Published: 20:59, 26 May 2019
| Updated: 12:33, 27 May 2019
Communities are bracing themselves for a massive influx of new housing as Tunbridge Wells council reviews its Local Plan.
The borough has been told by the Government it must find room for another 13,500 homes - and it looks as though two communities could take the brunt of them.
A proposal has been put forward for a 2,800-home "garden village" in Tudeley near Capel, while Paddock Wood could expand outwards into the countryside to accommodate another 4,000 homes.
The borough council is working on its draft Local Plan to cover the period from 2016 to 2036.
The plan will identify land across the borough to meet employment, economic and social needs, and to meet the government figures for housing provision over the 15 years from when the plan is adopted, which is expected to be 2021.
The council said it was "a huge challenge," not least given the importance of the natural and historic built environment of the borough.
Managing the pressure on transport and other infrastructure, such as schools, would be a key consideration.
The government has doubled the housing building rate it expects the borough to meet, compared with its last plan.
Taking into account existing planning permissions already granted or in the pipeline, the council has to find space for an extra 9,000 in the plan period.
If it fails to allocate sufficient sites, the plan could be rejected by the government, which could then impose its own plan on the borough - which Tunbridge Wells fears will take little account of local sensibilities.
Although it has not yet published its draft Local Plan, the council’s head of planning, Steve Baughen, has visited Capel Parish Council and Paddock Wood Town Council to warn them about the sites in their areas that have been put forward by landowners for development.
If the draft Local Plan is agreed, Mr Baughan warned there would be significant development in both communities, but the council would insure it came with adequate roads and transport, schools, medical facilities, leisure and business opportunities.
He said Capel would grow by up to 2,800 homes and Paddock Wood by 4,000 in addition to the permissions already granted for 1,000 homes.
The draft Local Plan will be published in late July and the public will then be given the chance to have their say in a public consultation that will run from September 20 until November 1.
During that period the council will host a series of public exhibitions of the proposals which will also be available to read on the council’s website.
Cllr Alan McDermott, who has responsibility for planning and transportation, said: "We have to plan for the next 15 years and there are difficult decisions to be made."
Mr Baughen said: "If the draft Local Plan is agreed, it is a strategy that will allow the council to meet government-imposed housing targets in the way that is considered to be the most appropriate for the borough as a whole.
"It contains a whole range of planning policies, from new design policies to new approaches to retail and town centres, to parking for new houses and to affordable housing, and new transport policies prioritising ‘active travel.’
"The masterplan approach to the strategic sites means development being planned in a comprehensive way, ensuring that adequate roads and transport, schools, medical facilities, leisure, employment and business opportunities are provided as well as housing, including affordable housing.
"I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the document. It is in draft form and I hope that when it is published in full everyone across the borough will look at it and make sure they give their comments and feedback through the consultation process."
On Saturday last week, almost 2,000 people marched through the streets of Marden, in the borough of Maidstone,to protest against a garden village being proposed there
More by this authorAlan Smith