PLANNING NEWS - OCTOBER AND NOVEMBER 2014
by Rosemary Taylor
Since early 2014 there have been several changes to the management of the WKPS Planning Committee and these are summarised as follows:
Chair: Rosemary Taylor (email@example.com ) as replacement for Colin Kinloch
Secretary: Peta Grant (firstname.lastname@example.org) as replacement for Peter Allen
Vice-Chair: Robert Dear
We urgently need volunteers to help us with examining applications from the Tunbridge Wells area, so if you can help with suggestions, please contact Peta.
Comments on applications
We have had a number of important applications to deal with this year, including the application for TENT 1 (14/00757) which is part of Ashford’s Core Strategy, therefore not at the stage where objections to the whole project could be considered in principle. Our response in July was generally supportive of the overall plan, particularly the landscaping, and vernacular styles on offer. However, we were critical of the design of the blocks of flats and of the lack of windows to upstairs bathrooms in the smaller houses as well as the apparent lack of provision for disabled residents. We were also seriously concerned about congestion in Recreation Road also Smallhythe Road, and measures to alleviate it may need to be taken in due course. In the meantime, we hear that Section 106 monies will go towards the enlargement of the Infants and Junior Schools in Tenterden as well as contributing to extra places at Homewood School. News of the enlargement of Ivy Court Surgery is expected soon. We are assured that sufficient parking spaces have been allotted to TENT 1, as well as additional spaces for public parking at the Leisure centre, but parking issues in the town may still need to be resolved in the future.
In September we submitted our objections to Application 501105/EIASCR – Maidstone on the grounds that a development of 270 houses, constituting a 17% increase in the population of Headcorn, would be totally impossible for the village to absorb. Moreover, there were issues of drainage and traffic increases as well as school accommodation to consider. Valuable agricultural land would be covered. Furthermore, we understand that a decision has been made that an Environmental Impact Assessment is not needed. Our Scrutineer for Maidstone and VR in Headcorn have both attended several protest meetings as our representatives; the fight goes on.
Regarding the Gladman Outline Planning Application for 62 houses in Sissinghurst, (502645- TWells) in September we wrote to object on various grounds, mainly that the development would overwhelm the village, and car journeys would be increased, not reduced. No outcome to date.
In Hawkhurst, in October, we awaited the outcome of our support for an application for development of a brownfield site at Gills Green, but have learned that the application has been turned down on appeal.
Also in Hawkhurst, we supported our VR and other members in their fight to prevent development on an AONB site close to Highgate Hill ( Application 503346 – TWells) and expressed concerns about the likely increase in traffic congestion that would result.
We have also objected to a new application for a mobile home and caravan and utility block on land close to Charing Heath (Application 01290 – Ashford). This would be an intrusion on the landscape and good quality agricultural land. A decision is awaited. However, we have news that refusal has been given to application 0470 – Maidstone for 10 mobile homes etc. at Pye Corner, Ulcombe, to which we objected in May.
Recently we have commented on the application for 22 apartments for retirees on East Hill, Tenterden,(01252 Ashford) Though we were not opposed to further development of accommodation of this type in Tenterden, our response was that the proposed building would be overbearing within the residential environment, and the severe lack of parking spaces would cause problems all round.
Our policy on solar arrays is flexible, as is that of CPRE. We have been totally opposed to the siting of large arrays on good quality agricultural land such as that proposed for Headcorn, but have supported smaller ones at Hothfield and Little Chart, where we felt they were not intrusive on the open countryside . Both of these applications have since received planning permission from ABC. Whilst hoping for improved technologies in the future, we are currently mindful of the need for clean energy supplies as well as security of these supplies.
In October we decided to support application 14/01116 for 52 houses at Pluckley Brickworks. Our reasoning was that this would be on a brownfield site, would provide a welcome new car park, as well as work opportunities at the proposed office building. It is close to the railway station at Pluckley, a useful transport link. We await ABC’s decision.
We normally oppose the replacement of mobile homes with built dwellings, particularly outside the confines of a village, and this has been a general policy relating to the NPPF. However, recently permission has been granted for such replacements on the grounds of length of occupancy including the Certificate of Lawful Development and the undesirability of replacement mobile homes, which can be very large, and more intrusive on the environment than a built dwelling. We will keep a close eye on these applications for further comment in future.
There have been many other matters to deal with... smaller housing developments, for example some of which we have objected to, others supported. One interesting development was the granting of planning permission for two new-builds in the countryside, in High Halden and Smarden, both of which demonstrated exceptional design qualities, encouragingly allowed for under the NPPF.
Space in this bulletin does not allow for a full report of these and other applications which we have dealt with over the last few months. But, as our Chairman Mike Bax has written above, the Planning Committee would like to keep our members informed of our debates and decisions on a regular basis, so will be issuing regular bulletins from the New Year.
In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact us on any local situation which you are concerned about... it is our job to listen! And good wishes for Christmas from us all on the Planning Committee.