.1 The development management policies seek to achieve the vision established by the strategic and place making policies aforementioned. They provide more detail for decision making in relation to particularly issues and assess the acceptability of development.

3.4.2 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.

General comments

3.4.3 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.

3.4.4 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.

3.4.5 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.

[TWBC: seefull representation].

DLP_4873

DHA Planning for Berkeley Homes (Eastern Counties) Ltd

2.5 Development Management Policies

2.5.1 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.

2.5.2 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.

2.5.3 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.

2.5.4 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.

2.5.5 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.

2.5.6 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.

2.5.7 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) Include appropriate mitigation to ensure against significant harm to the landscape setting of settlements, including historic farmsteads and hamlets; an

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) 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.

2.5.8 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’.

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

2.5.10 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.

2.5.11 In respect of policy H2, and the preference for multi-developer schemes and comprehensive master planning, we understand the aspiration. However, in reality such stringent requests often result in conflict and further delay. 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).

2.5.12 We note that policies H3 and H4 have regard to housing mix and density yet provide little or no detailed requirement. Unless aspirational mixes and densities are to be inserted in the policies, these generic requirements would be better placed being inserted into the wider reaching policy EN1.

2.5.13 Finally, policy H5 sets out affordable housing requirements. Whilst we support the general thrust of the objectives and the securing or affordable provision, we object to the rounding up of the calculations.

2.5.14 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.

2.5.15 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.

2.5.16 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.

[TWBC: see full representation and separate Appendix 4 (a) and (b)].

DLP_5201

Culverden Residents Association

Paragraph 6.51: We welcome more identification and protection of non-designated heritage assets which are of local historic importance. This is important to us because there are two significant historic farmsteads in the area down Reynolds Lane and a network of historic routeways which includes Reynolds Lane itself. There are medieval assart fields at Smockham Farm and much local ancient woodland, veteran trees and other significant landscape features. The farmhouse associated with former fields now developed in Culverden survives in Connaught Way.

Paragraph 6.55: We would welcome the inclusion of our historic brick pavements, local un-metalled lane and historic pumping station at Smockham Farm, ancient trees and other landscape features as Local Heritage Assets meriting material consideration in planning decisions.

Paragraph 6.80: We support the restrictions on loss of Ancient Semi-Natural Woodland and veteran trees of which our local area is rich on the edge of the built up area between Culverden and Southborough and also in and near to Hurst Wood.

Paragraph 6.174: We welcome the extension of provisions on Local Green Spaces to areas within the Green Belt as this is particularly relevant to us in Culverden. Our association fought a successful campaign some years ago to safeguard the St John’s Meadows, now incorporated in St John’s Park/Rec, and are very pleased to see them designated as an Open Green Space on the edge of the urban settlement of Royal Tunbridge Wells in the Green Belt. They are greatly valued by neighbouring residents for health walking and recreation and as survivals of historic assart fields of unimproved acid grassland.

Paragraphs 6.211 and 6. 223: We welcome the policy of  treating land inside, adjacent to or in close proximity to the boundary of Limits to Built Development  in the same way as land just outside, when there is a strong relationship to the countryside. This is relevant to our area on its edge where there is a risk of suburbanisation without adequate development control. For the same reason we support the concept of regarding AONB policies as relevant to adjacent or close land buffers, which again is relevant to our area where the Green Belt merges with the AONB beyond Broomhill Road.

Paragraph 6.215: We support greater protection and enhancement for surviving Rural Lanes such as our local Reynolds Lane which currently suffers erosion of banks and edges from excessive and excessively fast motorised traffic.

Paragraph 6.240: We strongly welcome the intention to have an Air Quality Protection Zone on St Johns Road even in the unlikely event that pollution levels drop below the threshold for an Air Quality Management Area. Unless serious steps are taken to improve air quality (see our comments on the Transport Strategy Review document under Appendix 5) we would like to see an AQPZ considered for our network of residential streets which are subject to excessive traffic movements and host a very large school population until effective elimination of the problem through the traffic reduction measures we propose in those comments.

Paragraph 6.243: We do not agree with any encouragement to the burning of biomass. This is a danger to health in our neighbourhood where an increasing number of wood burning stoves are being installed in the most densely developed streets, sometimes emitting visible noxious smoke and smells.

Paragraph 6.319: We welcome the provisions that affordable housing should be provided at social rent on the majority of development sites. Lack of affordable housing, particularly for the younger population, is a serious problem in the town and urgently needs to be tackled.

Paragraphs 6.429-6.430: In particular because of the large number of schools in our area, we strongly support careful siting of communication masts to avoid risks to children and other permanent residents of the area.

Paragraph 6.497: We welcome the Policy supporting the retention of viable local neighbourhood facilities. We have thriving neighbourhood facilities in the two St John’s shopping parades, John Street car park, St John’s Church and Church Hall and other local amenities which we hope to see sustained in the long term.

Paragraph 6.513: We welcome the provision that all new developments must be designed so as to enable walking, cycling and public transport as an alternative to more private cars.

Paragraph 6.529: We welcome the provisions to safeguard railway land in the town for possible future re-openings/extension of public transport services.

DLP_6466

DHA Planning for Cedardrive Ltd

3.5 Development Management Policies

3.5.1 The development management policies seek to achieve the vision established by the strategic and place making policies aforementioned. They provide more detail for decision making in relation to particularly issues and assess the acceptability of development.

3.5.2 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.

General comments

3.5.3 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.

3.5.4 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.

3.5.5 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.

[TWBC: see full representation].

[TWBC: see also Comment Numbers DLP_6461-6472].

DLP_8173

Highways England

The DLP provides a comprehensive list of design guidance the Council will have regard to (para 6.14) but does not refer to the various design guidance relevant to roads such as the Design Manual for Roads and Bridges and the Manual for Streets. This should be rectified for completeness and cross reference to similar text at para 6.512.

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

DLP_8347

DHA Planning for Mr and Mrs B Gear

3 Section 6: Development Management Policies

3.1.1 In addition to our comments on the strategy [TWBC: see Comment No. DLP_3001], 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.

[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].