Planning and Transport Committee Report to
Annual Town Meeting of Southborough
Last May the planning committee took on the remit of transportation the position of vice chair is also new. I have chaired this committee since October. The committee meets every two weeks usually Monday at 7:00pm, having that morning site visited and spoken to the applications and their neighbours. This committee therefore meets more often than the other committee's and council together.
The planning committee makes recommendations to the Borough Council who are the planning authority, and therefore make the decision. In order for the Borough Council to make a decision quickly members of this council have little or no advanced notice of what is to come to the committee. This council has the same consultation period as the public. We would have liked to have had a different outcome for some applications, but usually the Borough Council agree with us. Planning applications we see can be new, variations to plans already approved or outline applications.
Significant items to come to the committee
In June last year Councillor's Heskett, Potter, and Rusbridge presented, the councils' case against the proposal for 43 sheltered homes for the Site at Brookfield, London Road at the Appeal Inquiry. We are pleased to report that the appeal failed, a success for this council.
The Borough Local Plan which we use for planning policy guidance consultation process was completed and the Plan is now adopted. This committee endorsed some policy points concerning Southborough.
I won't mention all the applications to come to this committee the majority are house extension type applications. One modest application too come before the committee will interest some of you. The application in November by the borough was to rebuild a shop in Powder Mill Lane we recommended approval.
We were pleased that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council organised a Highways meeting on 29 February 1996 at Royal Victoria Theatre Hall. Councillors and members of the public could remind borough offices of highways issues that concern us.
David Salomens House is interesting because the building does not now have crown immunity and is therefore subject to planning controls. David Salomens House owned by Christ Church Collage, has put in various applications including for-example out side management training facilities. I'm not supposed to call them out-ward-bound, but these facilities have had planted screening and blend with this listed building it was A pleasure for us to visit.
The bigger applications brought to the planning committee include the application for 28 houses where the Ridgewaye School currently stands. We would have liked to have seen the whole plan first but perhaps there is no whole plan drawn up? We did see a rough sketch of a road though. Finally we recommended approval of the construction of the houses on the school site stating our concerns particularly on the traffic implication.
The committee last month also restate our opposition to 166 houses at Barnetts Wood again largely on traffic grounds, and lack of pedestrian road crossings. A Badger Sett was lost for this development, and just recently there has been disturbance of birds in their reproduction cycle to clear the wood.
Members selected and endorsed the some of the Borough Council's traffic calming proposal for the Common. They were, a mini roundabout next to St. Peters church and a pathway near Holden Pond towards Kibbles Lane. We look forward to seeing other measures to mitigate problems in other parts of Southborough.
Not all applications concern just one committee, for example the application for the extension of the cricket pitch. This was endorsed by both Planning, and Parks and Cemeteries committees. We look forward to the continued success of the cricket club in Southborough.
In the future we shall be looking at transportation in Southborough. The problems will not go away until measures such as a bridge across the rail line and some road changes occur. The changes should be to cause industrial traffic to arrive and leave the estate by Longfield Road and the A21 I believe. Repeatedly we state our concerns about traffic and parking in response to applications that come to this committee which could adversely affect the situation.
Southborough requires more provision for pedestrians to cross roads. The car is there for many of us but public transport could be an attractive alternative. I hope the committee will press other authorities to provide a bus along London Road every 10 minutes, not three together every hour. Bus through High Brooms every 10 not 15 minutes. These services should be clean and cost no more than the park and ride and allow passengers to go anywhere in Tunbridge Wells. People are already choosing to leave their cars at home, such objectives would result in a lot more cars left at home, and less congestion.
For the future this council and the school governors will look ahead to a community facility shared with St. Matthews School on the corner of Powder Mill Lane and Yew Tree Road.
It is a pleasure to visit planning applicants and their neighbours who have discussed their plans with each other. I recommend that you respond to planning applications, and talk to your neighbours.
Cr. Andrew Lohmann.