Published: 08:00, 13 August 2014
A development bringing hundreds of new homes to Tunbridge Wells has released its first phase of houses.
Some 550 contemporary plots comprising houses and apartments are being built at Knights Wood next to the North Farm Industrial Estate over the next four years.
Property developer Dandara released its first set of three bedroom houses in June and continues to build two, three, four and five bedroom homes on the new site.
It will also bring with it Knights Wood Primary School in 2015 which Dandara contributed £3.95 million towards and it is anticipated that 75% of students will be Knights Wood residents.
Work is expected to start on the school in October 2014 with completion scheduled for August 2015, ready for the first intake of pupils.
The development will also include a new park, shops, cafes, restaurants, offices and 64 acres of green space.
Ashley Mason, head of sales, residential development south east said: “Knights Wood is an eagerly awaited prestigious development that has generated a huge amount of excitement in the area.”
However, opponents of the huge development fear it will bring even more congestion to the town that already has historical issues with traffic.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Councillor, David Neve, has carried concerns since plans emerged. He believes the construction should be half the size and that developers will attempt to tackle current congestion problems but are not considering future issues that could arise from the influx of residents.
Dandara has worked with Kent County Council’s Highways Department to help inform its North Farm Masterplan which commenced in April 2014, of which the £6.3 million widening of Longfield Road is a part.
It is designed to finally bring congestion problems to an end and to deal with traffic growth over the next ten years.
The scheme required the gifting of land in Dandara’s ownership and a contribution of over £3 million.
It aims to tackle traffic chaos around the North Farm retail park and will also include a gyratory style junction at the Great Lodge/Longfield Road junction with work scheduled for completion by March 2015.
However, Mr Neve still believes the efforts are not going to tackle ongoing congestion issues, he said: “I welcome the roads being done, the work will make congestion much better, but building such an enormous development is just going to make things worse again.
“Knights Wood is going to bring over 500 homes with at least two people in each. It is going to negate any improvement that is made to traffic in the town.
"Perhaps if there was half the number of homes we could deal with the congestion, but with the amount planned the roads won’t be able to cope."
However, Dandara said the improvement works would be enough to alleviate congestion at North Farm, both before and after the houses were built.
In December 2011, 205 members attended a public consultation about the site and 92 respondents completed feedback forms.
95% said that finding a long-term transport solution for the local road network was very important and 92% of respondents agreed that developing the site in way that is sensitive to the site’s ancient woodland was important.
Councillor Alan McDermott, cabinet member with responsibility for planning and transportation and deputy leader said: "The Knights Wood development forms part of the required growth for the town which is identified in the Core Strategy and emerging Site Allocations Development Planning Document.
"The planning committee gave due consideration to the transport and traffic issues and it is perhaps worth noting that there is only one access to Knights Wood for vehicles. Other access routes are for cycles and pedestrians only.
"The developer is making a contribution to the North Farm road improvement scheme which is currently under construction. Together with the planned A21 dualling this road improvement scheme addresses traffic flow in the area."
"Perhaps if there was half the number of homes we could deal with the congestion, but with the amount planned the roads won’t be able to cope” - David Neve
The development is set in 205 acres of woodland and will include walking footpaths around the site allowing residents to explore the scenery.
Dandara has also launched a 10-year programme to maintain the local woodland ensuring that the key part of the environment is retained in perpetuity.
Susie Bennett, sales and marketing director said: “Knights Wood has been crafted with quality of life at its very heart.
“There will be a real community feel that is reinforced with a new primary school and shared facilities.”
The development includes a Virgin Active Health Club with pool, spa and gym, a multi screen cinema and retail park all a short walk away.
For more in-depth information visit: http://www.dandara.com/new-houses-tunbridge-wells/knights-wood/summary-56903
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