Public Participation – there were no questions or comments from members of the public


PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Fairweather (in part), Gilbert, Hatcher, Mills, Page Pethurst, Somers, County Cllr. Holden and Borough Cllr. Warne (in part)


72/23: APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Kings, Newman, Selby, Stone, Tomlinson, and Borough Cllr. Dawlings


73/23: Declaration of Interests, Dispensations and Predetermination:

The Chairman read out the following statement:

Members are required to declare any interests, dispensations or predetermination on items on this agenda in accordance with the Council’s Code of Conduct. Members are reminded that changes to the Register of Interests should be notified to the Clerk. The meeting is routinely recorded as a clerk’s aid.


None received.


74/23: To approve and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Full Council held 14th September 2023

The Chairman referred to the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 14th September 2023 that had been circulated before the meeting by the Clerk. They were agreed for accuracy and proposed for acceptance by Cllr. Fletcher, seconded by Cllr. Mills and voted for unanimously by those present at that meeting and signed by the Chair.


75/23: To discuss s106 funding for Rugby Club (Cranbrook Sports Club)

Cllr. Fletcher introduced the item. He read out the following statement from Borough Cllr. Dawlings:
There is a Section 106 agreement to divide the monies due for recreational purposes from the Turnden phase 1 development between the rugby club and the parish.  By way of background, I met Peter Smith of Berkeley Homes when they were bidding for the Turnden site and told him about the Rugby Club plans for a new Clubhouse.  When Berkeley Homes’ planning application was submitted it identified the recreational contribution to go to the Rugby Club.  The then Parish Council Chairman, Bridget Veitch, spoke to me about this earmarked contribution.  I agreed the contribution should be shared 50:50 between the Club and the Parish and that sharing of the recreational contribution was written in to the S106 legal agreement.  The Rugby Club has specific plans to use part of the s106 contribution now received and held by TWBC for ground improvements at the Tomlin Ground.  My view is that what the Rugby Club (now Cranbrook Sports Club) has now indented for is part of that half share and the Parish Council should agree to TWBC releasing the amount requested to the Club.  The Parish Council should consider its priorities for the half share due to the Parish.


Cllr. Fletcher explained that the TWBC are now holding £170,877.32 s106 funds from Turnden phase I, for Youth and Adult Recreational facilities at Cranbrook Sports Clubs and/or the Cranbrook Community Hub. Cranbrook Sports Club have requested £116,376 of the funds for work to improve drainage on the pitches, purchase sports grounds maintenance equipment and the purchase of a storage container to store the equipment.


Cllr. Fletcher put it to Members that release of £116,376 to Cranbrook Sports Club be approved. Following a request for clarification from a number of Councillors as to why Cranbrook Sports Club would receive a greater proportion of the funds, Cllr. Fletcher closed the meeting and invited a Cranbrook Sports Club representative to speak. The Sports Club representative explained that the equipment will be available for Cranbrook Football Club also to use on the Ball Field football pitches.


There were no further questions. Cllr Fletcher reconvened the meeting. On the basis that Cranbrook Sports Club will share the equipment with the football club, Cllr. Fletcher proposed agreement that £116,376 is released by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to Cranbrook Sports Club. This was seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed.


It was noted that the status of the s106 agreement for Turnden II is unknown.


76/23: Climate and Ecology Bill – to consider supporting the Climate and Ecology Bill and write to Helen Grant MP to inform her that this motion has been passed, urging her to sign up to support the Climate and Ecology Bill

Cllr. Fletcher introduced the Climate and Ecology Bill, which is due for its second reading in the House of Commons on 24 November 2023, and invited Members to discuss. Cllr. Fletcher proposed the motion, this was seconded by Cllr. Fairweather and agreed.


77/23: Community/Medical Centre: No update


78/23: Chairman’s Report:

The Chairman had recently attended the Chairman’s Meeting. TWBC will have grant monies available for tourism and businesses associated with tourism in 2024/25. Any interested parties are invited to express an interest.


West Kent Business Support Grants will be open next year.


TWBC will be looking for someone from each parish to work on Biodiversity Net Gain (BNG) credits. All developments combined will be required to deliver a 10% net gain.


The two education meetings had been well attended with 120 people in total. The slides from the meetings and an action plan are now available on the parish council website, under Projects. Cllr. Fletcher has requested County Cllr. Holden arrange a meeting with the relevant people at KCC.


Congratulations to Cranbrook in Bloom who received a Gold award from South and South East in Bloom.


Cranbrook Apple Fayre had been a great success.


The deadline for articles for the Winter edition of the Cake is 1st November. Please could all Members forward an idea for a ‘cupcake’.


