Published: 11:09, 23 February 2021
| Updated: 11:15, 23 February 2021
The Save Capel Campaign has found a new way to contest the decision by Tunbridge Wells council to push ahead with plans for thousands of new homes across Capel, Tudeley and Paddock Wood.
The borough voted at an extraordinary meeting of the full council at the start of the month to submit its draft Local Plan to a Regulation 19 consultation, and subsequently to send it to the planning inspectorate for approval.
The plan includes details of a 2,800-home Garden Village at Tudeley on part of the Hadlow Estate' plus thousands more homes in East Capel and Paddock Wood.
There is still a chance for residents to attempt to have the plan revised, by making responses to the Regulation 19 consultation, which will run from March 26 till May 21, but it means objectors will now effectively be making representations to the Government's planning inspector, not the council, and must seek to persuade him (or her) that the plan is unsound.
In normal times, Save Capel would be looking to hold rallies and protests to raise awareness of the issues and to encourage people to respond, but the Covid lockdown restrictions have made that impossible.
Instead one member, John Nimmo, has found a more subtle way to protest.
He has written a country and western style song, heavy with irony, criticising the council's plans.
Drawing the comparison that the area the council intends to build over is roughly the size on Monaco, Mr Nimmo has taken inspiration from the 1949 Ealing comedy film Passport To Pimlico, and come up with the suggestion that perhaps the people of Capel should go independent by creating a new Republic of Monaco (UK).
Mr Nimmo wrote and performs the song, which has been produced by his friend Ian Rossam.
Alongside the song’s humour, the key message is that the council should step back, acknowledge the current circumstances – including the impacts of the pandemic - and revise the Local Plan to one that meets the area’s housing needs in a sustainable way that has the support of residents.
Mr Nimmo said: "It was while in a local community Zoom meeting, where someone mentioned the plans would see a conurbation the size of Monaco being created across Capel, that inspiration struck."
You can catch the song on You Tube here.
Meanwhile Dave Lovell, the chairman of Save Capel is stepping down.
He will be replaced by Stewart Gledhill, who was previously vice chairman.
Mr Lovell has been in office a year and would at this time have expected to step down at the elections for a new committee. Unfortunately, again because of Covid, the group's AGM has had to be postponed for six months, but Mr Lovell felt the chairmanship should rotate as originally envisaged.
Mr Gledhill thanked Mr Lovell for his past service and also Mr Nimmo for his song.
He said: “The fact that residents like John are prepared to go to this much effort to support Save Capel demonstrates the strength of feeling we have in the local community.
"John and Ian have done an amazing job, completely unprompted.
"Passport to Monaco is a real earworm, and I hope it helps us raise the profile of our campaign.”
For more information on Save Capel, visit here.