The long and winding road

Jul 13, 2023

Happy summertime to all our supporters. Since our last newsletter in mid-May following the Local Election results, there has been little news from TWBC on which to report. But your Executive have not been idle, we continue to monitor progress, or to be more accurate, lack of it, around the TWBC Local Plan, as well as emerging legislation changes and planning developments elsewhere.


This journey continues to be a long and winding road, and we’d like to provide you with a recap of what has happened since the Inspector’s Examination in Public (EiP), which was a year ago now, and what we understand to be a realistic timetable going forward.

First, some history:

  • Following the Inspector’s EiP in the summer of 2022 he presented his Initial Findings in November 2022. The key issues were that the evidence provided for Tudeley Village (TGV) was insufficient to justify exceptional circumstances for the land to be released from the Green Belt, and the proposed development at East Capel should be reduced.
  • TWBC responded on 22nd December 2022 stating that “a proper assessment of the two Strategic Sites is likely to take some time in order to come to a robust conclusion.”
  • The Inspector then wrote to TWBC again on 31st January 2023 stating that he appreciated TWBC’s position but asked them for “…an indicative timescale for progressing the examination, highlighting any significant milestones, no later than 17th February 2023.”
  • TWBC responded on 17th February 2023 (the deadline) indicating:
    • Substantive further work on strategic development options to be complete by the end of March 2023.
    • Review of relevant evidence base documents by the end of April 2023.
    • Following the Local Elections:
      • 22nd June 2023 – Cabinet Meeting to review the recommendations on Suggested Changes to the Local Plan
      • 5th July 2023 – Full Council Meeting to review the recommendations on Suggested Changes to the Local Plan
      • 24th July 2023 – 17th September 2023 – consultation on the Suggested Changes
      • November 2023 – Focused Hearings by the Inspector.
  • TWBC then wrote to the Inspector again on 2nd June 2023, but not released to the public until 16th June 2023, after the Local Elections, stating that “the indicative timeframes for progressing the examination and the broad dates for the milestones must be revised……meaning a slippage to reporting to TWBC Members until at least August.”

We are interested to know the Inspector’s view of TWBC’s long, and lengthening, timeline.

A long and winding road indeed!!

Save Capel questions to TWBC Cabinet

Our Chairman, Stewart Gledhill, attended the TWBC Cabinet Meeting on the evening of 22nd June 2023, which was when the revised plan would have been reviewed, stating:

“My questions refer to the delay of the local plan and are raised on behalf of Save Capel.

Q1. Will the Council set out the pieces of work that are still to be completed to inform members making the decision on the way forward for the local plan AND now provide an updated timetable of the further steps to progress the examination through to adoption?

Q2. Given this further delay, will the Council confirm that a comprehensive assessment of the full housing potential from the emerging Town Centre Plan and call for sites, together with an update of brownfield opportunities across the borough, will be included in the modified local plan such that the garden village at Tudeley will be removed?”

Guess what? The Cabinet Member for Housing & Planning, Hugo Pound simply dissembled without answering either question directly! Follow this link to see his full answer on pages 2 and 3. No further clarification has been forthcoming from Mr Pound or others at TWBC since the meeting.

So, as we stand, we still await more news of what may, or more likely may not, happen in August. We still do not know whether TGV will be dropped from the local plan. Our best guess is that the revised plan will go before the Cabinet Advisory Board on 4th September. As soon as we know more, you, our supporters, will know more.

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So, what next?

Your Executive will continue to meet with Councillors and other interested parties, including the Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark. We did meet with him last week; it was a cordial, informative and useful discussion. Mr Clark understands our concerns about the length of time TWBC are taking to respond to the Inspector’s clear recommendation of what they should do. He has no clear indication of when the forthcoming changes to the National Planning Policy Framework will be published and this is unlikely to be before Parliament’s summer recess. This is all against the backdrop of the local plan process continuing into next year when there will be full Council Elections in TWBC in May and a General Election later next year.  

Save Capel will have an opportunity to respond to TWBC’s revisions when they are published, and then later in the year we will participate in the public consultation (effectively a second Reg19) before the Inspector conducts focussed hearings on the changes to the plan. We will need to engage legal, and other advice, as we have done at other stages in the process. If you would like to make a donation or pledge your support to assist us please follow the link above.

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


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

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