Capel Parish Council comments on draft Local Plan updated 10th November

Capel Parish Council response to Regulation 18 consultation on draft Local Plan
COMMENT BOX 1: COMMENTS ON A PARTICULAR SECTION OR PARAGRAPH
Section 2: Setting the Scene – Challenges and Opportunities Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council makes the following general observation on these paragraphs:
Paragraph 2.9 (p.24) states “As the challenges highlighted in the section below show, the potential of some areas of the borough to accommodate new growth is constrained by factors such as highway capacity, landscape sensitivity, flooding, and the nature of the natural and built environment. These factors have all been taken into account when considering the growth strategy and distribution of development set out within this Draft Local Plan”
All of the constraints listed above, plus many more, affect the proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1), as well as the land safeguarded for the proposed A228 strategic transport link (Colts Hill bypass) (Policy TP 6) and the proposed link route which is to run from the proposed development at Tudeley AL/CA1 to the Colts Hill Bypass (Five Oak Green Bypass) according to the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base p.138 and 142). There is no evidence in all of the supporting documents which demonstrates that these factors have properly been taken into account.
Under Transport, paragraphs 2.23-2.24 (p.26) state “2.23 Tunbridge Wells borough faces significant transport challenges, particularly in terms of managing existing congestion and future growth, as well as needing to respond to the impacts of air quality and climate change. The borough has an extensive highway network, with several A roads converging in the urban area of Royal Tunbridge Wells, including the A21, A26, A264 and A228, and A267. There have been recent improvements to the strategic road network at North Farm and duelling of the A21, but congestion on the A21 at Kippings Cross and the A228/A264 Pembury Road remain unresolved. There are also further congestion, capacity, and air quality issues on the A26, A264, and A228 Colts Hill. 2.24 The Council has an adopted Borough Transport Strategy, which sets out the vision for transport infrastructure for the period from 2015 to 2026. The objective of this document is not only to address existing transport problems, but also to support the level of growth set out within the previous adopted Core Strategy and Site Allocations Local Plan. Updated transport assessment and modelling work has been undertaken, which will allow, in parallel with the new Local Plan, preparation of a refreshed version of the Borough Transport Strategy to cover the period to 2036. The transport evidence, including assessment and modelling work, is available on the Supporting Documents page of the Local Plan website”
Please see our comments under COMMENT BOX 2 in relation to Policies TP 1, TP 2 and TP 6 and in COMMENT BOX 7 in relation to the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base.

COMMENT BOX 2: COMMENTS ON A POLICY
Strategic Policies (Section 4), Strategic Place Shaping Policies (Section 5), Site Allocation Policies (section 5), or Development Management Policies (Section 6)
Section 4: The Development Strategy and Strategic Policies
The Development Strategy
Commentary in paragraphs 4.7 – 4.17 relating to Housing Need and Table 1 Housing Need 2016-2036 (as at 01 April 2019)
Pages 34-35 Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has interpreted its housing need figure to be 13,560 and then up-scaled it to 14,776. This is despite TWBC having strong grounds to lower its housing need figure due to the large amount of Green Belt and AONB land in the borough.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government has repeatedly made clear that “the housing need figure is not a mandatory target. Local Authorities should make a realistic assessment of the number of homes their communities need, using the standard method as the starting point in the process. Once this has been established planning to meet that need will require consideration of land availability, relevant constraints and whether the need is more appropriately met in neighbouring areas… The NPPF is clear that only in exceptional circumstances may a Green Belt boundary be altered, through the Local Plan process. Last year we strengthened Green Belt policy in the revised NPPF”
You have chosen to accept the government’s housing need for Tunbridge Wells borough based on the standard method of calculation. You know that the ONS 2016 figures show a smaller housing need and that policy will reflect that in due course.
You can protect this borough from the destruction of Green Belt and AONB by following NPPF guidelines, but this plan shows no interest in doing so, and in fact is planning for even more housing than your interpretation of the 2014 figures requires. For example, you could save the MGB land at East Capel (Policy AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1) by choosing a different development option that would require 1,000 fewer houses.
Paragraph 11 of the NPPF (revised in 2019) states:
“11. Plans and decisions should apply a presumption in favour of sustainable development.
For plan-making this means that:
(a) plans should positively seek opportunities to meet the development needs of their area, and be sufficiently flexible to adapt to rapid change;
(b) strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas, unless:
i. the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area; or
ii. any adverse impacts of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework taken as a whole.”
Paragraphs 11(b)(i) and (ii) are of crucial importance. They provide for TWBC to have a choice in the provision of the objectively assessed 13,560 houses. If provision of these houses is really only possible by sacrificing Green Belt land, as TWBC concede at paragraph of the Non-Technical Summary of their Sustainability Appraisal, then the NPPF makes it perfectly possible for TWBC to say that this is not achievable. TWBC have chosen not to do so.
Capel Parish Council calls for a reduction in the number of houses to be delivered by the Local Plan.
Section 4: The Development Strategy and Strategic Policies
The Development Strategy
Commentary in paragraphs 4.38 – 4.40 relating to The Development Strategy of the Draft Local Plan being put forward for consultation
Pages 39-40 Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
You are proposing a development strategy based on dispersed growth, i.e. proportional distribution of development across all of the borough’s settlements. You imply that you have achieved this, but this is misleading. The Local Plan is almost entirely dependent on the successful implementation of proposed garden settlement in Tudeley (AL / CA 1) and the expansion of Paddock Wood including building on East Capel (AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1). They form 63% of the new housing. If these sites fail to deliver, then the associated infrastructure that is entirely reliant on developer capital would also never be realised. This appears to stack risk on risk, where both areas of development are inextricably linked and the failure of one would lead to collapse of the other and as a result the whole plan would fail.
You refer to Tudeley Village securing a long term option for the borough to deliver the needs of future generations. It is clear from this statement that you intend to add more and more housing to this “garden settlement” in each five year review of future Local Plans.
Capel Parish Council are seriously concerned that this will be the first step in the longer term destruction of the entire MGB in this part of the Borough. It deserves to be protected and sheltered from development. A garden settlement, should there be one, would be best in the middle of the borough, to make it accessible north and south. It is totally counterproductive to put affordable housing right at the very north of the borough when so many residents live in the south. Put it in the middle of the borough or spread it right across the borough.
The developments in Tudeley and East Capel are unsustainable, having a poor road infrastructure and this doing nothing for local employment needs (it will make many local farm workers redundant). It would also put an unfair burden on the residents of Tonbridge and Malling whose infrastructure the new residents will access. ‘The ‘master planning approach’ will come to a grinding halt at the boundaries of Tonbridge, a town whose infrastructure has grown slowly over the last millennium and can hardly be expected to adjust to this challenge imposed on it by the planners of the neighbouring authority. We expect this view to be reflected by TMBC in their response to the regulation 18 consultation.
STR 1 The Development Strategy Page 42
Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
This policy does not include any reference to development on Brownfield sites but does refer to the release of Green Belt. There should be a strategy of identifying suitable Brownfield sites and developing innovative ways to deliver housing on those sites.
You repeatedly refer to the Eastern part of Capel parish as part of Paddock Wood when it is not, and unlike Paddock Wood is in the Green Belt. It has a completely different heritage and culture from Paddock Wood. Badsell Manor is the oldest continuously inhabited houses in the parish and its historic environs would be destroyed by this proposal.
STR 3 Masterplanning and use of Compulsory Purchase powers Page 48 Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
You state that “In order to bring forward development of the sites allocated in a timely and comprehensive way, the Council will, where appropriate, use its Compulsory Purchase Order powers to enable the sites and development to be delivered to achieve the strategic objectives and development strategy set out within the Local Plan. It will also, where appropriate, work with other authorities that are using their Compulsory Purchase Order powers”
This contradicts the reasoning for favouring the proposed strategic offline link (Colts Hill Bypass – Policy TP 6) which was that there would be no need for CPO’s unlike the on-line option which would do materially less harm to the AONB. In light of this inconsistency will this plan be revisited?
It is anticipated that CPO’s are likely to be necessary in the event that the proposed A228 strategic transport link (Colts Hill bypass) (Policy TP 6) and the proposed link route which is to run from the proposed development at Tudeley CA1 to the Colts Hill Bypass (Five Oak Green Bypass) go ahead as described (see Local Plan Transport Evidence Base p.138 and 142). Capel Parish Council is strongly opposed to any of its residents being subject to compulsory purchase in these circumstances.
STR 4 Green Belt Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
The release of Green Belt described in this plan in Tudeley and East Capel is not justified in any way and is certainly not the result of “exceptional circumstances”.
See our comments above re Section 4 para 4.5
The Green Belt Strategic Study commissioned by TWBC states that building houses at Tudeley and East Capel would cause the maximum level of harm possible to the Green Belt. CPC believe that there is a suitable alternative site for the Tudeley development outside the Green Belt (for example in Horsmonden) and the East Capel development is not required to expand Paddock Wood.
In the commentary from paragraph 4.49 (p.49), you state that “the Council considers that there are the exceptional circumstances to alter the boundaries of the Green Belt to remove land from the designation for the proposed development at Tudeley Village, land at Capel and Paddock Wood […] Overall, some 5.35% of the Green Belt within the borough is being de-designated”
Capel Parish Council does not believe the exceptional circumstances exist to justify releasing land from the Green Belt in Tudeley and East Capel.
As you will see from our comments on the Sustainability Appraisal, options for the expansion of Paddock Wood need not include East Capel.
The release of Green Belt for Tudeley New Town (AL / CA 1) is totally unjustifiable. The 1,900 houses delivered there in this plan period are either not required by TWBC (who can easily reduce their plan to provide 13,560 rather than 14,776 new houses) or can be provided elsewhere outside of the Green Belt and AONB (for example at Horsmonden or Frittenden). Innovative use of Brownfield sites may also provide the housing that TWBC would like to provide by removing 400 acres from the Green Belt in Tudeley (AL / CA 1) plus another over 200 in East Capel (AL / CA 3).
5.35% of the land is being ‘de-designated’ (by which the plan means removed) from the Green Belt. But this is disproportionately concentrated in Capel parish where it will have a huge impact on the community and lead to the convergence of settlements. One of the main reasons for the Green Belt in the first place.
Comments on paragraph 4.50 (p.49)
You state that the Distribution of Development Topic Paper (which draws on the Green Belt Strategy Study) provides evidence and justification to release land from the Green Belt at Tudeley (AL / CA 1). This is not true. There is no evidence that makes Tudeley a better site for a Garden Village than Horsmonden (Site 144).
The justification for not placing a garden settlement at Horsmonden is that “This would be a very large scale strategic allocation that would be disproportionate to the size of the settlement, with concern about landscape and heritage”. Tudeley is a tiny hamlet. It has 50 houses at most. The whole of the Parish of Capel has only 950 houses in it. Adding 2,800 new houses at Tudeley is a massive increase that is far higher than the proportional increase would be elsewhere in the Borough.
Tudeley is home to a world renowned heritage asset – All Saints Church. The only church in the entire world to have a complete set of stained glass windows designed by the renowned artist Marc Chagall. There is no equivalent heritage asset at Horsmonden. The proposal at AL / CA 2 would also impinge on the views from and towards Somerhill a Grade 1 listed building.
Tudeley has a beautiful, rolling landscape with abundant wildlife, fertile soil and high biodiversity scores. It is entirely within the Green Belt and the High Weald AONB is within a few yards of the proposed development site.
You state that Horsmonden, for example, has severe access difficulties. The access difficulties on the B2017 and Hartlake Road are at least as severe and the impact of the extra traffic on Tonbridge’s overloaded road infrastructure will have severe impact there too.
Capel Parish Council does not believe exceptional circumstances exist to justify building at Tudeley. The only argument presented anywhere is that Tudeley has a single landowner and other sites multiple landowners. TWBC’s reluctance to deal with multiple landowners is not an “exceptional circumstance”. The Capel Parish SHEELA states there will be compensatory Green Belt elsewhere in the Borough. This is clearly not the case. Capel Parish Council deplores the loss of MGB as a result of this plan.
STR 5 Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
An addition is required as follows:
“All infrastructure required for the garden settlements must be described in detail before the Local Plan is adopted, signed off via public consultation and a TWBC Full Council vote and delivered and inspected in full before the first house within the garden settlement is built.”
The commentary at paragraph 4.53 states that:
“Infrastructure can be separated into four main categories: physical infrastructure (such as highways and public realm improvements), community infrastructure (such as schools, adult social services, and cultural facilities), and green, grey, and blue infrastructure (such as play spaces, natural and semi-natural open space, and sports pitches, as well as other essential infrastructure such as flood mitigation, utilities, and digital connectivity)”
The ‘Green Infrastructure Framework’ and ‘draft Infrastructure Delivery Plan’ are highlighted as key documents.
Policy STR 5 identifies the following ‘strategic priorities for infrastructure provision or improvements within the borough’ needed to deliver and support the growth set out in the dLP:
• Transport (see our comments under STR 6 below)
• Education
• Health
• Water
• Digital infrastructure and facilities
• Green, grey, and blue infrastructure
• Cultural infrastructure
The Policy then refers to the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) which it says identifies the scope of infrastructure to be provided, the phasing of such infrastructure linked to the planned development, and the mechanisms by which the Council considers that the infrastructure will be delivered, including the use of Section 106 agreements, Community Infrastructure Levy, or equivalent policy as applicable.
Health
In the Infrastructure Delivery Plan (IDP) under the heading ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ at paragraph 3.104 (p.40) it states that “The Council has not been made aware of any specific requirements over the plan period; however, discussions with the Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust have highlighted potential need for extension of either the Tunbridge Wells Hospital or Maidstone Hospital to serve the West Kent Area over the Plan period”
Under the heading ‘Emergency Services’ at paragraph 3.201 (p.62) it states that “Emergency services for the purposes of this IDP include Police, Fire and Rescue, and Ambulance services” before confirming under the heading ‘Related strategies and evidence’: “None identified at this stage”
Several thousand houses will create huge pressures on every aspect of NHS provision – it is unacceptable to not have identified this need & just refer to a “potential need”. The TW Hospital at Pembury is already at capacity, the site is not capable of being extended, and there is already a serious issue with car parking. Handover times between ambulance & hospital have historically been a scandal due to acute bed shortage.
Education
Policy STR 5 states that “Provision will be made for sufficient school places in the form of expanded or new primary and secondary schools, together with early years and childcare facilities”. There is more information about what the specific provision will be under Policies STR 1, AL / CA 1, AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1, however, the IDP does not give any certainty that the required provision can ever be realised.
Please see our comments in Comment Box 8 under the heading ‘Infrastructure Delivery Plan’

STR 6 Transport and Parking Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
An addition is required as follows:
“All sustainable transport services, with proven capacity to hold the entire population of the garden settlement, must be provided and active before the first house within the garden settlement is built.”
Note that you can only provide rapid bus links if you provide dedicated bus lanes. For Tudeley, the closest rail station in Tonbridge, it will require bus lanes along Woodgate Way, Pembury Road and all the way up to Station Approach.
CPC support the ambition regarding sustainable travel but the only way to do that will be to provide limited car parking and limited car access into the new development at Tudeley. This may conflict with the ambitions of the landowner. CPC insist transport services are provided before the houses are built as part of the master planning approach.
STR 7 Place Shaping and Design Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Bullet point 8 states that “All new development must use the following principles relevant to its location, scale, and use: Protect the amenity of existing and future residents and users with regard to noise, vibration,
smell, loss of light, privacy, and overbearing impact”. This cannot be achieved with a proposal to build 2,800 houses at a location with less than 50 houses at present (Policy AL / CA 1). This land should be removed from the dLP in order to deliver this Policy.
In the event that the site is not removed from the dLP, a clause should be included which states that, where an overbearing impact is anticipated, local residents will be consulted and have enhanced rights when planning applications are considered, including the right of veto or appeal as individuals vs. developers.
STR 8 Conserving and enhancing the natural, built, and historic environment Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
The commentary at paragraph 4.69 (p.57) acknowledges that “Paddock Wood is a distinct settlement, which is identifiable as a historic railway-focused town, located in the transition area between the Low and High Weald, at the foot of the scarp slope”
It should be noted that the “distinct settlement” of Paddock Wood does not, and should not at any point in the future, include Green Belt land at East Capel (Policy AL / CA 3 and AL / PW 1). This land should be removed from the dLP in order to deliver this Policy.
STR10 Limits to Built Development Boundaries Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Paragraph 4.87 (Limits to Built Development) p.62
You have not provided any detailed LBD information for Tudeley or East Capel, citing “the need for further master planning”. This once again highlights that this plan is not ready for Public Consultation.
Policy STR/CA 1 The Strategy for Capel Parish Page 156 Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
This strategy is absolutely, completely, totally unachievable. The risks involved in plonking a “garden settlement” on this Green Belt hamlet are huge. The infrastructure costs are huge. The landowner and co-master planner are inexperienced and ill-equipped to deliver such a complex project. Point by point the policy is flawed in the following ways:
1. It is difficult to see the provision of employment and retail provision within the settlement as it lies so close to Tonbridge. This is no compensation for the loss of agricultural land and farming/equestrian employment if the development goes ahead.
2. The proposed secondary school site is next to an extremely busy road that is already very congested at school drop-off times. It also crosses a railway line that is at the bottom of a very deep cutting. It stands to be demonstrated whether children can cross safely before, during and after the school day. It is also directly opposite the Grade 1 listed Somerhill and contains ancient woodland. CPC understands this is not a choice KCC Would have made as the site for a new school. We think it is completely inappropriate and do not support it.
3. The requirement for more primary school places in the immediate locality has yet to be demonstrated, as the birth rate is dropping.
4. 4,000 new dwellings in two new developments in such a small rural area, with such a limited infrastructure is inappropriate. The houses will not provide for the needs of this parish. If needed it would be better to spread them out across the borough.
5. Flood storage areas and other mitigation strategies can be delivered without developer contributions from new housing. This is an ex post facto justification as far as Five Oak Green is concerned as the borough were seemingly unaware of the EA scheme until February 2019, well after the plans for both schemes had been drawn up. CPC notes the alacrity of the borough in using this proposal which has been on the drawing board since 2010, to allege ‘betterment’ for residents as a result of this proposal, despite their previous lack of interest in this issue. Introducing hard surfaces and dwellings on to the meadows and fields of East Capel and Tudeley will increase the flood risk beyond any mitigation measures.
6. Strategic transport links cannot be provided without destroying large areas of AONB, and it is noted you cannot provide the exact location of such a link; which makes it difficult to comment on. Given the uncertainty, Capel Parish Council would like the offline A228 link to be reviewed in the wider context of this possible new road infrastructure. It may be the online option would cause less damage to the AONB, and the offline plan is already 20 years old. You will need to be aware of the impact this will cause on the road at Pembury. Any transport links provided will have to continue on through Tonbridge with a huge impact in an already highly congested traffic area.
7. No comment.
8. Despite surrounding Five Oak Green with 4,000+ new houses, you state clearly that you want to keep on providing additional housing within Five Oak Green. The village envelope of Five Oak Green should remain as it is in these circumstances given the disproportionate development in the rest of the parish.
9. The release of Green Belt land is not permitted within the NPPF as TWBC has not proved “exceptional circumstances”. Dealing with a single landowner at Tudeley does not amount to exceptional circumstances, and TWBC have two other options for Paddock Wood which would not require them to build on the green belt at East Capel.
10. Agree
11. The impact on carbon sequestration provided by the farmland, meadows, mature trees and hedgerows in all three Capel sites cannot be offset by a nod to zero/low carbon energy production. The impact of this development on climate change is clearly negative as demonstrated in your own sustainability appraisal.
12. This site is within the recognised 1km AONB buffer zone and so is entirely unsuitable for development of this scale. The associated road infrastructure will have an even more damaging impact.
13. The AONB Management Plan is severely compromised by this proposed development.
You have a Master planning and Delivery approach within this policy that does not reference the involvement of developers and landowners. It is our understanding that the master planning of East Capel will be led by the Council. However, the master planning of Tudeley appears to be shared between the Council and Hadlow Estate. This is not consistent and the product of having one developer to deal with. Hadlow Estate are not experienced developers and have failed to share their plans and ideas with the parish council or the wider community. We fear these ideas will be completely inappropriate for this Low Weald landscape and that they will try to build a high end urban development completely out of keeping with the local heritage and landscape, designed to appeal to an upmarket London based clientele. We strongly urge the council abandon this idea and failing that to take a more pro-active role with the landowner in managing this development.
Comments on paragraph 5.60 (Allocation Policies) p.159
This site is unsuitable for a garden settlement because it has a main railway line running through the middle of it. There only two crossings. At Hartlake Road on its boundary (no more than a country lane) and Sherenden Road which is so narrow that only one car can pass at a time under the railway embankment. There are no proposals as we understand to change this as it would require major works to the railway which is the main Tonbridge – Dover line. CPC believe it is two settlements divided by a railway line, neither of which satisfy garden settlement principles.
This site is under single ownership. This appears to be the overriding factor in its selection. The landowner has no track record in managing or master planning a development of this size, and they are not widely trusted to do so within the wider Capel community in our judgement. No-one has had any positive form of engagement with them since the development was disclosed, and thus nobody has any idea of what this development might entail.
Development on the site will adversely affect flood risks in Tudeley and neighbouring Golden Green, East Peckham, Hadlow and Tonbridge. The River Medway is more prone to flooding and the impact of a failure in the Leigh Barrier has not been considered, particularly in light of rapid increase in sea levels and other Climate Change. The Five Oak Green flood risk will be reduced by a storage reservoir on the Alder Stream, that can be delivered and funded by a much smaller scale of development than that envisaged by this garden settlement.
The Biodiversity on this site is extraordinary. As is rightly noted, it is also adjacent to a Biodiversity Opportunity Area and directly adjacent to AONB.
Policy AL/CA 1 Tudeley Village Page 159 This policy envisages too many new dwellings, completely out of proportion to its environment. They are entirely unsustainable in this rural area with a limited infrastructure. Capel Parish Council believes this proposal is unsustainable and therefore unsound – clearly not of a sustainable scale as claimed here. CPC is also troubled by the call for a ‘clear identity’ by which we take something similar to Poundbury, which would be an unwelcome urban intrusion into this rural Low Weald Medway Valley landscape. We believe this is what the landowner intends, and we believe he should not be allowed a free hand.
If this development were to materialise, we believe TWBC should insist that all infrastructure (transport services, new roads and road improvements) must be delivered before construction of housing begins. We believe the added flood risk cannot be fully mitigated against and the site contributes negatively to climate change.
Policy AL/CA 2 Land to east of Tonbridge/west of site for Tudeley Village Page 163 This policy refers to a site that is wholly unsuitable to the development of a secondary school due to the:
• Railway line
• Busy roads
• Flood risk
• High pressure gas pipeline risks
• Unsustainable transport links to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Town Centre
• Reliance on private car use for staff and students’ families.
The proposed secondary school site is in a dangerous place, with a railway line running through the site. It will add an unacceptably high level of traffic to/from Tonbridge with a negative effect on the town’s infrastructure as well as the setting of the Grade 1 listed Somerhill. The development at Tudeley, with 1,900 homes built in the next 15 years, will be unlikely to have enough children of Secondary School age to fill an eight form entry secondary school. Most of the students will come from Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, Southborough, Bidborough and Paddock Wood. The road infrastructure is not capable of sustaining this pressure and it will provide for an over reliance on the car given its distance from central Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells and its otherwise rural catchment.
Policy AL/CA 3 Land at Capel and Paddock Wood Page 165 Capel Parish Council ask that TWBC remove this option from the draft local plan. The East Capel site prevents the convergence of Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green, is the area of the parish most vulnerable to flooding, so is inappropriate for development and has a valuable historic landscape including Badsell Manor a moated manor house. It is traditional part of Capel Parish and CPC are strongly opposed to its absorption into Paddock Wood in defiance of its history and heritage going back to early Medieval times.
Policy STR/PW 1 The Strategy for Paddock Wood Page 170 The expansion of Paddock Wood can be achieved without using land at East Capel for housing. Flood storage attenuation/mitigation measures may be useful there, but no housing is required. In fact, providing housing will contravene the NPPF as East Capel is Green Belt and the removal of East Capel from the Green Belt will cause convergence with Five Oak Green, as our comments on the SA suggest. This does not amount to “exceptional circumstances”. This is further described in comments on the Sustainability Appraisal.
Policy AL/PW 1 Land at Capel and Paddock Wood Page 174 The expansion of Paddock Wood can be achieved without using Green Belt land at East Capel for housing. 4,000 new dwellings in Paddock Wood is excessive given the scale of recent developments and overambitious, and Green Belt land in a neighbouring parish should not be taken to provide for this. Capel Parish Council believe that if TWBC is not willing to argue that the housing need given to them by government is too high, they can use the NPPF’s protection of Green Belt to adjust their expansion plans.

