Data shows Tunbridge Wells council is not meeting homes target

    A drawing of the refused plans for 26 flats in High Brooms

    Latest figures show Tunbridge Wells Borough Council [TWBC] is still not meeting the Government’s house building targets.

    The authority’s own data states that 461 homes were built in 2016/17, which was more than the previous two years, but still some way short of the 648 benchmark.

    A spokesman for TWBC attributed rising targets for the shortfall. “The adopted Core Strategy for 2006 to 2026 set out a need to provide 300 dwellings per annum and delivery was higher.
    “However, as a result of changes to Government policy, in autumn 2015 the need was revised to 648 dwellings per annum.”

    The spokesman said the 1,000 homes set to be built in Paddock Wood [as reported in the Times of February 28] was proof a ‘significant boost’ to supply would be forthcoming.

    He added that under revised proposals, TWBC would soon need to provide 692 dwellings a year.

    The figure for Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council had not been received at time of publication.

    However, Council Leader Nicolas Heslop has previously voiced concern that his authority’s target could rise to 859 from the current 696.

    He previously told the Times: “It is in simple terms undeliverable, unless there was an intervention in the construction market that would be unprecedented in recent times.”

    Despite facing internal and Government pressure to meet demand, last week members of TWBC’s planning committee voted nine against one to refuse plans to build 26 residential units in Baldwins Lane, near High Brooms railway station.

    Even though nine of the flats [35 per cent] were classified as affordable housing, councillors raised issues with the close proximity of the development to Welbeck Avenue.

    Although the planning inspector had recommended the committee give the project the green light, councillors rejected it because it was said to have failed environmental tests.

    There was also concern that the unnamed developer’s Section 106 payments [agreed with the council to overcome undesirable aspects of the design] would be used to fund projects outside of High Brooms.

    Cllr Don Sloan, who voted plans down, told the Times afterwards: “It was the amenity angle and it would have meant the people in other buildings nearby would not have had a view.

    “Until I visited the site I did not appreciate how much of their view would be lost.

    “It would be a good thing in some ways if the proposal did come back [in a modified form] as more houses are needed.

    “We all want to see the affordable housing but in this case the factors outweighed that.”

    After a number of High Brooms residents and ward councillor Dianne Hill spoke against, acting committee chairman Cllr Lawrence Heasman was the only member to vote in favour.