New secondary school announced as plans outlined for further 3,000 houses

TUNBRIDGE WELLS is to get a new secondary school, while close to 3,000 more houses will be built around the town and borough as the council unveils further details of its Local Plan.


As revealed in the Times in May, the government has insisted the borough double its house building efforts, with the council ordered to find sites for at least 13,500 houses by 2036.


This means the borough will have to have around 700 new houses built each year.


So far, the council has outlined proposals to create a new garden village in Tudeley in the parish of Capel, as well as more than 4,000 homes surrounding Paddock Wood, which would double the size of the town.


Now the council has published its entire Draft Local Plan and revealed its housing and infrastructure plans for the town centre area and many of the surrounding villages.


Key among the sites earmarked for development is Pembury, where the council wants to put around 300 houses to the south of the village.


Other villages that will also have to accommodate housing developments include Hawkhurst where the council wish to build an additional 243-293 homes on top of more than 400 homes already scheduled on the golf course.


Plans for a new relief road in the area have also been submitted to the council, which would run between the A268 to Flimwell and the A229 to Cranbrook.


In the parish of Cranbrook and Sissinghurst, both eponymous villages have been earmarked for housing, with Cranbrook receiving the brunt with 718-803 houses, 64 of which already have planning permission, while more than 100 will be built in Sissinghurst.


Around 300 houses have also been proposed for Horsmonden and 60 for the area around Benenden Hospital.


Matfield is expected to take some of the housing burden with between 90-150 dwellings proposed for the village.


For Southborough and the unparished area around Tunbridge Wells town centre, a smattering of developments are already in various stages of construction but the only new major house building efforts will be south of the town at Spratsbrook Farm behind Ramslye Road, on the border of East Sussex and the Weald.


Along with 270 houses, the area will see the first new secondary school built in the town for several decades.


Torrington Car Park in Vale Avenue is also going to be sold off for development with around 100 flats planned for that site. 


The council has also promised more residents parking for any new house builds and say they will look ‘holistically’ at the A26 main thoroughfare from Tonbridge and the A21 into Tunbridge Wells to find ways to ease congestion.


But the council has warned that underused playing pitches in Tunbridge Wells may be sold off for housing development with the emphasis on sporting hubs.


The Draft Local Plan is due to go to a period of consultations, the first will be from September 20 to November 1, where the general public will get a say on the proposals.


Council Leader, Alan McDermott, who has spent the last three years working on the Local Plan, said: “It has taken a long time to get here and we have reached the step where we put it out to the public and if it is accepted it goes to the [Planning] Inspector.”


He added that the council’s house building quota is more likely to go up rather than down in future, which is why the council has opted to build 14,776 houses, a thousand more than required by the Planning Inspector, to give them a ‘buffer’.


The Cllr also said around 40 per cent of green field sites will be ‘affordable housing’ with more than half being classed as social houses – where the rent is 60 per cent of private rents.


“We do not have a choice in this. All main political parties are committed to more house building,” he said.


He added that the plan has received input and contributions from a ‘working group’ of council members from across the political spectrum.

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