What is a Neighbourhood Plan?
Neighbourhood Planning was introduced by the Government in 2011 and offers communities the opportunity to take a greater degree of control of development in their area. A neighbourhood plan is a planning document prepared by the local community for the local community. It gives local people the chance to plan for their own area by developing policies that will guide and shape development in the Plan area for the future.
The policies in the Pembury neighbourhood plan would be read and used alongside the planning policies in the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan. They add more local detail to those Local Plan policies.
What is a ‘Neighbourhood Area’?
A Neighbourhood Area is the designated geographical area which a Neighbourhood Plan is being / has been prepared for. In the case of the Pembury Neighbourhood Plan, the designated Neighbourhood Area is the entire area of Pembury parish.
Who wrote the Pembury Neighbourhood Plan?
Preparation of the Pembury Neighbourhood Plan was led by a Steering Group comprising Parish Councillors and local residents, with support from our own planning consultant, Alison Eardley. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council have also been involved throughout the process.
Will the Plan mean more development in Pembury?
No! The Plan will help “shape” any future development and align with Pembury’s unique identity. We are not seeking to allocate sites for development in the Neighbourhood Plan.
Where can I find a copy of the Plan?
Hard copies of the Plan are available to view at the Parish Office, Downingbury Farm Shop, the Library, the Black Horse, the King Will and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council Offices.
Has the Plan been subject to any kind of scrutiny / testing up to this point?
Yes. The Plan has been prepared in accordance with the relevant national legislation which sets out key, statutory stages in its preparation, including consultation. Various consultation exercises have been undertaken on the Plan, with people providing their views on it.
The Plan was submitted for an Examination with an independent neighbourhood plan Examiner. The Examiner published his report into the Pembury Neighbourhood Plan in April 2023, and concluded that the Plan could proceed to Referendum. The Examiner’s Report can be found on the Pembury Parish Council Neighbourhood Planning webpage. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council voted to accept the Examiner’s recommended modifications. The final version of the Plan, with all of the Examiner’s recommended modifications made, is now the subject of this referendum.
How will the Plan be used to decide planning applications?
If the Plan is successful at referendum, it will then be ‘made’ (adopted) by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, at which point it will become part of the development plan for this area, against which planning applications will be assessed. Therefore, when planning applications are submitted for sites within Pembury parish, planning officers will assess the proposals against not only the Borough Council’s Local Plan, but also the policies within the Pembury Neighbourhood Plan, before arriving at a decision.
For clarity, the determination of planning applications will remain the responsibility of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
What happens after the Referendum if the Plan is successful?
If the Plan is successful at referendum, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will then ‘make’ (adopt) the Plan, at which point it becomes part of the Development Plan for the area, against which decisions on planning applications will be made.
What happens after the Referendum if the Plan is not successful?
If the Plan is not successful at referendum, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will not ‘make’ (adopt) the Plan, and the draft Plan will be of no weight when determining planning applications. The Pembury Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group will then decide whether or not they wish to continue to prepare a Plan that does get public support.