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Capel and Tudeley villagers have their own vision of the future - and it doesn't include a garden village

The parish of Capel, which incorporates Tudeley and Five Oak Green, is where Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has ambitions through its draft Local Plan to build up to 4,300 houses.

Perhaps not surprisingly, the existing villagers have other ideas of how they want their community to grow.

The Vision For Capel report
The Vision For Capel report

Capel Parish Council in collaboration with residents is working on producing a new Neighbourhood Plan to update the Capel Parish Plan which was prepared in 2006.

As part of that exercise, the Capel Neighbourhood Development Plan Working Party distributed a questionnaire to every one of the 915 households in August and by the end of that month nearly a quarter or residents had returned a completed survey.

From it, the working party has produced The Vision for Capel as a preliminary guide for a new Neighbourhood Plan, compiled from the responses to the questionnaire.

The main findings were a strong opposition to the borough's Local Plan and its proposed house-building on the Green Belt in the parish.

More than 95% of respondents objected to the borough's plans for a garden village of 2,800 houses at Tudeley at the western end of the parish, and also to a further 1,500 houses at East Capel at the other end, bordering Paddock Wood.

Cllr Hugh Patterson
Cllr Hugh Patterson

Capel Parish Council chairman Hugh Patterson said: "The loss of Green Belt would lead to an urban sprawl for nearly eight miles from Tonbridge to the west of Paddock Wood.”

The Vision report also looks at the rural heritage and culture of Capel - which residents fear will be lost as it is swallowed by neighbouring communities.

The extra burden that development would place on the local road network was a major concern, particularly traffic on the B2017 which runs through Five Oak Green and Tudeley.

Cllr Patterson said: “There is a fear we will drown in the extra traffic, and the roadworks will plague us for decades.

"The borough's proposals for Tudeley in particular are unsustainable – little thought has been given by the borough council or the developer to the impact on the local community and its transport links."

Areas proposed for more housing in Tunbridge Wells' draft Local Plan
Areas proposed for more housing in Tunbridge Wells' draft Local Plan

Flooding was another key issue.

The subject was fresh in residents' minds after February's Storm Ciara brought flooding to several parts of the village.

Cllr Patterson said: “Residents worry that this will continue to happen especially as these proposals involve building on the floodplain particularly in East Capel; this will make the flood risk in the parish worse”.

As well as the larger planning issues, the Vision for Capel also documents the history of the area and records villager's views on what makes their chosen village a good place to live, and what makes it a bad place. The community spirit won the ballot in the first category, traffic won in the second.

You can view the Vision for Capel here.

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