Inspector Announces Next Stage of Public Enquiry

May 8, 2024

Dear Supporters

In this edition you can find out the latest developments of the local plan inquiry (examination) where the Inspector has announced six days of hearings in June & July (details here), and the results of the local elections in Tunbridge Wells.

Stage 3

Hearings will take place in June (week 1) and in July (week 2) to discuss the Matters, Issues, and Questions (MIQs) that the Inspector has determined following his review of the recent consultation responses. The key dates of most interest to Save Capel are:

  • 18th June – Matter 1 – Green Belt/Sustainability/Development Strategy
  • 19th June – Matter 3 – The Strategy for Tudeley Village 
  • 20th June – Matter 8 – Housing Need (afternoon session)
  • 16th July – Matter 4 – The Strategy for Paddock Wood & East Capel
  • 17th July – Matter 7 – Highways Infrastructure/Other matters
  • 18th July – Round up – Main Modifications/Soundness

Anyone who has responded to the recent consultation on the ‘revisions to the local plan’ can attend for relevant topics they have commented on. The hearings will not repeat the issues discussed previously. Attendance must be confirmed with the Programme Officer by 17th May.

Hearing statements can be submitted in advance, although not compulsory, to assist the Inspector and for those who cannot attend. The deadline for these are 31st May for week 1 and 28th June for week 2. The Council must respond to the MIQs.

Matter 3 – The Strategy for Tudeley Village

Clearly, there are fundamental questions that remain outstanding in relation to TGV and its implications on the wider Plan. The complete list of MIQs for Tudeley Village is shown below:

Issue 1 – Location and Accessibility

Q1. How does the additional information produced since the Stage 2 hearings address the Inspector’s Initial Findings around the effects of the allocation on Tonbridge town centre and relevant ‘hotspots’ on the highway network?

Could potential impacts be cost effectively mitigated to an acceptable degree and would the residual cumulative impacts be severe?

Q2. What allowance has been made for modal shift to walking, cycling and use of public transport? Is the evidence supporting the Plan justified and does it demonstrate that the allocation could be made sound?

Issue 2 – Five Oak Green Bypass

Q1. The Council’s position (as set out in paragraph 3.39 of Examination Document PS_054) is that “…the bypass would be necessary to accommodate the traffic generated by the new settlement, when developed alongside the major expansion of Paddock Wood.” What evidence is there to demonstrate that the expansion of Paddock Wood would therefore remain acceptable without a bypass of Five Oak Green?

Q2. Examination Document PS_039 considers the potential effects from the bypass and associated works on the setting of the High Weald AONB, the setting of designated heritage assets, landscape features and ecology, landscape character and historic landscape character and Public Rights of Way. How did the Council take this assessment into account in responding to the Inspector’s Initial Findings and what are the reasons for now suggesting that the allocation is unsound?

Q3. Have further options been considered for the alignment of the route? Could the same transport infrastructure be provided in another way, for example?

Q4. In responding to the Inspector’s Initial Findings, Examination Document PS_039 states that highway safety, noise and air quality concerns around Capel Primary School are valid and would require additional work to address them. Has this additional work been carried out?

Q5. Is the Five Oak Green bypass and associated works justified in the location proposed having regard to the matters identified in the questions above? If not, does this mean that the allocation is unsound?

Issue 3 – Wider Infrastructure Provision

Q1. If the Plan is modified to delete Tudeley Village, can the necessary infrastructure be provided elsewhere? For example, the provision of sports and education facilities.

Q2. If Tudeley Village is deleted from the Plan, what highways infrastructure would be needed in Tudeley and along the B2017 from the remaining growth proposed around Paddock Wood? Is this deliverable and viable?

Q3. Without the allocation of Tudeley Village, can the Plan deliver the necessary wider upgrades the highway network, such as the Colts Hill Bypass?

Q4. Given the location of the proposed Colts Hill Bypass, do the issues identified above in respect of landscape character, the Green Belt and the AONB also apply? If so, is this part of the strategy also justified?

Issue 4 – Meeting Future Housing Needs

Q1. The Council’s suggested changes to the Plan include a commitment to an early review. Should the suggested early review of the Plan also include reference to Tudeley Village, either as a future development option or broad locations for growth?

Issue 5 – Exceptional Circumstances

Q1. Do the exceptional circumstances exist to alter the Green Belt boundary in this location, having regard to paragraphs 140 – 143 of the Framework?

Q2. Are the Council’s suggested Main Modifications necessary to make the submitted Plan sound?

You can read Hadlow Estate’s response to the consultation here, starting on page 16, together with the Council’s response to that. Save Capel’s submission can be found here.

Your Executive is discussing our approach with Counsel & Consultants to ensure we make effective representations on all relevant issues including those affecting East Capel.

Funding

The scale and scope of Stage 3 means that significant funding would be necessary. The response to our call for donations from those who had pledged support has been amazing, but if you have not yet donated please contact Stewart or Ian. We need to finalise our strategy as soon as possible.

The fact that TGV is being discussed further may be a good thing…hopefully it can be condemned, once and for all, to the history books.

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TWBC Election results

The Liberal Democrats had a successful result, taking 22 of the 39 seats (reduced from 48 in the boundary commission’’s review) with all other parties losing seats. Notably, the Mayor elect, Nicholas Pope (TWA) lost his seat in Park ward.

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The LibDems now have a majority for the first time in nearly 30 years and will be appointing a new Cabinet shortly. The new Full Council is scheduled to meet on 29th May.

Save Capel remains concerned that they have not yet ruled out TGV coming back nor followed our submission that alternative sites should be properly considered now. They continue to pursue the development of around 1,250 houses in East Capel.  

Whilst we congratulate Ben Chapelard and his colleagues, we sincerely hope the new administration will follow the comments of LibDem’s parliamentary candidate, Mike Martin, who has told the inquiry “Tudeley Village – strongly support its removal as lack of infrastructure and impact on existing infrastructure, especially Tonbridge a concern”.

Pembury & Capel

What an amazing result for Capel’s Hugh Patterson, who secured 1st place across the enlarged ward. Congratulations Hugh!!

Pembury and Capel election results

Given Pembury residents make up around 70% of the ward, Hugh has a clear mandate to continue challenging the proposed strategic developments in Capel. Save Capel also congratulates Astra and David, and looks forward to working with them on Capel’s priorities too.

And finally…

A huge thank you to those supporters who took the time to submit responses to the public consultation. It really makes a difference. If you have any queries regarding the next steps please let us know.

As ever, the Save Capel Executive would like to thank you all for your continuing support. We’d love to hear your feedback on this via email to savecapel@gmail.com

Stewart, Ian, Dave, Maggie, Charlie, Jan, Mark, and Chris

Your donation could make the difference. Please help us Save Capel

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