Annual Parish Meeting Report


Annual Parish Meeting Report
17 May 2017



Welcomes and Introductions

Cllr. C. Woodley opened proceedings welcoming attendees numbering 36, including Parish Councillors, including the newly co-opted Cllr. Kevin Sparkhalls, members of the public from this parish and those of Paddock Wood and Capel, Kelvin Hinton, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) Planning Policy Manager, TWBC Councillors Alan McDermott and Jane March, Alex King the former Kent County Councillor and his wife Sue, and Cllr. Sarah Hamilton newly elected to this role.

Cllr. Woodley introduced Ms. Chantal Brooks the new Clerk who took over the role on 2nd May 2017. Cllr. Woodley expressed the Council’s thanks to Martin Powell, the predecessor in the role who was unable to be present, in recognition of his many years of service to the community.


Cllr. Woodley wished farewell to Ian McEwen, stepping down as a Councillor after 9 years but who is continuing in his capacity as webmaster. Cllr. Woodley expressed his thanks to Ian for his contribution in setting up the website and for his significant efforts in the building of the new Matfield Pavilion which took three years to complete.

Address from Kent County Council

There followed an address by newly-elected KCC Cllr. Sarah Hamilton who spoke briefly thanking the electorate for selecting her. Cllr. Hamilton paid tribute to Alex King for his 28 years of service and thanked him for his support.

Cllr. Hamilton answered several questions from the public in order to clarify the role of a County Councillor. She explained that KCC are involved with highways management and infrastructure relating to any land owned by KCC, including such matters as potholes, visibility splays and land management. She clarified that she also has a responsibility for Schools in that the County has an input in education and can hold Schools to account, however this does not extend to Academies which are managed by Trusts.

Planning matters are predominantly the responsibility of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Cllr. Hamilton encouraged anyone who has a query to contact her via the KCC website or at:

Report from the Chairman of the Parish Council

Cllr. Woodley presented a summary of the Council’s work over the past year and drew particular attention to a number of matters.
The precept has been increased in the past two years in order to ensure that improvements could be made to the following:

~ Matfield Pond – dredging work will shortly commence;
~ Matfield Green – the posts have been replaced;
~ Parking – the renewal of this area is being progressed;
~ Jack Verrall Memorial Garden - Planning Permission is being sought for the replacement of the gates;
~ The Viewpoint Indicator – work on a replacement will shortly commence. Simon Marston has been instrumental in seeking donations to add to the Parish Council’s financial support for this and Cllr. Woodley expressed thanks to all those who had contributed.

The Council has purchased the Petteridge Telephone Box for a nominal amount and this will be restored for use as a community library, a local group will be running this.

Grants had also been given to the Samaritans, Kent Air Ambulance and to Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre. A sum of £3000 has also been agreed, paid over three years, in support of Brenchley Parish Archives.

The loss of the Inn Store was regretted but the Council has expressed its thanks to the Knight family for their attempts to keep it running.

The Post Office continues to run at the Inn Store however there is a possibility that its services will move, either to Matfield Pavilion or to Matfield Village Hall, to ensure the service remains in the village.

Cllr. Woodley thanked all volunteers of the various groups for their contributions.

A working group has been established in order to galvanise the community into commemorating the Centenary of the Armistice in 2018. A number of events are planned and these will be publicised as progress is made.

Cllr. Woodley made particular reference to welcoming Rev. Andrew Axon, the new vicar at St. Luke’s in Matfield who was unfortunately unable to attend the evening, and welcomed all newcomers to the parish.

Brenchley Charities

On behalf of Brian Stanley, Cllr. Woodley presented a short report on the standing of Brenchley Charities. Whilst there is a reasonable level of funds in hand it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain donations. The Parish Council had agreed that the principle of the Charity, being to support vulnerable residents at Christmas, should be promoted and Cllr. Woodley asked that anyone who would like to donate contact the Clerk. In addition, Brian and Fay Stanley are standing down from running the Charities and a volunteer (which need not be a Parish Councillor) is needed as soon as possible, anyone interested please contact the Clerk. Cllr. Woodley thanked Brian and Fay for their many years of service and the meeting gave a round of applause.

Addresses by Borough Councillors

Cllr. Alan McDermott gave a brief summary of his role as distinct from KCC and detailed that he has responsibility for the planning transportation portfolio.

