The HVA meets Berkeley Homes
The Hawkenbury Village Association committee met with Alex Davies, Development Director for Berkeley Homes on Wednesday afternoon, 3 August 2016, to discuss the planned development on the Hawkenbury Farm site. The committee had a number of questions after the Berkeley Homes consultation on 21st July and these were addressed at the meeting. Below is a synopsis of the discussions. Please refer back to the original presentation from Berkeley Homes which you can find here.
Existing hedgerows and general layout.
The committee was in favour of the use of existing hedgerows and the natural features of the site as a basis for the layout. It was felt that this created appropriate, discrete areas of houses within the estate. The use of balancing ponds for runoff water was also seen as a positive aspect as it provided interest within the development. The committee did have concerns about the maintenance and management of these common areas.
Berkeley Homes informed us that a management company will be set up and that this management company will have responsibility for maintaining these areas. All the owners within the estate (including freehold owners) will be required to make a financial contribution towards the costs of the management company. It is estimated that this could be anything from £250 to £500 a year. A residents Association may be set up to work with the management company. These details will be finalized once the development is under way.
The properties backing onto the hedgerows and natural managed borders will have post and rail fences to allow the movement of dormice and badgers within the area. The occupiers of these properties would be able to access these maintained areas but they are intended to be for wildlife and restricting access and use of this space would be enforced by the management company. In addition, homeowners will not be permitted to replace the post and rail fences with conventional fencing as there would be planning restrictions imposed by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.
The balancing ponds will be landscaped in such a way as to make them safe areas within the estate. Concerns were raised about children playing in or near the ponds and the potential risk of drowning.
The mixed layout of the houses, apartments and types provided a varied and interesting streetscape in the opinion of the committee. Some concerns were raised however.
The layout breaks down with the placement of two 3-storey blocks of flats tight against the boundaries of “Highview” and “Grovehaven”. This appeared uncharacteristically unneighbourly considering the whole development. This could also impact on the existing houses with overlooking and other planning issues.
The row of terraces / town houses as you entered the site from Maryland Road also seemed out of keeping with the rest of the layout and would benefit from some form of variation.
Berkeley Homes is looking into both issues.
The replacement parking for the terraced houses on Hawkenbury Road seems to be badly sited. The committee feels that there is a lengthy walk from the parking area back to the houses and this will mitigate against its use. The area is also too far from the existing properties to allow occupants to keep an eye on their vehicles. Berkeley Homes should consider relocating this area so that it is closer to the occupants and that there is direct pedestrian access to the houses. Berkeley Homes is looking at this and may create additional footpaths.
If this is not resolved, then occupiers will continue to park on Hawkenbury Road and this will have further access issues. Berkeley Homes informed the committee that they had offered to increase the size of the parking area at the Hawkenbury Pavilion. This would increase the capacity of parking for people using the all-weather pitch and reduce the parking on Hawkenbury Road itself. Double yellow lines may be considered for Hawkenbury Road from Maryland Road to the entrance of the site. Berkeley Homes are waiting for a response from TWBC. As yet, there is no formal transportation plan for the area.
A question was raised about the road layout within the site and whether some of these routes could be shortened. Berkeley Homes explained that due to the topography of the site, the roads have been laid out optimally regarding gradients and other factors.
The presentation created the impression that many of the homes within the site would be finished in weatherboarding and would create a ‘New England’ feel to the site. The committee expressed the opinion that red brick and some tile hanging would be more in keeping with the local vernacular in Hawkenbury. The site is also the location of the original Tunbridge Wells brickworks.
Berkeley Homes stated that it was not their intention to create a ‘New England’ feel to the scheme and that the elevational expression would be more brick and tile hanging in keeping with the area.
Access to Maryland Road
The committee asked why the access point into Maryland Road had been made where it was and Berkeley Homes informed us that the reason was two-fold. KCC Highways preferred not to create a 4-way junction with Forest Way as this could have safety issues. The second reason was the willingness of local residents to sell their homes. Berkeley Homes bought what was available.
Access to the site from Forest Road
Berkeley Homes advised that traffic studies were in hand and that these would inform meetings to be held with TWBC and Kent Highways to establish what road improvements are required to improve access to the site. They undertook to keep HVA advised as these discussions proceed.
The committee asked Berkeley Homes about the time frames for the development and the proposed works. Berkeley Homes have to relocate dormice within the area and they hibernate over the winter, so can only be moved between December and March each year. Should Berkeley Homes get planning approval prior to December 2016 and can successfully move the dormice by March, they intend to break ground in May 2017. Should they not get planning permission initially or the dormice cannot be moved, work will be delayed until May 2018. The work will start at the top of the site where the allotments are. It is anticipated that it will take 4 years to complete the site. Berkeley Homes would not say when access from Maryland road to the site would be created.
35% of the development is designated ‘affordable housing’. Under TWBC planning rules, 75% of this is assigned to housing associations and 25% to shared ownership. The ‘affordable housing’ is pepper-potted throughout the site and there is no grouping of ‘affordable housing’.
It is expected that Berkeley Homes will submit their planning application in early September 2016. The committee did state that it did appear rather rushed and the timing over the August school break seems opportunistic. Concern was also raised that a number of residents were not informed about the consultation at the end of July. Berkeley Homes informed the committee that they planned the consultation prior to schools closing to afford everyone an opportunity to comment.
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The following people were in attendance.
Representing Berkeley Home were:
Alex Davies (Development Director), Megan Hodges (Development Manager) and Robert Francs (Senior Planning Manager).
The Hawkenbury Village Association was represented by:
Graeme Gibson (Chairman), Jenny Foy, Sue Ware, Dean Kenward, Julie Brodie, Georgina Ellison-Hughes and Michael Doyle.