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Judicial review underway into The White House planning application on Highgate Hill in Hawkhurst

Residents in Hawkhurst who have been eagerly awaiting a judicial review into a development they have been fighting for two years may have to wait a little bit longer for a final decision.

The High Court has started to review plans to build 43 retirement living apartments at The White House which were given the green light by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in December - despite concerns from villagers about the increased strain on roads.

The White House, Highgate Hill, Hawkhurst. Picture: Google Street View
The White House, Highgate Hill, Hawkhurst. Picture: Google Street View

Now the virtual proceedings have started, it is unlikely a decision will be made before the court breaks for summer on Friday.

This means residents will have to wait until at least early October for an answer.

The review was called for by Hawkhurst Parish Council which said it had no other choice as it feels the impact of traffic has not been properly considered.

In its summer newsletter, the council said: "The parish council brought this case because it does not believe Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Kent County Council have properly considered the cumulative impact of traffic from approved developments on the Hawkhurst crossroads.

"The parish council would have preferred not to have had to apply for a judicial review, but none of our efforts to address the congestion at the crossroads were making a difference."

How the proposed retirement development will look
How the proposed retirement development will look

The fight against the development on Highgate Hill first started in August 2018 when the initial application was put forward.

This was then rejected with concerns mostly centred around access and congestion from multiple developments on the staggered crossroads at the centre of the village.

The revised plans being considered now were submitted in May last year.

It shows the existing building will be demolished to make way for the one and two bedroom dwellings accompanied by landscaped gardens and 33 parking spaces, just three more than previously promised.

In its objection letter, Hawkhurst council said: "Other than altering the access onto Highgate Hill to make it a bell mouth and adding three extra parking spaces, this seems to be essentially the same as the previous application. Along with changing the access there appear to be some more trees along the front.

"Hawkhurst Parish Council objected to the previous application on numerous grounds and this resubmission does not address our concerns."

Developer McCarthy & Stone, which specialises in retirement living, says it has worked hard to bring forward improvements and believes the amended plans are more suitable.

In its materials advertising the site, McCarthy & Stone said: “We believe these proposals offer an opportunity to redevelop this underused site with a sensitively designed scheme, which will benefit the community through the provision of accommodation for older people in Hawkhurst.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council says it will comment after the court has made its decision.

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