Policy EN 1 Design and other development management criteria (Pages 365-370) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Policy EN 1 (p.365) states “All proposals for development within the borough will be required to satisfy all of the following criteria”. Design Aspects 1-12 are listed, together with relevant criteria. Capel Parish Council makes comments about the following criteria:
Design Aspect 1. Character and site context
The criteria states “For any new development proposals
2. The siting, layout, density, spacing, orientation, and landscaping must respect the characteristics of the site, […] its relationship with immediate surroundings, and where appropriate, views into and out of the site;
3. The scale, form, height, massing, proportions, external appearance, and materials should be compatible with existing buildings, building lines, landscape and treescape, roofscapes, and skylines”
AL/CA 1 will have a negative impact on the adjacent AONB, particularly with regard to views. The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1), and in particular the proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1), are inconsistent with this design criteria.
Design Criteria 2. Water/Flooding features
The criteria states “The proposal should:
2. Avoid inappropriate new development within areas at risk from flooding, or mitigate any potential impacts of new development within such areas whereby mitigation measures are integral to the design of buildings”
Any development within areas at risk of flooding must be considered inappropriate. TWBC should adhere to the policy of avoidance. Land in East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1) should NOT be within the DLP due to its history of flooding and much of it being in Flood Zone 3
Design Criteria 4. Biodiversity and Geodiversity
The criteria states “1. Within the design, the proposal must incorporate opportunities for increasing biodiversity potential…”
This element of Policy EN 1 contrasts with Policy EN 11 (p.394) which states
“Development will only be permitted where it meets all of the following criteria:
1. It can demonstrate […] that completion of the development will result in a measurable long term net gain for biodiversity
2. It can be demonstrated that the proposals have adopted a strict approach to the mitigation hierarchy (i.e. avoid, mitigate, compensate) and are able to justify all unavoidable impacts on biodiversity; and
3. The proposed measures for mitigation, compensation, and/or net gain are acceptable to the Council in terms of design and location, and are secured for the lifetime of the development with appropriate funding mechanisms that are capable of being secured by condition and/or legal agreement”
Capel Parish has many irreplaceable habitats within its virgin greenbelt and rural environs. Appendix B to the Interim Sustainability Appraisal published alongside the Issues and Options consultation (https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/291979/IssuesandOptions-PostConsultationFinal-minorupdates.pdf) provides the results of the assessment of Growth Strategy 5 against the Sustainability Objectives. Under the ‘Biodiversity’ objective the following is stated as being relevant to ‘decision making criteria’ at p.96: “Such a large quantity of development in one location is extremely likely to cause significant losses for biodiversity”
The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1), and in particular the proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1), are inconsistent with this design criteria.
Design Criteria 5. Highway Safety and Access
The criteria states “1. Vehicular access, parking provision, and pedestrian movement should be safely accommodated and the new development should not significantly increase traffic to cause material harm to the safety of the local highway network”
The proposal will cause a significant increase in traffic. If infrastructure is not provided prior to the housebuilding the local network will be significantly impacted. Any large increase in traffic will impact on road safety, pedestrian & vehicular. Please see our comments under Policies TP 1, TP 2 and TP 6 below.
The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1), and in particular the proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1), are inconsistent with this design criteria.
Design Criteria 6. Residential Amenity
The criteria states “The proposal should not cause significant harm to the amenities of occupiers of neighbouring properties and uses, and should provide adequate residential amenities for future occupiers of the development by ensuring:
1. That development does not result in, or is exposed to, excessive noise, vibration, odour, air pollution, activity, or vehicular movements, or overlooking;
2. That the built form does not create an unacceptable loss of privacy and overbearing impact, outlook, or daylight and sunlight enjoyed by the occupiers of adjacent/nearby properties”
The sheer scale of these proposals will have a massive overbearing impact, and some 12,000 vehicles WILL result in excessive movements of vehicles.
The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1), and in particular the proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1), are inconsistent with this design criteria.
Policy EN 2 – Sustainable Design and Construction (Pages 370-372) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy for the reasons stated.
Policy EN 2 (p.370) states “All development proposals must demonstrate that sustainable development is integral to the design, construction, and operation of the proposal, and considered from the beginning of the design process. To do this, developers must follow the 12 steps below:
1. Prioritise development in locations with frequent and easily accessible public transport services that provide useful links to key facilities such as GP surgeries, train stations, shopping areas, and schools”
The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1) is inconsistent with this policy. The location of the proposed secondary school (AL/CA 2) does not have frequent or easily accessible public transport services. The proposed developments and Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1), which are both modelled on Growth Strategy 5 (new settlement growth) are totally dependant on massive amounts of new infrastructure. The more favoured Growth Strategies 4 (A21 Corridor) or 1 (Focussed growth) within the urban environment of RTW are more closely aligned to this policy.
Policy EN 6 – Historic Environment (Pages 377-379) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy for the reasons stated.
Policy EN 6 (p.379) states “All proposals shall demonstrate:
1. How the development proposal would preserve or enhance the historic environment; and
4. An understanding of the presence of heritage assets and their setting and associated significance, vulnerabilities, and opportunities”
The DLP prepared by TWBC shows no understanding of heritage assets or the historic environment. Please see our further comments about heritage under Policy EN 7 below. The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1) is inconsistent with this policy and the proposed developments and Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1) should be removed from the DLP.
Policy EN 7 – Heritage Assets (Pages 379-384) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy for the reasons stated.
Policy EN 7 (p.) states “Proposals that affect a designated or non-designated heritage asset, or its setting, will only be permitted where the development conserves or enhances the character, appearance, amenity, and setting of the asset”
The DLP prepared by TWBC shows no understanding of heritage assets or the historic environment. Appendix B to the Interim Sustainability Appraisal published alongside the Issues and Options consultation (https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/291979/IssuesandOptions-PostConsultationFinal-minorupdates.pdf) provides the results of the assessment of Growth Strategy 5 against the Sustainability Objectives. Under the ‘Heritage’ objective the following is stated as being relevant to ‘decision making criteria’ at p.101: “Rural areas away from existing settlements are less likely to contain a high concentration of heritage assets”. This is totally inaccurate. There are many within the rural hamlets of Capel ranging from Grade1 churches to listed Oast Houses and historic farmsteads. The proposals give no indication how the historic environment surrounding the land proposed for AL/CA 1, AL/CA 2, AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 will be enhanced. It is hard to envisage how the setting of All Saints Tudeley, the only church in the world with a complete set of Chagall windows, can be enhanced by any built development near its environs. Similarly in East Capel the moated Badsell Manor will suffer significant harm from mass housing estates.
The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1) is inconsistent with this policy. The proposed developments and Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1) cannot possibly enhance the character, appearance, amenity or setting of the assets mentioned above. They should be removed from the DLP.
Policy EN 10 – Outdoor lighting and dark skies (Pages 390-392) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.115 (p.390) states “The impact of light pollution is particularly harmful in the open countryside, where rural character is eroded and the distinction between town and country is blurred […]. The full effects of artificial lighting on biodiversity are not fully understood, but nocturnal animals can be seriously affected by artificial light at even very low levels, adversely affecting their ability to feed and reproduce”
Paragraph 6.118 (p.391) states “The whole of the borough, apart from the Main Urban Area of Royal Tunbridge Wells and Southborough, and Paddock Wood, should be treated as being in Zone E1 “intrinsically dark with natural surroundings” […] Particular consideration should be given to the dark skies of the High Weald AONB, as set out in the High Weald AONB Management Plan”
The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1) is inconsistent with this policy. The proposed developments for greater than 4,000 dwellings and several thousand cars at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1) cannot be reconciled with the paragraphs above. Policies AL/CA 1, AL/CA 2, AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 and TP 6 must be removed from the DLP to enable this Policy to be achieved.
Policy EN 11 – Net Gains for Nature: biodiversity (Pages 392-394) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.123 (p.393) states “there are numerous national, regional, and local sites representing a broad range of lowland habitats representative of the High and Low Weald landscapes”
Paragraph 6.127 (p393) states “only in exceptional circumstances and in the interests of biodiversity will ‘off site’ or offsetting schemes be considered acceptable […] The Council acknowledges, however, that loss or damage to irreplaceable habitats will, by definition, entail a net loss”
Policy EN 11 (p.394) states
“Development will only be permitted where it meets all of the following criteria:
1. It can demonstrate […] that completion of the development will result in a measurable long term net gain for biodiversity
2. It can be demonstrated that the proposals have adopted a strict approach to the mitigation hierarchy (i.e. avoid, mitigate, compensate) and are able to justify all unavoidable impacts on biodiversity; and
3. The proposed measures for mitigation, compensation, and/or net gain are acceptable to the Council in terms of design and location, and are secured for the lifetime of the development with appropriate funding mechanisms that are capable of being secured by condition and/or legal agreement”
Appendix B to the Interim Sustainability Appraisal published alongside the Issues and Options consultation (https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/291979/IssuesandOptions-PostConsultationFinal-minorupdates.pdf) provides the results of the assessment of Growth Strategy 5 against the Sustainability Objectives. Under the ‘Biodiversity’ objective the following is stated as being relevant to ‘decision making criteria’ at p.96: “Such a large quantity of development in one location is extremely likely to cause significant losses for biodiversity”
The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1) is inconsistent with this policy. The proposed developments and Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1) cannot possibly result in a gain for biodiversity, either locally or borough-wide and therefore the first criteria is not met. They should be removed from the DLP.
Policy EN 14 – Trees, Woodlands, Hedges, and Development (Pages 400-401) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council makes the following general observation on this Policy:
The Policy makes no mention of historic hedgerows and patterns which cover the Low Weald Area and have their roots from mediaeval times.
Policy EN 15 – Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees (Page 402) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy for the reasons stated.
Policy EN 15 (p.402) states “Loss or deterioration of irreplaceable habitats, including ancient woodland and aged or veteran trees found outside ancient woodland, resulting from development proposals shall not be allowed unless there are wholly exceptional reasons”
The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1) is inconsistent with this policy. The proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1) will result in significant loss of irreplaceable habitats, including an area of Ancient Woodland within the East Capel site. There are no exceptional reasons to justify the loss and development should take place elsewhere where land is not constrained. The land safeguarded for the proposed A228 strategic transport link (Colts Hill bypass) (Policy TP 6) and the proposed link route which is to run from the proposed development at Tudeley CA1 to the Colts Hill Bypass (Five Oak Green Bypass) (SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base p.138 and 142) will also result in further loss of irreplaceable habitats. Whilst a Colts Hill bypass may fall within the exceptions specified under this Policy, the Five Oak Green bypass does not. Alternatives to these schemes, including a Northern route to access the A228 nearer to East Peckham as previously suggested by Capel Parish Council, must be considered further before Regulation 19.
Policy EN 16 – Green, Grey and Blue Infrastructure (Pages 402-403) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council makes the following general observation on this Policy:
Policy EN 16 (p.403) states “Opportunities for green (and grey and blue) infrastructure should have regard to other relevant policies for landscape, heritage, biodiversity, and trees and include, but are not limited to: (e) Reinstatement of historic field patterns and hedgerows”
Reinstatement means the hedgerows etc. are no longer historic so become valueless!
Policy EN 18 – Landscape within built environment (Pages 405-409) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.195 (p.408) states “One of the attractive environmental features of the borough is the character and high visual quality of the approach routes outside, and within, the built up areas”
Paragraph 6.196 (p.408) states “Important Landscape Approaches are stretches of landscape areas that are along access routes leading to settlements that are principally lined with mature hedges and native trees that partly conceal built development. They give the impression of the countryside extending well into the built up area”.
‘Important Landscape Approaches’ have been Identified in Brenchley & Pembury but not Five Oak Green or Paddock Wood, Whetsted, Crockhurst Street or Capel. Capel is probably one of the most rural areas of the borough. TWBC will be losing some of its finest countryside. The countryside between Paddock Wood and Capel is highly valued for footpaths, ancient woodland and general enjoyment by the existing settlements. It is MGB at its best separating the two settlements and highlighting the countryside nature of this area of the borough. Equally leaving Tonbridge and entering Capel into an extremely rural setting is highly valuable.
Policy EN 20 – Rural Landscape (Pages 411-413) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.213 (p.413) states “The character & attractive appearance of the countryside is one of the principal assets of the borough, and its protection will be an important consideration […] Features such as routeways, wooded shaws, earth banks and hedges, marl pits, iron workings, and farmsteads have a vital role in defining the character of the countryside […]. Proposals should be capable of being easily assimilated without detracting from these features, which contribute to the character of the locality”
Paragraph 6.216 (p.411) states “The landscape presents a peaceful and tranquil character, often with a sense of remoteness, which belies its location in the populous south east of England”
Point 2 of Policy EN 20 (p.413) states that development will be required to “Not cause significant harm to the landscape setting of settlements, including historic farmsteads and hamlets”
The Strategy for Capel Parish Council (STR/CA 1) in its current form will cause significant harm to all the hamlets. Historically settlements, including hamlets, occur on existing routeways. Any road widening of these routeways or increase in traffic will do irreparable damage.
Point 5 of Policy EN 20 (p.413) states that development will be required to “Preserve intrinsically dark landscapes in accordance with Policy EN 10: Outdoor Lighting and Dark Skies”.
As with Policy EN 10, dark landscape cannot possibly be preserved if a proposal to site at least 4,000 dwellings in Capel Parish.
Policy EN 21 – High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) (Pages 413-414) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy for the reasons stated.
Policy EN 21 (p.414) states “All development within, or affecting the setting of, the High Weald AONB shall seek to conserve and enhance its landscape and scenic beauty, having particular regard to the impacts on its character components, as set out in the High Weald AONB Management Plan”. It goes on to state that “Development in the AONB on sites not allocated in the Local Plan will need to be of a limited scale appropriate in terms of its nature and location, and demonstrate a positive contribution to the objectives of the AONB Management Plan, and will need to:
1. Be sensitive to the topography and landscape features of the location”
The above statement should apply to development on sites that are proposed to be allocated in the Local Plan, not just reserved for later development. In particular the development proposed at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) will impact on the setting of the AONB. Views in particular from the High Weald looking over the Low Weald will be seriously compromised.
Policy EN 22 – Agricultural Land (Pages 414-415) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.229 (p.414) states “The National Planning Policy Framework expects local planning authorities to take into account the economic and other benefits of the best and most versatile (BMV) agricultural land which is land in Grades 1, 2 and 3a of the Agricultural Land Classification (ALC), Grade 1 being the highest”
Paragraph 6.228 (p.414) states “Soils in the borough […] are generally considered to be poor, are mostly within Grade 3a or 3b with few extensive areas of Grade 2 and above”
Policy EN 22 (p.415) states that “The Local Planning Authority seeks to protect best and most versatile agricultural land from significant, inappropriate or unsustainable development. Where development of agricultural land is required, applicants should seek to use areas of poorer quality agricultural land in preference to that of higher quality except where this would be inconsistent with other sustainability objectives”
This Policy is ever more vital with climate change. The Strategy for Capel (STR/CA1) is inconsistent with this policy as the area is predominately comprised of BMV agricultural land, hence its importance historically for fruit and hop growing. As the Policy recognizes there are few areas of Grade 2, one being in the area of AL/CA 1, so it would be scandalous to lose it to concrete.
Policy EN 23 – Air Quality (Pages 416-417) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Policy EN 23 states (p.415) that “Development will not be permitted when it is considered that unacceptable effects will be imposed (that are incapable of being overcome by a condition or planning obligation) on the health, amenity, or natural environment of the surrounding area, taking into account the cumulative effects of other proposed or existing sources of air pollution in the locality”
The possibility of thousands of cars attached to the proposed development within Capel Parish under AL/CA 1, and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 will cause significant and unacceptable detrimental effects on the health & amenity of the existing settlements. The SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base indicates that most households in the area have access to 2 or more cars (well above the average for England). If some 4,000 dwellings (conservative figure) mean another 8,000 vehicles minimum even with an optimistic 10% reduction moving to public transport/cycling, that together with the cumulative effect of the existing excessive vehicle movement in the area will mean that these proposals must be scrapped in line with this policy.
Policy EN 28 – Flood Risk (Pages 422-424) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.265 (p.423) states “The Council will also apply a sequential test to new development, supported by the ‘Flood Risk Assessment: The Sequential Test for Applicants’ Planning Practice Guidance(65) (or subsequent revision), to direct development away from areas that are at the highest risk of flooding. These will include all proposed areas that are within Flood Zones 2 and 3, as well as sites in Flood Zone 1 that are larger than 1ha and/or have critical drainage problems, as identified by the Environment Agency and within the Council’s latest Strategic Flood Risk Assessment, such as in parts of Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green/Capel.”
Paragraph 6.264 (p.423) states “It is essential that new development across the borough does not increase flood risk, and that any new development proposed in areas that are vulnerable to flood risk ‘build in’ additional local capacity in terms of flood mitigation and provide ‘betterment’ where possible: see Policies STR/PW 1: The Strategy for Paddock Wood and STR/CA 1: The Strategy for Capel for the flood risk strategy proposed alongside development in this area”
These paragraphs contradict each other. It makes absolute sense to direct new development away from flood risk areas. However, it appears that the second paragraph has been added to the DLP to provide a ‘get out’ clause for TWBC to include the developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1) in the DLP!
In any event, the proposals to reduce ‘(existing) flood risk to areas of Paddock Wood, Capel parish, and Five Oak Green’ are also poorly planned and based on out if date data. The ‘Five Oak Green Flood Alleviation scheme’ outlined in page 57 of the supporting document ‘Level 1 & Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment’, may well result in a significant worsening for several Capel residents.
Policy EN 30 – Noise (Pages 427-429) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.281 (p.427) states “The NPPF requires planning policies and decisions to ensure that new development is appropriate for its location taking into account the likely effects (including cumulative effects) of pollution on health, living conditions, and the natural environment”
The Strategy for Capel Parish (STR/CA1) is not consistent with this paragraph. The locations are completely inappropriate as the health and living conditions of existing residents will be seriously impacted, driving new roads through the area with additional air pollution and noise pollution. The natural environment in Capel will not recover its loss of biodiversity nor Greenfield sites, with serious harm to both the MGB and AONB
Paragraph 6.286 (p.428) states “The Environmental Noise Directive (END) requires that, every five years, Defra adopts noise maps, known as ‘Important Areas for Road Noise Mapping’, which show exposure to environmental noise; adopts action plans based on the results of noise mapping; aims to preserve environmental noise quality where it is good; and provides information to the public on environmental noise and its effects. Therefore, developers are advised to check with Defra whether any proposed development sites for noise sensitive development (such as housing and schools) are located within, or close to, areas/roads which indicate a high noise level reading. Appropriate mitigation measures will need to be applied where this is found to be the case”
The sites for the proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and the new secondary school (AL/CA 2) are both located either side of the main railway line from the South Coast to London. This is despite no new railway station being possible at the site. There is however, no mention on noise attenuation in these Policies or the associated commentary (although the noise impacts of the railway are recognised in relation to the South West parcel of the sites proposed under AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1). Have these assessments / considerations been omitted due to the mystery surrounding when the land was actually submitted to TWBC and the lack of proper SHELAA assessment? The Defra data at http://www.extrium.co.uk/noiseviewer.html shows that both locations have high noise level readings from railways and that the AL/CA 2 site is also affected by the A21. What mitigation measures will be applied to what will clearly be noise sensitive developments at these locations?
Policy ED 8 – Towns Rural services, neighbourhood & village centres (Pages 477-479) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.479 states that “The distinctive characteristics of each centre will be promoted in the place shaping policies.
Policy ED 8 identifies Five Oak Green as a ‘Village Centre’ which falls in the hierarchy after the defined primary regional town centre (RTW), town centres, rural service centres and neighbourhood centres.
Whilst the policy recognises Five Oak Green, there is no detail how it will be promoted to ensure its long term ‘vitality and viability’. Throughout the dLP are details of improvements to other rural communities from 20mph speed zones, traffic calming measures and new facilities. There is absolutely no vision for the existing communities of Five Oak Green and Capel apart from ‘betterment’ from flood risk, which already needs addressing pre-development, and an influx of thousands of new residents and cars.
The NPPF clearly states in paras 91-92 that planning policies and decisions should “should aim to achieve healthy, inclusive and safe places” and “ensure that established shops, facilities and services are able to develop and modernise, and are retained for the benefit of the community;”
The DLP does not fulfil this requirement in terms of the existing settlements within Capel Parish and is therefore unsound.
Policy ED12 – Retention of local services & & facilities within defined neighbourhood & village centres (Pages 483-485) Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Paragraph 6.500 (p.484) states that “A new Neighbourhood Centre is planned to be designated as part of the proposed development at Paddock Wood/including on land in the east of Capel parish”
Paragraph 6.501 (p.484) states that “The provision of a new Village Centre will be made at Tudeley as part of the proposed Tudeley Village”
Why is Five Oak Green missing from this core policy? There is no detail on how TWBC intend to help retain local services and facilities.
Policy TP 1 – Transport Assessments, Travel Plans, and Mitigation Page 488 Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
Policy TP 1 states that Development proposals must:
“1. Demonstrate that the impacts of trips generated to and from the development are accommodated, remedied, or mitigated to prevent significant residual impacts, including where necessary an exploration of delivering mitigation measures ahead of the development being occupied; and”
“3. Demonstrate that the development complies with the requirements of Policy EN 23: Air Quality and the ‘emissions mitigation assessment and cost calculation’.”
The commentary at paragraph 6.506 (p.486) states “It is an essential objective within national planning policy, as well as in this Local Plan, to ensure that there are sufficient opportunities for sustainable travel as an alternative means of transport to the private car, such as active travel and public transport. New developments will therefore be directed towards areas that are highly accessible, within reasonably close proximity to public transport infrastructure and services”
The sites of proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) and the new 8FE secondary school (AL/CA 2) are neither ‘highly accessible’ nor close to any form of ‘public transport infrastructure and services’. They should be removed from the dLP for this reason.
The SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base contains no solution to congestion on the A264 at Pembury, other than to make more use of buses or cycling & alter the traffic signal timings at Halls Hole junction. The proposed A228 strategic transport link (Colts Hill bypass) will lead only to a traffic jam, which will be even larger with the influx of thousands of extra cars. Traffic already backs up to East Peckham on the A228 in the morning due to the volume of traffic attempting to navigate the roundabouts linking this road to the A21 or travel into Royal Tunbridge Wells. A Bypass will not improve this.
The SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base Figure 9-2 shows the ‘Mitigation Interventions Mapped’ (p.142) which shows the proposed routes for the following ‘highway measures’ detailed in Table 9-2 (p.138):
“202 New bypass link of Colts Hill – Reduce congestion at key junctions + match link capacity and link quality to adjoining Pembury bypass standard”
“203 Link road to new Colts Hill Bypass Will remove through highway trips through Five Oak Green”
It is unclear why TWBC believes that people living at Tudeley New Town will need to travel to the Colts Hill Bypass via a link road. They can access Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, London or the South via the A21 which runs almost parallel to the proposed route. To travel West to Paddock Wood or Maidstone, a more sensible route for a link road would be North of the railway line to meet the A228 where it is dualled before East Peckham. Why would anyone need to travel to Colts Hill? A link route following the current proposed route would be disastrous for residents of Capel Parish and needs to be removed.
Where are the mitigation proposals for traffic to Tonbridge from Capel and Paddock Wood? There are only a couple of ‘junction upgrades’ referred to in Table 9-2 of the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base.
Where are the details of how the Strategy for Capel will be able to demonstrate compliance with Policy EN23?
Policy TP 6 – Safeguarding Roads Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
Capel Parish Council objects to this Policy and to the following paragraphs of the accompanying commentary, for the reasons stated.
The commentary at Paragraph 6.535 (p.498) states that “the Council will use its Compulsory Purchase Order powers if necessary to deliver strategic transport links”.
Paragraphs 6.536-6.538 detail plans for the A228 Colts Hill Bypass stating that “Land is safeguarded for an offline (i.e. new section of) highway, which runs from the dualled section of the A228 at the north of Pembury to a position in close proximity to the existing roundabout between Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green. […] The provision of this new section of highways is required in order to mitigate the impact of development proposed in this Plan, particularly that around Capel and Paddock Wood and Tudeley […] There is the potential that there will be a link from this new section of highway to the development to be allocated at Tudeley, although various potential routes are being considered”
Paragraph 6.537 states that “The route of the new section of highway (A228) has been subject to considerable historic assessment and consideration” and paragraph 6.538 concedes that “Regard must be given to the Groundwater Source Protection Zone on site and the Environment Agency is to be consulted for advice; regard must also be given to the site’s location in the AONB, and Natural England and other bodies must also be consulted”
The provision of the A228 Colts Hill Strategic link being a requirement for these proposals suggests the inclusion of both Capel and Paddock Wood within the dLP are unsustainable without it in place, therefore IF it is to be built, it must be built BEFORE ANY housing development in this area. At present, mitigation work is not set to start on the A228 until 2028, with mitigation work to alleviate congestion on the B2017 following that. This is too late. Capel Parish cannot be expected to suffer the consequences of thousands of houses being built with no infrastructure in place to support them.
This is not to say that Capel Parish Council supports the proposals made under Policy TP 6. Please see our comments under Policy TP 1 in relation to the proposed mitigation measures detailed in the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base.
The plans for the A228 strategic transport link (Colts Hill bypass) and the bolt-on proposed link route from the proposed development at Tudeley to Colts Hill (Five Oak Green Bypass) are ill-thought out and will result in further significant detrimental impact on the local landscape with little mitigating effect or benefit to residents of the parish of Capel. Just because the route has been subject to considerable historic assessment and consideration does not mean that further consideration of the most appropriate solution for this stretch of road is no longer required. Further assessment must be completed to ascertain whether an offline link is still the most suitable improvement.
Capel Parish Council objects to any residents of this Parish being subjected to Compulsory Purchase Orders in order to deliver either the ‘Colts Hill Bypass’ or ‘Five Oak Green Bypass’. This includes properties situated between the B2017 and Alders Road, which are likely to be dramatically affected if the proposed route set out in Figure 9-2 of the SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base (p. 142) is progressed.
Alternatives to the Colts Hill Bypass (such as widening) and the Five Oak Green Bypass (such as a Northern route to access the A228 nearer to East Peckham as previously suggested by Capel Parish Council) must be considered further before Regulation 19.

