23 February: Planning for Publication

The Rough Draft is launched …

Over 130 villagers attended the meeting on 23rd Feb.

The NDP Steering Group have spent late January and early February working to finalise the first draft plan in time for its publication. The plan covers the five main areas of activity for the NDP and although we have been sharing progress of each group at Steering Group meetings, with the Parish Council, and within the pages of this magazine we’re now at the point where we’re going through the text with a fine-tooth comb to ensure accuracy and consistency.

Most village discussion so far has concerned the central issue of how many new dwellings will be built and where they should be built. But the Neighbourhood Plan is a much wider piece of work. In addition to Housing Supply our areas of activity are: Landscape & Environment; Housing Design; Business & Economy and Transport & Infrastructure. For example, the Landscape & Environment chapter sets out proposals for important Green Spaces and Views that should be protected.

If we receive a Yes vote in the eventual referendum these policies will have a major influence on planning decisions for many years to come. As you read the first rough draft please make sure that you review all the chapters and consider how they may impact on Benenden.

The plan contains context and explanation on each of the main subjects covered leading to proposed policies and projects:

  • Policies are requirements to ensure good design and enhance parish amenities or services, they must be considered by landowners or developers when they create their planning applications.
  • Projects are specific proposals and activities that could be funded by ‘Section 106’ contributions required of developers. They may be delivered in partnership with other organisations, such as Kent County Council or Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Each chapter of the plan contains policies and/or projects that support community needs arising from future development. Our most recent Steering Group meeting focussed on making sure all our policies and projects were aligned and complemented each other, identifying gaps or overlaps in our plan.

Working Group displays shared at the 23 Feb

Following the NDP Steering Group February meeting we are concluding the final drafting as I write this piece. In its final version the plan will run to over 100 pages, of course it includes maps, photographs and charts so it is not too onerous to read. The meeting on 23 February includes a presentation, the rest of the time is set asides for people to visit stands and discuss policies and projects.

This will be the start of around eight months of consultation, prior to the Parish referendum, giving stakeholders time to read the document in full and provide considered feedback on those aspects they support and those they would wish to see altered.

Paul Tolhurst

Chair Benenden NDP Steering Group