Call for Tonbridge MP to justify building on Green Belt at Haysden Park

Pam Mills

Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council [TMBC] says it is building on such protected areas in parts of the borough while creating new Green Belt land elsewhere.

The new Local Plan was passed at a full council meeting on September 12.

It is now being put forward for public consultation before being presented to the Secretary of State in January.

The document calls for 480 homes to be built between Hayesbrook School and the dual carriageway in south Tonbridge.

Green Belt is a planning term which specifies a buffer zone between towns and surrounding countryside, with tight controls over development.

The land between the Upper and Lower Haysden roads from their intersection to the A21 flyover is protected by the status, but has been set aside for housing.

Cllr David Cure has written to Mr Tugendhat calling for ‘a clear policy from Government in respect of the importance’ of Green Belt.

The councillor, who represents Judd ward in that area of town along with Peter Bolt, mentions ‘the Prime Minister’s concerns regarding the importance of Green Belt in her own constituency of Maidenhead’.

He says of the council meeting: “Peter Bolt and I proposed a motion against acceptance of the Borough’s Local Plan primarily on the issue that this Green Belt is adjacent to the Country Park.

“The 480 new homes would create additional traffic on Brook Street and roundabout, which is always blocked at key times, creating additional pollution.”

Cllr Cure points out: “When the motion to adopt the plan was made by the Council Leader [Nicolas Heslop], it was opposed by seven members.

“Therefore it was passed, but with many members sharing our concerns at the loss of pockets of Green Belt across the borough. Many members voted ‘For’ with a heavy heart.”

Cllrs Cure and Bolt have canvassed opinion in Judd Ward and said ‘residents are very much against losing the Green Belt’. He asked for Mr Tugendhat’s backing in the public consultation.

He added, ‘Fear the Planning Inspector, without a Local Plan’. If the housing pledge up to 2031 is not submitted to the government within a six-month time frame, the council will be required to build 23 per cent more homes in the borough.

This follows a change in legislation last year because the government decided that councils were not announcing their plans quickly enough.

At the emergency meeting of the council Cabinet on September 3, it was noted: “The implications of not having an up-to-date Local Plan were discussed and the Cabinet concluded that, notwithstanding concerns about individual sites, it was preferable to take forward the Local Plan for submission within the six months.”

Another councillor presented a petition on behalf of residents of West Malling, opposing development on the Green Belt around Offham Road. The Cabinet responded: “The most appropriate course of action was for the petition to be included in the public consultation.”

Once the Local Plan has been approved by full council and entered the consultation stage, TMBC is no longer in a position to make any changes.

Comments left by concerned residents would go straight for the perusal of the Planning Inspector.

In fact the Green Belt has been extended around West Malling, which the council feels makes up for pieces of it being removed elsewhere.

Ian Bailey, TMBC’s Planning Policy Manager, said: “That does replace all the Green Belt we’re taking out elsewhere – and more, so we’ve got a net increase of 200 hectares.”

“Green Belt is supposed to represent a nice permanent boundary so we thought that would be a good extension to the Green Belt to give a bit of protection to West Malling.”


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