Please see below for up to date and accurate information on issues that we know are of the most interest locally.
A crucial part of the proposals for Borough Green Gardens is the inclusion of a much-needed Relief Road, created to improve access and reduce existing traffic on the A25 and A227. This is something that local people have campaigned for over a number of years, and we are pleased to be able to deliver. You can read more about it here.
Borough Green Gardens is committed to the early implementation of the full relief-road, and therefore the full benefit of it (i.e. from diverting traffic away from the existing village) will be experienced well before the vast majority of the development is built itself. It is acknowledged that new residents will generate new additional traffic movements, but these will be sought to be minimised with the implementation of a sustainable transport strategy, which would reduce the need for vehicle movements and provide real opportunities for non-car travel for everyday journeys, which would ensure that existing residents see a significant improvement in traffic movements and air quality levels.
The upcoming sustainable transport strategy will include a phased expansion of the scope and frequency of bus routes, linking key destinations within Borough Green Gardens and connecting to local destinations such as Borough Green Station, Kings Hill and Sevenoaks. It also provides dedicated cycle-ways and footpaths linking Borough Green Gardens to local destinations and the opportunity to improve non-vehicle infrastructure at those destinations, such as the provision of improved cycle facilities at Borough Green station.
A further benefit of the Borough Green Gardens proposals is the ability to make use of a ‘cut and fill’ strategy within the confines of the site to address ground levels. In many cases, larger developments require substantial numbers of Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) movements to and from the site, to either remove or bring in soil for landscaping and levelling purposes. Because the land comprises either substantial holes in the ground or areas which are already consented for clay extraction, we can make use of the existing topography to ensure that the majority of cutting and filling can be conducted within the confines of the site, thereby minimising external HGV movement. This approach has the additional benefit that we can minimise the impact of the development on surrounding areas by effectively screening views into the site by reducing the level of buildings.
As preparation for this, extensive surveys and analysis of the surrounding landscapes and views, have already been undertaken. The consortium is commissioning detailed surveys, in parallel with the ground investigation works taking place, to ensure that unnecessary vehicle movements during the construction phase are kept to an absolute minimum.
Apart from one, all of the consortium of landowners behind the Borough Green Gardens scheme live or work locally or onsite and are very aware of the existence of flora and fauna on their land.
We have already undertaken an initial package of ecological surveys to fully understand where sightings of protected species have taken place and where there are suitable habitats across the site, particularly for rare or protected species like Great Crested Newts. The surveys at the site remain ongoing and further specific and detailed studies are being progressed that look precisely into ecology and any mitigations necessary to protect those species, if necessary, siting infrastructure such as the Relief Road in order to avoid particularly important habitats.
A key opportunity for development here is the creation of high quality green space and ecology corridors that can strengthen existing habitats (for example with new woodland planting) and provide new spaces which are either not currently present or would be lost once quarrying operations cease (e.g. recreating south-facing bare ground to benefit invertebrates). Overall, the proposals for Borough Green Gardens would result in a net gain in biodiversity across the site and provide positive opportunities for ecology.
We understand that air quality in the local area is a concern for some, and the proposals for Borough Green Gardens provide a chance to improve this for residents of Borough Green in particular.
Moreover, parts of Borough Green have been identified as an Air Quality Management Area (AQMA) and this includes sections of the A25, A227 and High Street.
The main opportunity for enhancement comes through the introduction of the proposed Relief Road, which would divert a very substantial amount of existing ‘through traffic’ away from the centre of Borough Green. Recent traffic surveys indicate an estimated 900 traffic movements per hour in the morning peaks and 700 per hour during evening peaks consist of ‘through traffic’ which would be expected to use the Relief Road in the future, significantly reducing the number of vehicle movements through the village each day. As well as this, local junctions will be improved to reduce traffic congestion, enhance pedestrian and cycle network options, and increase access to the public transport routes already available, in line with the aspirations of Highways England and Kent County Council. In combination, these factors would all work to create a net positive impact on the air quality of Borough Green.
Engineers Mott McDonald have carried out a study for TMBC of the impacts of the larger developments proposed for the Borough. It concludes that:
“The proposed Borough Green Relief Road is predicted to have a beneficial impact on air quality in the existing Borough Green AQMA”.
The full report can be found here.
In order to meet the housing targets set by central Government, Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) has put forward a draft Local Plan that seeks to meet its expected housing need up to 2031.
This relates to the need to provide 696 new homes per annum within the Borough area. This could increase to 850 a year but this would only occur if the Local Plan is submitted to the Government after January 2019 – the current timetable is for the Plan to be submitted in December 2018.
The identified housing needs (for the expected population up to 2031) are to be delivered within the two Housing Markets Areas of the Borough.
