Campaigners descend on Westminster over council’s plans for garden village

Farah Brooks-Johnson said the plan to build around 2,600 homes in Tudeley, plus a further 4,000 in Paddock Wood, many of which will be built in the parish of Capel, was ‘madness’ and ‘vandalism’.

As reported in the Times in May, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has been told by central government to more than double current house building efforts, which has led the council to earmark Capel and nearby Paddock Wood, for nearly 7,000 new homes.

Part of the plans will see the small settlement of Tudeley turned into a garden village, akin to Kings Hill in Tonbridge & Malling, which will increase the number of homes in the Parish of Capel from 900 to more than 5,000.

Mrs Brooks-Johnson has lived in a property overlooking the proposed garden village site in Tudeley for nearly 20 years.

After hearing of the council’s plans, the 46-year-old mother of two set up a campaign group, Save Capel, in an attempt to fight ‘to the bitter end’.

“When we first heard of the plans we were shocked. It is madness, pure and simple, and vandalism. The village is such a beautiful place, to turn it into another Kings Hill is just so wrong,” she said.

Vowing to fight the proposals and persuade the council to change its mind, Mrs Brooks-Johnson has set up a website, as well as a Facebook page, and has garnered more than 2,000 signatures on a petition.

“There’s only 900 houses in the parish, so a lot of the support is coming from neighbouring Tonbridge and other places in Tunbridge Wells. Everybody is up in arms about it.”

The campaigner and nine other members of the Save Capel team even hopped on a train to Westminster last Wednesday joining The Time Is Now demonstration, organised by The Climate Coalition and Greener UK, and the group hoped to meet the local MPs to explain their dismay at the building development.

But local MPs Greg Clark and Tom Tugendhat were unavailable to meet the group.

“I just want our MPs to know just how wrong this is. There’s more than a 100 brownfield sites the council could build 50 houses here, or a 100 houses there. There’s no need to destroy our village. They are taking the easy option and dumping them all here.”

Tunbridge Wells MP, Greg Clark, who was overseas last week, has promised to arrange a meeting with the campaigners in the near future.

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