Save Paddock Wood from massive overdevelopment in flood-prone areas
Save Paddock Wood from massive overdevelopment in flood-prone areas
Why this petition matters
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are about to consult (Regulation 19) on their new Local Plan. In this, they plan to place over 50% of their new housing allocation in Paddock Wood and East Capel, assimilating the two. Paddock Wood should perhaps be 'grateful' that the planned number of new houses has been reduced to 3.6K. However, this is in addition to the 1000+ already in progress over the 3 recent consented developments.
The plan states that TWBC desire public engagement and involvement, to ‘include consideration of how the natural and historic environment of the local area is reflected and respected’ yet the overwhelming response they received during the Regulation 18 in 2019 consultation have been mostly ignored.
The plan will include building on some of the best farmland in the borough, removing hundreds of trees and building on the floodplain around Paddock Wood, where many properties already suffer from surface water flooding.
Flooding - TWBC want to build on category 2 and 3a flood risk areas. Huge amounts of developers' money will inevitably be spent on flood mitigation, diverting funds from other essential infrastructure. Residents in East Paddock Wood have had to spend thousands of pounds purchasing their own pumps due to regularity of flooding down Castle Hill, Mile Oak Road and Queen Street. These areas are currently surrounded by apple orchards which are assisting to disperse the run-off, but if these are developed the situation will be exacerbated. The recently-started Church Farm development has already exacerbated Paddock Wood’s flooding issue; indeed the developers have removed a number of mature oak trees, which were not mentioned in the original plans. Mature oaks can draw up 50 gallons of water per day, so any further development will significantly impact the environment, including the flooding issues, not to mention the ecological impact.
Biodiversity - wildlife and plants. Countless creatures will lose their habitat. Save Capel have done their own biodiversity report which can be found here: http://savecapel.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/Biodiversity-Report-2020.pdf
Green Belt land - an exceptional reason is needed to build upon green belt land. It is important to avoid ‘urban sprawl’ and its loss will effectively cause Tonbridge to join up with Paddock Wood. 407.576ha of Green Belt land will be de-designated. That’s 5.71% overall green belt in the borough, with 148.194ha of this being PW/East Capel.
Sevenoaks has already had its local plan rejected by the government due to this.
Wellbeing - The accessible natural green space standard (ANGSt) recommends that everyone should have accessible natural green space of at least 2 hectares in size, no more than 5 minutes' walk from home... The candidate local nature reserves, to the SW and E of Paddock Wood will not meet this standard for those living in the NW of Paddock Wood.
TWBC already recognise that air and noise pollution is a downside to these developments. Light pollution will be a factor too (not just from street lamps, which will be low-pollution LED ones.)
If TWBC is successful and this local plan goes ahead, residents will be subjected to continuous development for the next 15-20 years.
Sports provision - A sports hub is now planned for the East side of Capel, with no associated building, i.e. no changing facilities. This area is in flood zones and is also inappropriately located for Paddock Wood residents, especially if they have no private transport.
Roads/Transport - The infrastructure will not be suitable for such an increase in population, without major disadvantages to residents. We are a small rural community, with narrow country lanes, which are already being used by unsuitable HGV traffic - this can only get worse over the next 15-20 years with 350 homes being planned every year, especially with an increased number of commuters vying to get to the railway station. There will be fewer parking spaces to go round, which will lead to more dangerous parking in residential roads. There will not be enough seats on trains (and there's an issue with length of platform so the rail company will not be able to just add more carriages.) Network Rail have suggested they will not increase the width of the current road bridge.
We also envisage a negative impact on community services. Our local police station is being sold off for development, but an increase in population = an increase in crime. TWBC wants to double the population of Paddock Wood, so we should at least have a part time police presence. With the removal of the police station, we will have nothing.
Health Provision - Our GP surgery is already over-subscribed. A new surgery has been promised but with fewer doctors taking up general practice, we fail to see how this will be staffed.
Housing need and type - The latest calculations show that much less housing is actually needed (some sources have said it's almost half!) 'Affordable' housing is rated at 80% of market value and Social housing is 60% of market value - but how many local people will actually be able to afford these homes? Homes on the current new developments are already being marketed with a 1-bed apartment at £252-275K. How many local people on low incomes can afford to buy a £200K 'affordable' flat? These are being marketed to people nationwide through Sage Housing. We are open to some new housing in our town and villages to provide housing for the local community but the disproportionate allocation to our area is unfair, unnecessary and environmentally disastrous.
This plan is not demonstrably sound and, we would suggest, not legally compliant.
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council needs to appreciate the scale of opposition to this development. Please sign this petition to help us become a voice they can hear.
We would like to encourage all residents of Paddock Wood to act now and write to their local borough councillors - details can be found at www.writetothem.com We also need proactive help to help organise the campaign over the Regulation 19 consultation. If you would like to join our Facebook group, head over to www.facebook.com/groups/stopoverdevelopmentofpaddockwood which will give you the most up to date information on how we are progressing.
We, the respondents to this petition respectfully ask that considering the points mentioned, and the fact that this plan is overwhelmingly unpopular with residents and councillors alike, TWBC reconsider pressing forward with this process and rethink the local plan and its alternative options.
- Tunbridge Wells Borough CouncilPlanning depa