79/23: Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below: 

a) Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Pethurst referred to the minutes of the meeting held on the 10th October 2023. He highlighted the polices that had been recommended for approval – Communication Strategy and Safeguarding Policy. The Communications Strategy had been thoroughly reviewed at the previous Community Development meeting. The Safeguarding Policy is an important document. It replaces the Councils Child Protection Policy, which was in great need of an update. Cllr. Pethurst committed to keep the Safeguarding Policy under constant review to ensure it remains compliant with legislation and safeguarding practices.


Cllr. Pethurst proposed the minutes of the meeting held on 12th September be adopted; this was seconded by Cllr. Hatcher and agreed.


b) Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Bunyan presented the minutes of the meetings held 19th September and 3rd October 2023

The committee had recommended refusal for a number of the applications on the 19th of September, for reasons including lack of non-selective secondary school and concern with utility companies being able to supply.


She highlighted the application at Netters Farm for a photovoltaic Solar Array, battery storage and associated infrastructure. The site covers 3 parishes Cranbrook & Sissinghurst, Benenden and Hawkhurst. The committee had recommended approval as it complies with Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council NDP, will help towards net zero, the location is secluded, and it is possible to graze sheep beneath the solar panels. She noted that the conservation architect had no objection with a previous application on the same site that had been withdrawn. Both Benenden and Hawkhurst Parish Council are recommending refusal.


Borough Councillor Warne was invited to comment – she advised that a similar application within the Borough, in the AONB, has recently been approved by TWBC planning department.


c) Properties and Burials:

Cllr. Gilbert advised the next meeting is scheduled for October 24th.


d) Community Development:

Cllr. Hatcher referred to the minutes of the meeting held on 26th September. He proposed adoption of the minutes, this was seconded by Cllr. Gilbert and agreed.


e) Environmental Management:

Cllr. Fairweather referred to the minutes of the the meeting held on 19th September. Following a question from Cllr. Mills regarding alternative slide quotes, the Clerk advised that quotes from three companies that had been obtained last year are being resubmitted to reflect 2023 prices. Cllr. Fairweather proposed approval of the minutes. This was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.


f) Neighbourhood Plan (NDP):

Cllr. Pethurst reported that the following the referendum, the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst NDP had been adopted by TWBC and now forms part of the planning guidance for applications within the parish. The is a link to the ‘made’ version of the plan on the NDP website. There will also be hard copies in the parish office and the library.


80/23: Delegate Reports:

a) The Museum and History Society:

Cllr. Pethurst advised that the museum will close at the end of October. There is still time to view the Russell Family exhibit. The museum will continue to welcome pre-arranged groups.  The archives are available year-round. The Autumn-Winter series of talks has begun. Chris Levett delivered a talk entitled The History of Hops and Hop Picking. It had been well attended and had raised £280 for MND charity.



Cllr. Hatcher advised the minutes from the previous meeting are now available to be circulated by the Clerk. He was unsure when the next meeting would be held as the main organiser has been ill. In addition, the Conservation Architect is now working part time hours, and is unable to attend meetings in Cranbrook.


c) Tourism Group:

Cllr. Hatcher advised the next meeting will be 17th October.


d) John Spicer Apprenticeship Charity:

Cllr. Gilbert reported that at a recent meeting, trustees had voted to extend the grants to girls. This will need formally approving by the Charity Commission.  He advised the charity needs more visibility. Cllr. Somers suggested an article for the Cake written by one of the successful applicants.


e) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group:

Graham Holmes had advised that the next meeting is due to be held on the 24th October at Goudhurst.


81/23: Clerks Report:

The Clerk reminded Members of the training opportunities available, should they wish to take it up.


The Clerk requested that Members forward pictures to her that they have taken around the parish (views etc) that can be used on the Parish Council social media pages. Cllr. Hatcher took an action to follow more local groups to increase the reach of posts.


82/23: Correspondence:

An email had been received from a resident who reported an issue with dog waste on the pavement on The Hill. She asked for help in encouraging dog owners to clear up after their dog. The Clerk has contacted TWBC, who are the authority with powers to issues fines, asking if they have any penalty stickers that can be stuck on the bins that are positioned on The Hill. She also suggested the resident come into the office to pick up some smaller stickers that can be placed on sign posts. A potential subject for an article in The Cake.


83/23: County and Borough Councillor Reports: 

a) Borough Cllr. Warne

The TWBC Economic Development Team have created a tourism video of Cranbrook that is available on the ‘Visit Tunbridge Wells’ website. Please share. The Economic Development Team are also encouraging local businesses to send in their details to be listed on the Borough website.


The Local Plan is currently under review by Officers. It’s hoped that the proposed revisions will be presented to TWBC Full Council in December. Cranbrook and Sissinghurst will not be impacted by any of the changes.


