Response to the Local Plan 2001
Personal response by Andrew Lohmann chair of Planning and Transportation committee, Southborough Town Council.
1) This note is my opinion based on Town Council policies and passed submissions. There may be misunderstandings of the documents in this response, which was written originally as suggestions for the Town Councils, therefor please read “I” for “we”.
A) Some Southborough & High Brooms electors have read this document. They may quote my response please note that paragraph numbers and order has changed. I do not support that Town Council’s submission because:-
B) The meeting was held as a confidential meeting of the full council chaired by the mayor. The terms of reference of the Planning & Transportation Committee state that that committee will respond to the local Plan and other such documents, but the clerk cancelled the meeting to be on 30 July. Council had previously approved the date of that meeting of the Planning & Transportation Committee, which would have an open committee meeting. I was not involved the councils response.
C) This response also covers aspects that I would not expected the Town Council to comment on. But conversely the Town Councils submission may not include some aspects it had a view on previously.
1) General response: “Sustainability” and the objectives of “Local Agenda 21” should be the underlying philosophy. To these ends we support the reduction of transportation and the switch to more efficient forms. We favour lower speed limits, greater rail use for passenger and freight transportation and the encouragement of walking and cycling with enhanced facilities. We support the aim of local supply for local needs as with the Farmers Market such as those run at Tunbridge Wells and elsewhere.
2) We support the objectives to reuse of land. We also support the refusal of planning consent for new industrial buildings where there are vacant industrial premises such as on the industrial estate. We note that the High Brooms Exhibition identifies the Industrial Estate for expansion. We wish that a point be inserted that planing consent will expect a developer to show that using vacant industrial units on the industrial estate was not practical. The plan presumes towards brown field development before green field development - this assumption should be carried thorough to the Industrial Estate.
3) We would like TWBC to enable the creation and managing of an Environmental Code of Conduct for developers such as Housing Associations. Therefor pass information known of by the planning department and from organisations such as the Kent Trust for Nature to builders and developers such as High Weald Housing Association so that environmental harm can be minimised to a greater extent than would occur than planning consent provides for.
4) Planning applicants should be advised of significant points made by consulties, so that they are aware of improvements to application they may choose to make which are not conditions of consent.
5) We note with curiosity the disparity between 1847 (6.30) new social need houses required in five years and the plans identifies land for only 1000 (6.34) new social need houses over 10 years. Land allocation will presumably be decided by objections to the plan?
6) Transportation and accessibility issues:
7) We support the restoration of Brighton to Tunbridge Wells Central rail line for heavy rail and additionally the creation of Rail sidings for freight and passenger stations in Tunbridge Wells at Good Station Road and North Farm Industrial Estate. This will encourage smaller, shorter haul lorry deliveries in to the towns. We also support the restoration or creation of a railway line from Tunbridge Wells to Ashford. We therefor support the protection of the rail line and adjoining land from Tunbridge Wells Central to Eridge (the area within the plan TP14). We therefor oppose policy (e) page 130).
8) Rail freight siding on the East Side of North Farm Industrial Estate could be used for the carriage of household waste and mail to and from the sorting office. Re-opening of the rail line Tonbridge to Brighton via Tunbridge Wells could enhance Newhaven’s position as an interchange for rail and transportation.
9) We support the upgrading of the rail line from Tunbridge Wells south to twin track working, by widening the tunnels.
10) Support the addition of a bus Lay-by at High Brooms Station West side just south on the green area. (Transport Strategy E4). We support addition or an extension of car parking for the High Brooms Station. Sites such as the old Laundry and Farrants yard or the Gas works site should be considered. We therefore oppose Housing provision (High Brooms Exhibition) at the gas works site, which we in any case think is unsuitable.
11) Busses we support Improved services such as those identified at Powder Mill lane. We would also like a lay-by at the Kibbles Lane bus stop. Possibly cutting into the verge opposite. This would therefor avoid restricting all ready limited parking in this area.
12) We would like better practices to be encouraged by all transport users promote consider of: -
Pedestrian & cyclist access and severance by roads.
