Public Participation

A member of the public referred to the Community Centre article in the Spring 2024 edition of The Cake – it implies that the new community centre would take in the Childrens Centre, however plans are that the only Childrens Centre to service the area will be in Tunbridge Wells, there will be no physical centre in Cranbrook – should it be clarified that the new community centre could provide space for outreach activities for Childrens Services?


Cllr. Fletcher responded that the reason it had been included is because KCC were about to spend £300,000 on a Childrens Centre in Cranbrook,


Plans are underway for Nuts in May that is taking place on the last Sunday in May. Volunteers are welcomed especially for the children’s craft event – even if it is just for an hour.


PRESENT: Cllrs. Fletcher (Chair), Bunyan, Gilbert, Groome, Hatcher, Page, Pethurst, Mills, Selby (in part) Somers, Stone and Swenson


County & Borough Councillor Holden in part


140/23: APOLOGIES: Cllrs. Fairweather, Newman and Tomlinson

and Borough Cllrs. Warne and Dawlings


141/23: 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.


142/23: To approve and sign as a correct record the minutes of the Full Council held 8th February 2024

The Chairman referred to the minutes of the Parish Council Meeting held on 8th February 2024 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. Gilbert and agreed.


143/23: Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group Representative

Resolution: To appoint Graham Holmes as Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council representative to the Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group for another term

Cllr. Fletcher proposed that Graham Holmes continues to be the Parish Council representative on the Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group, this was seconded by Cllr. Bunyan and agreed by all.







144/23: Local Council Award Scheme:

Resolution: Cranbrook & Sissinghurst Parish Council confirm that all criteria and supporting evidence for the Local Council Award Scheme Quality Status is in place and ready for submission

Cllr. Fletcher moved the resolution that all the criteria and supporting evidence is in place ready for submission for the Local Council Award Quality Status. He invited question, of which there were none. The resolution was seconded by Cllr. Pethurst and agreed.


145/23: To consider the offer from Kitemill of donation of strip of land in Sissinghurst – Title no. K926120

The Chairman closed the meeting to allow a member of the public to speak on the matter.


The resident of Sissinghurst welcomed the opportunity for the parish to own the strip of land. They feared otherwise it will become unkempt, which if allowed to happen would negatively impact the entrance to Sissinghurst.


The Chairmen re-opened the meeting. He then read out communication received from another resident of Sissinghurst who supported the acquisition of the land subject to answers to some questions/comments, including a question about maintenance costs and any potential liabilities and covenants.


It was agreed that before a decision could be made the Clerk would investigate further and request quotes from the current grounds contractors for an initial tidy up and for ongoing maintenance.


146/23: Education/ New School in Cranbrook Update:

The Chairman thanked the Education team who have been meeting to work on an argument to support a new non-selective secondary school. A campaign had been developed, including a QR code, website, leaflets and Facebook page to garner opinions from the community about the lack of a non-selective secondary school. Following a conversation that he had at a planning conference, the Chairman learned that there is a wider consensus that the lack of school in the area is a problem that needs addressing. It was suggested that as many people as possible raise awareness of our petition. He also learnt that developers are obligated to provide £7000 towards education for every new house built.


The Chairman pointed out some sections of particular interest to secondary education in the TWBC Public Consultation on response to the Inspector’s Initial Findings Letter on the Examination of the New Local Plan. Section 4.40 questions whether the need for secondary school provision can be met through existing Secondary Schools found locally (not just Mascalls Academy), or whether a standalone school is necessary. Section 4.43 of the TWBC consultation mentions selling of land to extend Mascalls. Perhaps this is the fate for the land at Snowfields (formerly High Weald Academy) as we recently learnt that although our application to register the old 6th form centre as an Asset of Community Value, Leigh Academy Trust are appealing the decision. Leigh Academy are not forthcoming with their plans for the land at Snowfields despite emails from the Chairman and three emails from Helen Grant MP. Leigh Academy have advised that they will not have time to meet to discuss their plans until the start of the Summer term.


The Chairman advised he had secured a meeting on 23rd April with Rory Love, KCC Cabinet Member for Education and Skills. Parish Council representatives from Staplehurst, Biddenden, Hawkhurst and Goudhurst will also be in attendance as the closure of the High Weald Academy equally effects the surrounding parishes.


Cllr. Groome confirmed that there is a lot of support for the project from the immediate community and other parishes.


147/23: Community Centre/Medical Centre Update:

Cllr. Fletcher reported that unfortunately the OPE grant application had been unsuccessful. However, there are other grants available, and he requested support from other Members to help complete the grant application forms. There is currently an Asset of Community Value Grant that is open, and our project fits the criteria.


Cllr. Fletcher advised that the full costings up to RIBA stage 4 will be available for the Annual Parish Meeting (APM), where residents views will be sought.


148/23: Chairmans Report:

The Spring edition of Parish Cake is now out.


The Chairman had attended KALC Planning Conference along with Cllr. Groome. There is still money in the budget for Members training.


The Tunbridge Wells Local Plan is still open for comment.


A meeting of the Chairman of Parish Councils in the Tunbridge Wells Borough is due to take place on Monday 18th March. Rural solidarity is one of the agenda items which he will be championing.