Complaints have been received regarding the Brick Kiln construction site using noisy equipment at 6.30am, disturbing residents. The Planning department has been informed, as have Hill Development.


An event was held in September to recognise and thank volunteers from around the Borough. It was well attended, and included Wellbeing in the Weald and Cranbrook in Bloom. The volunteers from these groups are vital for making the Borough a fabulous place to live. Cllr. Warne also thank Cllr. Pethurst, Marian Cranmer and Cllr. Hatcher for their hard work on the Cranbrook and Sissinghurst NDP.


The CCTV that was damaged outside the White Horse is in the process of being replaced.


TWBC have acquired the leasehold ownership of Royal Victoria Place in Tunbridge Wells. This will enable more control of revitalising and reshaping the town centre. As well as retail, prospective tenants include leisure operators, food and beverage providers and community groups.

The Chairman read out the following report from

b) Borough Cllr. Dawlings:

‘Acquisition of RVP by TWBC
TWBC completed this acquisition from British Land on 2nd October.  This has been negotiated over many months since the Officers picked up that British Land were close to agreeing a sale and they persuaded British Land of the merits of selling to the Council.  For commercial reasons (some of which remain at the insistence of the vendor) little more than the fact of the acquisition has been made public. As leader of the Conservative Group I have been kept fully informed of the negotiations (in confidence) and all Members have been invited to confidential briefings.  In principle, I don’t think Local Authorities are best placed to manage shopping centres but I have been cautiously supportive of the acquisition emphasising the need for the centre to be managed by professions (I was involved with the recruitment of RivingtonHark as assets managers).  I fully recognise there needs to be a change of focus from a shopping mall to a mix of retail, entertainment and leisure which is what is being planned.  This acquisition is only possible because of the strong financial position of TWBC, so I hope that finally buries the ridiculous claims of the present administration about TWBC’s finances.

Cllr. Fletcher no doubt will report on the Vestry Hall meetings.  My take is that there is demand for a non-selective school for the area around Cranbrook – transporting children to the nearest schools (Mascalls, Homewood and Cornwallis) takes a significant part of their day.  By looking at a larger area (seemingly now out to Maidstone, Ashford and Tunbridge Wells) the KCC Education Officer is able to argue there is no overall shortage of school places.  With significant housing development around Paddock Wood, there are plans to expand Mascalls (also owned by the Leigh Academy Trust). In my opinion it is better to have children educated more locally, where some can walk to school and time and cost (and carbon emissions) can be saved on transport.  Cranbrook children are spending up to 2 hours a day travelling to school.  Others are opting for home education (which for some means no education).

Solar Farm
Both Benenden and Hawkhurst parish councils are passionately opposed to the development of a solar farm covering land in their parishes – the Netters Hall planning application you have supported where this spreads onto land in the Cranbrook & Sissinghurst parish.  I have always set out to support both parish councils in the Benenden & Cranbrook ward I have represented at TWBC since 2014 but, in this matter, I will be supporting the Benenden objection for the reasons they have given but specifically because I think the AONB has to be protected and there are many undesignated parts of the country where solar farms can be developed.

Apple Fair
We had friends staying last weekend specifically to go to the Apple Fair.  The High Street was ‘rammed’ for Cranplona – well done to the organisers.’

c) Borough Cllr. Fairweather
Following Cllr. Dawlings report, nothing further to add.


d) County & Borough Councillor Seán Holden

Congratulations to Chairman Fletcher for arranging the successful Education meetings that had taken place the previous week. A private meeting will be organised with the relevant KCC representatives. Goudhurst Parish Council had reminded Cllr. Holden that the Education issues also impact many of the parishes surrounding Cranbrook.


Work on the Kent County Council (KCC) budget planning is on-going, there is a budget meeting taking place next week. KCC are not on the verge of issuing a section 114 (bankruptcy) notice, though there is a £50 m overspend that will be accounted for by contingency funds and resources. However, this is not sustainable. The leaders of Kent and Hampshire County councils continue to highlight to central government the funding problems local councils are facing and that changes are needed to the whole system of local government funding.


Cllr. Holden gave an update on the schools in Kent that were impacted by Reinforced Autoclaved Aerated Concrete (RAAC). Mitigations are in place.


He advised there is Members grant funding still available.


84/23: Items for Information:

Cllr. Pethurst – The Secretary of State’s decision on Berkeley Homes Turnden II scheme has been quashed in the High Court of Justice

Cllr. Hatcher – tickets are on sale for Cranbrook Operatic & Dramatic Society (CODS) latest show – Made in Dagenham. There will be a panto at Christmas, however it will be provided by an outside company, this year, not by CODS.

Cllr. Pethurst – Cranbrook Literature Festival is taking place at the weekend

Cllr. Fletcher – Art Show is taking place in Vestry Hall 9th-11th November

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