LOCAL PLAN RESPONSE APPROVED BY TWBC FULL COUNCIL – 13/12/2023.
It’s taken four and a half years, much hard work, generous donors, great support and a lot of stress and tension, but finally, on Wednesday evening TWBC’s Full Council approved the motion to send the response to the Government Inspector. It’s taken a year for them to concoct that response, but your Executive believes it is great step forward to getting a Local Plan in place that will preserve the character of our beautiful parish.
The key features of this response are:
- Removing Tudeley Garden Village (TGV) from the Local Plan and effectively declaring it unsustainable.
- Reducing the number of proposed new homes in East Capel from over 2,000 to 1,250.
Whilst this is a battle partially won, it isn’t the end of the conflict; we will fight onto reduce the impact on East Capel still further and attempt to ensure that if any development does take place, it is done so sustainably and sensitively to the Parish’s residents.
HOW DID THE PROCESS PROCEED TO HERE?
The Inspector had sent his Initial Findings on the Local Plan to TWBC in November 2022. Since then, the Planning Officers have spent a lot of taxpayer’s money trying to generate more evidence to the support the Local Plan as submitted, but finally had to admit that they could not justify the removal of the land for TGV from the Green Belt. They also had to concede to reducing the numbers of homes proposed for East Capel/Paddock Wood.
The Planning Officer’s proposals were supported by the Planning & Transportation Cabinet Advisory Board on November 13th, then by the TWBC Cabinet on December 6th, and finally approved by the Full Council on Wednesday evening, December 13th.
The meeting was “interesting”, and you can watch it on You Tube via this link https://democracy.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=134&MId=5402 . To save you trawling through the whole two hours 20 minutes here are the key pieces of interest for Save Capel supporters:
50m.56s – Introduction of Item 10 on the Agenda – TWBC Response to the Inspector’s Initial Findings on the Local Plan. Then, after an intervention by TWBC’s Monitoring Officer, Hugh Patterson, Capel Ward Councillor and Mayor, recused himself and left the Chamber, given his position as Chairman of Capel Parish Council and a member of Save Capel. Councillor Nancy Warne (Deputy Leader of the Council) also recused herself as she works for Natural England who are a Consultee of TWBC.
- 54m.00s – Other Members discuss who/why/what this was all about?!
- 58m.59s – Our Chairman Stewart Gledhill, and another Executive Member Chris Wise, make their statements to the meeting.
- 1h.5m.24s – The Members’ discussion begins. This section of the meeting lasted longer than many anticipated (50 minutes), with the majority of speakers against the motion. This included Councillors who were concerned that Ramslye Fields and Woods were still included, and the land use classification was wrong, and one Councillor from Paddock Wood (PW) who bemoaned the fact that removing TGV could put an even greater strain on numbers in PW.
- 1h.51m.22s – A final comment, which acted as a very good summary, by Councillor Steve McMillan, Alliance (the Local Plan Champion).
- 1h.53m.05s – A rather strange summing up by the seconder of the motion, the Council Leader Ben Chapelard.
- 1h.57m.20s – Final summing by the motion’s proposer Councillor Hugo Pound, Head of the Planning & Transportation Portfolio.
- 2h.05m.02s – the vote itself, and the result of 33 votes in favour, six against and three abstentions. The item 10 discussion concluded at 2h.07m.52s…. Tudeley had been saved!