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Southborough Town Council News letter - Planning and Transport Committee

By Councillor Andrew Lohmann chair person of the planning and transportation committee.

Since the Annual Town Meeting in April 1999 other issues have arisen which I shall discuss. In August there was a planning application for a Hostel for the Homeless in High Brooms though this has resulted in some publicity many councillors have been asking questions on the running of such a hostel. The town council could see little planning grounds for refusal and therefor recommended approval. Many of you knew about this planning application before we did, and you have been consulted far more widely than is the case for any other local matters. The planning application would result beneficially in contaminated, and dangerous land being cleaned up. This area has concerned people who live in the vicinity who scrutinized every planning application on this land. High Brooms has a good community that could be quite supportive for people residing at hostel. Though it is creditable that homeless people should be re-homed in the area they chose as home instead of being sending sent to Hastings, I am not surprised High Brooms was chosen, as opposed to Hungershaw Park for example.

We have recommend refusal for retrospective planning application to compromise disabled access to the Brookfield development. We are also pursued light pollution from Knights Park effecting this town.

We are also trying to reinstate the 284 Saturday bus service, and if this occurs we shall again endeavour to get time tables displayed in the bus stops. The committee has also commented on the transport plan review, in that we commented on difficulties with bus ticketing, bus reliability, and a new bus stops such as at High Brooms Rail station.

The report for the annual town meeting in August follows;-

We make recommendations on planning applications such as putting a shop front on to the Bell Inn, the brief changes to the exterior appearance of the Weavers restaurant, and recently a planning application to enlarge the Mace shop at 68-70 High Brooms road.

Over the year we have responded to various consultation documents. In the local plan review we have kept in mind your concern about getting to Pembury Hospital by public transport in our support for a new hospital  if necessary remaining at the existing Kent and Sussex hospital site. We have said that a shopping area near the Ridgewaye should be no more than 20,000 sq.Ft. and the town car park extended. We would like to see some planning protection on some High Brooms former brick company houses.

 In the local plan review and in the Town councils High Brooms transportation report we support public transport and pedestrian issues. We think for example the should be bus lay-bys just down the hill from High Brooms Station, with new bus shelters there and in Powder Mill lane and Blackthorn avenue roundabout. We also support the bus and cycle lanes on the A26, along with land allocation for car parking for Park + Ride. High Brooms Rail Station land should be allocated for additional parking. This parking could be at the gas works, in the vicinity of the old laundry, or provided by a multi-story car park at the station. There is anecdotal evidence that people from other villages use High Brooms Station, parking as far away as the Yew Tree Road Car Park. A study should be done to discover where car parking is required and the most appropriate sitting of additional parking.  A Natural Environmental Code of Practice for developers that should be created and operated with TWBC as key partner so that developers can build with consideration for the natural environment with the responsibility being place on fairly on all local developers. Policy to encourage buss services to High Brooms station from outlying villages. Villages should be encouraged to consider a central bus stop shop and car park, to enable rail users to bus in to High Brooms. This would additionally provide extra support for village bus service, and shops. Industrial or other detrimental/hazardous activities that are inconsistent but operating within residential areas. The plan should state an intention that such activities should not occur and will be encouraged to move to more appropriate.

The Borough Councils a study in to a controlled crossing of High Brooms road in the vicinity of Colebrook Road, and Powder Mill Lane, seems to have become stalled. We have given consideration into the possibility of relocating the bus stops allowing the shops lay-bys. Naturally these suggestions will need to be assessed technically but what ever I hope this study will continue to fruition.

More buses appear to be running and running more smoothly. Councillor Maurice Knights has been perusing many of these issues as our representative on the Borough Council’s Transport Liaison committee. Despite what it says at the bus stops the 284 bus service also runs on Saturday. JRS Traveline run this service hourly from 8.00 AM from Kibbles Lane, the last one back is 4.15pm from the town (this bus service has since ceased see my comment above).

Most residents are within easy reach of the countryside which is an area of outstanding natural beauty. We would like land use planning to consider all these aspects, and not become just an economic and development strategy. The Town Council said this in response to South East Regional Plan. The council asked that making the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty a National Park be considered. We support for rail such as the restoration of the Brighton, Lewes, line via the west station Tunbridge Wells, and rail sidings at Good Station Road and North Farm Industrial Estate. Additionally Restoration or creation of a Rail line Tunbridge Wells to Ashford.