Below you will find the contents of a letter sent to Stephen Baughen at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, registering our deep concerns about the charrette process which has been arranged and publicised by Hadlow Estate.
At the time of publishing this post, we are seeking expert advice on the implications of both engaging with the process and not engaging with it, in light of the number of reservations we have around the motivation behind this move and the way it has been brought to the community – including the limited involvement offered and the short notice given.
27 February 2020
Following the presentation given by Hadlow Estate and their consultants Turnberry on Monday evening (February 24th), we want to place on record some serious concerns we have concerning what has been outlined as their charrette process.
Firstly, we feel the notice we have been given is far too short. We are aware that this process has been in development for some time and has been shared with others as much as two weeks prior to our involvement. The lack of time makes it significantly harder for us to arrange suitably qualified and prepared representation at the workshop sessions.
The timings of the workshops, as we raised in the meeting, are not practical for those who have work commitments. And we felt quite frankly insulted by Harry Teacher’s assertion that if we cared we would come. If he cared, he would have made it more accessible.
The fact that we have been advised we can field one expert each for Save Capel and the Capel Parish Council also demonstrates a mere token effort at engagement. With one of the workshops covering the topics of infrastructure, flooding, sustainability and access, all within 2 hours, how can one, or even two individuals be reasonably expected to be expert on all these areas?
To further emphasise our concerns that this is a process designed to merely offer the opportunity to claim consultation while standing in its way, our request to double our allocation to two representatives has been met with a lukewarm response. The excuse that groups need to be kept small has been cited. But if they are groups of 25-30, as was mentioned during the presentation, how can two community representatives be considered as adequate consultation?
In addition, the response we received from Turnberry yesterday (February 26th) has asked us to select our first and second choice experts by the end of this week. In just three days.
And of course, had we wanted to use the funds we have raised from supporters of the Save Capel campaign to cover the cost of hired experts – of a calibre of the experts Hadlow Estate has hired, the short notice once again makes that all but impossible.
As was also raised at the meeting, we are concerned about the fact that this process is limited to the CA1 site and does not take into account impacts on, or from, other aspects of the local plan, the local and neighbouring areas.
Finally, we are concerned about the locations chosen for the charrette sessions, which by definition should be held locally. They are not representative of the area under consideration and bring with themselves other practical issues for the community that is supposed to be being consulted. We would ask why venues much closer to the CA1 site were not used – in Hadlow or Tonbridge, for example?
Overall, Stephen, we are deeply concerned that this scheme is designed to fast-track the master planning process, without due regard to the wider local plan and the responses to the Regulation 18 consultations, and to enable community engagement to be claimed whilst limiting its access and true value to the community.
As such, we cannot support the Tudeley charrette, which we believe to be as assumptive of planning outcomes as it is manipulative of the consultation process.
Dave Lovell Chair – Save Capel