Capel Greenbelt Protection Society

Capel Greenbelt Protection Society

Capel, a Greenbelt Parish

The Capel Greenbelt Protection Society (CGPS) has been established in the Parish of Capel to preserve, protect and enhance our Greenbelt countryside for the benefit of our Parish, Neighbourhood and the General Public

The Greenbelt around London was formally established in 1955 but began to be preserved from the late 1800s when keeping a belt of countryside around cities was considered vital. The Greenbelt is a very British institution and one that has served our nation well, giving cities food production and fresh air within easy reach. It is absolutely vital that it is maintained. Without its “green girdle”* London would have sprawled and spread out to form endless grey suburbs like Los Angeles. London would now reach from Brighton to Cambridge in an urban patchwork.

We are very fortunate to live in a Greenbelt Parish. Have a look at the maps to see where the Borough of Tunbridge Wells fits in to Mr Unwin’s girdle!

* Raymond Unwin, Chief Planner for Greater London, 1929

The Capel Greenbelt Protection Society is a registered charity that aims:

1. To promote for the benefit of the public the conservation protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of Capel Greenbelt and High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

2. To advance the education of the public in the conservation, protection and improvement of the physical and natural environment of Capel Greenbelt and High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

CGPS seeks grant funding and donations to fulfil its aims. CGPS distributes funds to local organisations that fulfil its aims. CGPS is supporting the development of the Vision for Capel to create a Neighbourhood Plan with the Parish Council; stimulating public interest and support for all residents, societies, businesses and organisations in this beautiful area. We want to encourage visitors to roam the footpaths and enjoy the vistas of our ancient landscape, historic buildings and farmsteads. We support the protection of wildlife, habitat, and the openness of our countryside. We aim to support our national architectural assets, and the setting in which they sit, by promoting the highest standards of planning and building development – ensuring the openness and permanence of the Greenbelt is retained in any proposals to build within the area.

Greenbelts have been one of the most enduringly successful and popular elements of the post-World War 2 planning reforms. They have helped to maintain a clear distinction between town and country and are highlighted for protection in current and future Government Planning Policy. They should not be changed or developed unless exceptional circumstances exist. This is clearly stated in the  UK National Planning Policy Framework.

Sadly, the London Greenbelt is under threat. We are committed to working with our partner organisations, including the London Green Belt Council, to ensure that Capel, a Greenbelt Parish, is respected and protected now and in the future.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council engaged a specialist to carry out a Greenbelt Study  in 2016. You can read it here. They found that when you looked at Capel with regard to development, the purposes of the Greenbelt would be at a very high risk of harm across most of the Parish of Capel.

The TWBC Greenbelt report was prepared in 2016 when Tunbridge Wells Borough Council were trying to build 643 homes across the whole borough every year from 2013-33. Since then, there have been plans submitted and approved for lots of development in Paddock Wood (around 600 houses at Badsell Road and other sites) and Tonbridge (Haysden – hundreds of houses). The next version of the Local Plan (still draft) has a lot of new housing around Paddock Wood (outside of the Greenbelt). The Paddock Wood developments are evolving with input from Paddock Wood Town Council and the Paddock Wood Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group. With Paddock Wood due to expand at a pace, and Tonbridge expanding too, it is more important than ever that Capel retains its Greenbelt. It is already at high risk of harm from more traffic between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood on a small, often congested road – the B2017. There were two proposals in the last draft of the Local Plan to create more than 4,000 homes in Capel at Tudeley Village (2,800 new houses) and East Capel (1,500 new houses). CGPS supports the campaign opposed to these developments, Save Capel.