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Reaction to Hadlow Estate's Tudeley Village 'masterplan'

Plans for a new village of up to 2,800 homes have been revealed.

The Hadlow Estate unveiled its masterplan Tudeley Village midway between Tonbridge and Paddock Wood at a public exhibition in Tunbridge Wells.

An imagination of what the new village could look like. Courtesy of Brooks Murray Architects
An imagination of what the new village could look like. Courtesy of Brooks Murray Architects

The estate had hoped that assurances that the village, with its potential for 2,800 new homes, would be "beautifully built" as opposed to what it called the "monoculture" of so many new estates, would win over the locals.

But Gregg Newman, of Blackman's Lane, Hadlow, is one who was not impressed.

He said: "They call it a 'masterplan.'

"It is perhaps apposite to remember that the last masterplan that involved Kent was foiled in 1940 by the Royal Air Force and the wonderful Spitfires that still grace our skies.

"I sincerely hope that a similar Battle of Britain spirit from the ordinary people of Kent will once again prevail over an ill-conceived and potentially very damaging 'masterplan.'"

Mr Newman described the scheme as an "obfuscation and glib words dressed up as facts."

Gregg Newman was not happy about the plans
Gregg Newman was not happy about the plans

He said: "It is patently designed to gloss over the reality and dupe the local community with half-truths."

He said none of the criticisms of the proposal made by him and others during a public consultation in October last year had been addressed "other than with lovely pictures of the Kent countryside and the existing Hadlow Estate itself."

He said the masterplan talked of a "vision" to “engage with the local community” and yet, he said, the local community was almost unanimously opposed to the project.

The masterplan stated “proposals to bring bus services into the village are being examined.” which he described as 'newspeak' for "there are no agreements for any bus services at this time.'"

He said: "The masterplan cheerily suggests that residents will be able to walk or cycle pretty much wherever they wish."

The Tudeley Village masterplan
The Tudeley Village masterplan

Mr Newman said: "Probably yes, within the confines of the sterile environment of the new town itself.

"In reality, this development is in a very rural location, remote from any facilities and with very poor existing infrastructure. Cycling down the narrow country lanes to access these would be dangerous in the extreme. "

Similar criticisms were raised by the Save Capel Campaign .

A spokesman said: "The shared opinion of all who attended the exhibition on behalf of Save Capel was concern at the lack of detail, confusion and how much was still unclear at what is an advanced stage of the development of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s Local Plan.

Chairman Dave Lovell said: "We raised concerns over increased traffic levels on already congested roads."

Dave Lovell, chairman of Save Capel, fears a white elephant
Dave Lovell, chairman of Save Capel, fears a white elephant

"The response from consultants at the exhibition was that this would be eased by existing traffic diverting to the new site, attracted by the shops and leisure amenities.

"But we have been sold the site on the basis that it will be a walkable site, free of traffic and open to cycling and other forms of personal transport. How can these both be true?”

He said: "We are 100% convinced that what has been proposed cannot and will not be delivered in its entirety.

"But delivering only part of the planned development could be an even bigger disaster for the area than completing it all because key infrastructure and amenities will only be possible once a certain number of houses have been built, leaving a great risk that we will end up with a white elephant."

He said an example was the rail-station that the developers suggested could be added to the existing rail-line that splits the site.

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He said: “Without a station, which is apparently only on the plans after the first 1,900 properties have been built, the pressure on local roads and transport infrastructure would be massive."

But Harry Teacher of the Hadlow Estate had a different view on how things went.

He said: "We’ve welcomed 150 people to our ticketed exhibition this week and the feedback we’ve received has been really useful with many constructive and creative ideas being submitted."

He said: “One idea we’re adding to our masterplan as a result is extending the proposed cycle path to connect with Paddock Wood."

He said: "We’re also looking at the style and types of homes that people want, as well as good quality, beautiful and affordable housing for younger generations.”

Harry Teacher said the developers are listening
Harry Teacher said the developers are listening

Mr Teacher said: "We want to gather as much local feedback as possible to help inform the next stage of the design process so we are inviting people to view the proposals on our website and submit their ideas.

"We are particularly keen to understand what services and facilities people would value most in a new village.”

The Tudeley Village masterplan can be viewed here where there is also a link to an online feedback form with returns due by Friday, November 6.

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