Jan 31, 2022

Dear Supporters,

I hope this finds you well and you have had a positive start to 2022. This is the fourth and crucial year of our campaign to save our beautiful and historic parish, when the Inspector should determine whether the local plan can proceed. Mr Birkinshaw has carried out his initial review and set out the schedule for the public inquiry which is earlier than expected, details are below.

We have assembled a formidable legal team to represent us and you can ‘meet’ them below. Inevitably, although our amazing community has already been incredibly generous and we have a fighting fund, we do need further funds to pay for this. Whilst I understand the cost of living situation, please donate what you can and if over £500 you may be interested in joining our new pledge scheme. There are uncertainties on how the inquiry will pan out, and the costs resulting, and this scheme provides Save Capel with financial support in an equitable way but only paying your commitment if and when the campaign really needs it.

We are well placed to challenge the local plan at the inquiry with strong arguments, and very much hope Mr Birkinshaw agrees that it is unsustainable and the Council should have to reconsider. We only have one shot at this crucial stage but we can win!

With best wishes for a successful year.

Meet our legal team….

We have conducted a rigorous selection exercise together with the advice from our barrister, Simon Bell of Knights solicitors, who has been of immense help to Save Capel over the past couple of years and our Regulation 19 submissions. Simon has instructed Paul Brown QC as lead Counsel supported by James Neill, both of Landmark Chambers. James has assisted our Reg19 and already brings a good understanding of the brief.

Paul Brown QC

Paul’s practice covers planning and environmental, public and local government law. He has extensive experience in the High Court and Court of Appeal, as well as at Public Inquiries. Paul’s profile at Landmark.

He was a member of the Treasury “A” Panel, where he acted for a wide range of government departments including CLG, DEFRA, the Ministry of Justice, the Home Secretary and the Secretary of State for Education. In 2014 he was the legal adviser to Committee on the Review of Planning Guidance, led by Lord Taylor.

James Neill

James was called to the Bar in 2006 and his practice spans the full scope of public law, with particular expertise in planning and environmental, public procurement and State aid matters. James’ profile at Landmark.

His experience extends to trial advocacy in the Crown Court (where he has defended and prosecuted in cases concerning planning, environmental and regulatory offences).

Counsel have already started the preparation of our evidence and we have had an initial conference to schedule the work required to meet the timetable set by Inspector Birkinshaw. They are likely to call our expert planning consultants to relevant hearing sessions.

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Examination of the TWBC Local Plan

The Inspector has published his Examination Guidance Note, Hearing Programme, and Matters Issues and Questions for Stage 1. View here.

The Examination Guidance Note provides further information on the procedural and administrative arrangements for participants in the Examination, including relevant deadlines and how to contact the Programme Officer.

Stage 1 – Legal Compliance, will look at issues such as Duty to Co-operate, Sustainability Appraisal, Habitat Regulations Assessment, Public Consultation, and Impact of Climate Change. If he finds the Plan is not compliant he may conclude that the inquiry should not continue, as happened with Tonbridge & Malling, for example.

Stage 2 – Local Plan Policies, will look at Housing Needs and Land Supply, Employment Needs and Sites, Spatial Strategy and Distribution of Development, Green Belt Policy, Site Selection, Strategic Sites (including Tudeley, Paddock Wood and East Capel), Other Residential Site Allocations, Infrastructure, Local Services and Facilities, Transport Infrastructure, Landscape, Heritage & Conservation, Biodiversity, Environmental Protection, and Water & Flood Risk.

The programme is set out below and the sessions highlighted are of particular significance, and Counsel will advise on how to approach the various topics. The physical sessions are to held at Council chambers, Tunbridge Wells.

Table of issues

Having heard all representations to the Examination the Inspector will then declare the Local Plan as one of three outcomes:

  • The Plan is “SOUND” and therefore can go on to adoption by TWBC
  • The Plan is “SOUND, SUBJECT TO MAIN MODIFICATIONS”. The Inspector will define the Main Modifications (MMs) that TWBC need to make for the Plan to become “SOUND”. The MMs are usually a combination of minor and larger issues. TWBC will need to respond positively to the MMs if they want to adopt the Plan, and we would have the opportunity to respond to a consultation on the modifications.
  • The Plan is “UNSOUND”, in most cases this means going back to the drawing board and starting the whole process over again, with the inherent frustrations, time delay, and costs involved.

For those who prefer to view things in pictures, rather than words, here is a slide summarising the above process.

Local plan process

Upcoming Elections

There will be some Local Elections in TWBC in May. You have probably seen in the press recently that the Lib Dems appear to be having some issues at the moment. More recently the news that two of Paddock Wood’s Conservative Councillors are leaving the Party; one to stand as an Independent and the other resigning for personal reasons. Inevitably, this could change the make-up of the Borough Council quite significantly.

But more of that at a later date. For now, let’s all focus on the Inspector’s Examination and do whatever we can to help the campaign to succeed.

As ever, the Save Capel Executive would like to thank you all for your continuing support. If anyone is interested in contributing more to the campaign, especially by assisting with other fund raising, please contact us via email to

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

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