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Villagers share outrage at revised plans to build 374 homes at Hawkhurst Golf Club

Residents are “appalled” at the prospect of hundreds of homes replacing a village golf course, in a plan expected to double the traffic in its high street.

Tunbridge Wells council has received more than 129 letters from neighbours after developers Cedardrive submitted a revised application for Hawkhurst Golf Club, which is open to golfers at present.

Hawkhurst Golf Club comprises a golf course, club house and squash courts
Hawkhurst Golf Club comprises a golf course, club house and squash courts

There were mass objections to the initial plans, submitted in July last year, revealing plans for 417 homes, a GP surgery, community hall and “relief road” through the new estate, linking the A229 Cranbrook Road and Hawkhurst High Street.

Villagers were joined by the Campaign To Protect Rural England and the High Weald AONB (area of outstanding natural beauty) in their concerns about the village’s infrastructure being unable to cope and the plans looked set to be refused by the council.

Cedardrive has since revised the number of homes down to 374 and moved the relief road so that it joins Cranbrook Road further south to avoid the loss of around half an acre of woodland.

A recent newsletter published by the developers says: "Together with previously proposed measures, these enhancements will ensure a biodiversity net gain of at least 10% can be delivered. In addition, the better traffic flow brought by the relief road should improve the quality of life of people living in the centre of the village."

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But protesters are unconvinced.

Michael Howells, who lives in the high street, thinks the development will have an “appalling” effect on roads.

He said: “The developer’s own figures predict a 100% increase in traffic on the High Street in Hawkhurst - more than 8,000 additional car movements per day. This will have appalling and potentially dangerous consequences for the village centre.”

Dr Michael Robinson of Horns Road added: “Pollution within the village is running above danger levels, and the ‘relief road’ will cause long tail backs in certain directions, this situation will only get worse."

However, Cedardrive insists the relief road will cut queues.

The golf course could be replaced by 374 homes
The golf course could be replaced by 374 homes

A spokesman said: "We have carried out extensive modelling to understand the impact the new relief road would have. These show an improvement in traffic flow - even when allowing for the new homes on site - with immediate and ongoing reductions in delays and queueing."

Other issues raised include impact on infrastructure.

Dr Robinson said: "As has been repeatedly raised, Hawkhurst's infrastructure will not be able to cope with a development of this size. This village has already seen extensive expansion with the various building developments that have already taken place."

Mr Howells added: "The primary school is already close to capacity with pre-school children having to go to Hurst Green in East Sussex due to lack of places."

And the golf course being within an AONB has raised concerns with many, including Patricia Andrews of Queen Street, Sandhurst, who said: "To let this proposal go ahead would no doubt open the floodgates for building in areas of outstanding natural beauty and our beautiful countryside will become a concrete jungle."

Beverley Palmer, Hawkhurst ward councillor
Beverley Palmer, Hawkhurst ward councillor

Hawkhurst ward councillor, Beverley Palmer (Con), vowed to oppose the application, with her main worries being traffic, air quality and the already stretched sewage system being unable to cope.

Members of the public have until Monday, July 27 to view and comment on the plans.

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