Planners approve new Tonbridge estate with 200 homes
By Tonbridge Courier | Saturday, September 10, 2011, 08:00
DEVELOPERS will start building a vast new housing estate in Tonbridge town centre at the end of the year.
Artist impression of apartment block for Cannon Lane, Tonbridge. Ward Homes and Cannon Lane Estates
PL0911074/2 POSTAGE L to R Olive Clinker , John Stanley MP , Maria Heslop , Elizabeth Stanley , Cllr Sarah Spence and Cllr Russell Lancaster with the petition to save the Hectorage Road Post office from closure
Ward Homes will build 200 new houses and apartments on the former BT depot site in Cannon Lane, overlooking the River Medway.
The plans were approved by the borough council on Thursday despite concerns over the extra traffic that will be generated on the already congested road.
But they voted in favour of fulfilling the "desperate need" for affordable three and four-bedroom homes in the town and regenerating the Medway area.
On the site, currently scrubland the size of four football pitches, 102 apartments and 98 houses, mostly in terraced rows and blocks up to four storeys high, will be built.
The first properties could go on sale at the end of next summer.
The main access will be off a priority junction from Cannon Lane and Ward Homes has agreed to give £200,000 to Kent Highways to improve the junction.
Councillor Jessica Elks said: "We are going to have a lot of problems on that stretch of road if this goes ahead.
"It is quite frankly a nightmare of an evening – you can sit there for 35 to 45 minutes – and it's only going to get a lot worse with this additional amount of cars."
Concerns were also raised about guaranteeing an adequate portion of the homes were affordable, either through shared ownership or social rental schemes.
But members of the Area 1 Planning Committee decided they needed to approve the plans or risk the site being used for retail.
"The housing market and construction market are at rock bottom," said Nicolas Heslop.
"We are being offered 30 per cent affordable housing on this scheme, which in the current economic climate is a very credible offer."
Chairman Russell Lancaster, who lives nearby in Mill Stream Place, said the site was currently an eyesore that "let the town down".
"This is the last development along this corridor and I don't want to see any more apartments than is necessary in this town, but it is the last piece of the jigsaw and I firmly support it."
The land has been the subject of several applications, including failed bids by Tesco and Matalan.
In 2006, an application was also submitted for a 13-storey tower and 600 flats.
Despite its key location, the site has remained derelict since the BT depot was demolished in the 1980s.