Villagers march on the town hall in protest against ‘ill-conceived’ plan

AROUND 100 campaigners marched through Tunbridge Wells on Monday in protest against the council’s plans to build approximately 4,000 new homes on Green Belt.


Tudeley is to be dramatically expanded with between 2,500 and 2,800 new homes earmarked for the tiny village in the council’s Draft Local Plan.


In addition, half of the 4,000 homes planned for neighbouring Paddock Wood also fall in the parish of Capel.


Along with the houses, the council has planned for a new primary school in Capel, and if KCC agree to build one, a new secondary school too.


Campaigners from Save Capel, led by Tudeley resident, Farah Brooks-Johnson, and chairman of Capel Parish Council, Hugh Patterson, joined Keep Kent Green for the march against the council’s plans on Monday, which began in Calverley Grounds and terminated at the Town Hall where the protestors stood and chanted ‘Save Capel’.


The Save Capel organisation has already garnered 2,500 signatures on a petition and is now looking to become a registered charity under the name Capel Green Belt Protection Society to allow for fundraising opportunities.


Speaking outside the town hall on Monday, Mrs Brooks-Johnson said: “The council should consider building on more brownfield sites as opposed to the Green Belt of Capel and Tudeley.”


She added that she thought the council was ‘weak’ for giving into the government’s demands for 13,500 new houses, and should instead push for a lower target from the Planning Inspectorate.


Tudeley resident and Save Capel member, Mark Ginsberg, also said: “Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has now labelled itself a ‘climate change emergency council’ which is a contradictory statement when looking at what they’re planning to do on Green Belt land.”


Resident of Capel for 23 years, Dr David Parrish added: “I live in the epicentre of the proposed garden village. I could lose my home if they decide to knock the current houses down or I could become surrounded by a village.”


And local protestor Jose Twynam, who has lived in Tudeley for 34 years, told the Times: “I never ever thought this would happen. It’s a totally ill-conceived plan, everything about it seems wrong.”


The group says they are hoping to sit down with local MP Greg Clark to discuss the Local Plan with a proposed meeting set for mid-September.  


On the edge of Tunbridge Wells borough, Tudeley is famed for its ancient church originating from the 12th and 13th century, with its stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall. 


The church is positioned in the centre of the small hamlet.

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