COMMENT BOX 3: COMMENTS ON THE VISION (SECTION 3)
Capel Parish Council (CPC) objects to the Vision set out on pages 31-32 of the Draft Local Plan (dLP) because too many of the strategies and policies of the dLP are ill-thought out and will not lead to the overall vision being achieved. In particular;
Bullet points 2 and 3 of the Vision – Paddock Wood (AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1) / Tudeley ‘Village’ (AL / CA 1):
The ‘active travel connections to the new garden settlement’ are poorly planned and based on out of date data. There is nothing in the transport evidence base which justifies either the Colts Hill bypass or the Five Oak Green Bypass (Highway measures 202 and 203). Both of these measures will result the parish being carved up, unnecessary loss of AONB and MGB land and disruption to numerous home-owners (including some CPOs). It is, as yet, unclear how the proposed measures will result in a ‘betterment for these areas’. What is certain is that they will result in a significant worsening for residents of the settlement of Capel within Capel Parish. TWBC should not assume that a Bypass at Colts Hill is the solution to the issues caused by this road just because the scheme has long been lobbied for by prominent residents of that road. Some of the investigations into whether the road should be widened or bypassed are some forty years old and further studies should be undertaken rather than a Bypass being a given. The land safeguarded by Policy TP 6 should be re-considered.
Reducing existing flood risk to PW, Capel Parish & FOG resulting in “betterment” – reduced flood risk is welcome; but hardly a price worth paying for so much development and associated road infrastructure. The fact that the same ‘betterment’ comment is cut and pasted for Tudeley suggests this vision is not one that had the ‘betterment’ of Capel residents in mind.
The proposals to reduce ‘(existing) flood risk to areas of Paddock Wood, Capel parish, and Five Oak Green’ are also poorly planned and based on out if date data. The ‘Five Oak Green Flood Alleviation scheme’ outlined in page 57 of the supporting document ‘Level 1 & Level 2 Strategic Flood Risk Assessment’, will also result in a significant worsening for residents of the settlement of Capel within Capel Parish due to the increased flood risk further up the Alder Stream.
Bullet point 4:
The loss of MGB to allow for the development of Tudeley ‘Village’ (Tudeley New Town or Policy AL / CA 1) and the East Capel element of Policy AL / PW 1 is in direct conflict with this aspect of the Vision – “The exceptional quality of the built and natural environments will have been protected and enhanced.”
CPC believe Paddock Wood can be regenerated without using greenbelt land at East Capel for housing and that either another location without constraints should have been chosen for a garden settlement, or one of the other Growth Strategy options should have been adopted. Similarly the flood risk to Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green can be reduced without using greenbelt land at East Capel.
The Vision for Paddock Wood should not include East Capel which is part of a completely different community.
Housing in East Capel will alter the greenbelt boundary without any justification and will cause coalescence between Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green. The NPPF clearly states in paras 133 to 147 that green belt should only be released in exceptional circumstances. See comments on SA. This land is key to preventing convergence between Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood.
A new garden settlement is not required at Tudeley. Flood risk can be reduced using the Environment Agency’s existing plan which can be funded without developers building houses on MGB land. A garden settlement at Tudeley should not be part of your vision and is only there because the land is in single ownership. It is certainly not part of the vision of those who live there at the moment.
Your Vision states that rural enterprise will have been supported and natural environments will have been protected and enhanced by 2036. This is not true. The Local Plan will destroy rural enterprises, such as the equestrian facilities at Bank Farm alongside other businesses in Capel. The natural environment in Capel will be badly damaged if the development of new housing in Tudeley and East Capel goes ahead. Neighbouring businesses will also be affected during the long building process, including huge amounts of roadworks on one of the busiest roads in the borough. These works are bound to take many years and will put untold stress on the local community. Moreover, the Tudeley and East Capel proposals which are within two miles of each other and share the same road links seem to be scheduled for development in the same timeframe. This will place severe and disproportionate strain on the local community and infrastructure. A garden settlement would be better in a more remote part of the borough outside the Green Belt and AONB, to give that area a boost and to minimise disturbances caused by construction. The two sites that satisfy the criteria and are identified in the evidence base; Horsmonden and Frittenden have not been explored further in the sustainability appraisal.

COMMENT BOX 4: COMMENTS ON THE STRATEGIC OBJECTIVES (SECTION 3)
Capel Parish Council objects to the inclusion of following strategic objectives
6. To protect the valued heritage, and built and natural environments of the borough, including the AONB and to achieve net gains for nature.
7. To release appropriate land from the Green Belt through a plan-led approach, and to increase public accessibility, and to protect the openness of remaining Green Belt land.
8. To tackle climate change and minimise the impact of development on communities, the economy, and the environment with carefully considered design and by embracing technology, such as renewable energy generation.
9. To establish garden settlements as a model for the future delivery of development in the borough.
10. To work with neighbourhood plan groups to ensure the formation of locally-led policies, with this reflected in decisions on planning applications
Objective 6
Whilst Objective 6 is a laudable objective, it cannot be achieved by the current Draft Local Plan as too many policies are in direct conflict with it. In fact, these two objectives are clearly in direct conflict with one another – No.6. cannot be achieved alongside No. 7. It should not be an objective of any Draft Local Plan to release land from the Green Belt WHEN APPROPRIATE ALTERNATIVE LAND IS AVAILABLE.
The following policies should be removed from the Draft Local Plan to enable this Objective to be met:
AL / CA 1; AL / CA 2: AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1; TP 6
Objective 7
Objective 7 should be removed as releasing land from the Green Belt should not be a strategic objective of the dLP.
The NPPF clearly states in paras 133 to 147 that green belt should only be released in exceptional circumstances. Stating that you have an objective to release land from the Green Belt (regardless of your judgement that it is appropriate) is contrary to national guidance.
Also, in the Introduction to the dLP at paragraph 1.6, it is stated that “Protection of the Green Belt” is a key key issue/concerns highlighted through the Issues and Options consultation.
There would be no need to remove Green Belt land if the Council had adopted the other options that it had before it; where are plans here to increase public accessibility or protect the openness of the remaining green belt? Unlike Tonbridge and Malling, TWBC has no plans to replace the lost Green Belt suggesting it places a low value on this form of designation. It clearly has also concluded that replacement land (originally mooted to the south and east of Paddock Wood) would not serve the same purpose as the two lost sections which prevent the convergence of settlements between Five Oak Green, Tonbridge and Paddock Wood.
Capel Parish Council strongly urges the council to remove this objective.
Objective 8
Destroying 600 acres of fertile land in Capel, with mature trees and hedgerows in pursuit of the creation of houses will not tackle climate change. Nor will creating a new garden settlement that results in a high level of private car use. The proposal for development in the MGB East Capel and Tudeley scores negatively for climate change in the SA and does not back up this objective or the council’s wider policy on carbon neutrality adopted only a few weeks ago.
The following policies should be removed from the Draft Local Plan to enable this Objective to be met:
AL / CA 1; AL / CA 2: AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1; TP 6
Objective 9
Where is evidence that garden settlements lead to any positive outcomes for communities anywhere in the UK? Objectives should have clear goals that can be proven to be positive for the residents of Tunbridge Wells Borough and Capel Parish. This may be a passing fashion in planning policy that will disappear, and this approach may lead to future developments outside the LBD’s in the green belt and the AONB which will destroy the rural nature of the borough outside RTW.
Capel Parish Council urges the council to remove this objective.
Objective 10
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council only made attempts to work with Capel Parish Council (in lieu of a neighbourhood planning group) after the strategic sites in Capel Parish had already been determined. Policies AL / CA 1; AL / CA 2: AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1; TP 6 will have a huge impact on our residents and are NOT locally led. Any future planning decisions in Capel Parish will be dwarfed by the impact of the dLP, making the role of neighbourhood planning peripheral at best.
The following policies should be removed from the Draft Local Plan to enable this Objective to be met:
AL / CA 1; AL / CA 2: AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1; TP 6
Once the above Policies have been removed from the dLP TWBC will be in a position to meet this objective by working with Capel Parish Council and/or Capel Parish Neighbourhood Plan Groups to formulate policies which can be truly locally-led.

COMMENT BOX 5: COMMENTS ON FIGURE 4: THE KEY DIAGRAM (SECTION 4)
The Key Diagram (Figure 4) is misleading.
The circle representing proposed housing in Tudeley (Policy AL / CA 1) is not big enough. It should show 1,900 new houses and is only a little bigger than the key circle showing 1,000 housing units.
It is understood that the large blue arrows are intended to signify options for a ‘Proposed Link Route’ between the proposed site at Tudeley (AL / CA 1) and either the A228 between the Badsell Roundabout and the Hop Farm (the higher arrow) or the proposed offline A228 strategic link or ‘Colts Hill bypass’ (the lower arrow). This diagram suggests that either option is being considered, which is what we were told by TWBC Head of Planning, however, it is clear from the SWECO Transport Map with proposed Local Plan Mitigation Interventions (Table 9.2 and Figure 9.2 of the Local Plan Transport Evidence Base which forms part of the supporting documents that Transport Strategy) that Scheme No. 203 comprises a ‘Link road to new Colts Hill Bypass’ (p.138) and that it has already been planned.
The depiction of Green Belt land and AONB land on this map is very helpful. It demonstrates that the garden settlement should be outside land with these designations. Tudeley should not have been shortlisted when you have suitable sites outside of the AONB and Green Belt.

COMMENT BOX 6: COMMENTS ON A TABLE
Table 3 (Scale and Distribution of Development) p.43 Repeated use of the phrase “To be determined as part of master planning” in reference to Paddock Wood, Capel and Tudeley is ridiculous when it refers to 63% of the houses in this Local Plan. You are asking residents and businesses to consult on a largely incomplete draft. This is a gaping hole in the draft Local Plan and thus incomplete and not fit for consultation.

