Pembury villagers protest planned 'motor village'
5th June 2019
AN ESTIMATED 400 people gathered on Pembury village green to protest against the planned car dealership earmarked for next to Tesco supermarket.
As previously reported in the Times, Hendy Group are planning to move all their existing West Kent dealerships and operations into a single site in Pembury in what they have called a ‘motor village’.
It will also house workshops, servicing areas, an accident repair centre and parts facilities.
Locals fear the plans will only add traffic to the already congested A264, a renowned bottleneck where a dual carriage is fed by the A21 before becoming a single lane to Tunbridge Wells’ town centre.
“We already have the Mercure Hotel, the petrol station, Tunbridge Wells Hospital and Tesco, as well as a planned new housing development,” said campaigner Sue Nuttall, who used to be a Conservative borough councillor for the ward.
She continued: “Ambulances even now struggle to get down this road, and this will only make it worse. Hendy needs to go back to the drawing board.”
She added that the North Farm Industrial Estate in High Brooms was a far better location for such a project.
Ms Nuttall was joined by borough councillors across the political divide with Conservative councillors for Pembury, David Reilly and Paul Barrington-King, as well as newly elected Tunbridge Alliance member David Hayward all at last Saturday’s protest.
Cllr Hayward told the Times: “The focus of the Pembury ire is the traffic which, since the addition of the Halls Hole and Pembury Road traffic lights, has dramatically worsened. Already queues form on the A21 slip roads both north and south encroaching into the main carriageways. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.”
He continued: “The people of Pembury have displayed a lot of anger at what many see to be a ‘done deal’ between the Council and Hendy.
“The economic arguments would suggest that moving to the much better option of the Longfield Road Industrial Estate is of equal economic value to the Borough.”
Hendy Group has denied the plans will cause traffic issues, saying they have ‘undertaken detailed traffic surveys and projections as part of the process of developing the proposals’.
“Our planning application includes a detailed Transport Assessment which concludes traffic from the new development could be accommodated on the nearby road network without any significant issues arising,” added a spokesman.
‘The people of Pembury have displayed a lot of anger at what many see to be a done deal’
He continued: “It should be noted that when compared to the proposals for an extension to the Tesco superstore – which has previously received planning consent – and the introduction of a Park and Ride service, our proposals represent a significant saving in traffic during the critical peak periods.
“Alterations would be made to the layout of the Tesco car park which currently operates below capacity and which will ensure it retains sufficient spaces to meet projected customer demand.
“Our Transport Assessment is being considered by Kent County Council, the Highways Authority, as part of the planning application and we remain in dialogue with them and other stakeholders.”