I am writing to update you on what my co-councillors and I have been arguing for on your behalf. First, we passed a motion at full council to declare a climate emergency and to reduce our carbon emissions to net zero by 2030.
The draft Consultation Local Plan Document is about to be discussed by council as part of the Regulation 18 consultation. Councillors will then be able to argue for or against various proposed developments. I am sure that you are aware of the total housing numbers expected in the borough which is about 14,000, of which about 8,000 still needs to be allocated. The proposed specific building allocations for RTW were subject to extensive consultation throughout 2019, and the overall view was that the proposed allocations were either satisfactory or in the case of proposed encroachment into Green Belt or AONB, the “least worst” options. Concerns remained over Cadogan Fields and the larger proposed development at Spratsbrook Farm in the AONB where great care would be needed to avoid harming the views towards Crowborough Beacon from the Beacon Hotel and Rusthall Common.
With regard to transport and other infrastructure, TWBC is not in control of most of the public infrastructure here. Some infrastructure policies were over optimistic such as policies on transport and water due to increased demand from new development. As avid environmentalists, Pete Lidstone, Mark Ellis and myself would like to see a recommendation that local authorities form a strategic body with other bodies with powers over bus and train travel to implement CO2 emission reduction targets:
a) improve the quality of bus services under the Local Transport Act 2008
b) provide “stop and ride” mini buses (electric or bio-gas fuelled)
c) ban single occupancy cars from certain routes at certain times
d) replace council used vehicles with ones powered by electricity or locally sourced bio-gas
f) install EV roadside charging points and provide a fleet of electric cars for public use
Kent and Medway Energy and Low Emissions Consultation
The consultation period ended on 23rd September 2019 and has now been published on 10th December 2019 on the link below – scroll down to Kent and Medway Energy and Low Emissions Strategy Report
In November 2017 council leaders endorsed the need for a multi-agency Kent and Medway Energy and Low Emissions Strategy (ELES) as a sub strategy to the Kent Environment Strategy to bring the benefits of an integrated approach to key areas of environment, growth, economy and health. The ELES is timely as it outlines a possible approach for this council to achieve its ambition of being carbon neutral by 2030 further to its declaration at Full Council 17th July 2019 of a global climate and biodiversity emergencies
Cycling and Walking Strategies
The Cycling Strategy 2016-2020 promotes cycling in Tunbridge Wells and has developed cycle networks/routes across the borough. It is aligned with the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan and the Urban Design Framework. The main objectives are to promote use of urban green spaces and public rights of way for active travel. We as a council group are interested in implementing the major cycle route planned for the A26 from Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells. We want to enable school children to walk and cycle safely on the main roads to school and to roll out the 20mph speed limit to all parts of RTW. At the moment only 0.6% of adults cycle to work along the A26 London Road and St. John’s Road whilst 80.6% use motor vehicles. The Department for Transport surveys show that 40% of all journeys made are less than 2 miles and 70% of journeys less than 5 miles. The council considers that there is a high unmet demand from those who wish to cycle, but due to perceived and actual barriers they do not. So, we would like more secondary school students to cycle. It is at least recognised that the borough lacks a comprehensive network of routes for utility cycling in RTW and it has to be the objective of the council to introduce proper infrastructure to connect destinations such as key employment areas, schools and primary shopping areas with residential communities via dedicated cycle paths.