GOVERNMENT plans to build thousands of new homes in
Tunbridge Wells have grown 20 per cent and could escalate
further if the current rate of building continues.
The draft South East Plan in 2006 said the borough should
accommodate 5,000 homes by 2026. But under new Government-led
plans announced in July, this figure has grown 20 per cent to
6,000. This number could swell yet further if the current rate
of building continues.
Since 2002, the number of households in Tunbridge Wells has
grown to 46,737, an increase of five per cent. If that rate
continues, in 20 years a further 7,407 new homes will have to
be crammed in to the borough, 1,407 more than the Government
Leader of the borough council Cllr Roy Bullock said the
authority had been working towards the 6,000 figure for some
time. However, whether Greenfield sites would be built on was
still unclear at this stage, he said.
Cllr Bullock said: "We are pleased that the number hasn't
changed for us. We can't say if it would affect Greenfield land
because we haven't got to that point. We are waiting for a
strategic housing land availability assessment. When we get
that we will start to plan where the 6,000 houses will go over
the next few years to 2026."
The South East of England Regional Assembly recommended in
2006 that just under 580,000 should be built across the South
But the Government Office of the South East (GOSE) has
raised this by 15 per cent, bringing the total to 662,500.
Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark has called for brownfield
sites and industrial land to be "first priority" for building
to protect green land.
He said: "This nationally imposed hike in housing numbers
will place yet more pressure on our precious green spaces.
"It should be for local communities, through their local
councillors, to make development decisions based upon the needs
and character of the local area.
"Previously used industrial land or brownfield sites must be
the first priority for new houses, and not green spaces or back
The Campaign to Protect Rural England's Tunbridge Wells
spokeswoman Hilary Newport echoed the fears for Greenfield
sites and said it wouldn't be long before building was seen on
Green Belt and areas of outstanding natural beauty if the
She said: "The latest figure is about the maximum that
Tunbridge Wells can deal with. However, it is difficult to see
how the local authority will be able to allocate sites without
looking at areas that would be Greenfield.
"Green Belt land is protected but that doesn't mean people
"It is sucking vitality out of the town and into Greenfield
She also had concerns other housing developments in
surrounding areas would affect Tunbridge Wells.
Nearby Wealden, will have to build 11,000 new homes by 2026
under the Government plans.
A public consultation on the plan was launched by GOSE
earlier this month and will end on October 24. To participate
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