Tonbridge under threat from plan to build 2,600 houses in village
by Andy Tong | 22nd May 2019
CONCERNS have been raised by newly elected councillors across the political spectrum about Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s proposal to build a new ‘garden town’ on the edge of Tonbridge.
The neighbouring authority’s early draft of its Local Plan will be unveiled today [Wednesday]. It identifies Tudeley and Paddock Wood as the locations for around 6,600 new houses by 2036.
All of them would be built on Green Belt land adjacent to the border of Tonbridge & Malling borough.
The picturesque village of Tudeley, which lies a mile from the edge of Tonbridge, has been allocated 2,600 homes – 600 are already in the pipeline. It is likely to be renamed as a ‘garden town’.
Paddock Wood, meanwhile, is set to double in size, meaning there could be one continuous development through Five Oak Green into Tudeley.
That has also prompted fears that it would create a conurbation linking Paddock Wood to Tonbridge itself.
The borough of Tunbridge Wells cuts a small swathe through Tonbridge at the roundabout on Woodgate Way where it intersects with Tudeley Road.
Medway ward runs right up to the border and Matt Boughton, the newly elected Conservative councillor there, told the Times: “Like Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells Borough has a significant need for additional housing, especially to help local people find suitable affordable housing.
“However, any development should be close to existing towns and not put additional strains on infrastructure in Tonbridge, where we have a large number of affordable homes that we need to build ourselves.”
'Any development should be close to existing towns and not put additional strains on infrastructure in Tonbridge'
Cllr Boughton, who is local MP Tom Tugendhat’s assistant, added: “I hope Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will take seriously the pressures on infrastructure in Tonbridge, and consider development in more sustainable locations than rural agricultural land between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood.”
Mark Hood, a new Green Party councillor in Judd Ward, says: “Tonbridge & Malling Green Party is concerned to hear that a massive development is planned on the Green Belt at Tudeley.
“This will effectively join the settlements together and will put a massive strain on local services including schools and medical facilities. The road network is already under pressure in this area.”
“The majority of these homes will simply draw more people into the area rather than satisfy need from within our own communities.”
Green Belt is a planning policy specifically designed to create open rural spaces between developments to stop urban sprawl.
There is already consternation in the town about the plan to build 480 homes on Green Belt land next to Haysden Country Park – as well as 3,000 in Borough Green.
'There is only so much development that Kent can take without turning into the crazy paving of England'
This was included in Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s [TMBC] own Local Plan, which was submitted in January and is currently being considered by the Planning Inspector.
Cllr Hood added: “There is only so much development that Kent can take without turning into the crazy paving of England.
“The trend of proposing housing on the Green Belt while alternative sites are overlooked is reflected here in Tonbridge & Malling, where our own council has disregarded 11,700 deliverable plots and plans to build 4,400 homes on the Green Belt.”
The new homes would be built on existing agricultural Green Belt, which all belongs to a single landowner, Hadlow Estate Properties.
The proposal includes a new primary school in the parish of Capel, and a new secondary school – if Kent County Council agrees to build one.
Steve Baughem, Tunbridge Wells’ Head of Planning, admitted that they expected a ‘large amount of resistance’ to the Local Plan.
His counterpart at TMBC, Louise Reid, said: “We understand that Tunbridge Wells is at the early stages of plan-making and that a consultation on the draft Local Plan is programmed to take place in the autumn.
“Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council will respond to the consultation, reflecting the council’s position of having prepared and submitted a detailed Local Plan for examination that addresses the borough’s needs for the period up to 2031.
“In responding to the consultation on Tunbridge Wells’ Local Plan, we will draw upon the range of evidence that informed our plan-making, including evidence on transport matters.”