Final phase of 1,000 homes project on flood plain gets the green light

THE ART OF MAKING MONEY Howard Porter wants the town to engage more with arts and culture as a driver for prosperity

AROUND 1,000 new homes are to be built in Paddock Wood after Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] approved the final tranche of proposed properties.

The Planning Committee voted eight to four in favour of the 309-home Mascalls Farm development on flood plain land last week, with mem- bers raising concerns that the town’s already strug-gling sewage and drainage systems can’t cope.

The new development  follows the Church Farm and Mascalls Court Farm projects, set to deliver around 650 homes on nearby land in Paddock Wood, previously being approved in 2016.

Councils are under increasing pressure from central government to hit housing targets. Mascalls Farm will also include 35 per cent affordable housing [108 homes], with 70 per cent affordable rented and 30 per cent shared ownership.

A new primary school would be built as part of the planning agreements, with around £3.5million being spent on community projects.

AFTER: DEVELOPERS’ VISION An artist’s impression of Berkeley Homes on the Mascalls Farm site

The former farmland set aside for the three developments is within walking distance of Paddock Wood town centre and, being on a flood plain, is considered to have less of an environmental impact than building on green belt land would have.

Paddock Wood Town Councillor Carol Williams said that combined drainage systems and overloaded pumping stations often leave foul waste water coming back into the downstairs toilets of some residents during wet weather.

She said: “Our concern is about the management of the sewage and foul waste with facilities already at capacity. The issue is that unless a new sewage pipeline is developed, or the pumping station is upgraded with new pipes, it is likely we will have increased events. I would propose for there to be a separate pipeline.

“We have invited Southern Water [the firm in charge of waste water management] to meetings and they have agreed to meet with key stakeholders to find the best solution.”

TWBC is required to deliver hundreds of homes by 2026 as part of their Local Plan.

Planning Committee member Cllr Bob Backhouse said he was originally going to vote against Mascalls Farm, but changed his mind after assurances from Southern Water that they will provide appropriate drainage.

“It has been controversial for about ten years because there are problems to do with drainage of foul water,” he said. “Everyone is satisfied that the houses need to be built, but members of the council are concerned that Southern Water does not take its responsibility seriously.

“We have been assured that nobody can occupy any of the 1,000 homes until there is adequate sewage in place.

“This is the third of three developments plan-ned for Paddock Wood because it is a significant contribution towards our housing target.

“We voted for it on the proviso that Southern Water fulfils its obligations to produce an adequate sewage system. I was originally going to vote against the plans.”

Alex Davies, Development Director at Berkeley Homes Eastern Counties, said the concerns of Paddock Wood residents had been accounted for.

“The Paddock Wood project has been sensitively designed in close collaboration with the relevant authorities, and we are delighted to be able to progress with the creation of this new residential neighbourhood for Paddock Wood.”

He further comented: “The scheme will not only introduce 309 high quality new homes to
the town, but will also deliver funding to support primary and secondary schools in the area as part of a £3.5million contribution towards community and infrastructure provision.

“We have addressed concerns raised regarding flood risk, working with Southern Water and Kent County Council’s Flood and Water Management team throughout the application process, and mitigation measures will be guaranteed by planning condition.”

Southern Water issued a statement saying: “As the proposed plans at Mascalls Farm have progressed we have been looking at ways we can accommodate the growth of the area in our network.

“Following extensive investigations and working closely with the local authority and Environment Agency, we are now confident our Paddock Wood Water and Wastewater Treatment Works will have the capacity to provide services to our customers.

“We are also confident the environment will not be adversely affected by the future development.”

The company added: “We are not statutory consultees in the planning process and work closely with local authorities and the Environment Agency throughout planning applications.”

The Times has approached Rydon Homes, the firm behind the Church Farm and Mascalls Court Farm projects, for comment.

The town that keeps on growing

With a current population of around 8,000, a development of around 1,000 homes would change the face of Paddock Wood.

The small town has one secondary school in Mascalls Academy as well as Paddock Wood Primary School, with another set to be built in the planned Mascalls Court Farm project.

There is a busy shopping centre, which includes a popular Waitrose.

Paddock Wood also benefits from having one of the best-served railway stations in the region, with two services an hour to London and direct links to Ashford, Canterbury and Dover.

Town councillor Carol Williams told the Times that anyone moving into the new homes would likely seek work in the capital with little employment opportunity locally.

She said: “We are going to continue to grow and we are likely to see more development in the future. But we see no plan to increase employment locally, so this is going to create more demand on traffic and on the rail lines.”

How some of the £3.5million will be spent on community projects

Berkeley Homes, who are behind the 309- property proposal, was unable to say how much the project would cost or when it could be built.

However, planning proposals, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] website, do show that Berkeley Homes is set to pay around £3.5million in Section 106 monies to the authority.

These payments will be transferred to several local projects in a planning agreement that
some people refer to as a ‘sweetener’.

Among the Section 106 projects is Mascalls Academy school, which is set to be expanded, plus improvements to Colts Hill roundabout.

The scheme is designed to help places like Paddock Wood cope with a significant growth in population.

In their Section 106 agreement, drawn up with TWBC to help reduce the impact of the plans, Berkeley Homes pledged the following: 

£347,328 Primary Education towards land costs for new primary school at Mascalls Court Farm.
£601,749 Secondary Education (towards expansion of Mascalls Academy).
£82,119 Nursery school (towards provision of nursery facilities at new primary school at Mascalls Court Farm)
£14,836.89 Library (towards new book stock at Paddock Wood library)
£222,516 Healthcare contribution (towards doctors’ surgeries at Woodlands Medical Centre, Paddock Wood and / or Howell Surgery, High Street, Brenchley)
£230,205 Outdoor sport (towards sports pitch improvements at Memorial Playing Fields, Putlands and/or for the provision of an outdoor sports hub to serve Paddock Wood)
£281,808 Indoor sport (towards Putlands Sports Centre)
£317,034 Community centre (towards the construction of a new community centre at the Memorial Playing Fields)
£408,788 Contribution towards the provision of junction improvements at the Badsell Road / Maidstone Road signalised junction. (to be refunded if minor scheme required to be implemented by developer)
£584,036 Contribution towards the provision of junction improvements at the Colts Hill Roundabout. (to be refunded if minor scheme required to be implemented by developer)
£298,333.34 Total contribution towards transport infrastructure improvements in Paddock Wood to include Paddock Wood Station improvements (cycle parking and pedestrian approach), footway and cycleway improvements, Commercial Road 20mph Zone, and bus stop provision).
£72,800 Contribution towards improvements to the local bus services, such as through the provision of a new community bus service.
£10,000 Surface water drainage monitoring (towards the costs incurred by KCC in reviewing an annual drainage report associated with the Surface Water Drainage Management Plan).
£19,200 Towards mitigation of impact on Foal Hurst Wood
£5,000 Public right of way improvements (e.g. way-marking, stiles) to south of site towards Matfield and Brenchley


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