Cllr. Jane March advised, in response to questions, that TWBC is running an event to commemorate the 300 Belgian refugees welcomed by the Borough during World War 1. Information on the event will be circulated to the Parish Council who can pass it on.

In response to a question, Cllr. McDermott advised that TWBC have accepted five Syrian families as refugees. There will be more but these will be limited to families rather than individual children.

Update on Parish Plan / Neighbourhood Development Plan (NDP)

Cllr. McDermott offered any help required for the Parish Plan. Cllr. Woodley then expanded on the status of the Parish Plan. Since the survey outcomes meeting in March some volunteers have come forward and there will be a further meeting on Monday 22nd May in order to decide on next steps for those volunteers. Anyone else who wishes to contribute is asked to contact Cllr. Mrs Lynne Butler.

Cllr. Woodley advised that the Parish Council will provide a scoping report setting out what the NDP will achieve, that is anything that cannot be achieved in any other way, to include estimates of timeframe and cost. This will be available on the website, BandMNews and possibly in Roundabout.

A number of members of the public expressed confusion as to what a Parish Plan and NDP actually are and this would be expanded on in the scoping document.

Presentation from Mr. Kelvin Hinton

Mr Hinton, Planning Policy Manager at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, gave a report on Planning and advised that his responsibility is for policy in that area.

In response to queries Mr Hinton confirmed that the number of houses required of the Borough is 13,000. This is spread over 20 years (from 2013) equating to 648 per year. At present the Council only have a 3-year supply of houses at this rate.

TWBC began creating the evidence base for its Local Plan last year, with a completion target within 3 years.

At the moment, TWBC are in a period of consultation on the Issues and Options element and this ends on 12th June. Mr Hinton advised that events had been held locally, with over 100 people attending the event at Matfield Pavilion last week, and that leaflets are available on the 5 options for distribution for housing and other development, this evening and on the Council website. In response to a comment regarding the lack of advertising for such consultations, Mr Hinton commented that they are reviewing this and will endeavour to ensure greater transparency in future.

Mr Hinton encouraged the public to look at the TWBC website to view the Plan as it develops and in particular to respond to the questionnaire available for comments (19 questions).

When the Consultation on Issues and Options closes on 12th June, TWBC will publish a report on views received.

Mr Hinton advised that for rural parishes such as Brenchley and Matfield there are important options, there are two ways in which sites are found for development:
1. Residents offer their land
2. TWBC approach landowners proactively

The first part of the planning stage for new development is a “Call for Sites” and this was first done between February and August 2016, resulting in 270 sites being registered. At this stage, a projection of the current sites was shown to residents.

Information is then gathered on suitability and an assessment is made by TWBC as to whether each site offered should be taken forwards. Thus, whilst the map shows all the 270 sites, not all of them will go through to the next stage. Mr Hinton advised that those that are discounted are removed from the map as it is updated. By Spring 2018 all allocations for development that TWBC are suggesting will be publicised, this will be followed by a second Call for Sites.

Mr Hinton reiterated that the public can comment on all the 270 sites at any time.

After the second stage the final plan is submitted for examination by independent inspectors in Autumn/Winter 2018 with an agreed Local Plan adopted potentially in early 2019.

At this point, in response to a query about the Neighbourhood Development Plan, Mr Hinton explained that these are a measure to try and encourage local communities to become involved in planning.

The NDP must be specific to the locality, rather than generic in nature, as in order for it to be adopted by referendum it must be seen that the community has inspired the Plan.

The NDP can include such issues are house design, locations, cycle routes and any other issues that the locality requires.

In this respect whilst the Parish Council is the “enabling body”, the NDP must be developed with community input (Parish Councillors can be involved but not to the exclusion of members of the local community).

If the community decides to instigate a Neighbourhood Plan it is then reviewed by TWBC and, after the independent assessment, at this point a local referendum is carried out requiring a simple majority.

If approved, the parish NDP would sit alongside the TWBC Local Plan.

Timescales are such that a decision on whether the Parish intends to submit a NDP should be made by the end of this year, as it would take two years to complete the process to coincide with the Local Plan of TWBC.

Closing remarks and Vote of Thanks

Cllr. Woodley thanked Mr Hinton for attending.