SEAMs Comments on Hub Plans

SEAMs Statement to TWBC Planning Portal Objecting to the Hub Scheme

The Southborough Environmental Action Movement (SEAM) was formed in 2011 to campaign against the sale of some of the Ridgewaye Fields Southborough to facilitate a new Tesco Supermarket in Southborough. The organisation was originally created as a Facebook Group called “Say No To Tesco” and currently has 477 supporters, principally drawn from Southborough & High Brooms.

The objective of SEAM is to preserve the Ridgewaye Fields Southborough as a public open recreational space and it is therefore against the loss of any of this land for development. SEAM is following in the footsteps of the Save Our Southborough (SOS) campaign group that successfully fought the sale of this land by Kent County Council in 1991 to the Co-Op Group for a giant Superstore.

Over the past two years SEAM representatives have had several meetings with the KCC Project Lead for the Southborough Hub Development. Following the first of these meeting, SEAM agreed that for the greater good of Southborough & High Brooms, some compromise was required to allow the sale of some of the field to raise funds to develop the Southborough Hub. This aligned with SEAMs wider objectives of “Promoting a regeneration of Southborough that delivers a community full of vitality, confidence and ambition.” SEAM therefore withdrew its objections to the sale of some of the field for development and has attempted throughout to “Raise Public Awareness” and "Lobby Decision Makers” to enhance the Southborough High Street and at the same time encourage footfall to benefit our local shops.

It is therefore with deep regret that SEAM must now object to this Planning Application. SEAM does not believe that the Hub Project Team or Decision Makers have listened to their concerns.

The proposed HUB does not sit conformable on the Southborough High Street; neither does it enhance our street scene. This polycarbonate box is awful. The design is amateurish and appears cheap. It is totally inappropriate at the centre of our Town.

At the same time we have reservations about the interior design, particularly the Library – located as the main thoroughfare to the Hub.

One of the main selling points of the Project Team at all discussions has been the provision of a State of the Art Theatre to replace the much loved Royal Victoria Hall. This is clearly not now being provided and instead the community is being treated to an empty box with no natural light. This will not support any of the usages promised.

We have seen no Business Case or Needs Analysis. The Community therefore does not know the build costs, predicted income, running costs or ongoing maintenance charges. Neither do we know the contribution to be made by the community to facilitate the Medical Centre.

The Hub development will concentrate traffic on to an already overcrowded roads network. The recent modifications to the Traffic Light Control System have not decreased the traffic queues as promised. Additional traffic in this vicinity can therefore only make the situation worse. Full and detailed traffic analysis needs to be published to assure the community that we are not going to grind to a complete standstill or choke on air pollution.

The number of houses being proposed for the Ridgewaye Fields increases with each revision of the Hub Plans. At 69 units – SEAM considers this to be an over development, especially with the multi rise units planned. Parking appears to be totally inadequate for the number of house units planned and for the Hub Facility. Adjacent to the housing site are a significant number of allotments. Many owners arrive by car to transport items. Their current parking will be lost and there is no replacement planned.

SEAM has been in discussion with the Chair of Sport England (Mr Nick Bitel) who advised that Sport England would be objecting to the loss of some of the field. The 2006 Local Plan states that Southborough is under provided for in recreational open space. The input from Sport England to the planning process is still awaited.

SEAM wanted to support the Hub Project. SEAM believes that our High Street will benefit from a QUALITY Development that enhances the Town. It is therefore with deep regret that we call for the proposal in its current form to be rejected. As they currently stand, SEAM does not believe that the sacrifice of giving up some of the Ridgewaye Fields is a price worth paying for the awful design and facilities of the Hub currently being offered. SEAM therefore calls on the plans to be sent back to Southborough Town Council."

September 2016