149/23: Approval of Committee Reports as detailed below: 

a) Policy & Resources:

Cllr. Pethurst referred to the minutes that had been circulated prior to the meeting. He

recommended the minutes for adoption, this was seconded by Cllr. Fletcher and agreed.


b) Planning & Preservation:

Cllr. Bunyan presented the minutes of the meetings held on the 20th February 2024 and the 5th March 2024. She highlighted the application for full conversion off the White Horse to residential. Cllr. Hatcher advised that he had previously shared the planning application on local Facebook sites. Comments can be submitted to planning via the portal, by email or letter.


c) Properties and Burials:

Cllr. Gilbert advised that the next meeting will take place on April 16th.


He reported that it had been necessary to authorise repairs of £1,740 for repairs to Vestry Cottage roof.


d) Community Development:

The next meeting is 26th March.


Cllr. Selby reported on the success of the Councillors Surgeries. Common themes include the White Horse and Providence Chapel. Support for a youth club has also been raised, which the Parish Council would be happy to discuss further,

e) Environmental Management:

The next meeting is 19th March.


150/23: Delegate Reports:

a) Hop Pickers Line Heritage Group:

Cllr. Fletcher read out the following statement from Graham Holmes:

The Annual General Meeting of the Group will take place at Paddock Wood Community Centre at 2pm on Wednesday 27th March at 2pm.


b) Tourism Group:

Cllr. Fletcher read out the following statement from Graham Holmes:

The next meeting is scheduled to take place at Cranbrook Museum on Tuesday the 26th March commencing at 6.30pm



Cllr. Bunyan advised the next meeting will take place on March 27th.

d) Cranbrook Museum:

Cllr. Pethurst reported on several matters:

  • closer links are being established with the Amelia Centre who have provided a mentor to the curatorial team.
  • Last season was the most successful in terms of visitor numbers to Cranbrook Museum, these numbers include outreach visits.
  • A number of new acquisitions will be on display in the museum reception area from April 1st.
  • A new version of the ‘Wheels Through Time’ leaflet will be available soon.


151/23: Clerks Report:



152/23: Correspondence:

An offer to request a free framed photograph of King Charles has been received. It was agreed to accept the offer and also to request an additional copy for Sissinghurst, if possible.


153/23: County and Borough Councillor Reports:

  1. a) Borough & County Cllr. Holden

Referring to the earlier discussions on the education campaign, Cllr. Holden expressed how impressed he was with the efforts of all those involved. KCC are very much data driven, but hoped the efforts of the team would alleviate this. It is not just Cranbrook that needs the school it is also the surrounding area. Staplehurst sent the largest number of children to the HWA, followed by Cranbrook.  Cllr. Holden had spoken with KCC member Paul Carter (who is also a Trustee of Leigh Academy Trust) regarding the appeal of the 6th Form Centre being an Asset of Community Value, to say that not only are Leigh Academy blocking the use of the building, Cranbrook does not need any more housing.


KCC now has 4 inspectors to check the sites where road works are taking place to ensure that the utility companies and their contractors are working with in the terms of their permits. It’s hoped that this will address the problem of road closure signs etc. being left in place when there is no work taking place.

More than 2000 people across the county had responded to the Windmill Consultation. The item will be on the next KCC Environment & Transport Cabinet Committee in April. Cllr. Holden will continue to make the recommendation to not sell the windmills.


  1. b) Borough Councillor Tom Dawlings:

The Chairman summarised a report from Cllr. Dawlings –

On Leigh Academy Trust, he has emailed Roger Gough (Trustee at Leigh Academy Trust) to seek his support in connection with the properties at the former High Weald Academy not being used by Snowfields and expressing concern about further investment in Mascalls, rather than some form of secondary education in/around Cranbrook. Before becoming Leader of KCC Roger held the Education portfolio.  I will let you know when I get a reply from Roger.

The Crown application to change to residential use is beyond the call-in stage. His thoughts are that we should focus on opposing the loss of a pub facility at the White Horse where he is convinced there is wide public support.  He would be surprised if the matter was not rejected by Planning Officers.

The Tourism Group are keen to resurrect the tourism website. The licence has expired and the Tourism Group would like to request funding from the Parish Council.


154/23: Items for Information:

Cllr. Page reported Goudhurst Traffic Action Group had been in contact regarding setting up Speedwatch between Biddenden, Sissinghurst and Goudhurst. He is seeking more information and will report back.


Cllr. Bunyan advised that Sissinghurst Flower Show is taking place at Sissinghurst Primary School at 2.30pm on Saturday 23rd March.


Cllr. Gilbert reported:

  • Borough Cllr. Warne has sent a well written email to Matthew Scott (Kent Police Crime Commissioner), Helen Grant (MP for Maidstone & the Weald), Greg Clark (MP for Tunbridge Wells) following the multiagency meeting regarding antisocial behaviour, especially in Crane Lane
  • Men’s Shed have been awarded a grant of £20,000 from the National Lottery Fund


Cllr. Hatcher shared details of Peter Allen’s memorial. It will be held at St Dunstan’s Church on Monday 1st April 2024 at 3pm. The service will also be live streamed on YouTube which can be accessed via St Dunstan’s website.


CODS Spring show – 4th, 5th and 6th April is ‘Twelve’, based on 12 Angry Men

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