COMMENT BOX 7: COMMENTS ON APPENDICES 1-4
Appendix 1: Biodiversity/geodiversity sites within Tunbridge Wells borough p.509 No sites in Capel Parish are included and no proper assessment has been completed. A proper assessment of Biodiversity and Geodiversity must be completed for the locations of the proposed developments at Tudeley (AL/CA 1), the secondary school (AL/CA 2) and East Capel (AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1).
Appendix 2: Schedule of designated Local Green Space sites within Tunbridge Wells borough p.512 Site 27: Whetsted Wood was submitted by Paddock Wood Town Council to be designated as a Local Green Space in the dLP (see Local Green Space Assessment page 29), however, it was not selected with the justification being “There is insufficient evidence that this site meets the designation criteria, is already sufficiently protected under other designations, and is to be an allocated site in the new Local Plan”
Clearly, it is not sufficiently protected by its status as Ancient Woodland (see Tunbridge Wells Borough Landscape Character Assessment LCA 13 – Paddock Wood / Five Oak Green Low Weald Farmland p.127) or the land would not be included in Policy AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1.
Capel Parish Council requests that this area is designated as a Local Green Space and protected from development.
Site 24: Green Area with Village Sign was not designated as a Local Green Space, the justification being that “This area was not considered as it is already sufficiently protected under other designations”.
Capel Parish Council requests that this area is designated as a Local Green Space and protected from development.
Appendix 3: The Monitoring Framework p.518 The Monitoring Framework for Strategic Policy STR 4 (Green Belt) is unclear. What does the Indicator “65% or more appeal decisions support TWBC conclusion on Policy STR 4 (if relevant to appeal)” actually mean and how does it indicate whether the Green Belt has been protected from inappropriate development?

COMMENT BOX 8: COMMENTS ON TOPIC PAPERS AND OTHER SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS (APPENDIX 5)
Distribution of Development Topic Paper (118 pages) 1. Chapter 2: Settlement Pattern (p.2): The table at paragraph 2.7 shows Five Oak Green in Group B, the same group as Brenchley, Lamberhust and Goudhurst. This is due to the flawed methodology used by the planning team at TWBC, who were informed by Capel Parish Council (several times, including during the Issues and Options consultation process) that the facilities listed (each with a score) were incorrect, thereby negating the evidence base. Brenchley, Lamberhurst and Goudhurst are considerably larger settlements that Five Oak Green, with significantly more facilities available.
2. Chapter 3: Development Constraints (p.4): This chapter considers only designated sites: MGB, AONB, Nature Conservation sites, Heritage designations and Flood Risk. These do not appear to have been reassessed as being up-to-date other than the MGB. Development adjacent to a constrained site can have a significant impact on it. This would certainly be the case for AL/CA 1 which borders the AONB and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW1 which includes an area of Ancient Woodland.
3. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraph 5.3 outlines key issues identified in the responses to this consultation, including, at bullet point 3 that the “Vision should be balanced to both developing existing built town area and preservation of surrounding countryside and unique historic villages”. This does not appear to have been given any consideration when identifying the new settlements at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA3 or Transport Policy TP 6.
4. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraph 5.6 summarises the main outcomes of the consultation for the question relating to the five strategic options for delivery presented in the Issues and Options document. Only 18% ranked Option 5 (new freestanding settlement) as their most preferred approach. It is submitted that this would have been even less if the site/sites now proposed at AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 had been identified at that time, particularly, given that respondees gave great weight to preservation of the MGB. Appendix 1 to The Issues and Options Consultation Statement, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website at https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/issues-and-options, lists the Strategy Considerations at Section 5 (p.26-39). It is clear from p.33, that by far the largest level of support was 60% for Option 4 (Growth Corridor led approach). However, p.39 of the same document states that “A level of support was indicated in the Issues and Options responses for a new settlement.”, a statement that Capel Parish Council asserts is totally disingenuous – 1% could apply here too as showing a level of support (but not much)! The Consultation Statement goes on to consider the responses to question 10 and 10a relating to preferences for a combination of Options (p.35). The first bullet point states that the responses indicate that it is worth “Exploring further the potential for ‘new settlement growth’, as this was the most commonly preferred (alone or in combination) of all the options”. The statement is blatantly not true!
5. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11): Paragraphs 5.7-5.8 cover question 11/11a, which asked for views about the possibility of a new settlement somewhere in the borough and suggestions for possible locations. It lists the key issues referred to across the response groups, which include:
• Infrastructure issues: implementation and higher level funding to deliver infrastructure before buildings; would need excellent transport links
• Could result in large development on greenfield land; should be located outside AONB and MGB (with comments that there is no suitable land in borough – would destroy rural character)
• Should be sustainable mixed development to also provide employment with options for future expansion. Should be a stand-alone, self-sufficient development planned as a whole
• Should only be delivered once all development potential has been maximised.
These views have been completely ignored by TWBC! They should carry weight and should have informed the decision on the proposals for Capel Parish.
Suggestions for a possible location for a new settlement included many different locations within the borough, some based on existing transport links and good access to other infrastructure. NOT ONE suggested a site in the Green Belt away from existing development and infrastructure.
6. Chapter 5: Issues and Options consultation (p.11-2): Paragraphs 5.9-5.10 cover question 12/12a, which asked whether all reasonable options for accommodating future development growth within the borough have been considered and identified and if not, what other options should be considered. Respondents suggested that the following options should be considered:
• Level of growth to be delivered by Local Plan questioned
• Role of farmsteads and hamlets, including modern farm buildings should be addressed
• Focus development in main urban area with a subsidiary focus in small towns and villages. Options for increasing densities in existing settlements, including building heights. Overall focus on sustainable locations
• Focus on A21 corridor
Where have these responses been acknowledged in the dLP? Have these options been considered at all?
7. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.2 states “For the second Call for Sites, officers contacted the promotors of sites submitted to the first Call for Sites and identified and then contacted owners of land around settlements (on a ‘without prejudice’ basis) that had not been submitted through the first Call for Sites to enable them to submit sites if they wished. This proactive approach encouraged owners of land that could be suitable for development to submit sites for consideration”. This is contrary to the information provided by TWBC to Capel Parish Council and residents of Capel Parish during the Annual Parish Meeting that TWBC had no influence on what sites were submitted and that the officers just had to work with what appeared in the Call for Sites!
8. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.2 also expressly states that the second ‘Call for Sites’ was undertaken between May and June 2017. In the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017. It was stated “although the call for sites remains open, it will no longer be possible to include any new sites within the site assessment process that is informing the Draft Local Plan (being prepared under Regulation 18) AS THERE IS INSUFFICIENT TIME TO ADEQUATELY ASSESS SUCH SITES. (TWBC will continue to accept in order that they may be assessed & potentially included at Reg 19)”. The evidence base persuaded TWBC to opt for Growth Strategy Option 3 (existing urban distribution plus villages) and Option 4 (A21 growth corridor). There was a possibility of Option 5 (new settlement) in the longer term (8 possible sites but 5 not shortlisted including AL/ CA 1). Presumably this underwent a robust process based on robust evidence? This was still the preferred stance March 2018, however in April 2018, there appeared to be a complete change of direction which resulted in the allocation of 60% of the proposed development in the Parish of Capel. Where in the DLP is this new evidence base? The map that covered Capel identified two small sites in Tudeley (site ref 177/178, approx. 2ha in area) and only parcel 142 to the East of Five Oak Green BUT NOT parcels 309,310, 311,312,314 and 317 and AL/CA 1 all of which fall in Capel Parish. It is also of concern that key documents forming the previous evidence base such as the Interim New Local Plan Strategic Housing & Economic Land Availability Assessment 2017 are no longer accessible on the TWBC website.
9. Why was there no assessment of the landscape outside the AONB or biodiversity outside of designated nature conservation sites? Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.14): Paragraph 6.56 confirms that there was no landscape assessment of the Green Belt sites.
10. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy: Figure 5 (p.21) details a map of garden settlement options within the Borough (taken from the Sustainability Appraisal). Table 2 (p.22-24) outlines TWBC’s conclusions from the SHELAA and SA on each of these options. Location 3 is shown somewhere just north of Frittenden. Table 2 states that this location was not considered by the SHELAA as it was not submitted in ‘Call for Sites’. However, on a map shown to Parish Chairs in March 2018, three sites were shortlisted for appraisal, Paddock Wood, Horsmonden & the Frittenden site. There were five other sites including AL / CA1 which had NOT been shortlisted. The change in approach is suspicious and requires further explanation by TWBC.
11. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.24-30): There is no clarity as to when site 448 (Land at Tudeley) was first considered. Why not? Was it a late arrival in the second call for sites or even later? Did TWBC officers approach the landowner as previously commented on above? Is this why there is a lack of a proper feasibility study for this site? Table 2 details TWBC’s Conclusions of the SHELAA and SA on garden settlement options but gives no credible explanation as to why the Tudeley site is considered to be ‘well located’ as required by para 72 of the NPPF. Neither does Table 3 which details the outcome of TWBC’s Consideration of proposed strategic allocation sites against para 72 of the NPPF. This table is misleading and inaccurate. The site is NOT well located.
• Table 3 states “The site is served by the Capel primary school adjacent to its eastern edge” but Capel Primary School is NOT adjacent to the edge of the site proposed under AL/CA 1.
• Table 3 also refers to essential infrastructure being “the creation of up to eight FE secondary education at the Tudeley and Capel/Paddock Wood area, including securing land (through the development of the Tudeley site) for a secondary school (under policy AL/CA2) which is within walking and cycling distance of the settlement”. TWBC has not considered that residents of Tudeley New Town might prefer a grammar school in Tonbridge or a religious school in RTW (moving from London just for our great schools is the norm) thus adding to the traffic chaos. Planners cannot dictate parental choice!
12. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.38): Paragraph 6.48 and bullet points. There is no indication of what the “compensatory improvements to the environmental quality and accessibility of remaining Green Belt within the locality” could be or how they would be achieved. It is hard to imagine how virgin countryside can be improved on.
13. Chapter 6: Formulating the development strategy (p.42): Paragraphs 6.61-6.63 (including the table) provide a summary of proposed site allocation policies in the Local Plan that contain land currently within the Green Belt (There is more detail at Appendix 1 to the Distribution of Development Topic Paper which contains TWBC’s Assessment of Green Belt sites from p.70-80). It appears from the table that the site being proposed for a ‘secondary school’ (AL/CA 2) will not be removed from the Green Belt. This is despite there being a proposal for inappropriate development in the form of an 8FE Secondary School. This is totally incorrect and the 32.33 hectares in question MUST be included in the total loss to MGB.
14. Capel Parish Council considers that, without a Garden Village and/or New Settlement Feasibility Study, the proposal for two large developments modeled on those principles is unsound. There is no evidence base that either of the sites is sustainable. It would appear that TWBC has taken shortcuts and easy options to produce this dLP thereby making it unsound.
Green Belt Study The Green Belt Study consists of a Stage 1 Green Belt Study, completed November 2016 (48 pages), a Stage 2 Green Belt Study, completed in July 2017 (38 pages) and four separate documents within Appendix A containing Broad Area and Parcel Assessments (127 pages).
Tunbridge Wells Green Belt Study Stage Two (2017)
The Executive Summary outlines that each ‘assessment’ of a broad area of parcel of land considers the parcel boundaries and gives a rating for the broad area / parcel of land for each ‘Purpose’ of the Green Belt as identified by Paragraph 80 of the NPPF. These are:
• Purpose 1: Check the unrestricted sprawl of large built-up areas;
• Purpose 2: Prevent neighbouring towns from merging;
• Purpose 3: Assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment;
• Purpose 4: Preserve the setting and special character of historic towns; and
• Purpose 5: Assist in urban regeneration by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land. [NB – this purpose does not form a formal part of the assessment].
Although not assessed by itself in the appendices, the site at Tudeley (AL/CA 1) falls within Broad Areas BA3 and BA4. Figure 1.1 (p.8) illustrates that the ‘Potential Level of Harm to the Green Belt Associated with Release of Broad Areas BA3 and BA4 is ‘VERY HIGH’.
Table 4.1 (p.17) identifies key considerations for each broad area:
Broad Area BA3 is considered to provide “contribution to gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood; extent of openness; distinction between Low and High Weald landscapes”
Broad Area BA4 is considered to provide “contribution to preventing countryside encroachment and a gap between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood”
Table 6.1 (p.28) lists the ratings assigned to each parcel and each broad area for each of the Green Belt purposes set out in the NPPF.
BA3 is assessed as contributing strongly to three out of four of the purposes identified. The exception to this is Purpose 4 which is categorised as weak/no contribution but the overall contribution to the Green Belt is assessed to be ‘VERY HIGH’
BA4 contributes strongly to purpose 2 and 3 but relatively weak to purpose 1 and 4. Overall its contribution remains ‘VERY HIGH’.
There appears to be a total disregard for the Green Belt allocation that covers the Capel area and the Borough’s own study that was commissioned to identify the contribution of different areas to the purposes of the Green Belt
Assessment of Paddock Wood Parcel PW 1 (Appendix A – second document from p.25)
The outcome of the assessment as to this parcel’s contribution to Green Belt purposes states under Purpose 2 is that “The gap between Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood represents a fairly small proportion of the overall gap between towns, but coalescence or near-coalescence of these separate settlements would have a disproportionate impact due to the open and flat nature of the landscape, being more likely to be perceived as sprawl. Development within the parcel would therefore result in some narrowing of the gap between towns but a significant gap would remain.” The rating given is ‘Relatively weak’
Given that the whole of this site is in another parish (Capel) the assessment is entirely inaccurate. The Western boundary (Tudeley Brook) is not mentioned and yet is the most important boundary in terms of two settlements coalescing as the authors recognize in their text but they have assessed assuming this area is part of Paddock Wood, “THE settlement”.
This is the only part of the so called “Paddock Wood” parcel, which actually falls within Capel Parish, to have been assessed. Broad areas BA3 (west from Tudeley Brook to include properties in Five Oak Green) and BA4 (northwards to include properties also in Five Oak Green) are not assessed BUT with both of those areas now in the DLP as the assessment states “would have a disproportionate impact’ as the “significant gap” would no longer exist.
The outcome of the assessment as to this parcel’s contribution to Green Belt purposes states under Purpose 3 is that “The parcel relates to both the settlement & the wider countryside”. The Rating given is ‘Moderate value’
Again the assessment is talking about the wrong settlement, this parcel of land is Five Oak Green within Capel Parish and is not part of Paddock Wood.
Assessment of Tudeley Parcel CA 1 / Land to East of Tonbridge / West of Tudeley Village Parcel CA 2
Neither CA1 nor CA2 are included in the Green Belt Assessment Appendices – why were they not assessed?
Capel Parish Council considers that the findings of the Green Belt Study indicate that the release of the MGB for development in the area of CA1 as proposed by TWBC would be sheer vandalism. TWBC cannot argue a lack of land for housing supply as justification to release any of this Green Belt land – it is not sufficient in isolation to establish Very Special Conditions. The evidence in 2017 was that this area of Green Belt was very much fulfilling its function
Infrastructure Delivery Plan: Theme 2 Education In relation to Secondary Schools, under ‘Current planned provision’ from paragraph 3.71 (p.31-32) it is stated that provision for “One FE expansion of Mascalls Academy for 2021-22” is planned to meet existing needs. Further down p.32 the IDP details ‘Additional future requirements needed to deliver growth proposed in the Draft Local Plan’ have been identified as “Up to eight FE new Secondary School to be provided on land at the garden settlement at Tudeley Village and further expansion of Mascalls Academy at Paddock Wood”. There is no further detail; however, capacity at Mascalls Academy can only be increased by a finite amount due to location constraints. This, therefore, makes the development of 4,000 houses in East Capel (AL / CA 3 and AL / PW 1) unsustainable as many children will be required to travel to the planned new Secondary School at Tudeley.
TWBC acknowledges that there are serious constraints; in the dLP under Policy AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 it states that “Development at this site is subject to the provision of land for the expansion of Mascalls”
As the location of the potential land for expansion appears unknown, the proposed development is therefore unsustainable. The development at East Capel should be removed from the dLP unless there is certainty that sufficient Education provision can be made.
Please also see our comments in COMMENT BOX 2 under the heading ‘Strategic Objective 5: Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity’
Local Green Space Assessment Comments are repeated from COMMENT BOX 7 above
Site 27: Whetsted Wood was submitted by Paddock Wood Town Council to be designated as a Local Green Space in the dLP (see Local Green Space Assessment page 29), however, it was not selected with the justification being “There is insufficient evidence that this site meets the designation criteria, is already sufficiently protected under other designations, and is to be an allocated site in the new Local Plan”
Clearly, it is not sufficiently protected by its status as Ancient Woodland (see Tunbridge Wells Borough Landscape Character Assessment LCA 13 – Paddock Wood / Five Oak Green Low Weald Farmland p.127) or the land would not be included in Policy AL / CA 3 & AL / PW 1.
Capel Parish Council requests that this area is designated as a Local Green Space and protected from development.
Site 24: Green Area with Village Sign was not designated as a Local Green Space, the justification being that “This area was not considered as it is already sufficiently protected under other designations”.
Capel Parish Council requests that this area is designated as a Local Green Space and protected from development.
SWECO Local Plan Transport Evidence Base Chapter 2: Policy Context – Regional Policy covers the Kent County Council Local Transport Plan 4 (LTP4). Paragraph 2.3.7 (p.9) identifies that there are severe congestion problems in Tunbridge Wells “on the A264 between Pembury and the town centre”. Paragraph 2.3.9 (p.9) outlines the Local transport priorities specific to the borough of Tunbridge Wells, including “A264 Pembury Road capacity improvements”.
Chapter 3: Socio-Demographics and Travel Behaviour – Current travel behavior at paragraph 3.4.3 (p.33) highlights that the ward of Capel has a significantly higher number of households with access to two or more cars at 58% (compared with 38% for Kent, 40% for the South East and just 32% for England on average)
Chapter 6: Highway Network, Congestion and Collision Analysis – Congestion at paragraph 6.3.6 (p.105) sets out the aims of the improvements works along the A264 as being:
• Manage congestion
• Reduce need to use Cornford Lane
• Improve take up of sustainable modes of travel by school children
• Facilitate cycle trips
• Maintain journey time by bus & “enhance” routes
• Gather evidence & clarify requirements for funding
Chapter 5. Existing Public Transport Infrastructure and Level of Service divides the borough into four sectors for review. Capel and Paddock Wood fall under the ‘North’ section from paragraph 5.4 and paragraphs 5.4.4-5.4.7 detail the existing low frequency service. ALL cease at 7pm none start before 7am. There is no Sunday service.
Chapter 9: Mitigation Measures – Mode Shift Spread
Paragraph 9.1.1. (p.134) states “The modal shift analysis, using the Propensity to Cycle Tool (PCT) identifies a potential modal shift of 2%-11% from car if a high-quality cycle network is established for the study area. For some locations we have identified bus based schemes that we foresee can replicate the impacts of cycling interventions to attain the proposed modal shift”
Paragraph 9.1.2 (p.134) states “The final mitigation scenario identifies an 11% reduction in car trips in the key Local Plan development allocation areas of Paddock Wood and Tudeley”
Paragraph 9.6.5 (p.137) outlines that for rural locations, “we have looked to integrate greater access by using new technology such as Demand Responsive Bus (DRB)”
Even with an 11% mitigation the number of cars in Capel would still be well above the Kent or SE average at over 50%
Table 9.2 (p.138) shows mitigation for intervention type and includes the following measures:
403. Upgraded cycle route along A264 Pembury Rd
304. Bus lane on the A264 (Woodsgate Corner to Oakley Rd)
Paragraph 9.7.9 (p.145) concerns Halls Hole Road / A264 Junction and Potential Bus Lane and states “Our analysis shows that this junction is at capacity and will remain overcapacity into the future. Options to increase capacity at the junction through additional approach and filter lanes are likely to be very costly as there are both significant land ownership issues (the highway boundary is close to the carriageway) and topography issues (in particular on Halls Hole Road where there is an immediate drop). The most affordable solution to improve traffic flow in the short term would be to recalibrate the traffic signals to better take account of the increased flows and to achieve a shift from car to cycling and bus”
The A264 junction is over capacity in all scenarios even with mitigation.
Chapter 10. Summary and Conclusions
Paragraph 10.2.2 (p.165) states “The traffic modelling has tested the hard engineering measures and the effects of the walking, cycling and bus improvements, and has shown that the measures proposed will mitigate the impacts of the Local Plan housing and employment allocations”
The conclusion is totally flawed, walking, cycling, buses & fiddling with traffic signals WILL NOT offset the sheer volume of traffic Capel will have to endure. With a level of 50% car ownership, even after successful mitigation, that is some 8,000 extra cars using the B2017 or country lanes.
It is suggested building the Colts Hill strategic link is vital to delivery of the proposed new developments in Capel. How will this improve connectivity? It will be a faster, polluting road to nowhere. Until TWBC tackle the congestion on the two roundabouts at Pembury and the A264 it will be avoided, traffic to the A21 will still use the B2017. Given the development of Hendys in Pembury the congestion at this hotspot will be exacerbated. This development does not appear to have been addressed by SWECO. The A228 strategic link has been mooted for the last forty years.
The whole area surrounding Paddock Wood needs a radical holistic solution. The dualling of the A21 was supposedly going to reduce traffic in this area but as TMBC have discovered, through traffic has actually increased in volume in Tonbridge since the “improvement”
Apart from KentFastrack buses all the case studies BY SWECO regarding their analysis to lower car use, have used towns & cities. The case for using buses to bypass congestion hotspots is not made. The A264 has no capacity for a separate bus lane, fast track or otherwise. The much mooted northern route from Paddock Wood to AL/CA 1 is not within the document. How is access from the north of AL/CA 1 to be handled? The Five Oak Green bypass link to the Colts Hill bypass is unlikely to be used by anyone travelling out of the north of Paddock Wood to Tonbridge (the B2017 is approached first) or travelling along the existing B2017 from Paddock, they will continue straight across the roundabout.
The grey blob of a new route, shown in most of the publically available maps, connecting the north of AL/CA 1 to Paddock Wood, appears to be missing in this assessment. What is traffic plan for egress from the north side of AL/CA 1 given it would either have to cross the railway line or use Hartlake Road without a new northern link? Huge volumes of traffic, without this much mentioned “triangle,” will leave & enter Paddock Wood onto the A228 causing unacceptable levels of pollution and congestion. Capel Parish Council suggested a new northern link from Paddock Wood to Tonbridge, to exclude any settlements in Capel, but this has not been assessed.
The only sensible proposal within this document is for a southern bypass or ringroad for Tunbridge Wells, a southern bypass won’t help address the huge problems in the North East of the borough, but it would be the most sensible way forward especially if development were to follow, it would also reflect the preferred Growth Strategy that 60% preferred, namely Option 4, growth corridor led.

