7/06/2010 Pre-meeting statement relating to Forge Field Project.

Appendix A



a. Approximately 30 people attended the meeting, approximately 7 people spoke.
b. No concrete decisions have been taken by the steering group, only that the first site option is Forge Field
c. Note on planning application being tabled for consideration – last sentence.
d. Only recorded what was given.
e. Information on site option not misleading. English Heritage was consulted.




Penshurst Parish Council members wish to make their position clear with regard to Forge Field in order to stop unfounded assumptions and allegations with regard to their involvement in the proposed project.
The PC was approached to take part in a survey for affordable housing by the Action with Communities in Rural Kent and SDC and, although having already gone through the process twice, agreed that another survey could be carried out. The result was the same as previously recorded, with a need for 11 houses being identified.
As a consequence of this and, coupled with a request which had previously been received from the school for help in relation to safer parking, the PC suggested that the site opposite Penshurst Place might prove suitable to provide a small number of houses together with limited parking space. This site was refused and no further action was taken by the council. The PC have been advised that there are a number of planning constraints on the site, for example Green Belt, AONB, the fact that the site is registered historical parkland with the frontage being within an Area of Archaeological Potential. These, together with the fact that the site was part of negotiations with English Heritage in 1993 in relation to an Inheritance Tax Undertaking meant we could not use it.
The PC was subsequently contacted with a request to take part in consultations regarding a village project which involved not only housing and parking, as originally envisaged by the PC, but also a new surgery and toilets. As you are aware suggested sites were visited with the final decision being taken that the Forge Field site, which would be made available by Penshurst Place Estate, could accommodate all the facilities.
Representatives from interested parties (Steering Group) met to discuss the proposals prior to a draft plan being prepared for the exhibition in the parish. This exhibition was held to provide everyone with a chance to discuss the project and to gauge the response from parishioners to the proposals.
The implication of the given title of ‘Project Sponsor’ which the parish council has, could be construed to suggest it is the motivator of the current planned development. This is unfortunate as it is titled as such only by convention in these procedures, it conveys nothing other than the parish council has an overview of the process.
The PC has provided all information collected to date on the website, SDC has provided hard copies in three locations in the villages for anyone to access. Of the current survey, a number of forms have been received and are being analysed at the moment.
By virtue of the fact that the land being used for the project is being provided by Penshurst Place Estate their input with regard to the elements of the project has been substantial. The members of the PC have, and do, take their responsibilities to all the parishioners of Penshurst and Fordcombe very seriously and will continue to ensure that they represent impartially and consistently the needs and opinions of all parishioners.