The proposals for Borough Green Gardens sit within the Sevenoaks/Tonbridge/Tunbridge Wells Housing Market Area, identified by TMBC as a location capable of creating sustainable development, in one of the areas of greatest housing need, hence it’s inclusion by TMBC in their draft Local Plan.
Within any future planning application, the mix of housing to be delivered will be carefully considered to ensure a mixture of tenures that can create a sustainable community. This will of course include affordable housing to be agreed with TMBC.
As with any project of this scale, surrounding infrastructure to accommodate the increase in housing is crucial. As part of the proposals for Borough Green Gardens, expect the development to provide:
- A Relief Road; removing up to at least 900 vehicle movements per hour at morning peaks and 700 per hour during evening peaks from driving through Borough Green – this is based just on Phase 1a of the Relief Road alone – with further reductions in existing movements when the full Relief Road is completed;
- 2FE Primary schools;
- New employment floorspace; creating hundreds of new jobs
- Community and neighbourhood hubs
- Doctors surgery
- Local shops
- Sports centres and playing fields
As part of a large consultation survey in late 2016/early 2017, the consortium asked the local community and surrounding areas what they would like to see prioritised within any large-scale development. We have incorporated those answers, which included schools, shops, medical facilities and transport infrastructure into the proposals, to ensure that the proposals for Borough Green Gardens can provide the infrastructure and facilities that are required locally.
Use of Green Belt Land
The site is located in the Green Belt and partially within the AONB, as well as being largely comprised of a network of former and present quarries. The H+H Celcon factory, as well as the scrub land either side of Wrotham Road are also located within the AONB and Green Belt. Locating a development of this nature (Borough Green Gardens) here would protect higher quality land (land that has not been quarried) and designations elsewhere, whilst also creating more accessible public open space than is found on the site currently.
As such, Borough Green Gardens presents the opportunity to protect high quality Green Belt land elsewhere within TMBC, by delivering a significant proportion of the Borough’s new housing requirement on land that is currently of a poor quality. In addition, it would open up a significant proportion of the land for public use with the provision of a wide range of high quality green spaces and ecology corridors. As previously noted, great care would be taken to protect existing flora and fauna, and Borough Green Gardens would in fact help to improve the biodiversity of the area.
Working with the Council
The consortium has been working with the Council since 2015 to seek to move forward with plans for the site that best befit the Borough. We have been undertaking significant assessments and surveys that have been submitted to officers on a range of topics to highlight the benefits that a scheme such as this can bring.
We are committed to continuing our work with officers and stakeholders at TMBC throughout the required Local Plan process and are keen to deliver a scheme that addresses the needs and priorities of the council and the community.
We understand and share local concern about possible historic contamination of land within the site. We have already undertaken an extensive site investigation of the “Celcon Bowl” with trial pits and bore holes. Samples are now being tested in laboratories and monitoring and sampling will be ongoing over the forthcoming period.
Despite some reports of extreme levels of contamination, initial investigations have discovered builders’ rubble, asbestos and small areas of minor contamination, however so far there has been nothing discovered that cannot be treated onsite at a reasonable cost. The nature and precise composition and location of any contamination will be clarified through in-depth laboratory testing and ongoing monitoring.
If necessary, more detailed investigations of any other areas of potential contamination will be undertaken at the appropriate stage in the development project. Review of the soil conditions in each of the parcels of land will continue with more in-depth site investigation works in 2019.
The proposals for Borough Green Gardens present the only opportunity to remove/treat any portions of contaminated land safely, and to provide clean and attractive spaces for public use. Any proposals to treat contaminated soil will be planned with extreme care and agreed in advance with TMBC and the Environment Agency.
Public Rights of Way (PRoW)
A key feature of the Borough Green Gardens proposals is to create a sustainable and landscape driven development, that can build upon and create additional open public space for future residents and the existing community.
Across the site, there are four PRoW and where feasible these will be retained in entirety amongst the “green” and “blue” infrastructure to be provided. This includes new woodland planting as well as additional water features and fishing ponds to ensure that no local flooding takes place.
The proposals for the site are still evolving and where PRoW need to be diverted or replaced, this can be secured as part of the masterplan for the site.
In addition to the protection of the existing PRoW, Borough Green Garden’s sustainable transport Strategy would deliver additional footpaths and cycle-ways, creating connectivity within Borough Green Gardens itself and creating sustainable links with Borough Green and the wider area.
Not only would this enable residents of the new community to connect easily with the local area, but it would similarly enable residents of Borough Green and other existing communities to easily access the shops and services with the new development. A clear focus of the Master planning process will be to promote sustainable links between existing and new communities, ensuring that all residents can benefit from increased choice and accessibility.