COMMENT BOX 9: COMMENTS ON APPENDIX 6 (SUBMITTED SITES NOT INCLUDED IN THIS DRAFT LOCAL PLAN)
None None

Capel Parish Council comments on Sustainability Appraisal – updated 31/10

Capel Parish Council response to the Sustainability Appraisal which accompanies the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Draft Local Plan (Regulation 18)

Section, paragraph number(s), or site (including page number) Comment

Non-Technical Summary p.2 “Both of these concepts would involve some loss of Green Belt land” – “some” is understated. 600 acres will be lost and adjoining AONB will be harmed by the associated transport infrastructure.
Non-Technical Summary p.2-3 “The environmental objectives were found to produce either highly mixed, neutral or negative scores” – the scores are overwhelmingly negative in the strategic sites.
Non-Technical Summary p.3 “Tudeley village was the only reasonable location for a new settlement” – there are no published assessments for alternative locations such as Horsmonden site 144; so, this is an assertion rather than something clearly based on evidence.
“Paddock Wood was the only reasonable location for an extension […] but with land take in the Green Belt to the west of Paddock Wood, would provide a suitable scale of extension with benefits for the economic, environmental and social elements of sustainability” – even on your evidence, environmental and social elements are negatively impacted compared with the non-Green Belt options.
Non-Technical Summary p.4 “a cumulative impact assessment was undertaken for each parish or settlement location” – Table 25 (Chapter 8, page 67), contains the assessment scores for Capel Parish but lacks detail and underplays the local impact. The scores for AL/CA1, TP6 and AL/CA3 appear to be totally fabricated and bear to relation to the evidence base. Further comments can be found in the relevant section below.
Chapter 1: Introduction – Purpose of this Report para 1.3.1 p.13 “The report was then updated to take into account consultees’ comments and a final version prepared in October 2016. The Stage A Scoping Report should be referred to for a description of the original baseline, relevant plans, policies and programmes and the justification for the sustainability objectives that are being implemented in this report.”
Capel Parish Council’s comments on the scoping report were not changed by TWBC despite being told by CPC that it contained material inaccuracies.
Chapter 4: Methodology – Updates to baseline data para 4.1.2 and Table 2 p.20-21 “Table 2 below provides a list of additional relevant evidence studies that became available for consideration during Stage B following publication of the Issues and Options Sustainability Appraisal in July 2017.”
Evidence studies outlined in Table 2 include; Green Belt Study (Stage 2); Historic Landscape Characterisation and; Historic Environment Review. Capel parish council was not consulted or made aware of these studies at the time they were done. Therefore, the local community had no opportunity to contribute.
Table 2 also refers to a Landscape Sensitivity Assessment (RTW, Paddock Wood, Horsmonden, Hawkhurst and Cranbrook) completed during Spring 2017 and July 2018 but the assessment did not include Capel where 4000+ houses are proposed to be built on the Green Belt – why?
Chapter 4: Methodology – Updates to Plans, Policies and Programmes para 4.2.1 and Table 4 p.22-24 Table 4 refers to the KCC Draft Minerals and Waste Local Plan but incorrectly states that “Sites at Moat Farm and Stone Castle, Five Oak Green are adjacent to the boundary with TWB”. Both Moat Farm and the entrance to and part of Stone Castle are within TWB and adjacent to the proposed site in Tudeley STR/CA 1.
Chapter 4: Methodology – Sustainability Objectives and Scoring Method Table 6 p.26 The Sustainability Objectives for Tunbridge Wells Borough are outlined in Table 6 and include the following:
No. 1 “Reduce air pollution”
No. 2 “Protect and enhance biodiversity and the natural environment”
No. 4 “Reduce carbon footprint and adapt to predicted changes”
No. 10 “Preserve and enhance historical and cultural heritage assets”
No. 12 “Protect soils, and reuse previously developed land and buildings”
No. 13 “Protect and enhance landscape and townscape”
No. 14 “Reduce noise pollution”
No. 15 “Reduce the impact of resource consumption”
No. 17 “Improve travel choice and reduce the need to travel by private vehicle”
No. 18 “Reduce waste generation and disposal”
No. 19 “Manage flood risk and conserve, protect and enhance water resources”
Policies AL/CA 1, AL/CA 2, AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 and TP6, are incompatible with all of the above objectives and therefore should be removed from the Draft Local Plan.
Objective No. 4 in particular reflects the resolution made by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on 17 July 2019 in which it recognised “that it has a responsibility to take a firm lead on reducing the council’s and the wider borough’s carbon emissions” and resolved to “Ensure that forthcoming plans and strategies (including the Local Plan and the next iteration of the Five-Year Plan) set out ways in which the Council can make its contribution to reduce carbon emissions, the degradation of the environment and combating climate change by agreeing an ambition to make the Council’s operations carbon neutral by 2030.”
Not only are Policies AL/CA 1, AL/CA 2, AL/CA 3 & AL/PW 1 and TP6, incompatible with the Sustainability Objectives outlined above, but they are incompatible with the declaration made by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on 17 July 2019 to recognise global climate and biodiversity emergencies and its ambition to make the Council’s operations carbon neutral by 2030. These policies should be removed from the draft Local Plan.
Chapter 4: Methodology – Sustainability Objectives and Scoring Method Table 6 p.26 With regard to Sustainability Objective No. 11 “Provide sufficient housing to meet identified needs” – this is unclear. To meet whose identified needs? The government? TWBC? The local community?
Chapter 4: Methodology – Sustainability Objectives and Scoring Method para 4.3.2 p.26 “Scoring for the biodiversity objective was determined by the following three indicators; Sites of local biodiversity value included undesignated habitat; The Ashdown Forest SAC and SPA; Sites of Special Scientific Interest and associated risk zones” – how is it fair to score a biodiversity objective against the Ashdown Forest when the strategic sites have a very different geology, and therefore ecosystem, flora and fauna. They are sites of local biodiversity and should be measured on their own terms.
Chapter 4: Methodology – Sustainability Objectives and Scoring Method para 4.3.6 p.27 “Higher weightings were given to issues that were legislatively driven, of critical importance to the borough and where finite assets were concerned.” – this surely has skewed the appraisal in favour of the maximum number of houses in all cases – the appraisal has been thus predetermined by the council, as housing need according to TWBC outweighs all environmental and other considerations
Chapter 4: Methodology – Sustainability Objectives and Scoring Method para 4.3.9 p.27 “Every effort was made to predict effects accurately; however, in some cases this was inherently challenging given the high level nature of the alternatives under consideration.” – if the predictions are wrong the effects will be felt by the local community and not by the planners.
Chapter 4: Methodology – Sustainability Objectives and Scoring Method para 4.3.9 p.27 “realistic mitigation measures in line with the Draft Local Plan were assumed to be in place when scores were applied” – but these are not in place and there is no guarantee they will ever be in place. Scores should reflect the current situation.
Chapter 4: Methodology – Sustainability Objectives and Scoring Method para 4.3.11 and Table 7 p.28 Table 7 outlines the alterations to the scoring method during Stage B. Under Sustainability Objective “Biodiversity” it states that “Consideration was given to the requirement for net gains for nature when scoring the biodiversity objective for borough-wide strategies” the reasoning being “This reflects the changes to the NPPF since the Issues and Options stage. A more precautionary approach was adopted for site level assessments, as the policy is in its infancy and it was not clear whether benefits would be delivered on or off site.” – it is not clear what approach was taken by TWBC here; where is the net gain for nature when 600 acres of Capel Parish is covered by housing?
Chapter 4: Methodology – Sustainability Objectives and Scoring Method para 4.3.13 p.29 “Because topics and objectives cannot be directly weighed against one another, readers are discouraged from ‘adding up’ positive or negative scores to give an overall score for a policy, strategy or site” – what is the point of scores if they can’t be added up? They are masquerading as objective criteria but in reality, the subjective written commentary is the basis on which decisions are made.
Chapter 5: Compatibility Testing of Strategic Objectives – Method para 5.2.3 p.30 “Where the term ‘appropriate’ in used in relation to Green Belt release, it refers to the land that contributes weakly to Green Belt objectives or to the strategic reasons outlined in the Green Belt Topic Paper.” – “weakly” is subjective and in the case of PW1/CA3 not borne out by evidence. Moreover it is not clear which ‘part’ of the Metropolitan Green Belt (MGB) is being referred to. One of the differences between Paddock Wood and Capel is that Capel is in the MGB and Paddock Wood is not. The parish boundary is also the limit to built development of PW and the MGB boundary. CPC would argue this is the most important part of the MGB in Capel parish as it prevents the convergence of Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green. In other words, it maintains a sense of openness and separateness between the two communities which is the whole point of the MGB – it does not therefore ‘weakly’ contribute to the MGB.
The stretch of the road further west of AL/CA 3 between Five Oak Green and the A228 does not give this impression to the same degree; it doesn’t give a clear sense of separateness between the village and its surroundings. But once you cross the A228 it is very different – after a few houses near the roundabout there is open countryside right up to the LBD of Paddock Wood. The boundary between the two parishes is at its clearest here – yet the proposal of the planners to end the MGB at the A228 would destroy this clear distinction between rural and urban which is the main function of the MGB. This most strategic section of the MGB would be destroyed and the two settlements would to all appearances have converged.
Chapter 5: Compatibility Testing of Strategic Objectives – Method para 5.2.3 and Figure 4 p.30-31 Figure 4 outlines the Strategic Objectives of the new Local Plan. Capel Parish Council has the following concerns in relation to these:
Objective 6 is “To protect the valued heritage, and built and natural environments of the borough, including the AONB and to achieve net gains for nature” – the valued heritage and natural environments in Capel Parish are not being protected, for example the Grade 1 Listed Somerhill; There is no evidence of any net gains for nature either.
Objective 7 is “To strategically release appropriate land from the Green Belt through a plan-led approach, and to increase public accessibility, and to protect the openness of remaining Green Belt land” – it is unclear how an increase in public accessibility can achieved unless it means building access roads over the remaining MGB; there are no measures to protect the remaining MGB land.
Objective 8 is “To tackle climate change and minimise the impact of development on communities, the economy and the environment with carefully considered design and by embracing technology such as renewable energy generation” – this conflicts with TWBC’s recently adopted policy as a climate change council (see notes above)
Objective 9 is “To establish garden settlements as a model for the future delivery of development in the borough” – it is troubling to see this as a model for even more development in the future, presumably in the same parish.
Chapter 5: Compatibility Testing of Strategic Objectives – Results para 5.3.1 and Table 8 p.32 Table 8 Table 8 purports to test compatibility of Local Plan objectives with Sustainability Appraisal Objectives.
In relation to Local Plan Objective 1 (Development needs), Table 8 shows compatibility with all Sustainability Appraisal Objectives but it would not have been possible to assess compatibility with either Sustainability Appraisal Objective 2 (Biodiversity) or 13 (Landscape) as full assessments of the current situation were not undertaken for the strategic sites.
To argue that Local Plan Objective 8 (Climate Change) is compatible with all the Sustainability Appraisal Objectives is just an assertion. How can that be when 600 acres of open farmland is to be built over and a road to be driven through the AONB?
The compatibility of the Local Plan Objective on Garden Settlements (Objective 9) with Sustainability Appraisal Objectives is a series of ?’s What does that tell us?
Chapter 5: Compatibility Testing of Strategic Objectives – Results Table 9 and para 5.3.3 p.33-34 Table 9 outlines the number of Sustainability Objectives that are compatible with Local Plan Objectives. There is a very high level of uncertainty in relation to key objectives.
For example;
Local Plan Objective 2 (Infrastructure) is compatible with only 8 out of 19 Sustainability Appraisal Objectives (42% compatible)
Local Plan Objective 3 (Travel) is compatible with only 8 out of 19 Sustainability Appraisal Objectives (42% compatible)
Local Plan Objective 4 (Housing) is compatible with only 4 out of 19 Sustainability Appraisal Objectives (21% compatible)
Local Plan Objective 7 (Green Belt) is compatible with only 4 out of 19 Sustainability Appraisal Objectives (21% compatible)
Local Plan Objective 9 (Garden Settlements) is compatible with only 5 out of 19 Sustainability Appraisal Objectives (26% compatible)
It is, therefore, totally wrong to simply conclude that “the majority (nine out of ten) of the Local Plan Objectives are more compatible than incompatible with the Sustainability Appraisal objectives.”
If the outcome is uncertain then it cannot be ruled out that it is incompatible. The approach is wrong, and the Sustainability Appraisal is therefore unsound.
Chapter 5: Compatibility Testing of Strategic Objectives – Results para 5.3.6 p.34 “Strategic Objective 10 (Neighbourhood Planning) is also deemed to be compatible with all sustainability objectives because locally-led policies within Neighbourhood Plans are expected to demonstrate how they will contribute to achieving sustainable development” – this is speculation. If the Neighbourhood Plan content is dictated by the Strategic Policies of the Local Plan, given the high levels of uncertainty previously identified, it cannot be claimed that there will be compatibility.
Chapter 5: Compatibility Testing of Strategic Objectives – Results para 5.3.8 p.34 “Compatibility of sustainability objectives with Local Plan Strategy 9 (Garden Settlements) are based on those applied to Growth Strategy 4 in the Issues and Options Sustainability Appraisal” – why is compatibility of sustainability objectives with Local Plan Strategy 9 based on those applied to Growth Strategy 4 (the ‘Growth-Corridor Led Approach’) and Growth Strategy 5 (New Settlement Growth)?
The same paragraph goes on “a clearer picture is now available on what sort of development would be created in a garden settlement. However, no presumption about potential locations for garden settlements is made for this element of the Local Plan thus several uncertain impacts are still predicted”
There are no details on “what sort of development would be created” apart from that it will follow a master-planned approach. if, as the Sustainability Appraisal states on page 5, “Tudeley village was the only reasonable location for a new settlement” and this led to the inclusion of the site in Tudeley in the DLP as Policy AL/CA 1, then it is unclear why a presumption was not made that the location would be used in order to assess compatibility (or otherwise) of Local Plan Objective/Strategy 9 with the Sustainability Objectives. A proper assessment of a potential site would have led to certainty about compatibility. There is no justification for failing to properly assess the site at Tudeley against the sustainability criteria to achieve certainty.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy – Background and Method para 6.1.5 p.36 “Although these recommendations were felt to be the most useful output from the Issues and Options SA, it was noted that a slight preference was recorded for Growth Strategy 5 and that Growth Strategy 3 was slightly less positive than the other strategies” – this is misrepresentation.
The Issues and Options Consultation Statement, available on the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council website at https://beta.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/local-plan/issues-and-options provides an overview of the Issues and Options consultation which ran from 02 May to 12 June 2017. This consultation included the question “Please let us know your preferred option or combination of options in order of preference”. The statement provides a summary of responses which states:
“289 responses were received to this question in terms of ranking Strategic Options in order of preference. However, a significant number of these respondents stated they preferred a combination of Options as set out in Question 10a below. One respondent stated they did not agree with any of the Options.
Of those who ranked the Strategic Options:
116 respondents (about 60%) ranked Option 4 (Growth Corridor-led Approach) as their most preferred Option;
34 respondents (about 18%) ranked Option 5 (New freestanding settlement) as their most preferred Option;
26 respondents (about 13%) ranked Option 1 (Focused Growth) as their most preferred Option;
16 respondents (about 8%) ranked Option 3 (Dispersed Growth) as their most preferred Option;
2 respondents (about 1%) ranked Option 2 (Semi-dispersed Growth) as their most preferred Option.
From these responses, it can be concluded that of those who ranked the Strategic Options, the majority of 60% of respondents chose Option 4 (Growth Corridor-led Approach) as their preferred Option.”
It is clear from this statement that rather than a slight preference for Growth Strategy 5, Three times as many people preferred Growth Strategy 4. Only 8% preferred Growth Strategy 3.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy Background and Method para 6.1.8 p.36 “Consideration was also given to a further option: growth that only partially meets identified needs. However, the iterative process through which sites were selected for development potential, including through the SA of sites, indicate that there is capacity in the borough to meet housing targets whilst still having due regard to AONB and Green Belt policies. Therefore, this option is not considered to be a reasonable alternative in the context of the NPPF at this point”
If there is capacity in the borough to meet housing targets whilst still having due regard to AONB and Green Belt policies, why is development proposed which has a significant and detrimental impact on AONB and which results in the loss of 600 acres of Green Belt land? Option 9: Growth that only partially meets identified needs MUST be considered properly in the context of a Garden Settlement with a specified location which has been assessed against the sustainability objectives.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy Background and Method para 6.1.11, Figure 5 and Table 13 p.36-37 “Potential sites for garden settlements and urban extensions in the borough are shown in Figure 5. The locations underwent the same filtering process as that for sites with potential for small scale development (see section 8.1) and are described in Table 13 with an explanation of why options were not considered reasonable where applicable”
The explanation of the approach taken by SA in relation to Capel (Ref 2 in Table 13) is “Land is outside of key constraints (except Green Belt) with potential for useful transport links”
The ‘potential’ for useful transport links cannot be realised. There will be no new railway station and plans for the A228 strategic transport link (Colts Hill bypass) (Policy TP 6) and the proposed link route which is to run from the proposed development at Tudeley (Policy AL/CA 1) to the Colts Hill Bypass (Five Oak Green Bypass) are ill-thought out and will result in further significant detrimental impact on the local landscape with little mitigating effect or benefit to residents of the parish of Capel.
The explanation of the approach taken by SA in relation to Horsmonden (Ref 4 in Table 13) is “Landscape sensitivity would require further consideration because the site is outside (but adjacent to) the AONB. However, the site was considered to have severe access difficulties that would render this alternative unviable and thus not a reasonable alternative.”
There is only very limited information on why alternative strategic sites to Capel were rejected (far less information than on small scale sites rejected ) e.g. there is no comparison between site 144 in Horsmonden and its ‘severe access difficulties’ [not explained] and the sites chosen; it is not measured against the comparative negative criteria in Tudeley and East Capel despite the latter being in the Green Belt and in Tudeley’s case also bordering on AONB
Paddock Wood (Ref 12 in Table 13) includes sites in Capel as well as PW. The explanation of the approach taken by the SA is “Land is outside of key constraints (except flooding and Green Belt) and has useful transport links” it appears that these constraints are conveniently less important for the purposes of the SA? The transport links are already overused and improvements are required. Please see our comments above in relation to the damage to the AONB in the event that the A228 strategic transport link (Colts Hill bypass) (Policy TP 6) and the proposed link route which is to run from the proposed development at Tudeley (Policy AL/CA 1) to the Colts Hill Bypass (Five Oak Green Bypass) are to go ahead.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy Results para 6.2.9 p.41 “in the light of the various options, together with the findings of further studies, consideration of availability of sites and the views of parish and town councils, a preferred growth development strategy has been formulated”
This is misleading. The view of Capel Parish Council was only sought after this strategy had been adopted. At no point has CPC expressed a view supportive of this strategy. CPC’s view is that there is no need to build housing in the Green Belt and that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s strategy is flawed.
Para 6.2.9 sets out that the Spatial Development Strategy has the following elements:
“Provision for infrastructure-led, housing needs in line with Growth Strategies 3 and 5 including significant expansion of Paddock Wood and a new, standalone garden settlement in Capel Parish allowing for approximately 14,000 new homes over the plan period”
“Provision for economic needs based on Growth Strategies 1, 2 and 4 including provision for approximately 14 hectares of employment land”
“Provision of new local facilities and services where required to support residential development in smaller settlements “
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy – Results para 6.2.10 and Table 15 p.42 Table 15 shows the scoring for the SA of the Draft Local Plan spatial distribution strategy referred to above.
The score for Biodiversity is 0 or ‘neutral’ with the commentary “Small losses offset by potential large gains on strategic sites. Net gains policy will also bring benefits. Not considered at site level as gains could be offsite or out of parish” – this is speculative. Given the paucity of information on biodiversity in general it is simply not possible to justify the statement of small losses and potential gains. This is unsound.
Biodiversity should be ‘very negative’ (—) not ‘neutral’ (0) given the loss of Biodiversity resulting from Policies AL/CA1, TP6 and AL/CA3.
Only Air, Climate Change, Heritage, Land use and Landscape are scored as ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’.
Noise, Resources, Services, Travel and Water are all marked with a question mark which TWBC represents a ‘mixed’ score.
These scores do not reflect the negative impact on Capel Parish where 4,300 (63%) of the proposed housing shortfall is planned. Much of this will have very limited impact on other parts of the borough so this cross borough impact measurement is flawed.
Travel should be ‘very negative’ (—) not ‘?’ as there will be an additional 25,000 cars on the borough’s roads with inadequate public transport (no new railway stations). Water should be ‘very negative’ (—) not ‘?’. Clearly there will be huge demand on existing resources and an increased flood risk for hundreds of homes. It is unacceptable to simply state that the impact is ‘uncertain’ in order to massage the data.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy – Results para 6.2.11 p.42 “the environmental objectives score well relative to alternative strategies”
This is only because TWBC has chosen to score the majority of the environmental objectives as a ? in order to ensure the outcome of the Sustainability Appraisal reflects its chosen strategy.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy – Results para 6.2.14 p.43 “it was logical to assess Paddock Wood for a potential urban expansion and especially because the other, larger settlements of RTW, Southborough, Hawkhurst and Cranbrook have many constraints. Similarly, the largely constraint-free area of land submitted in Capel parish was logical to assess as a potential garden settlement location”
There is no detailed explanation as to why the other large scale sites were rejected. Capel Parish Council believes that Tudeley was not the original choice as a standalone garden settlement, and that the choice was more to do with the single landownership than the absence of constraints. The nature of land ownership is not a good argument for rejecting a site outside the Green Belt for one inside it.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy – Results Garden Settlement Development Scale paras 6.2.15-6.2.14 p.43 These paragraphs relate to proposals for a larger scale development at Tudeley (Option 2) which consists of approximately 5,000 dwellings extending southwards further into the Green Belt and into AONB. Capel Parish Council strongly objects to any proposal to consider the larger development within the Local Plan, which, if it were to occur, would destroy virtually all the MGB between Tonbridge and Five Oak Green.
Capel Parish Council is extremely concerned that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council ever considered a development of this scale on MGB and AONB, and seeks reassurance that Option 2 will not be reconsidered at a later date.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy Results Garden Settlement Development Scale para 6.2.17, Table 16 and paras 6.2.18-6.2.19 p.44-46 The sustainability appraisals for the two options at Tudeley are shown in Table 16 and the findings summarised in paragraphs 6.2.18-6.2.19 which appear to justify a smaller settlement on the grounds that a larger one would be even worse: most of the adverse effects are caused by the nature of the development itself – mitigating this by not building something even larger is ridiculous. The only sustainability comparison is between the two Tudeley options – there are no comparisons with other options the council considered, particularly those outside the Green Belt.
As with Table 15, the use of ? as a score for any/all of the potentially negative scores is designed to skew the Sustainability Appraisal in favour of TWBC’s chosen strategy.
It is absurd to suggest that a development of either size would have an uncertain or ‘mixed’ effect on Air Quality, particularly when the commentary goes on to acknowledge the high risk of deterioration to air quality which, in Tudeley is already on the cusp of exceeding the WHO target for acceptable levels of Fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Option 2 should be ‘very negative’ {—) and Option 1 ‘negative’ (–).
The scoring for Biodiversity is understated with no consideration of the location in question. The commentary simply states “There is no risk the Ashdown Forest and neither option is within an SSSI Impact Risk Zone” which demonstrates the lack of diligence and understanding when scoring this Objective.
Travel is scored as ‘very positive’ with commentary “The Travel scores are applied following a similar logic to air quality whilst also considering new bus routes and relatively easy access to train stations” this is not logical. There is no access to train stations, there are no bus routes in place and no pavements. The infrastructure will not be in place for several years after building begins. Option 2 should be ‘very negative’ {—) and Option 1 ‘negative’ (–).
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy Results Urban Extension Development Scale paras 6.2.20-6.2.26, p.46 These paragraphs contain details of the four options considered for Urban Extension Development. There are two options which would not have involved building on the MGB – TWBC has rejected these in favour of one that does. Option 1 has least impact in terms of a range of environmental factors.

Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy Results Urban Extension Development Scale Figure 7 and Table 17 p.46-48 The sustainability appraisals for all four options are shown in Table 17. Capel Parish Council has the following comments:
The effect on local biodiversity will be much greater than stated (even if it has no effect on the Ashdown Forest – surely this is a flawed and ludicrous measurement given that it is miles away with a completely different geology soils, and flora and fauna!). 1,500 houses on option AL / CA 3 is not going to enhance biodiversity as stated – the presence of several hundred more domestic cats will see to that!
Option 1 has the least effect on climate change – but the council seems only paying lip service to this goal despite proclaiming themselves a climate change council
Option 1 has less effect on heritage than 2 and the setting of the Medieval moated Badsell Manor needs to be accounted for. Not clear whether this was included in the assessment.
Option 1 would have less effect on land use and noise than option 2; and giving 1 and 2 the same score for landscape seems illogical given the 201 acres extra lost to this scheme. The environmental scores are much more negative overall for option 2 than 1 and there is an argument that the difference has been underplayed in this assessment.
Chapter 6: SA of the Spatial Development Strategy Results Urban Extension Development Scale paras 6.2.27-6.2.30 p.49 The findings of the SA of the four options are summarised in paragraphs 6.2.27-6.2.30.
“It is fair to conclude that Options 1 and 2 have approximately similarly outcomes overall” – this is based on a flawed assessment, see our comments above.
“housing is of great importance to the council in meeting targets and options” – It is clear that housing is the factor that motivates the council despite the impact on the MGB of option 2. This reads like TWBC chose the option they wanted and skewed these criteria to justify it. Environmental factors should have been taken more seriously and have been underweighted for the MGB section to the West of Paddock Wood. No exceptional circumstances have been put forward for building on MGB outside Paddock Wood in Capel Parish when even the council realises there are alternatives which would leave the MGB intact.
“but also improve the flood risk for existing residents must be highly weighted” – this refers to Five Oak Green Flood Alleviation as well as PW. This has been used twice in this SA both in East Capel and Tudeley to justify development. This despite option 2 having been selected before TWBC were aware in Feb 2019 of this scheme. Option 2 would ALSO require building on the most flood prone part of Capel Parish – so improving the flood risk as a highly weighted factor for the choice does not make any sense.
Chapter 7: SA of the Strategic Policies Background and Method para 7.1.4 p.50 “Policy STR 4: The NPPF provides thorough coverage of Green Belt issues although, as stated above, the policy is based on making the releases set out in the Draft Local Plan, so is appraised on that basis, effectively as a cumulative assessment of the relevant individual development allocations. As this is a cumulative assessment, no specific alternative approach is identified. Rather, the appraisal provides an indication of the sustainability impacts of the proposed releases, which are each subject to their own appraisal”
No specific alternative approach is identified, therefore, it is impossible to judge the chosen strategic sites against any possible alternatives.
Chapter 7: SA of the Strategic Policies Results para 7.2.1 and Table 18 p.51-52 Table 18 details the SA findings for Strategic Policies; STR 2 Sustainable Development; STR 3 Master planning; STR 4 Green Belt and; STR 5 Infrastructure
This Table highlights the negative impact of Policy STR 4 Green Belt across the Borough. The impact on Capel Parish where all the Green Belt development is planned will be disproportionately greater. Why was there no cumulative impact assessment on Capel Parish alone as all the lost Green Belt is here?
Once again TWBC has substituted realistic scores (which would all be negative) for 0 or ‘neutral’ scoring for the key environmental Sustainability Objectives; Air; Biodiversity; Landscape; Noise; Services and facilities; Travel; Waste and; Water. This drives the SA scoring closer to supporting their chosen strategy.
Chapter 8: SA of the Potential Development Sites Background and Method para 8.1.4 p.55 “Sites filtered out at this initial first stage assessment stage include sites: […]That are wholly Ancient Woodland or a significant proportion of the site is Ancient Woodland, significantly reducing the developable area of the site”
The site for Policy AL / CA 2 has a significant portion of ancient woodland and should have been filtered out at the initial first stage assessment. Why therefore was it included?
“Sites filtered out at this initial first stage assessment stage include sites: […] About which there is significant landscape concern, which it is considered is unlikely to be overcome”
What is totally unclear is what this is based on given that there has been no comprehensive Borough wide landscape assessment. On this basis the SA cannot be sound.
There is no filter for biodiversity interests beyond considerations relating to designated sites.
Chapter 8: SA of the Potential Development Sites Capel (including Tudeley Village) Figure 10 p.66 Figure 10 demonstrates the significant and excessive proportion of Capel parish being considered for development. No other parish is subjected to such pressures for development. It is completely disproportionate. The designation ‘Reasonable’ is wrong.
Chapter 8: SA of the Potential Development Sites Capel (including Tudeley Village) Table 25 p.67 Table 25 details the SA scores for allocated sites in Capel Parish.
With regard to Policy TP 6, the scores in Table 25 cannot be reconciled with the evidence. A bypass of this nature which displaces AONB land, will necessitate CPOs and includes roundabouts onto single lane, unsuitable for HGV, weight restricted roads should be scored as either ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ for the following sustainability objectives; Air, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Health, Heritage, Land use, Landscape, Noise and Water.
With regard to STR / CA 1, the scores in Table 25 appear to have been totally fabricated. The SA should be scored as either ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ for the following sustainability objectives; Air, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Health, Heritage, Land use, Landscape, Noise, Travel, Waste and Water.
The commentary is biased. Without proper assessments of some factors in the first instance and given that there is an emphasis on development rather than conservation and respect for natural beauty and existing ecosystems there is bound to be a greater number of positives.
With regard to AL / CA 2, how can Heritage be 0 or neutral when the Policy affects the views to and from Somerhill – a Grade 1 listed building?
With regard to AL / CA 3 a positive biodiversity score for AL / CA 3 is hard to believe if this referred to the Capel section alone. As with AL / CA 1, the SA should be scored as either ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ for the following sustainability objectives; Air, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Health, Heritage, Land use, Landscape, Noise, Travel, Waste and Water.
The cumulative assessment for Capel Parish – STR/CA 1 (cumulative) – notes the negative scores for environmental objectives which TWBC clearly believe are a cost worth paying; and therefore, ultimately less important in the assessment. This chart is assessing cumulative effects on Capel but includes an area mostly in Paddock Wood. The betterment for flooding in Five Oak Green could still be paid for under option 1 for PW.
It is clear that one parish is bearing a hugely disproportionate impact of this plan even on TWBC’s figures. The environmental impact of the development in MGB (with these three sites under Policies AL / CA 1; AL / CA 2 and AL / CA 3) in one small parish, when set alongside the impact of Policy TP 6 on the AONB with the associated transport infrastructure for these schemes which will carve its way through the remainder of Capel Parish in a way this Sustainability Appraisal has yet to spell out, will disproportionately damage the quality of life for Capel residents over the coming years. Essentially the council needs to rethink its strategy and avoid building on MGB, to protect the quality of life for its residents in Capel who cannot be expected to bear the full burden of development for the whole borough. This SA is based on the needs of the Borough as a whole it pays little attention to the cumulative effect on Capel Parish. Even this table envisions the positive impact for future residents. It does not reflect the impact for current residents.
Chapter 8: SA of the Potential Development Sites Paddock Wood Table 27 p.70 Table 27 SA scores for allocated sites in Paddock Wood Parish. Our comments above in relation to Policy AL / CA 3 (Table 25) are repeated here under Policy AL / PW 1; The SA should be scored as either ‘negative’ or ‘very negative’ for the following sustainability objectives; Air, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Health, Heritage, Land use, Landscape, Noise, Travel, Waste and Water. What justification is there for scoring Biodiversity “as slightly positive overall to reflect the large improvements that can be made with AL / PW 1” – when there are no ‘large improvements’ proposed?
Note the negative score for Climate Change in relation to AL/CA3 which contrasts with the limited impact of the other sites in the town.
Chapter 8: SA of the Potential Development Sites Horsmonden Table 39 p.87-88 Table 39 lists ‘reasonable alternative sites in Horsmonden Parish’ but is missing site 144, which is referred to on page 38 of the SA and was originally seen an option for strategic development. Why was this site not properly assessed? See our comments above.
Chapter 10: Conclusion para 10.1.1 and Table 73 p.129 Table 73 outlines a complete SA of all elements of the Draft Local Plan.
In this SA, the score for climate change is a ? – is this really sustainable for a climate change council? The impact of development in the MGB must be a big negative contribution. Table 73 suffers from the same speculation as other tables in that the baseline data has not been properly assessed / scored and the majority of environmental objectives score as mixed with neutral scores. It is unacceptable to simply put a question mark out of reluctance to acknowledge a clear negative impact. It is obvious that the following sustainability objectives should record a negative score for the reasons outlined in this response; Air, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Heritage, Noise, Travel, Waste and Water. If these objectives had been properly scored, the SA would be more credible and accurately reflect the poor sustainability of the Local Plan.
Chapter 10: Conclusion Table 74 – Biodiversity p.131 Table 74 outlines the impact of the overall Draft Local Plan on each Sustainability Appraisal objective.
Under Biodiversity, it is stated that “The Biodiversity objective is compatible with (or has no relationship/an uncertain relationship with) all strategic objectives in the Draft Local Plan except Strategic Objective 4 (Housing) – see Table 8. This is principally because the large area of greenfield land take that would be required for construction of new dwellings is likely to create pressure on existing habitats. However, Strategic Objective 6 (Environment) offers protection to “valued natural environment” and expects net gains for nature thus any losses would be more than offset”
There is no evidence presented for this assertion and the impact on biodiversity must be measured on each parish not across the borough. The flora and fauna of the Low Weald of Tudeley and East Capel cannot be replaced by compensatory measures elsewhere – it is a unique landscape with its own species.
The comments in Table 74 in relation to biodiversity are dependent on tables that are faulty for reasons given above; namely that without the proper initial assessment it is not possible to understand the impact on this key issue. Similar comments also apply to landscape.
Chapter 10: Conclusion Table 74 – Heritage p.139 Under Heritage, it is stated “The heritage objective is compatible with (or has no relationship/an uncertain relationship with) all strategic objectives in the Draft Local Plan except Strategic Objective 4 (Housing) – see Table 8. This is because the large amount of residential development planned in both rural and urban locations is likely to result in a risk of harm to designated or non-designated heritage assets. Strategic Objective 6 (Environment) addresses heritage issues directly by offering ‘protection to value heritage’”
The heritage effects on Capel Parish will be wholly negative – pattern of low weald farmsteads and the damage to the setting of listed buildings cannot be replaced.
Chapter 10: Conclusion Table 74 – Housing p.140 Under Housing, it is stated
“The Housing objective is compatible with (or has no relationship/an uncertain relationship with) all strategic objectives in the Draft Local Plan (Table 8). This is because the large amount of residential development planned is fundamental to the Draft Local Plan.”
“The impact of STR 1 (Spatial Development Strategy) on the housing objective can be seen in Table 14. A highly positive score is recorded to reflect the reasons given above.”
“As would be expected, across the parishes and sites, the most positive effects on the Housing objective are assigned to the sites that would deliver the highest numbers of housing. For this reason, policies AL/CA 1 and AL/CA 3 (aka AL/PW 1) are extremely beneficial to the borough. Highly positive effects are recorded in many rural settlements too for example Horsmonden, Hawkhurst and Cranbrook.
No negative effects are expected from the site allocation policies. “
It is not clear how this will benefit the residents of Capel or of Tunbridge Wells. It will result in the building of houses attractive to the London market which will put more pressure on existing infrastructure.
Chapter 10: Conclusion Table 74 – Landscape p.142 Under Landscape, it is stated “As for the cumulative impact from release of Green Belt sites, the cumulative impact on the Landscape objective of all allocated sites (equivalent to STR 1) is expected to be highly negative”
TWBC is urged to remove Green Belt development and refocus the plan in line with its environmental objectives. The commentary moves from highly negative to negative by the conclusion; the mitigation ‘to some extent’ is an assertion that has not been evidenced.
Appendix A – Decision-aiding questions used for scoring SA objectives Table 76 p.153 Appendix A demonstrates that no consideration whatsoever has been given to biodiversity and the natural environment outside of designated sites. With regard to landscape no weighting has been given and the comment suggested that there has been some judgement yet there has been nothing to base that judgement given that there has been no comprehensive Borough wide landscape assessment.
Appendix G – Capel Scores for Reasonable Sites p.177.179 The reason given for the rejection of most smaller sites in Capel parish refers to their contribution to the Green Belt, the setting of Five Oak Green, and contribution to the landscape. These are the very reasons that have been ignored in the adjoining strategic sites. In particular the plan refers to the ‘weak’ contribution to the MGB part of AL / CA 3 makes – but it adjoins some of these sites, and its contribution is crucial as explained above.
Appendix G suffers from the faults previously identified; in particular in relation to biodiversity and landscape.
Appendix O – Horsmonden Scores for Reasonable Sites p.204-206 Horsmonden makes no reference to site 144 considered as strategic (see our comments above)
Conclusion Given the above Capel Parish Council believes the overall SA is based on incomplete information and is therefore unsound. It fails to justify the extensive building within the Green Belt envisaged by the dLP, which Capel Parish Council maintains is unsustainable.

