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Speldhurst Parish Council

TWBC DRAFT LOCAL PLAN - Speldhurst Parish Council's position

By Mr Chris May Speldhurst Parish Council

Tuesday, 12 November 2019

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Speldhurst Parish Council Contributor

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As you are probably aware, the draft Local Plan was recently open for consultation. At our Open meeting in October, Stephen Baughen, Head of Planning at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) gave a presentation on the Local Plan and the impact it would have on the Borough. Central Government have increased the number of houses TWBC is required to deliver over the current 20-year period, from approximately 6,000 to 13,500. Over the past year or so TWBC has held two rounds of “call for sites,” requesting landowners to submit land for consideration for inclusion as development sites in the Local Plan. Several sites in Speldhurst Parish were submitted by landowners and all were reviewed by TWBC. Of these only one was considered for inclusion in the draft plan, site 231 in Speldhurst, and it is the same site considered several years ago for local needs housing.

When this site was identified there was considerable discussion within Speldhurst Parish Council (SPC) given the history, the location and previous concerns. In the end SPC decided, by a majority decision, to remain neutral at this time. SPC did however have discussions with TWBC and made submissions on several conditions it wanted included should this site be retained. Whilst not formally objecting may seem at odds with the Parish Plan published in 2016, circumstances have changed. The pressure on TWBC to deliver more housing is enormous. Submitting a Local Plan that does not deliver the required housing risks having the Plan rejected (as has just happened with Sevenoaks). Without an approved Local Plan there is no defence against applications, at which point all the sites submitted by landowners become potentially viable. This risks substantial development against our wishes. Should site 231 be rejected, TWBC will need to find an alternative location which may or may not be in our Parish. But given the huge numbers in other parishes (600 in Hawkhurst, over 1000 in Paddock Wood, 2,500 in Capel/Tudeley) it is likely that TWBC will look again at the other sites in Speldhurst.

There will be a second round of consultations on the Pre-Submission Local Plan in August 2020. By then, we will have a clearer view of any changes to the proposed site allocations for our Parish and what conditions have been attached for those sites. SPC will then review its position and make further submissions in line with that position.

Contact Information

Mr Chris May

Find Speldhurst Parish Council

Langton Green Recreation Ground, Speldhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 0JJ

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