Road vehicles such as switch engines off when vehicle is stationary.
Environmental considerations, such as air quality and comparison with WHO standards and to raise awareness of the issues.
Preferred routes for HGVs, with bus lanes changed to no-car lanes. Such as Quality Freight Partnerships, Best Practice for Deliveries.
1) Cash point (hole in the wall) machines should not be situated with 20 meters of a bus stop. In addition parking in bus stops should be stopped through vigorous policing. The reason for this is to allow all people easy access to buses and so that wheel chairs and push chairs can be got on or off easy access (crouching) busses.
2) We support the creation of A Local Public Transport Authority:
In order to maximize the utilization of public transport capacity entering Tunbridge Wells. Bus and rail integrated is essential. We support the setting up an organization like London Transport, which would contract Companies to run all routes and manage the collection of and redistribution of pooled fares. Schemes such as the flat 20p fare within a radius of Sevenoaks Town Center should be promoted.
The problems that need to be addressed are: -
No through ticketing between different modes of public transport.
Disparity in ticket types and prices e.g. not all bus companies accept all return and explorer tickets.
Bus stops often don’t display all current timetable information. These bus stops should be maintained independently of the companies.
Poor reliability on popular commercial routes run by a sole operator where cancellations may be made at random. It is vital that passengers to know about non-operating services.
Poor availability of easy access (crouching) buses for ease of access to those with push chairs and wheelchairs.
1) We support the provision of more space for buses to rest up in T/W town, and the increase in length of bus stops. This is so that all busses and particularly easy-access bus such as the 151 service, which stops and picks up in Southborough, can stop close to the pavement.
2) This could be achieved partly by reducing car parking spaces in T/W near the rail station such as increasing capacity of the southbound Tunbridge Wells rail Station stops by adding more tops on the hill above.
3) Encourage bus, rail, and other public transport operators to work together to make rail stations points of information and ticket purchase on all forms of public transport.
4) The council believes Park and Ride would be unworkable but accepts a Rail and Ride scheme additional rail stations could be beneficial. We note that the site identified (PR4, & paragraph 11.125) is very high quality woodland with a high diversity of wildlife. In any case we are concerned very polluting and P&R scheme would encourage inefficient short distance car journeys. It is far better to travel the whole journey by public transport from residential areas rather than create more pollution by starting cars in residential areas.
5) We consider that the Kent & Sussex Hospital has very good accessibility with good bus services to Tunbridge Wells, from Southborough and High Brooms. Therefore we oppose paragraph 10.12 and policy CS1. It, in any case, concerns me that space allocated only allows for a smaller hospital than the two hospitals we have at present. The K&S should be retained and expanded.
6) Each village should be encouraged to consider a central bus stop near to shops and a car park. This would enable train users to travel by bus to and from stations such as High Brooms. Such developments would provide additional support for village bus services and shops.
7) It concerns the council that much traffic entering Southborough then uses small lanes across Southborough Common at undue high speed to access Tunbridge Wells by the A264 from the West Side of Tunbridge Wells. We would like measures such as closing Constitution Hill between St. Peters Church and the Victoria Road junction.
8) We support the deletion of road crossing of the rail line North of High Brooms Station, such as at Nells Bridge. We please to see that there are no policies that would encourage more traffic to enter Tunbridge Wells parallel with the rail line, or to form a cross town route link between the A21 and A26 at Southborough. We would therefore oppose an objection wishing the inclusion of a by-pass between Southborough and Langton such as across Southborough Common.
9) Note previous local plan’s policies TP10, and 11 presume strongly against increased traffic into Tunbridge Wells town center. We support the strengthening of TS6 (Southborough Exhibition). We support (Southborough Exhibition) better pedestrian linking across the A26, improved bus and cycle provision, and traffic calming.
10) The A21 (TP10) - following the recent government decision on the Access to Hastings Multi-Modal Study, we wish the deletion of the off-line route for the A21 at Castle Hill and the land to return to MGB/AONB status (11.47). We note that the report pays particular attention to the good safety record of the present section of road, and (11.45) should note this. The Access to Hastings report says, ”3.98 For the second specifically cited case, the section of A21 between Tonbridge and Pembury, the existing level of accidents is 9.7 a year. There was one fatality in the period between January 1993 and November 1997.”
