Following the recent decision of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council’s Finance, Regeneration and Property Committee, these two council-owned small areas of green space are to be considered as land available for development in the council’s Local Plan. This decision was subsequently confirmed by the Conservative led cabinet.
Liberal Democrat members of the committee voted against this decision and were supported by their colleagues from the Green Party. Unfortunately, all the Conservative members voted in favour to win by one vote. Lib Dems and Greens did force the Overview and Scrutiny Committee to review the decision but again lost the subsequent vote by one thanks to the “Independent” councillor on the committee voting with the Conservatives.
Councillor Garry Bridge, who strongly opposed making these green spaces available for development at both the Finance and Overview and Scrutiny committee meetings, said:
"The Conservative councillors are keen to make these small areas of green space in Vauxhall available for development, but not similar green spaces in other parts of the borough. New housing developments are required to provide open spaces but it appears green space can be taken away from older areas of housing. Green spaces are just as important to residents in urban areas as they are to residents in rural areas."Garry Bridges
Conservative councillors who spoke in favour of the decision, including two members who previously represented the area when it was in Medway ward, stated that it was necessary to build on some urban green spaces to avoid building on green field sites. However, these sites in Vauxhall, along with one in Judd ward are the only urban green areas put forward for development. The Vauxhall land will yield only 15 dwellings. That will not protect many green fields. One site in north Tonbridge would provide 27 dwellings alone but was excluded from consideration from development. There appears to be no logic to the Conservatives’ decision.
This green space in Vauxhall was previously identified by the council as “amenity green space”, which was to be protected. This no longer appears to be the case and may be lost to developers if included in the Local Plan.