End of Response

Capel Parish Council comments on Sustainability Appraisal for DLP [draft for discussion]

Sustainability Appraisal Draft Response from Capel Parish Council
p. 2 “some loss of green belt’ means 600 acres; adjoining AONB will be harmed by the associated transport infrastructure.
p.2/3 Environmental scores seem to be overwhelmingly negative in the strategic sites
p. 3 Tudeley is the only “reasonable location” – there are no assessments for alternative locations e.g. Horsmonden site 144; so, this is an assertion rather than something clearly based on evidence
“land take to the West of Paddock Wood on the Green Belt “provides a suitable scale of extension with benefits for the economic, environmental and social elements of sustainability” even on your evidence environmental and social elements are negatively impacted compared to the non-Green Belt Options
p. 4. cumulative impact assessment for each parish – chapter 8 shows Capel but lacks detail and underplays the local impact.
p. 13 1.3.1 The report was then updated to take into account consultees’ comments and a final version prepared in October 2016. The Stage A Scoping Report should be referred to for a description of the original baseline, relevant plans, policies and programmes and the justification for the sustainability objectives that are being implemented in this report.
Capel Parish Council’s comments on the scoping report were not changed by TWBC despite being told by CPC that it contained material inaccuracies.
p. 20 4.1.2 Green Belt study stage 2; historic landscape characterisation; historic environment review – Capel parish council was not consulted or made aware of these studies at the time they were done. Therefore, the local community had no opportunity to contribute.
p.21 Landscape Sensitivity Assessment (RTW, Paddock Wood, Horsmonden, Hawkhurst and Cranbrook) done spring 2017 and July 2018 but does not include Capel where 4000+ houses are proposed to be built on the Green Belt
p.24 KCC draft mineral and waste local plan. This is incorrect – Moat Farm and the entrance to and part of Stonecastle are within the borough and are adjacent to the proposed site in Tudeley
p.26 4 Climate Change: Reduce carbon footprint and adapt to predicted changes – the proposals for the Green Belt do not reflect this objective or the policy adopted by TWBC in July 2019
11 Housing Provide sufficient housing to meet identified needs – identified needs of who? The government? TWBC? The Local community? Objective 12, 13, 14, 15, 17, 18 are all negatively affected by the strategic sites
4.3.2 How is it fair to score a biodiversity objective against the Ashdown Forest when the strategic sites have a very different geology, and therefore ecosystem, flora and fauna? They are sites of local biodiversity and should be measured on their own terms
4.3.6 higher weightings given to issues legislatively driven, …of critical importance to the borough- this surely has skewed the appraisal in favour of the maximum number of houses in all case – the appraisal has been thus predetermined by the council, as housing need according to TWBC outweighs all environmental and other considerations
p.27 4.3.9 noted in the case of the strategic sites it is challenging to predict effects accurately – if the predictions are wrong the effects will be felt by the local community and not by the planners
4.3.10 realistic mitigation measures in line with the Draft Local Plan were assumed to be in place when scores were applied. But these are not in place and there is no guarantee they will ever be in place. Scores should reflect the current situation.
Table p.28 Biodiversity
Consideration was given to the requirement for net gains for nature when scoring the biodiversity objective for borough-wide strategies. This reflects the changes to the NPPF since the Issues and Options stage. A more precautionary approach was adopted for site level assessments, as the policy is in its infancy and it was not clear whether benefits would be delivered on or off site.
Not clear what approach was taken by TWBC here; no net gain for nature when 600 acres of Capel Parish is covered by housing!
p.29 4.3.13 what is the point of scores if they can’t be added up? They are masquerading as objective criteria but in reality, the subjective written commentary is the basis on which decisions are made.
p.30 5.2.3 Where the term ‘appropriate’ in used in relation to Green Belt release, it refers to the land that contributes weakly to Green Belt objectives – the ‘weakly’ seems subjective and in the case of PW1/CA3 not borne out by evidence. Moreover, it is not clear which ‘part’ of the MGB is being referred to. One of the differences between Paddock Wood and Capel is that Capel is in the Metropolitan Green Belt and Paddock Wood is not. The parish boundary is also the limits to built development of PW and the MGB boundary. CPC would argue this is the most important part of the MGB in Capel parish as it prevents the convergence of Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green. In other words, it maintains a sense of openness and separateness between the two communities which is the whole point of the MGB – it does not therefore ‘weakly’ contribute to the MGB
The stretch of the road further west of AL3 between Five Oak Green and the A228 does not give this impression to the same degree, it doesn’t give a clear sense of separateness between the village and its surroundings. But once you cross the A228 it is very different – after a few houses near the roundabout there is open countryside right up to the LBD of Paddock Wood. The boundary between the two parishes is at its clearest here – yet the proposal of the planners to end the MGB at the A228 would destroy this clear distinction between rural and urban which is the main function of the MGB. This most strategic section of the MGB would be destroyed and the two settlements would to all appearances have converged.
p.31 6. Environment valued heritage not being protected e.g. Grade I Listed Somerhill; ‘net gains for nature’ this is far from being evidenced.
7. Green Belt – increase public accessibility unclear how this is to be achieved unless it means building access roads over the remaining MGB; there are no measures to protect the remaining MGB land
8. This conflicts with TWBC’s recently adopted policy as a climate change council.
9. It is troubling to see this as a model for even more development in the future presumably in the same parish
p.32 5.3.1 To argue the local plan objective on climate change is compatible with all the SA is just an assertion. How can that be when 600 acres of open farmland is to be built over and a road to be driven through the AONB?
The compatibility of local plan objective on Garden Settlements with SA objectives is a series of ‘?’s What does that tell us?
Table 8 (para 5.3.1) purports to test compatibility of objectives.
In relation to item 1 (Development needs) the table shows compatibility in every area, but this is not possible to assess in relation to at least 2 (Biodiversity and Landscape) as full assessments of the current situation were not undertaken for key development areas.
Table 9 demonstrates very high levels of uncertainty in relation to key objectives, especially in relation to the proposed Garden Settlements.
It is, therefore, totally wrong to simply conclude (para 5.3.3) that nine out of ten Local Plan Objectives are more compatible than incompatible with the Sustainability Appraisal objectives. If the outcome is uncertain then it may very well be that objectives are incompatible. The approach is wrong, and the SA is therefore unsound.
Para 5.3.6 is based on speculation. If the Neighbourhood Plan content is dictated by the Strategic Policies of the Local Plan, given the high levels of uncertainty previously identified, it cannot be claimed that there will be compatibility.
Table 15 is also speculative in relation to biodiversity. Given the paucity of information on biodiversity in general it is simply not possible to justify the statement of small losses and potential gains. This is unsound.
Similar concerns relate to Tables 16 and 17 given the lack of base information in relation to biodiversity.
p.34 5.3.8 “a clearer picture is now available on what sort of development would be created in a garden settlement. However, no presumption about potential locations for garden settlements is made for this element of the Local Plan thus several uncertain impacts are still predicted.”
There are no details on ‘what sort of development’ apart from that it will follow a master planned approach’; ‘no presumptions’ you are proposing development at Tudeley, Capel and PW – why are there no presumptions?
p.36 how many responses were there to this consultation which provided only a ‘slight’ preference for option 5?
p.37-8 2 Capel/4 Horsmonden there is only very limited information on why alternative strategic sites to Capel were rejected (far less information than on small scale sites rejected ) e.g. there is no comparison between site 144 in Horsmonden and its ‘severe access difficulties’ [not explained] and the sites chosen; it is not measured against the comparative negative criteria in Tudeley and East Capel despite the latter being in the Green Belt and in Tudeley’s case also bordering on AONB
12. This also refers to sites in Capel as well as PW. Land is outside of key constraints (except flooding and Green Belt) and has useful transport links – as if these constraints are conveniently less important? – and the transport links are already overused. The reference presumably includes the Colts Hill bypass which would require damage to the AONB if it were to be built – a point the SA ignores.
p.41 6.2.9 – the views of Capel Parish Council were only sought after this strategy had been adopted. At no point has the council expressed a view supportive of this strategy. The council’s view is that there is no need to build housing in the Green Belt and the Borough Council’s strategy is flawed.
p.42 Table 15 the negatives for air, biodiversity, climate change, heritage, land use, landscape, noise, travel and waste would be considerably higher in a measure of the cumulative impact on Capel Parish where 4300 (63%) of the proposed housing shortfall is planned. Much of this will have very limited impact on other parts of the borough so this cross borough impact measurement is flawed.
p.43 6.2.14 there is no detailed explanation as to why other large scale sites were rejected. Capel Parish Council believes that Tudeley was not the original choice as a stand-alone garden settlement, and that the choice was more to do with the single landownership than the absence of constraints. The nature of land ownership is not a good argument for rejecting a site outside the Green Belt for one inside it.
p.44 Capel Parish Council are grateful for small mercies that the bigger Tudeley site was rejected, but are concerned that the council even envisaged large scale building in the AONB, and that there is a high risk of this option returning at some later date to destroy virtually all the MGB between Tonbridge and Five Oak Green.
p.45 6.2.18/19 Justifies a smaller settlement on the grounds that a larger one would be even worse: most of the adverse effects are caused by the nature of the development itself – mitigating this by not building something even larger is ridiculous. The only sustainability comparison is between the two Tudeley options – there are no comparisons with other options the council considered, particularly those outside the Green Belt.
p.47-8 Urban extension 6.2.20 -30 there are two options which would not have involved building on the Green Belt – the council have rejected these in favour of one that does. Option 1 has least impact in terms of a range of environmental factors.
1. The effect on local biodiversity will be much greater than stated (even if it has no effect on the Ashdown Forest – surely this is a flawed and ludicrous measurement given that it is miles away with a completely different geology soils, and flora and fauna!). 1500 houses on option CA 3 is not going to enhance biodiversity as stated – the presence of several hundred more domestic cats will see to that!
2. Option 1 has the least effect on climate change – but the council seems only paying lip service to this goal despite proclaiming themselves a climate change council
3. Option 1 has less effect on heritage than 2 and the setting of the Medieval moated Badsell Manor needs to be accounted for. Not clear whether this was included in the assessment.
4. Option 1 would have less effect on land use and noise than option 2; and giving 1 and 2 the same score for landscape seems illogical given the 201 acres extra lost to this scheme. The environmental scores are much more negative overall for option 2 than 1 and there is an argument that the difference has been underplayed in this assessment
6.2.28 Approximately similar outcomes for Options 1 and 2 – but clearly not on environmental measures see above.
p.49 6.2.29 It is clear that housing is the factor that motivates the council despite the impact on the Green Belt of option 2. This reads like the council chose the option they wanted and skewed these criteria to justify it. Environmental factors should have been taken more seriously and have been underweighted for the Green Belt section to the west of Paddock Wood. No exceptional circumstances have been put forward for building on the Green Belt outside Paddock Wood in Capel Parish when even the council realises there are alternatives which would leave the MGB intact.
6.2.29 but also improve the flood risk for existing residents must be highly weighted. This refers to Five Oak Green Flood Alleviation as well as PW. This has been used twice in this SA both in East Capel and Tudeley to justify development. This despite option 2 having been selected before TWBC were aware in Feb 19 of this scheme. Option 2 would ALSO require building on the most flood prone part of Capel Parish – so improving the flood risk as a highly weighted factor for the choice does not make any sense.
p. 50 7.1.4 no specific alternative approach is identified – therefore impossible to judge chosen strategic sites against any possible alternative.
p.52 Table 18 highlights negative impact of Green Belt policy across the Borough. The impact on Capel Parish where all the Green Belt development is planned will be disproportionately greater. Why no cumulative impact assessment on Capel Parish alone as all the lost Green Belt is here?
p.55 8.1.4 sites were rejected including significant proportion of the site is Ancient Woodland, significantly reducing the developable area of the site CA2 has a significant portion of ancient woodland but has been included.
Para 8.1.4 states that landscape considerations form one of the filters. What is totally unclear is what this is based on given that there has been no comprehensive Borough wide landscape assessment. On this basis the SA cannot be sound.
There is no filter for biodiversity interests beyond considerations relating to designated sites.
Figure 10 p. 66 demonstrates the significant and excessive proportion of Capel parish being considered for development. No other parish is subjected to such pressures for development. It is completely disproportionate. The designation ‘Reasonable’ is wrong.
p.67 Table 25 suffers the same faults as earlier tables in relation to biodiversity.
The commentary is biased. Without proper assessments of some factors in the first instance and given that there is an emphasis on development rather than conservation and respect for natural beauty and existing ecosystems there is bound to be a greater number of positives.
The cumulative assessment for Capel Parish notes the negative scores for environmental objectives which the TWBC clearly believe are a cost worth paying; and therefore, ultimately less important in the assessment.
Positive biodiversity score for AL/CA3 hard to believe if this referred to Capel section alone
This chart is assessing cumulative effects on Capel but includes an area mostly in Paddock Wood. The betterment for flooding in Five Oak Green could still be paid for under option 1 for PW.
How can heritage for CA2 be 0 when it affects the views to and from Somerhill – a Grade 1 listed building?
It is clear that one parish is bearing a hugely disproportionate impact of this plan even on the Council’s figures. The environmental impact of the development in the Green Belt (with these three sites CA1; CA2 and CA3) in one small parish, when set alongside the impact of TP6 on the AONB with the associated transport infrastructure for these schemes which will carve its way through the remainder of the parish in a way this appraisal has yet to spell out, will disproportionately damage the quality of life for Capel residents over the coming years. Essentially the council needs to rethink its strategy and avoid building on the Green Belt, to protect the quality of life for its residents in Capel who cannot be expected to bear the full burden of development for the whole borough. This SA is based on the needs of the Borough as a whole it pays little attention to the cumulative effect on Capel Parish. Even this table envisions the positive impact for future residents. It does not reflect the impact for current residents.
p.70 note the negative score on climate change off AL/CA3 which contrasts with the limited impact of the other sites in the town.
p.87-8 Site 144 in Horsmonden originally seen an option for strategic development according to p. 37 has not been included in the assessment.
p.129 Table 73 score for climate change is a ‘?’ – is this really sustainable for a climate change council? The impact of development in the Green Belt must be a big negative contribution. Table 73 suffers from the same speculation as other tables with regard to factors where the base data has not been properly assessed such as landscape and biodiversity.
p.131 The Biodiversity objective is compatible with (or has no relationship/an uncertain relationship with) all strategic objectives in the Draft Local Plan except Strategic Objective 4 (Housing) – see Table 8. This is principally because the large area of greenfield land take that would be required for construction of new dwellings is likely to create pressure on existing habitats. However, Strategic Objective 6 (Environment) offers protection to “valued natural environment” and expects net gains for nature thus any losses would be more than offset” There is no evidence presented for this assertion and the impact on biodiversity must be measured on each parish not across the borough. The flora and fauna of the Low Weald of Tudeley and East Capel cannot be replaced by compensatory measures elsewhere – it is a unique landscape with its own species.
The comments in Table 74 in relation to biodiversity are dependent on tables that are faulty for reasons given above; namely that without the proper initial assessment it is not possible to understand the impact on this key issue. Similar comments also apply to landscape.
p.139 the heritage effects on Capel Parish will be wholly negative – pattern of low weald farmsteads and the damage to the setting of listed buildings cannot be replaced.
p.140 housing it is not clear how this will benefit the residents of Capel or of Tunbridge Wells. It will result in the building of houses attractive to the London market which will put more pressure on existing infrastructure.
p.142 landscape – As for the cumulative impact from release of Green Belt sites, the cumulative impact on the Landscape objective of all allocated sites (equivalent to STR 1) is expected to be highly negative TWBC is urged to remove Green Belt development and refocus the plan in line with its environmental objectives. The commentary moves from highly negative to negative by the conclusion; the mitigation ‘to some extent’ is an assertion that has not been evidenced.

p.153 passim Appendix A demonstrates that no consideration whatsoever has been given to biodiversity and the natural environment outside of designated sites. With regard to landscape no weighting has been given and the comment suggested that there has been some judgement yet there has been nothing to base that judgement given that there has been no comprehensive Borough wide landscape assessment.
Appendix G p.177-9 The reason given for the rejection of most of the smaller sites in Capel parish refers to their contribution to the Green Belt, the setting of Five Oak Green, and contribution to the landscape. These are the very reasons that have been ignored in the adjoining strategic sites. In particular the plan refers to the ‘weak’ contribution to the MGB part of CA3 makes – but it adjoins some of these sites, and its contribution is crucial as explained above.
Appendix G suffers from the faults previously identified; in particular in relation to biodiversity and landscape.
Appendix O p.204-6 Horsmonden makes no reference to site 144 considered as strategic see p.37
Given the above Capel Parish Council believes the overall SA is based on incomplete information and is therefore unsound. It fails to justify the extensive building within the Green Belt envisaged by the dLP, which Capel Parish Council maintains is unsustainable.

Capel Parish Council comments on DLP [draft for discussion]

Capel Parish Council response to Regulation 18 consultation on draft Local Plan

Capel Parish Council objects to the sections of the draft Local Plan that relate to Capel Parish for the reasons found below:
Vision:
Reducing existing flood risk to PW, Capel Parish & FOG resulting in “betterment” – reduced flood risk is welcome; but hardly a price worth paying for so much development and associated road infrastructure. The fact that the same ‘betterment’ comment is cut and pasted for Tudeley suggests this vision is not one that had the ‘betterment’ of Capel residents in mind.
CPC believe Paddock Wood can be regenerated without using greenbelt land at East Capel for housing and that one of the other options should have been adopted, similarly the flood risk to Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green can be reduced without using greenbelt land at East Capel.
The Vision for Paddock Wood should not include East Capel which is part of a completely different community.
Housing in East Capel will alter the greenbelt boundary without any justification and will cause coalescence between Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green. The NPPF clearly states in paras 133 to 147 that green belt should only be released in exceptional circumstances. See comments on SA. This land is key to preventing convergence between Five Oak Green and Paddock Wood.

A new garden settlement is not required at Tudeley. Flood risk can be reduced using the Environment Agency’s existing plan which can be funded without developers building houses on MGB land. A garden settlement at Tudeley should not be part of your vision and is only there because the land is in single ownership. It is certainly not part of the vision of those who live there at the moment.

Your Vision states that rural enterprise will have been supported and natural environments will have been protected and enhanced by 2036. This is not true. The Local Plan will destroy rural enterprises, such as the equestrian facilities at Bank Farm alongside other businesses in Capel. The natural environment in Capel will be badly damaged if the development of new housing in Tudeley and East Capel goes ahead. Neighbouring businesses will also be affected during the long building process, including huge amounts of roadworks on one of the busiest roads in the borough. These works are bound to take many years and will put untold stress on the local community. Moreover, the Tudeley and East Capel proposals which are within two miles of each other and share the same road links seem to be scheduled for development in the same timeframe. This will place severe and disproportionate strain on the local community and infrastructure. A garden settlement would be better in a more remote part of the borough outside the Green Belt and AONB, to give that area a boost and to minimise disturbances caused by construction. The two sites that satisfy the criteria and are identified in the evidence base, Horsmonden and Frittenden have not been explored further in the sustainability appraisal.

Comments on Vision and Objectives 2 Strategic objectives
To release appropriate land from the Green Belt through a plan-led approach, and to increase public accessibility, and to protect the openness of remaining Green Belt land.
Objective 7 should be removed releasing land from the green belt should not be a strategic objective.
The NPPF clearly states in paras 133 to 147 that green belt should only be released in exceptional circumstances. Stating that you have an objective to release land from the green belt (regardless of your judgement that it is appropriate) is contrary to national guidance.
Also, in the Introduction (1.6) “Protection of the Green Belt” is a key outcome from your last round of public consultation.
There is no need to remove green belt land if the Council had adopted the other options that it had before it; where are plans here to increase public accessibility or protect the openness of the remaining green belt? Unlike Tonbridge and Malling, TWBC has no plans to replace the lost green belt suggesting it places a low value on this form of designation. It clearly has also concluded that replacement land (originally mooted to the south and east of Paddock Wood) would not serve the same purpose as the two lost sections which prevent the convergence of settlements between Five Oak Green, Tonbridge and Paddock Wood.
Capel Parish Council strongly urges the council to remove this objective.
Objective 8 To tackle climate change and minimise the impact of development on communities, the economy, and the environment with carefully considered design and by embracing technology, such as renewable energy generation
Destroying 600 acres of fertile green belt land in Capel, with mature trees and hedgerows in pursuit of the creation of houses will not tackle climate change. Nor will creating a new garden settlement that results in a high level of private car use. The proposal for development in the MGB at East Capel and Tudeley scores negatively for climate change in the SA and does not back up this objective or the council’s wider policy on carbon neutrality adopted only a few weeks ago.
The objective should stay in, but the proposed developments in Capel Parish should come out.
Objective 9 To establish garden settlements as a model for the future delivery of development in the borough.
Where is evidence that garden settlements lead to any positive outcomes for communities anywhere in the UK? Objectives should have clear goals that can be proven to be positive for the inhabitants of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells and the parish of Capel. This may be a passing fashion in planning policy that will disappear, and this approach may lead to future developments outside the LBD’s in the green belt and the AONB which will destroy the rural nature of the borough outside RTW. Capel Parish Council urges the council to remove this objective.
Objective 10: To work with neighbourhood plan groups to ensure the formation of locally-led policies, with this reflected in decisions on planning applications
The council has only worked with Capel Parish Council (in lieu of a neighbourhood planning group) once the choice of East Capel and Tudeley had already been determined. These policies which will have a huge impact on our residents are not locally led. Any future planning decisions in the parish will be dwarfed by the impact of this, making the role of neighbourhood planning peripheral at best.
Comments on Section 4 The Development Strategy para 4.16
TWBC has interpreted its housing need figure at 13,560 and then upscaled it to 14,776 despite having strong grounds to lower it due to the large amount of Green Belt and AONB land in the borough.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government have repeatedly made clear that ““the housing need figure is not a mandatory target. Local Authorities should make a realistic assessment of the number of homes their communities need, using the standard method as the starting point in the process. Once this has been established planning to meet that need will require consideration of land availability, relevant constraints and whether the need is more appropriately met in neighbouring areas… The NPPF is clear that only in exceptional circumstances may a Green Belt boundary be altered, through the Local Plan process. Last year we strengthened Green Belt policy in the revised NPPF”.
You have chosen to accept the government’s housing need for Tunbridge Wells borough based on the standard method of calculation. You know that the ONS 2016 figures show a smaller housing need and that policy will reflect that in due course.
You can protect this borough from the destruction of Green Belt and AONB by following NPPF guidelines, but this plan shows no interest in doing so, and in fact is planning for even more housing than your interpretation of the 2014 figures require. For example, you could save the MGB land at East Capel by choosing a different development option that would require 1000 fewer houses.
The NPPF para 11(b) says “strategic policies should, as a minimum, provide for objectively assessed needs for housing and other uses, as well as any needs that cannot be met within neighbouring areas, unless:
i. the application of policies in this Framework that protect areas or assets of particular importance provides a strong reason for restricting the overall scale, type or distribution of development in the plan area; or
ii. Any adverse impact of doing so would significantly and demonstrably outweigh the benefits, when assessed against the policies in this Framework when taken as a whole”.

