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Consultation on Council’s Response to Inspector’s Initial Findings

Public Consultation on Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s Response to the Inspector’s Initial Findings Letter on the Examination of the New Local Plan

Update: Consultation extended to midnight Friday 12 April 2024. For more information see Public Consultation section below.

Following the Local Plan examination hearing sessions (March to July 2022) for the Tunbridge Wells Submission Local Plan, the Inspector wrote to the Borough Council setting out his Initial Findings in November 2022.

Having considered the initial findings, the Council is proposing that the examination of the Local Plan be progressed through a Revised Development Strategy to the Tunbridge Wells Submission Local Plan (SLP), to include, in summary, the following changes:

  • Proposed removal of the strategic policy STR/SS 3: The Strategy for Tudeley Village from the Local Plan.
  • Revision of the strategic policy STR/SS 1: The Strategy for Paddock Wood and land at east Capel, including a reduction in the amount of residential housing growth by approximately 1,000 dwellings, with all housing being on Flood Zone 1 and employment land on Flood Zone 2, along with a reduction of employment provision, and reconfigured sport and recreation provision and secondary school education provision (as set out at Appendix D of the Development Strategy Topic Paper Addendum).
  • At Hawkhurst it is proposed to revise site allocation policy number AL/HA 5: Land to the north of Birchfield Grove, to include housing, and land safeguarded for primary school expansion (in accordance with a planning committee resolution on application reference 22/02664/HYBRID).
  • Also at Hawkhurst, the Council proposes the removal of site allocation policy number AL/HA 8: Limes Grove (March’s Field) from the Local Plan. This site was proposed for employment use in the Submission Local Plan.
  • Progression of a 10 year housing land supply position including the requirement for an immediate review of the plan.

The proposed Revised Development Strategy and full response to the Inspector’s Initial Findings Letter is set out in the Development Strategy Topic Paper Addendum [PS_054]. The Council’s response to the Inspector was considered and approved by Full Council for public consultation on 13 December 2023. An accompanying Sustainability Appraisal Addendum also forms part of the public consultation and there is a set of associated evidence base documents covering a range of matters that has informed the Council’s response. All consultation documents including a Summary (Table) of Proposed Modifications to the Development Strategy [PS_063] to assist with making comments, can be viewed here: Post-Initial Findings Evidence Base Documents.

Further details of the Revised Development Strategy can be viewed, together with its Sustainability Appraisal and other supporting documents, as well as the Statement of Representations Procedure, on the Council’s website at New Borough Local Plan page.

The Guidance and Explanation Note - Consultation on Council’s Response to the Inspector’s Initial Findings January 2024 may also be of assistance.

There was a six-week consultation period which ran from Monday 15 January until midnight on Monday 26 February 2024, during which time representations could be made on the Council’s Response to the Initial Findings, including the revised development strategy. This consultation period has been extended*.

* As a result of some internal database issues identified by the council the public consultation period is being extended until midnight on Friday 12 April 2024 so that all relevant parties have the opportunity to respond to the Council’s Response to the Inspector’s Initial Findings letter.

As there is no change to the information contained in the consultation, all representations made between 15 January and 26 February 2024 will be taken into account and passed on to the Inspector - there is no need for these to be re-submitted. Following the extended deadline of Friday 12 April 2024, any further representations received in response to the consultation will also be taken into account and passed on to the Inspector.

Representations must be made in writing as set out below (under heading ‘How to Make Representations’) and received before the end of the extended consultation period, which ends at midnight on Friday 12 April 2024.

The consultation documents (hard/paper copies) are available for public inspection during the extended consultation period (ending 12 April 2024) at:

  • The Amelia Scott, Mount Pleasant Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1AW, which is open from 9am to 6pm (Monday to Wednesday and on Friday), 9am to 8pm on Thursday, 9am to 5pm on Saturday and 10am to 4pm on a Sunday (Telephone 01892 526121).
  • Capel Parish Council: Capel Village Hall, Falmouth Place, Five Oak Green, TN12 6RD which is open from 10am to 12pm on Tuesday and Thursday (Telephone 01892 837524).
  • Paddock Wood Town Council: The Podmore Building, St. Andrews Field, St. Andrews Road, Paddock Wood, TN12 6GT which is open from 10am to 3pm Monday to Friday (Telephone 01892 837373).
  • Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council: The Old Fire Station, Stone Street, Cranbrook, TN17 3HF which is open from 10am to 12pm Monday to Friday (Appointments can be made outside of these times by prior arrangement by calling 01580 713112).

The consultation documents can also be viewed online under the Post-Initial Findings Evidence Base Documents and on the consultation portal.

The public consultation is being undertaken as part of the Examination process at the request of the Local Plan Inspector and, as such, this consultation is a non-statutory consultation which is not covered by the provisions of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (as amended) ("the 2012 Regulations").

However, the Inspector and the Council have agreed that the public consultation should be similar to the Regulation 19 consultation procedure for making representations about a local plan which a local planning authority proposes to submit to the Secretary of State for independent examination. Although it is open to all, the scope of this public consultation is focussed on the Council’s response to the Inspector’s Initial Findings Letter, including the revised Development Strategy for the Submission Local Plan (SLP).

The public consultation provides interested persons with the opportunity to make representations on the Council’s response to the initial findings, including the proposed revised Development Strategy, Sustainability Appraisal and the associated supporting documents, which can be viewed under the Post-Initial Findings Evidence Base Documents and on the consultation portal.

Any representations should address whether the proposed response to the initial findings makes the SLP legally compliant and sound. Please note that compliance with the Duty to Co-operate does not apply after a Local Plan has been submitted for independent examination.

In due course, the examination Inspector will consider, amongst other matters, whether the Council’s proposed changes to the SLP meet the four tests for soundness within paragraph 35 of the National Planning Policy Framework 2023, namely, that the revised Plan is:

  • Positively prepared – providing a strategy which, as a minimum, seeks to meet the area’s objectively assessed needs; and is informed by agreements with other authorities, so that unmet need from neighbouring areas is accommodated where it is practical to do so and is consistent with achieving sustainable development;
  • Justified – an appropriate strategy, taking into account the reasonable alternatives, and based on proportionate evidence;
  • Effective – deliverable over the plan period, and based on effective joint working on cross-boundary strategic matters that have been dealt with rather than deferred, as evidenced by the statement of common ground; and
  • Consistent with national policy – enabling the delivery of sustainable development in accordance with the policies in this Framework and other statements of national planning policy, where relevant.

To assist the Inspector, representations made can suggest alternative or additional modifications to the Council’s response including the revised Development Strategy to make the SLP sound and legally compliant. In addition, should you wish to participate in any future examination hearing sessions, such a request should be included in your representation.

Representations can be made:


The preferred method for submitting comments is online using our planning portal. Please note that you do not need an account to comment through the portal, and if you leave the planning portal page before finalising your comments, it will save what you have written so far.

By email

A form can be downloaded as an MS Word document or written representations made by email to

By Post

You can complete the above form or make written representations and send it to us at:

Planning Policy,
Planning Services,
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Royal Tunbridge Wells

Further details are available on the Local Plan pages of the council’s website.

If you have any queries or are seeking assistance, please email or telephone 01892 554056.

Please refer to the dropdown list below for further information.

Details of the Planning Policy Privacy Notice for this consultation are available at Local Plan Response to the Inspector's Initial Findings Consultation Privacy Notice wewbpage.