The Independent Examiner’s Report has been published

Benenden’s Neighbourhood Development Plan has passed the Examination stage of the process.

You can find a copy of the Final Report here:

After nearly six months considering all the evidence, and including a full day hearing the Independent Examiner has now finished his Examination, and issued his Final Report.  He has recommended that the Benenden Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP), as modified in line with his recomendations, can now proceed to the next stage, which is a local referendum.

He was supportive of the hard work and professionalism of the team, saying

“I congratulate Benenden Parish Council on producing this locally distinctive neighbourhood plan. It is clear that a lot of hard work has been carried out by a group of volunteers who have taken on what some may feel has been a thankless task.”

The Examiner has approved all four sites that were allocated for housing in the Plan; he was satisfied that the NDP has adopted a robust and objective assessment of the sites that were put forward.

“I have found the basis for the decisions taken have been robust and based on sound planning principles, particularly the extent concentrating development on brownfield sites …”

“Whilst there may have been a preference for smaller development, the plan has taken a sensible and pragmatic decision to allocate sites of over 10 units as smaller developments would not trigger the need to provide onsite affordable housing.”

The Examination has involved submissions from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC), Kent County Council Highways, High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty Unit, residents’ groups, Biddenden Parish Council and interested landowners, alongside all the work contained in the current version of the Plan.

His final report includes a number of recommendations which will help to strengthen the Plan.  These include changes to the wording of some policies, and improvements to the protection of wildlife sites.  We will update our plan to reflect his amendments; after which TWBC will start to organise a local referendum.  We will keep you up to date on the timetable for the referendum.