Our site adjoins the village of Eccles in Kent, on the east side of the River Medway valley, bordering the village to the north, west and south. Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) has considered the area suitable for new homes for several decades as part of the ‘East Bank Strategy’ which also includes our development at Peters Village, improved cycleways, footpaths and bridlepaths throughout the valley, improved public transport, and access across the river via Peters Bridge which we constructed and was opened in September 2016. Much of the Land at Eccles is identified as an ‘Area of Opportunity’ in the Council’s current Core Strategy, protected to meet the need for homes after 2021.
More recently the site was allocated in TMBC’s draft Local Plan in Policy LP27 as one of a number of ‘strategic sites’ that are crucial to ensure the need for new homes, particularly affordable homes, is met in the future. Although the preparation of the Local Plan has been delayed, we are keen to continue to work closely with TMBC, the Parish Council and the local community to deliver these new homes with all the local facilities they need to support them.
Much of the site is allocated as part of a wider ‘Area of Opportunity’ in the adopted Core Strategy (2007) under Policy CP16, to meet housing needs of the Borough after 2021. A new draft Local Plan has more recently been in preparation which identified the site for development under Policy LP27.
The Local Plan process has currently been delayed following Government Inspectors concluding that the Plan as a whole did not comply with legal requirements to co-operate with neighbouring Sevenoaks over housing requirements. TMBC will be required to prepare a further draft Local Plan and are likely to have to accommodate more housing in the Borough than previously thought due to changes in Government policy and population estimates. Whilst the focus will be on brownfield land, this will not be enough to meet the identified need for housing and the Land at Eccles will remain a crucial part of the Council’s overall planning strategy for the Borough.
However, we expect that the new Local Plan will take some time to produce, and we are keen to continue to progress our plans so that we can get another step closer to building the new homes that are needed.
The new community will be an attractive, sustainable and high-quality place with an identity that preserves and respects the character of the existing village. The new development will be able to integrate with the existing community in Eccles through the use of new community facilities, shared connections and enjoyment of open space.
New and existing residents alike will benefit from new and improved links for pedestrians and cyclists both between residential areas and to the wider countryside. Local needs will be served by community spaces and new sports facilities designed to be accessible to all.
The development will include a mix of homes able to meet the needs of households of varying sizes, with a good range of affordable housing including social rent and shared ownership properties and potentially will include land for those that want to build their own homes.
As we are preparing an outline planning application, it will include all the key items that we want to deliver as part of the plans including:
Around 900 new homes, which will be a mix of sizes to help meet housing need in the area
Affordable housing, including social rent and shared ownership
Integrating the existing community in Eccles and future community of our site so everyone can enjoy the improved community facilities
Improved connections in the area for walkers and cyclists, both between residential areas and to the wider countryside
Financial contributions towards improving public transport
Re-providing the football fields within a modern community sports hub which will be accessible to all
Providing new allotments in a location agreed with users of the existing allotments
A new village school with improved facilities if required by Kent County Council’s education strategy
A new community centre that could be used for a range of uses depending on feedback from the local community
Attractive landscaping throughout the site that prioritises biodiversity and mitigates ecology impact
A new heritage trail to highlight the archaeological remains in the Scheduled Ancient Monument
For more details about our plans, please view our virtual exhibition.
An aerial photograph showing Eccles and the Land at Eccles site