Covid-19 is changing things like working from home so much. How can you be sure that what’s being planned now will be fit for the future?
Pre-pandemic, there was a noticeable shift towards people working from home, and this trend has been dramatically accelerated as a result of Covid-19.
It is impossible to predict the future, but we believe that as many companies and people have seen the benefits of working from home, fewer people from this area would commute to London every day, and would expect to work from home or in small local offices or hubs instead.
The provision of well-designed suitable workspaces, either in homes or in small office hubs with superfast fibre broadband and other technologies should become the norm.
The pandemic has also highlighted how much people value access to fresh air and green space, and has seen an uptick in walking and cycling. The design of the masterplan incorporates generous green spaces and parks, connections to the wider countryside and includes greenways and cycle paths to encourage walking and active lifestyles.
Can you give us more details about a railway station for Tudeley Village?
Throughout the masterplanning process we have been careful to ensure that we have built-in flexibility to allow for the construction of a new railway station, should the opportunity arise. The final decision on whether a station would be built is a matter for external organisations such as Network Rail but we would support, and where possible facilitate, such a proposal.
What other public transport proposals would be offered to provide a genuine alternative to the private car use?
To reduce the number of car journeys, we would need to make the best use of alternative methods of transport.
We want to create a pedestrian-friendly, walkable community with opportunities for residents to travel around the village and beyond without relying on a private vehicle.
Tudeley Village would ensure that its transport infrastructure promotes the use of public transport wherever possible and we have worked closely with leading consultants to understand what would be required to achieve that.
A Public Transport Strategy, to examine potential public transport connections for Tudeley Village, proposes diverting the existing 205 service between Paddock Wood and Tonbridge into the centre of the new community. In this way, most people in the village would be within 400 metres of a bus stop.
The report recommends that this service runs every 30 minutes, potentially increasing to every 15 minutes as the settlement grows. The report also suggests opening up the ‘stopped-up’ Tudeley Lane from the A26/B2017 roundabout to ensure the new service is attractive and punctual.
It’s unlikely, certainly in the short term, that Tudeley would be a truly walkable community when the majority of households need private cars for commuting and shopping, and older people and people with disabilities are so reliant on vehicles for their independence. How might this situation be improved over time?
Pedestrian routes would be designed to accommodate wheelchair users, visually impaired people, and other users with disabilities.
Community facilities and generous retail provision would meet residents’ needs within the new village and offer a range of employment opportunities. New schools including a primary school close to the village centre, and a secondary towards the south east edge of the village are included in the masterplan. Tudeley Village’s green network has also given consideration to facilitating sustainable methods of transport for secondary school pupils to travel to school, and vehicle routes would be built to accommodate school buses and coaches.
Are the sustainable transport ambitions just a “greenwash”?
From the beginning we have wanted to prioritise pedestrian and cycle routes so they have been subject to careful consideration throughout the master-planning process.
Well-designed and maintained cycle paths would allow residents to go further into the surrounding area, whilst still promoting and facilitating a healthy lifestyle.
Many of these routes would be integrated into the green network, which runs through the village masterplan, and which is based on existing traces on the land, including existing footpaths.
The masterplan incorporates a strong east-west connection, which would allow movement between Five Oak Green and Tonbridge.
A pedestrian and cycle route between the western edge of the village and the edge of Tonbridge would be entirely separate from vehicular routes on the B2017.
Local people have made it clear they don’t want development on Green Belt, especially when there are brownfield sites available. Why are these wishes being ignored?
Seventy per cent of Tunbridge Wells Borough lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
The proposed site for Tudeley Village is not within the AONB. But, like more than a fifth of land within the borough, it is in the Green Belt. It is not unusual for a Local Plan to allocate land in a Green Belt, particularly where there is a lack of brownfield sites, as is the case in Tunbridge Wells. Councils recognise there is a housing crisis and respond to this to meet the need for growth.
The Hadlow Estate owns land beyond the boundaries of the new village and is in a position to be able to introduce a range of compensatory measures both within and beyond the boundaries of the new community. These could include increased public access to green spaces, improving existing habitats and creating new ones, and reducing flood risk to surrounding areas.
Is there sufficient infrastructure to cope with a new community of the size you’re proposing?
The type and distribution of the proposed land uses would encourage residents to remain within Tudeley Village and reduce offsite journeys significantly.
Numerous community facilities including a nursery, primary school and secondary school, health, sports and leisure facilities, and heritage assets would serve residents.
The broad education provision – nursery, primary, secondary – would reduce the need for people to travel and would provide education-related jobs to Tudeley’s residents.
If the cause of historic flooding in Five Oak Green and other areas is run-off, would the development of Tudeley make matters worse?
The Estate and the design team have studied the current challenges so that the strategy for Tudeley Village not only addresses all flooding and surface water management issues that may arise from the development, but also considers ways to improve the situation for people in the surrounding local area.
The masterplan contains a range of measures to reduce flood risk and mitigate any impacts linked to the new village. Technical advice on flood risk and surface water drainage has guided the design and implementation of these measures, including the size and position of Sustainable Drainage Systems (SuDS) and Natural Flood Management (NFM).
Initial consultation has taken place with Southern Water about foul drainage and the existing network would be upgraded with the provision of a new main. Whilst we understand there is sufficient medium-term capacity for sewage treatment at Tonbridge, Southern Water would upgrade capacity in line with the growth of Tudeley Village and any other developments.
How would you deliver on the promise of a beautiful new community at Tudeley?
The 2,800 proposed dwellings would include various types and tenures in a range of sizes and styles, drawing on the Kent vernacular.
Strategic and neighbourhood design codes would be drawn up to ensure that the layout, architecture, public realm and landscape are all of the highest quality. All aspects of the development – residential, commercial, employment and educational – would need to follow these codes.
To maintain consistency and to uphold quality, a Village Architect would be appointed. This role would include monitoring planning, design and construction throughout the lifetime of the project by, for example, approving housebuilders’ working drawings. The Town Architect would also advise on selection of the right building materials and finishes, to reflect the Kent architectural vernacular and maintain quality.
Have you signed up any of the local GP practices?
We have been in discussions with both the local Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council on healthcare provision.
Would new schools be built in Tudeley or would children simply be bussed to neighbouring schools?
A primary school and a secondary school would both be provided as part of the masterplan along with a range of other community facilities.
The delivery of the secondary school, which would be a key piece of infrastructure for the borough as a whole, is dependent on the delivery of Tudeley Village. If this new settlement is not built, increased secondary school provision would need to be provided in Paddock Wood or elsewhere.