Parish Chairman’s Notes – January 2021

Happy New Year to everyone – let us hope that 2021 brings better news to us all. At the time of writing in early December we have the promise of a vaccine which we hope will bring a return to normal life by the late spring. So, in 2021 we might look forward to face to face Parish Council meetings instead of Zoom, and of course a postponed council election in May. In the meantime, we have a vacancy on the parish council following the resignation of Cllr Jo Barwick. We are unable to hold an election, not only because of Covid, but also because we are within 6 months of a normal election. If you would like to have a taste of what being a parish councillor is like for a few months (perhaps with a view to standing in May), please contact the parish clerk as we can look to co-opt a volunteer as a councillor at our next meeting.

You may be aware that a site at Castle Hill within our parish on the A21, has been put forward by developers as an alternative to the proposals for the so-called Tudeley Garden Village in the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan.  They believe that their proposal would be more sustainable, would provide affordable housing including for local people and key workers, and would have a much more limited effect on the infrastructure of Capel and Tonbridge than the Tudeley proposal. At the time of writing this submission has been supported by a vote of Save Capel members as a replacement for Tudeley in the next version of the Local Plan, at present due to go out to consultation in the early Spring. Save Capel also believe this proposal will weaken the case for the East Capel development too. The Parish Council is also due to discuss whether it will support the Castle Hill proposal as a replacement for Tudeley at its next meeting just before Christmas.

The ‘Vision for Capel’ issued by the parish council’s Neighbourhood Plan working party was published online in mid-November and is available on the parish council website . It gained some coverage in the local press and was distributed to the media, all local councillors, M.P.’s and the relevant council officials. The working party is now moving on to the next stage of its work to engage consultants to work on recommendations for local housing provision. This may well include reviewing the proposals at Castle Hill which lies within our parish.

With all wishes for a happy and prosperous 2021.

Hugh Patterson