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Save Capel campaigner swims in flood water to highlight risks of new housing plans

An open water swimmer braved flood water to highlight one of the reasons residents are opposed to a housing development.

Jackie Cobell took to Hartlake Road on the edge of the proposed garden village in Tudeley.

Jackie Cobell, a Capel resident, swam in flood water on Hartlake Road to highlight the flood risk
Jackie Cobell, a Capel resident, swam in flood water on Hartlake Road to highlight the flood risk

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Local Plan allocates space for 1,500 homes near Capel, east of Maidstone Road, and a further 2,800 at Tudeley, east of Hartlake Road.

Mrs Cobell, a Capel resident, hoped to draw attention to the flooding issues which are of concern to people who already live in the area.

The 65-year-old, of Five Oak Green Road, plunged into three foot of flood water in her Christmas hat to illustrate how badly the area floods and the effect that could have on people who may buy homes in the new estate.

She said: "All the roads were blocked off with the floods and people on social media were saying they were going to get their boats out and I said well I'm going to swim as a joke and then I thought well why not. I wanted to do it to get my message across.

"What Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are proposing is wrong on so many levels. The environmental impact would be terrible and we haven't got the infrastructure either.

"There are big developments going up everywhere, it's such a shame. This is the garden of England but you might as well call it the patio of England."

Mrs Cobell is a regular open water swimmer and holds the world record for the longest Channel swim.

Campaign group Save Capel fear the plans, which will see the addition of more than 4,000 homes in the village, will increase the flooding problems.

Dave Lovell, of the protest group, said the issue is out of control and claims by building on the floodplain many more homes will be put at risk.

Speaking about the recent influx of water in the village due to heavy downpours, Stewart Gledhill, a member of the Save Capel Flood Group, said: "We are concerned Tunbridge Wells Borough Council planners have not considered the full effects of flood risk in their new Local Plan.

"They have not specified adequate flood mitigation measures, and have inadequately assessed the impact of climate change. There is an over-reliance on the Leigh barrier, which provides no benefit to much of the areas proposed for development in Capel.

"The events this week are a stark reminder and planners need to take heed of these warnings. We should not have to re-learn the mistakes of the past - building on or near a floodplain with fatal consequences."

In a bid to challenge the plans, protestors took to the streets of Tunbridge Wells with placards and banners in October.

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