11) We note that the exhibition text anticipates continuing road traffic growth in the UK. This does not mean that road traffic need increase in Tunbridge Wells Borough this should be studied. The plan should note the parliamentary committee report SACTRA? of 1998? Which draws attention to this point. In any case it would be very disappointing if polices that have reduced traffic in Town Centre of Tunbridge Wells were to be reversed.
12) The plan should not assume long-term private car use but should prepare for other modes such as rail particularly because a feature of Tunbridge Wells is it’s good access by rail and potential for development.
a) The plan could be very mistaken given that oil will run out.
b) The current indulgence in cars power and speed may, like drink driving, become unacceptable. Many people know of someone with respiratory illness or injured by a road crash.
c) It is likely that present very inefficient internal combustion engine and gearbox, will become too expensive. The replacement technology will be suitable for travelling between A and B, but without a manual gearbox will not be fun.
1) We like to see the inclusion of cycling provision between Southborough and Tonbridge such as cycle-lanes on the A26.
2) We support safe routes to schools, and walking busses. We also wish for pedestrian crossings of High Brooms Road, such as a traffic island at the Colebrook Road junction, and additional crossing point in other places. I would like the inclusion of signing advising that drivers to drive carefully in residential areas, and vehicle speed monitoring on Powder Mill Lane.
3) Inappropriate Industrial uses in residential areas: -
4) To remove non-conforming industrial uses from residential areas such as the Transport Depot at St. Matthews School, and the Abattoir at Forge Farm.
5) We support the relocation of industrial and commercial uses at North Farm Road and the old clay pit to the East Side of the Rail line. We see this being achieved by re-allocating the area progressively residential. This would eventually solve the issue of heavy vehicles passing through High Brooms, and sometimes getting lost and needing to find another route to the East Side of the Rail line.
6) Recreation: -
7) We support the creation of play areas such as converting the Speldhurst Allotments to A Play Area. The Town Council has previously supported, and has plans for the enhancement of the Rest Garden at Gordon Road. We are also pleased to see the enhancement of the neighbouring Southview Road play area, but are concerned at loss of play space and community facilities at the neighbouring Oak Road in Sherwood (E8).
8) We would like more community support for disaffected children particularly in High Brooms. Such as youth clubs for 11 to 15 years olds.
9) Southborough Town Center:
10) We support the Town Centre proposals in the plan and will continue to refine the detail. We also support the new school proposal. We also support the loading restrictions etc in the transport strategy.
11) The future of the Town Council - it is not clear that there would be a place for the Town Council if the “Hub” were to be built (CS6, & 5.100). The Town Council must have it’s own offices and meeting chamber in this building.
12) We would like to see a reduction in parking space provision (TP25) to lower than 150 cars because of the lower shop floor space anticipated in the plan (5.97 - 5.99). Therefor releasing more recreational space. You may note anecdotal evidence of car park and ride occurring between villages nearby Southborough and High Brooms Station using Yew Tree Road Car Park. A commuter bus service from these villages should be promoted instead.
13) We oppose to the removal of the Yew Tree Road allotments. It is very unlikely that allotment holders would move to another un-worked allotment having worked there established present allotment. There could only be an exception if there were a large recreational benefit.
14) It us important that some of the money received by councils from the sale of land or planning gain for a new store, library etc. be spent firstly in Southborough and High Brooms. The outcome should be that land between the two parts of St. Matthews School be acquired for educational use such as the extension of the play space. In any case this issue must be addressed soon.
15) Other Areas
16) High Brooms Exhibition: - Support protection of the parade of shops in Silverdale Road. I was very disappointed to see the Post Office shop front replaced with UPVC. As far as I can tell High Brooms Brick Company buildings, like these are structurally sound and in this case would not need any replacement.
17) Included addition of Traffic Calming TW town particularly the junction of Grosvenor and Upper Grosvenor Road.