The NPPF makes provision for TWBC to have a choice in the provision of the objectively assessed 13,560 houses. If provision of these houses is really only possible by sacrificing Green Belt land, then the NPPF makes it perfectly possible for TWBC to say that this is not achievable. TWBC have chosen not to do so.
Capel Parish Council calls for a reduction in the number of houses to be delivered by the Local Plan.
Comments on Section 4 Paragraph 4.38 (The Development Strategy) p.39
You are proposing a development strategy based on dispersed growth, i.e. proportional distribution of development across all of the borough’s settlements. You imply that you have achieved this, but this is misleading. The Local Plan is almost entirely dependent on the successful implementation of proposed garden settlement in Tudeley and the expansion of Paddock Wood including building on East Capel. They form 63% of the new housing. If these sites fail to deliver, then the associated infrastructure that is entirely reliant on developer capital would also never be realised. This appears to stack risk on risk, where both areas of development are inextricably linked and the failure of one would lead to collapse of the other and as a result the whole plan would fail.
Comments on Section 4 Paragraph 4.40 (The Development Strategy)
You refer to Tudeley Village securing a long term option for the borough to deliver the needs of future generations. It is clear from this statement that you intend to add more and more housing to this “garden settlement” in each five year review of future Local Plans.
Capel Parish Council are seriously concerned that this will be the first step in the longer term destruction of the entire MGB in this part of the Borough. It deserves to be protected and sheltered from development. A garden settlement should there be one, would be best in the middle of the borough, to make it accessible north and south. It is totally counterproductive to put affordable housing right at the very north of the borough when so many residents live in the south. Put it in the middle of the borough or spread it right across the borough.
The developments in Tudeley and East Capel are unsustainable, having a poor road infrastructure and this doing nothing for local employment needs (it will make many local farm workers redundant). It would also put an unfair burden on the residents of Tonbridge whose infrastructure the new residents will access. ‘The ‘master planning approach’ will come to a grinding halt at the boundaries of Tonbridge a town whose infrastructure has grown slowly over the last millennium and can hardly be expected to adjust to this challenge imposed on it by the planners of the neighbouring authority. This view was reflected by the comments of Tonbridge and Malling councillors at their planning and transportation meeting on 2nd October, and the subsequent letter included as part of their comments.
Comments on The Key Diagram (Figure 4, Section 4) p.41
The circle representing housing on Tudeley is not big enough. It should show 1,900 new houses and is only a little bigger than the key circle showing 1,000 housing units. The depiction of Green Belt land and AONB land on this map is very helpful. It demonstrates that the garden settlement should be in Horsmonden or Frittenden. Tudeley should not have been shortlisted when you have suitable sites outside of the AONB and Green Belt.
Comments on Policy STR 1 (The Development Strategy) p.42
Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
This policy does not include any reference to development on Brownfield sites but does refer to the release of Green Belt. There should be a strategy of identifying suitable Brownfield sites and developing innovative ways to deliver housing on those sites.
You repeatedly refer to the Eastern part of Capel parish as part of Paddock Wood when it is not, and unlike Paddock Wood is in the green belt. It has a completely different heritage and culture from Paddock Wood. Badsell Manor is the oldest continuously inhabited houses in the parish and its historic environs would be destroyed by this proposal.
Comments on Table 3 (Scale and Distribution of Development) p.43

Repeated use of the phrase “To be determined as part of master planning” in reference to Paddock Wood, Capel and Tudeley is ridiculous when it refers to 63% of the houses in this Local Plan. You are asking residents and businesses to consult on a largely incomplete draft. This is a gaping hole in the draft Local Plan and thus incomplete and not fit for consultation.
Policy STR 3
In order to bring forward development of the sites allocated in a timely and comprehensive way, the Council will, where appropriate, use its Compulsory Purchase Order powers to enable the sites and development to be delivered to achieve the strategic objectives and development strategy set out within the Local Plan.
Master planning and compulsory purchase powers: This is noted. Also noted is that one of the reasons the offline option for the Colts Hill bypass was favoured was that there would be no need for CPO’s unlike the on-line option which would do materially less harm to the AONB. In light of this inconsistency will this plan be revisited.
Capel Parish Council is against any of its residents being subject to compulsory purchase arising out of this plan.

Comments on Section 4 Paragraph 4.49 (The Green Belt) p.49
the Council considers that there are the exceptional circumstances to alter the boundaries of the Green Belt to remove land from the designation for the proposed development at Tudeley Village, land at Capel and Paddock Wood, at sites around Royal Tunbridge Wells (particularly at North Farm/Kingstanding Way), and at Pembury, and also alterations at Southborough, Speldhurst, and Langton Green. Overall, some 5.35% of the Green Belt within the borough is being de-designated.
Capel Parish Council do not believe the exceptional circumstances exist to justify releasing land from the Green Belt in Tudeley and East Capel.
As you will see from our comments on the Sustainability Appraisal, options for the expansion of Paddock Wood need not include East Capel.
The release of Green Belt for Tudeley New Town is totally unjustifiable. The 1,900 houses delivered there in this plan period are either not required by TWBC (who can easily reduce their plan to provide 13,560 rather than 14,776 new houses) or can be provided elsewhere outside of the Green Belt and AONB (for example at Horsmonden or Frittenden). Innovative use of Brownfield sites may also provide the housing that TWBC would like to provide by removing 400 acres from the Green Belt in Tudeley plus another over 200 in East Capel.
5.35% of the land is being ‘de-designated’ (by which the plan means removed) from the Green Belt. But this is disproportionately concentrated in Capel parish where it will have a huge impact on the community and lead to the convergence of settlements. One of the main reasons for the green belt in the first place.
Comments on Section 4 Paragraph 4.50 (The Green Belt) p.49
You state that the Distribution of Development Topic Paper (which draws on the Green Belt Strategy Study) provides evidence and justification to release land from the Green Belt at Tudeley. This is not true. There is no evidence that makes Tudeley a better site for a Garden Village than Horsmonden.
The justification for not placing a garden settlement at Horsmonden is that “This would be a very large scale strategic allocation that would be disproportionate to the size of the settlement, with concern about landscape and heritage”. Tudeley is a tiny hamlet. It has 50 houses at most. The whole of the Parish of Capel has only 950 houses in it. Adding 2,800 new houses at Tudeley is a massive increase that is far higher than the proportional increase at Horsmonden.
Tudeley is home to a world renowned heritage asset – All Saints Church. The only church in the entire world to have a complete set of stained glass windows designed by the renowned artist Marc Chagall. There is no equivalent heritage asset at Horsmonden. The proposal at CA2 would also impinge on the views from and towards Somerhill a Grade 1 listed building.
Tudeley has a beautiful, rolling landscape with abundant wildlife, fertile soil and high biodiversity scores. It is entirely within the Green Belt and the High Weald AONB is within a few yards of the proposed development site.
You state that Horsmonden has severe access difficulties. The access difficulties on the B2017 and Hartlake Road are at least as severe and the impact of the extra traffic on Tonbridge’s overloaded road infrastructure will have severe impact there too.
Capel Parish Council do not believe exceptional circumstances exist to justify building at Tudeley rather than Horsmonden. The only argument presented anywhere is that Tudeley has a single landowner and Horsmonden has multiple landowners. TWBC’s reluctance to deal with multiple landowners is not an “exceptional circumstance”. The Capel Parish SHEELA states there will be compensatory Green Belt elsewhere in the Borough. This is clearly not the case. Capel Parish Council deplores the loss of MGB as a result of this plan.
Comments on Policy STR 4 (Green Belt) p.42
Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
The release of Green Belt described in this plan in Tudeley and East Capel is not justified in any way and is certainly not the result of “exceptional circumstances”.
See comments above re Section 4 para 4.5
The Green Belt Strategic Study commissioned by TWBC states that building houses at Tudeley and East Capel would cause the maximum level of harm possible to the Green Belt. CPC believe that there is a suitable alternative site for the Tudeley development outside the Green Belt (for example in Horsmonden) and the East Capel development is not required to expand Paddock Wood.
Comments on Policy STR 5 (Essential Infrastructure and Connectivity) p.52
Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
An addition is required as follows:
“All infrastructure required for the garden settlements must be described in detail before the Local Plan is adopted, signed off via public consultation and a TWBC Full Council vote and delivered and inspected in full before the first house within the garden settlement is built.”
Comments on Policy STR 6 (Transport and Parking) p.54
Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
An addition is required as follows:
“All sustainable transport services, with proven capacity to hold the entire population of the garden settlement, must be provided and active before the first house within the garden settlement is built.”
Note that you can only provide rapid bus links if you provide dedicated bus lanes. For Tudeley, the closest rail station in Tonbridge, it will require bus lanes along Woodgate Way, Pembury Road and all the way up to Station Approach.
CPC support the ambition regarding sustainable travel but the only way to do that will be to provide limited car parking and limited car access into the new development at Tudeley. This may conflict with the ambitions of the landowner. CPC insist transport services are provided before the houses are built as part of the master planning approach.
Comments on Policy STR 7 (Place Shaping and Design) p.56
Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation
You state that your policy seeks to protect existing residents from a development’s “overbearing impact”. This is impossible when you propose to put 2,800 houses on a site that has at most 50 houses at present. You must add a clause to say that where an overbearing impact is anticipated, residents will be consulted and have enhanced rights when planning applications are considered, including the right of veto or appeal as individuals vs developers.
Comments on Section 4 Paragraph 4.69
Paddock Wood is a distinct settlement, which is identifiable as a historic railway-focused town, located in the transition area between the Low and High Weald, at the foot of the scarp slope.
We are glad the plan recognises this. Please note it does not include East Capel!
Comments on Section 4 Paragraph 4.87 (Limits to Built Development) p.62
You have not provided any detailed LBD information for Tudeley or East Capel, citing “the need for further master planning”. This once again highlights that this plan is not ready for Public Consultation.
Comments on Policy STR/CA1 (The Strategy for Capel Parish) p.156
Object / Support / Support with Conditions / General Observation

You have developed a strategy which is completely unachievable. The risks involved in inflicting a “garden settlement” on this Green Belt hamlet are huge. The infrastructure costs will also be massive. The landowner and co-master planner is inexperienced and ill-equipped to deliver such a complex project. Point by point the policy is flawed in the following ways:
1. It is difficult to see the provision of employment and retail provision within the settlement as it lies so close to Tonbridge. This is no compensation for the loss of agricultural land and farming/equestrian employment if the development goes ahead.
2. The proposed secondary school site is next to an extremely busy road that is already very congested at school drop-off times. It also crosses a railway line that is at the bottom of a very deep cutting. It stands to be demonstrated whether children can cross safely before, during and after the school day. It is also directly opposite the Grade 1 listed Somerhill and contains ancient woodland. CPC understands this is not a choice KCC Would have made as the site for a new school. We think it is completely inappropriate and do not support it.
3. The requirement for more primary school places in the immediate locality has yet to be demonstrated, as the birth rate is dropping.
4. 4,000 new dwellings in two new developments in such a small rural area, with such a limited infrastructure is inappropriate. The houses will not provide for the needs of this parish. If needed it would be better to spread them out across the borough.
5. Flood storage areas and other mitigation strategies can be delivered without developer contributions from new housing. This is an ex post facto justification as far as Five Oak Green is concerned as the borough were seemingly unaware of the EA scheme until February 2019, well after the plans for both schemes had been drawn up. CPC notes the alacrity of the borough in using this proposal which has been on the drawing board since 2010, to allege ‘betterment’ for residents as a result of this proposal, despite their previous lack of interest in or awareness of this issue. Introducing hard surfaces and dwellings on to the meadows and fields of East Capel and Tudeley will increase the flood risk beyond any mitigation measures.
6. Strategic transport links cannot be provided without destroying large areas of AONB, and it is noted you cannot provide the exact location of such a link; which makes it difficult to comment on. Given the uncertainty, Capel Parish Council would like the offline A228 link to be reviewed in the wider context of this possible new road infrastructure. It may be the online option would cause less damage to the AONB, and the offline plan is already 20 years old. You will need to be aware of the impact this will cause on the road at Pembury. Any transport links provided will have to continue on through Tonbridge with a huge impact in an already highly congested traffic area.
7. No comment.
8. Despite surrounding Five Oak Green with 4,000+ new houses, you state clearly that you want to keep on providing additional housing within Five Oak Green. The village envelope of Five Oak Green should remain as it is in these circumstances given the disproportionate development in the rest of the parish.
9. The release of Green Belt land is not permitted within the NPPF as TWBC has not proved “exceptional circumstances”. Dealing with a single landowner at Tudeley does not amount to exceptional circumstances, and TWBC have two other options for Paddock Wood which would not require them to build on the green belt at East Capel.
10. Agree
11. The impact on carbon sequestration provided by the farmland, meadows, mature trees and hedgerows in all three Capel sites cannot be offset by a nod to zero/low carbon energy production. The impact of this development on climate change is clearly negative as demonstrated in your own sustainability appraisal.
12. This site is within the recognised 1km AONB buffer zone and so is entirely unsuitable for development of this scale. The associated road infrastructure will have an even more damaging impact.
13. The AONB Management Plan is severely compromised by this proposed development.

You have a Master planning and Delivery approach within this policy that does not reference the involvement of developers and landowners. It is our understanding that the master planning of East Capel will be led by the Council. However, the master planning of Tudeley appears to be shared between the Council and Hadlow Estate. This is not consistent and the product of having one developer to deal with. Hadlow Estate are not experienced developers and have failed to share their plans and ideas with the parish council or the wider community. We fear these ideas will be completely inappropriate for this Low Weald landscape and that they will try to build a high end urban development completely out of keeping with the local heritage and landscape, designed to appeal to an upmarket London based clientele. We strongly urge the council abandon this idea and failing that to take a more pro-active role with the landowner in managing this development.
Comment on Section 5 Paragraph 5.60 (Allocation Policies) p.159
This site is unsuitable for a garden settlement because it has a main railway line running through the middle of it. There only two crossings. At Hartlake Road on its boundary (no more than a country lane) and Sherenden Road which is so narrow that only one car can pass at a time under the railway embankment. There are no proposals as we understand to change this as it would require major works to the railway which is the main Tonbridge – Dover line. CPC believe it is two settlements divided by a railway line, neither of which satisfy garden settlement principles.
This site is under single ownership. This appears to be the overriding factor in its selection. The landowner has no track record in managing or master planning a development of this size, and they are not widely trusted to do so within the wider Capel community in our judgement. No-one has had any positive form of engagement with them since the development was disclosed, and thus nobody has any idea of what this development might entail.
Development on the site will adversely affect flood risks in Tudeley and neighbouring Golden Green, East Peckham, Hadlow and Tonbridge. The River Medway is more prone to flooding and the impact of a failure in the Leigh Barrier has not been considered, particularly in light of rapid increase in sea levels and other Climate Change. The Five Oak Green flood risk will be reduced by a storage reservoir on the Alders Stream, that can be delivered and funded by a much smaller scale of development than that envisaged by this garden settlement.
The Biodiversity on this site is extraordinary. As is rightly noted, it is also adjacent to a Biodiversity Opportunity Area and directly adjacent to AONB.
Comments on Policy AL/CA 1 (Tudeley Village) p.160
This policy envisages too many new dwellings, completely out of proportion to its environment. They are entirely unsustainable in this rural area with a limited infrastructure. Capel Parish Council believes this proposal is unsustainable and therefore unsound – clearly not of a sustainable scale as claimed here. CPC is also troubled by the call for a ‘clear identity’ by which we take something similar to Poundbury, which would be an unwelcome urban intrusion into this rural Low Weald Medway Valley landscape. We believe this is what the landowner intends, and we believe he should not be allowed a free hand.
If this development were to materialise, we believe TWBC should insist that all infrastructure (transport services, new roads and road improvements) must be delivered before construction of housing begins. We believe the added flood risk cannot be fully mitigated against and the site contributes negatively to climate change.

Comments on Policy AL/CA 2 (Land east of Tonbridge, west of Tudeley) p.164
This policy refers to a site that is wholly unsuitable to the development of a secondary school due to the:
• Railway line
• Busy roads
• Flood risk
• High pressure gas pipeline risks
• Unsustainable transport links to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells Town Centre
• Reliance on private car use for staff and students’ families.

The proposed secondary school site is in a dangerous place, with a railway line running through the site. It will add an unacceptably high level of traffic to/from Tonbridge with a negative effect on the town’s infrastructure as well as the setting of the Grade 1 listed Somerhill. The development at Tudeley, with 1,900 homes built in the next 15 years, will be unlikely have enough children of Secondary School age to fill an eight form entry secondary school. Most of the students will come from Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells, and Southborough/Bidborough and Paddock Wood. The road infrastructure is not capable of sustaining this pressure and it will provide for an over reliance on the car given its distance from central Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells and its otherwise rural catchment.
Comments on Policy STR/PW 1 (The Strategy for Paddock Wood) p.170
The expansion of Paddock Wood can be achieved without using land at East Capel for housing. Flood storage attenuation/mitigation measures may be useful there, but no housing is required. In fact, providing housing will contravene the NPPF as East Capel is Green Belt and the removal of East Capel from the Green Belt will cause convergence with Five Oak Green, as our comments on the SA suggest. This does not amount to “exceptional circumstances”. This is further described in comments on the Sustainability Appraisal.
Comments on Policy AL/PW 1 (Land at Capel and Paddock Wood) p.170
The expansion of Paddock Wood can be achieved without using Green Belt land at East Capel for housing. 4,000 new dwellings in Paddock Wood is excessive given the scale of recent developments and overambitious, and Green Belt land in a neighbouring parish should not be taken to provide for this. Capel Parish Council believe that if TWBC is not willing to argue that the housing need given to them by government is too high, they can use the NPPF’s protection of Green Belt to adjust their expansion plans.
Capel Parish Council ask that TWBC remove this option from the draft local plan. The East Capel site prevents the convergence of Paddock Wood and Five Oak Green, is the area of the parish most vulnerable to flooding, so is inappropriate for development and has a valuable historic landscape including Badsell Manor a moated manor house. It is traditional part of Capel Parish and CPC are strongly opposed to its absorption into Paddock Wood in defiance of its history and heritage going back to early Medieval times.

18th September Save Capel Meeting Somerhill School

The next Save Capel Public Meeting ‘Green Belt to Grey Belt?’ will be at Somerhill on 18th September from 7pm. All are welcome.

Speakers:

Richard Knox Johnston – Chairman London Green Belt Council

John Wotton – CPRE Chair

 

Information on how to make representations through Reg 18 (the consultation starts on September 20th and runs until November 1st) will be made available. All issues not raised at this stage cannot be considered later in the process!

See www.savecapel.com for further details

15th August Cabinet approves draft local plan

Tunbridge Wells cabinet approved the draft Local Pan to go out to consultation. This is known as the Regulation 18 process.

This will take place between September 20th and November 1st.

Any comments on the plan will need to be made during these dates in order to be taken into account by TWBC.

The Borough Council will hold an exhibition in Capel Village Hall on Saturday September 21st.

Save Capel will be holding two drop in sessions on September 24th and 27th in the Goldsmid Hall, Tudeley. 10am -12.00

The Save Capel Local Plan Working Party meeting on September 18th will give guidance on how to make an effective representation on the Local Plan.

Cabinet Advisory Board to consider draft Local Plan

The Planning and Transportation Cabinet Advisory Board meet to make a recommendation to the TW Cabinet as to whether to the draft Local Plan should go forward to consultation (Reg 18) 6: 30 Monday August 5th

There will be a demonstration outside the Town Hall from 5:30 (all welcome) – Tom Adam QC (speaking on behalf of CPC and Save Capel) will be urging the Board to reject the plans.

 

Tunbridge Wells Draft Local Plan published

The draft of the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan was made public on Friday 26th July.

You can find the link to the Planning and Transport Cabinet advisory board here: (item 7) Capel Parish is from p.151 onowards – worth having a look at Paddock Wood too for the development in East Capel.

http://democracy.tunbridgewells.gov.uk/meetings/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=355&MId=4565&Ver=4

 

Regulation 18 Public Consultation will be open from September 20th to November 1st any resident can make their views to the planners at this stage.