Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council serves an exceptionally beautiful and commercially significant swathe of the Weald of Kent. The attractive market town of Cranbrook and the nearby pretty village of Sissinghurst form the nucleus of a vibrant and diverse community bounded by ancient woods and forests and enclosing rich farmland.
The varied landscape and the vagaries of history have shaped both the character and appearance of the area. The Union Windmill symbolises the crucial role of agriculture in the region while the magnificent St Dunstan’s Church recalls the prosperous medieval cloth industry. Cranbrook School, founded in 1518, is a powerful presence in the town, a constant reminder of the importance of youth and the future within a historic context. The potent attraction of historic buildings is perfectly exemplified by Sissinghurst Castle Gardens – a world famous, much visited National Trust property with a fascinating past.
Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council is dedicated to preserving its remarkable legacy by fostering an environment in which farming, education and tourism can continue to thrive and benefit local businesses and services.
Our Parish falls within the Borough of Tunbridge Wells and is represented in Parliament by the Member for Maidstone & The Weald. Roughly equidistant and easily accessible to these two important urban centres, the Parish has nonetheless preserved its rural aspect and a remarkably high level of self-sufficiency.
A market town since 1289, Cranbrook is still the obvious choice of shopping for the surrounding villages as well as residents and workers in the town. The diversity of retail outlets includes several specialist stores that attract shoppers from a great distance. Sissinghurst has a thriving village shop and popular public house. There are monthly Farmers’ Markets in the Vestry Hall and Sissinghurst Castle Gardens which underlines the continuing importance of agriculture to the local economy.
Importantly the Parish Council took on the car parks in Cranbrook to ensure that they remain free to the end user. They have been much improved and an enormous amount of work has been carried out to make them all more attractive and an asset to the Parish.
The offices of the Parish Council and officers from Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are based in The Old Fire Station, which has been converted to create the Weald Information Centre, situated in the centre Updated 22nd August 2018 3 of Cranbrook at the top of Stone Street adjacent to St Dunstan’s Church steps. A meeting room named after a local hero, Addison VC, provides a useful venue for parishioners to access advice and information.
Details of the 15 elected Parish Councillors, 4 of whom represent Sissinghurst, are displayed on the wall outside and notices of community events and activities are regularly updated in the roundel on the pavement opposite the doors.
Lori Ham, the Parish Clerk, and Lynn Thirkell, her Deputy, undertake the day-to-day business of providing the services and co-ordinating the needs of the community. All the activities of the Parish Council are reported in the quarterly Parish Cake magazine available free from the Weald Information Centre and delivered to every household in the TN17 2 & 3 postcodes. The Council is always answerable to its electorate and residents of Cranbrook and Sissinghurst are invited to attend public meetings of the Parish Council where they can witness and influence the workings of this important engine of local government.
The responsibilities of the Parish Council are many and varied and include the management and maintenance of the Churchyard, the burial grounds at Golford and Sissinghurst, the War Memorials, recreation grounds, allotments, litter bins, public seats, street lighting and Vestry Hall.
The Parish Council is supportive of all initiatives to promote the prosperity of the town. Sensitive to the potentially conflicting interests of historic preservation and commercial development, the Parish Council plays a pivotal role in defining policies that affect the quality of life in the town.
Cranbrook & Sissinghurst are currently in the Neighbourhood Development Plan process, collating evidence and data supporting what is important to the parishioners in terms of housing, business & employment. The policies will then be put forward for a referendum, when parishioners will vote on the Neighbourhood Plan. Projects like “Cranbrook in Bloom” foster a sense of pride in the town while enhancing the attractiveness of the streets and public places. The Parish Council is keen to endorse schemes that boost the economy without compromising the natural beauty and historic context of the town.