Four-year golf course battle ends as developer loses housing appeal
A planning inspector has rejected an appeal for 374 homes to be built on a golf course in Tunbridge Wells, in a decision that has been described as “monumentally significant”.
The owners of the Hawkhurst golf course had wanted to redevelop the land to build a new housing estate as well as a relief road that would have run through the middle of the 18-hole course.
The existing clubhouse and squash courts would have been demolished as part of the proposals and the golf course would have been remodeled to accommodate the houses comprising social housing and sheltered housing.
PLAN: The proposed housing site
Opposition from residents and environmental groups has been significant. Hundreds of emails and letters were submitted to the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) planning authority in opposition to the plan.
A protest group, Save Hawkhurst, was also set up while Hawkhurst Parish Council also opposed the golf course plan.
Tunbridge Wells City Council ultimately refused planning permission last year and CedarDrive club owners appealed the decision to the planning inspector.
But on Thursday, February 10, the government inspector dismissed the golf course owner’s appeal as not “in the public interest”.
Town Planning Inspector Owen Woodwards, who held the appeal hearing last September, ruled that the proposed road would involve significant engineering work and loss of trees in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty ( AONB).
He refused the planning appeal even though there is a housing shortage in the area.
The decision ends a four-year battle between Cedar Drive, the parish council and resident groups after the golf club first proposed the plans in 2018.
The parish council called the decision “wonderful news”.
CLERK: Clare Escombe
Clare Escombe, president of Hawkhurst Parish Council, said in a newsletter to residents: “This decision has been of monumental significance to the whole village.
“If this request had been approved, it would have radically changed Hawkhurst forever.
“I am incredibly proud of what we have accomplished working together as a community.
“Thank you all for all you have done and for your support.”
Cedar Drive has been approached for comment.