Tunbridge Wells housing numbers too high

We have responded to the latest consultation on Tunbridge Wells local plan challenging the huge housing numbers planned which would cause severe environmental damage, loss of countryside, green space and ancient woodland.

CPRE Kent’s Tunbridge Wells committee has raised many concerns in its comments on the Issues and Options consultation.

We dispute the need to provide 650 to 700 houses per year. Given that employment growth in the borough in the 21 years from 1991 to 2013 was zero, the jobs forecasts which project an ever-rising volume of employment seem unduly optimistic and if the increase in jobs is not forthcoming, this volume of housing development could turn the borough into a dormitory for businesses elsewhere. The population and household formation forecasts on which the housing need assessment is based may also be too high.

View from Horsmonden Church by James Stringer

Committee chairman Elizabeth Aikenhead said: “Most importantly, housing development on this scale together with its infrastructure clearly cannot be accommodated in a borough with so many environmental constraints without causing serious damage to the environment.”

It is also contrary to the requirements of the National Planning Policy Framework. CPRE Kent does accept that there will have to be new development within the borough but this should continue to be at no more than the rate previously required under the Core Strategy. Even that amount of development will be very difficult to provide without serious environmental damage.

Lamberhurst in Spring by Jonathan Buckwell

Taking the proposed Strategic Options one by one, Continue reading

CPRE Kent response to Medway Local Plan

CPRE Kent is calling for a commitment to improve the environment and community health as well as save valuable farmland in its response to the Medway Local Plan consultation.

Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater

Allhallows Marshes by Amanda Slater

We will be asking Medway Council to:

  • recognise the contribution of agricultural land to local sustainability, and invest in improving ecosystems for healthy communities, well-being and resilience;
  • Include “access to nature” when planning growth;
  • enhance the understanding of biodiversity conservation across whole landscapes;
  • make adaption to climate change a priority;
  • proactively assess underused or vacant sites (especially brownfield) that might contribute to regeneration or meeting housing need, including small sites;
  • consider sustainability when assessing sites (such as the employment park at Kingsnorth on the Hoo Peninsula), including transport infrastructure and other services;
  • consider accessibility of local people to space and countryside;
  • ensure Green Belt is given the highest level of protection, as specified in the recent Housing White Paper;
  • continue with the designation of development gaps and areas of local landscape importance;
  • consider the impact on air quality of all development and associated travel.
  • Photo: diamond geezer

    Photo: diamond geezer

    Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman

    Cycling on the Hoo Peninsula by Steve Cadman

CPRE Kent Planner Jillian Barr said: “A strong and ambitious vision is necessary to deliver growth, protect the environment, but also to deliver improvements to the environment and community health. This is essential to Medway’s future. We are pleased that the council is consulting so thoroughly at this stage of the plan process and recognise that there are challenging targets. There is a proven link between access to nature, space, dark skies and tranquillity and the health of communities and we hope the council will take this fully on board now and when looking at sites over the next 18 years.”

CPRE Kent has now submitted its full response to the plan – read it here.

June 5th 2017

Otterpool Park – the wrong location and concern about water shortages

We have written to Greg Clark MP, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, to express our concerns for the proposed garden town of 10,000 homes in Shepway, Otterpool Park. The following extract from Hilary Newport’s letter sums up our concerns:

Otterpool Park 2

“While we entirely support the principles of high quality, sustainable design and place-making, we strongly disagree that this is the right location for a garden city of this scale. The existing pressures for development in this area are extreme, not least with the region being categorised by the Environment Agency as being under ‘severe water stress’, and we question the wisdom of drawing even more housing in to a county and a region which is already struggling to accommodate the housing  targets being generated in local plans.

Sheep in fields at Otterpool

Everything in this view would be urbanised

“In its submission draft of the Shepway Core Strategy (January 2012), the District Council included a policy which outlined its ambitions for 800+ homes on the former Folkestone Racecourse, immediately adjacent to the land acquired by the District Council for its proposed Otterpool Park. At examination, the inspector comprehensively rejected this policy as unsound, being neither justified nor necessary to meet housing targets. A further policy outlined the concept of a ‘Strategic Corridor’, covering the area proposed for Otterpool Park as well as the urban areas of Hythe and Folkestone, for mixed use development in furtherance of the Council’s growth agenda. This policy too was rejected by the inspector as unsound. Since the adoption of the Shepway Core Strategy (November 2013) it is difficult to see what has changed to suggest that the plans for Otterpool Park are now either sustainable or necessary. I hope that your department will take these issues into account in considering Shepway’s submission.”

June 27th 2016

 

CPRE Kent welcomes new houses at Connaught Barracks

We have welcomed proposals to build 500 new homes on the Connaught Barracks site in Dover. The 136-acre garrison has sat derelict since the 1st Battalion the Parachute Regiment left in 2006.

CPRE Kent Director Hilary Newport said: “We know there is a need for new homes, particularly affordable homes, and we support building on brownfield sites which have been identified in the local plan for development. Connaught Barracks is exactly the sort of site which should be developed and we welcome this plan. We also very much support small builders being given the opportunity to work on projects like this as the major housebuilders have clearly not been delivering the homes we need.”

Connaught barracks

The Connaught Barracks site was acquired by the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) in 2008. It is considered challenging by private developers because of complex demolition and utility upgrades required before work can start. Under the new scheme, the Government will be commissioning construction directly with smaller building companies who will not have to undertake to deliver the whole site.

“We hope the building standards will include measures for energy efficiency and landscaping to create an attractive community with the right infrastructure and that it includes the promised 40% of affordable homes so needed in Kent,” said Dr Newport.

Communities Secretary Greg Clark, who is the MP for Tunbridge Wells, said: “Today’s radical new approach will mean the government will directly commission small and up-and-coming companies to build thousands of new homes on sites right across the country.”

Building is expected to start in 2016.

For more information on the Government scheme and the other sites click here.

To read our blog by CPRE Kent’s heritage specialist Rose Lister click here.

January 5th 2016.

CPRE Kent objects to sites on greenfield land

We have objected to the high number of inappropriate, unsustainable greenfield sites identified in the Maidstone Local Plan.

Commenting on the council’s latest consultation into additional site allocations, Gary Thomas, Chairman of the Maidstone Committee, said: “It is disappointing that Maidstone has set such a high housing target of 18,560 homes, the consequence of which is the number of inappropriate and unsustainable sites which could change the character of many villages and communities within the borough as well as lead to the loss of beautiful greenfield land and important agricultural land.”

View of valley from Boughton Monchelsea, photo by crocus08, flickr

View of valley from Boughton Monchelsea, photo by crocus08, flickr

We particularly object to the concentration of sites in Boughton Monchelsea:

  • Land at Boughton Lane Loose (75 homes) – grade 2 agricultural land, greenfield, within an area defined as the Loose Landscape of Local Value
  • Boughton Mount, Boughton Lane (25 homes)- grade 2 agricultural land, greenfield, within an area defined as the Loose Landscape of Local Value
  • Land at Church Street / Heath Road (40 homes) – loss of woodland, within Landscape Character Area No. 29 Boughton Monchelsea to Chart Sutton Plateau’ lack of school places and impact on pedestrian safety by school
  • Land at Lywood Farm, Green Lane (25 homes), – unsustainable location and increased traffic
  • Hubbards Lane (8 homes) – inappropriate greenfield site, grade 2 agricultural land.

Continue reading