Despite significant opposition and the sensitivity of the site, the application for four large dwellings at Hales Place, Tenterden has recently been allowed by the appointed Inspector following an appeal by the developer. This represents a worrying precedent for the erosion of one of the last remaining green spaces within the Tenterden Conservation Area following on from the planning approval on appeal of the Tilden Gill site in 2016.
To date, there appears to be no cohesive strategy or formal document identifying the important green spaces or ‘lungs’ to be protected in and around Tenterden. The Local Plan focusses only on potential development sites and does not offer protection to important green spaces. A Neighbourhood Plan offers the opportunity to coordinate with the Local Plan, whilst demarcating green spaces that the local community wish to protect.
A Neighbourhood Plan results in a legal document which can be referred to when commenting on planning applications. Until this or similar has been completed the fight is left to individuals on an application by application basis, resulting in the piecemeal development we are now experiencing.
Much time and effort by local interest groups, including the Tenterden Town Council; Tenterden & District Residents Association (TDRA) and The Weald of Kent Protection Society in 2005; 2008 and 2009 resulted in detailed analysis of potential development sites around the town, identifying landscape constraints and characteristics which informed a list of ‘Criteria for Developments,’ and the recognition of the importance of retaining vital green ‘lungs’ for Tenterden. This is all useful information and still largely relevant as a basis for the development of a Neighbourhood Plan or similar.
In the meantime we are at risk of continuing to lose valuable, irreplaceable green space and still don’t have an overall strategy for the growth of Tenterden.