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A Neighbourhood Plan for Pembury

Pembury Village SignPembury Parish Council is in the process of developing a Neighbourhood Plan for the village and wider Parish.

A Neighbourhood Plan is a document that contains planning policies that will be used to guide how we want our parish to develop over the next 15 to 20 years.

The Plan is our chance to have a real say in what happens in Pembury in the future.

At the moment, planning applications in Pembury are decided upon by members of the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Planning Committee, who are guided by the policies contained in the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan. The Pembury Neighbourhood Plan will include much more local detail to help make decisions that benefit the parish.

Tunbridge Well’s current Local Plan was adopted in 2006 and is therefore quite dated. The Borough Council is writing a new Local Plan and you can see the draft here. Our Neighbourhood Plan will sit alongside the Local Plan and both will be used to determine planning applications.

The Neighbourhood Plan covers the whole of Pembury Parish, as shown in the map below.

Map of the parish of Pembury

What is a neighbourhood plan?

Neighbourhood Plans were introduced in the 2011 Localism Act to encourage local people to get more involved in planning the future of their towns and villages. They are documents that set out planning policies for the local area, against which planning applications will be considered.

Neighbourhood Plans can also set out where land and buildings that are special to the community can be safeguarded for future generations.

As it is a formal document, the Neighbourhood Plan has to undergo a fairly vigorous process in order to be ‘made’. This includes two rounds of formal consultation with the local community, an independent Examination and finally a local referendum.

If it is able to pass all of these stages, it will sit alongside the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan and carry equal weight in decision-making.

Flow chart for Neighbourhood planning

Who is leading on the work?

Pembury Parish Council is the formal lead for the Neighbourhood Plan, however, it is important that the project is community led.

Therefore, the project is being managed by a Steering Group comprising local volunteers from the parish.

In addition we have set up some Working Groups, who are exploring different topics and you can find out more about these below.

What can the Neighbourhood Plan do?

The Neighbourhood Plan can cover many different topics – depending on what we think is important locally. Our Working Groups are going to be exploring the following themes:

Housing:

Generic photo pf houses from the airThe emerging Local Plan for Tunbridge Wells has to deliver a certain amount of homes across the Borough and some sites have been identified in Pembury. We cannot stop development happening – especially if it is included in the Local Plan – but we can have a say in the sort of housing being allocated – is it affordable? Is it meeting the needs of our local community?

Character, heritage and design:

Old Church, PemburyWe want to make sure that new development is in-keeping with the local character and is designed to the highest standards – including ensuring it is environmentally friendly and reduces energy-consumption.  We also want to celebrate our heritage.

 

The Village Centre and the wider economy:

Our village centre provides a focal point for a range of local activities and we need to consider how we can make sure it stays vibrant and well-used – especially given the impacts of Covid-19. Equally, the way people are working is evolving and we might want to think about how we can support jobs locally and greater levels of home-working.

Environment and green spaces:

village green in the centre of PemburyWe are fortunate to have many green spaces within our parish including the Village Green, the recreation grounds and allotments. We have an opportunity in our Neighbourhood Plan to protect such spaces from inappropriate development by designating them as ‘Local Green Spaces’.  We also might consider how to mitigate climate change and include a range of policies to help achieve this, such as promoting sustainable design, encouraging allotments and self-sufficiency.

Transport and movement:

We can consider how to make it easier for residents and visitors to walk and cycle to within the village and to the surrounding areas. Our policies will ensure that our rights of way are well-maintained and accessible to all.

Community assets and infrastructure:

The community facilities we have provide an important lifeline not only for our community but for those in neighbouring villages and it is vital that they are safeguarded, improved and, where necessary, expanded to meet the changing needs of our residents. We support additional facilities for children and teenagers and the provision of community halls and cultural venues.

How long will the Neighbourhood Plan take to write?

It is difficult to estimate how long it might take for the Plan to be written, but we anticipate the work being completed over 2021.

How can I get involved?

We are keen for as many people to get involved as possible and we will be engaging the community as the Plan progresses. If you would like to learn more about the Working Groups or have any feedback, please contact us at ndp@pemburyparishcouncil.gov.uk.

Please also check back as we will be running events and activities as the Working Groups make headway with their topics.