Proposed Paddock Wood Community Centre, Memorial Playing Field
Frequently asked questions
Why does the town need it?
In 2008 the Town Health Check identified the need for a community centre as many groups struggled to find suitable, regular accommodation and are restricted in their use of some facilities. With further housing developments now underway, Paddock Wood is looking to the future to provide a community resource for a growing population. Since the loss of the parochial hall this demand has only increased further and adds to the urgency of delivering the community centre.
Is there a need for a new pre-school?
Over +1000 new houses are currently being built in Paddock Wood which will generate significant demand for this service.
Why are we taking away much needed greenspace? How much of the field will be built on?
The new developments currently underway or being proposed for Paddock Wood will provide a large amount of publicly accessible green space. Mascalls Court Farm will provide 20 acres, at Mascalls Farm 28 acres and Church Farm 26.5 acres.
Only 11% of the field will be built on – earlier designs showed 15% but that has now been reduced.
There will remain ample green space for continued recreational use and for dog walkers to continue to use the field.
What other sites were considered? Why was Memorial Ground identified as the best location for the centre when other sites scored higher on the feasibility study and why was Putlands excluded with the highest score?
After reviewing the feasibility matrix, the town council considered four sites it owns at a meeting in January 2014. Three were dismissed for the following reasons:
Green Lane – A Highways assessment recommended access from Green Lane as access from Church Road was poor. TWBC planners advised that planning permission was unlikely to be granted due to the poor access and the fact that the community centre would be on raised ground and too obtrusive in the landscape.
St Andrews Park – Central, but in a cul-de-sac. Would mean building on large areas of green space to provide a building and parking, unless existing Town Council and Scallywags buildings were removed, adding to the cost. There is a covenant on the field restricting building and the site is surrounded by residential properties. Parking would be limited, and access would be via the narrow residential St Andrew’s Road or onto a corner on Church Road.
Putlands – The centre is close to capacity. The Neighbourhood Plan now proposes an expansion of the sports centre using agreed developer contributions allocated for indoor sport.
The adjacent Putlands Field houses sports facilities and pitches. The athletics track, long jump and discus area is the home of Paddock Wood Athletics Club, a successful club with a waiting list for membership, particularly for the junior sections. A football pitch used by Paddock Wood based clubs and clubs from nearby villages. A rugby pitch that is the home of Paddock Wood and East Peckham Rugby Club that, in addition to seniors, also has a busy colts section both of which use the field for training and for matches. The changing rooms and car park at Putlands Leisure Centre are used on match days and for training visits. Until Covid the Leisure Centre also hosted Vertical Velocity Trampoline Club, which was very successful, had a waiting list for members and travelled all over the country for competitions. It is also the home of Paddock Wood Badminton Club which ran every Monday evening for players of all ages. The ceiling height required for both these activities completely precludes the insertion of a mezzanine floor to create space for community use. There are substantial agreed developer contributions to improve and expand indoor the sports and exercise leisure at this facility and this expansion is supported by the Neighbourhood Plan which has identified demand for more and not less indoor sport.
Is the location of the community centre a matter for Paddock Wood Town Council only or does TWBC have a say?
The location of the community centre was a decision taken by Paddock Wood Town Council. TWBC take account of the location via their local plan and in respect to the planning application process. TWBC also sit on the PW Community Centre board as a non-voting partner to assist the project in progressing through to delivery stages and is also paying for the provision of the project manager.
Why is it still being built at Memorial when I voted against it in the Parish Poll in 2019?
In January 2019, a parish poll called by a number of residents was held to determine whether the location of the site should be at the Memorial Field. 13.1% of the electorate voted with 409 (6.98%) votes cast against the location and 357 (6.09%) votes supporting the location. The NO campaign was run by a group of local individuals with the Town Council choosing not to run a significant YES campaign. The parish poll is not legally binding, no viable new location was subsequently proposed, and any new location could also be subject to a further parish poll and any change would incur significant abortive costs. Following the parish poll local elections were then held for the Town Council in May 2019, candidates stood on a platform for those who supported and opposed the community centre. The candidates who stood on a platform of opposing the Community Centre were not elected and candidates who stood on a platform of supporting it, were elected. Paddock Wood West was contested, and the 6 councillors elected all stood supporting the Community Centre. The 2 candidates who stood specifically in opposition to the community centre were not elected, receiving a total of 401 votes 14.8% of the votes cast with those in favour receiving 2293 votes 85.11% of the votes cast. Overall turnout was 32.9%. The Paddock Wood East seats were uncontested as there were insufficient candidates to need an election.
If the Community Centre can accommodate 300 people, is there enough parking?
The parking requirements for the facility comply with current regulations and the site is situated in a highly accessible location which is fairly central to the town meaning it is easy to walk and cycle too. While providing sufficient car parking for the site, the council clearly does not want to over provide this facility to the detriment of public transport and greener alternatives.
The main hall is capable of holding up to 300 people, this is however not likely to be a regular occurrence and bookings within the facility will be managed to spread usage over the opening hours so that congestion peaks are avoided, and we remain confident that the parking standards which we have adhered to are sufficient for our needs.
The new Community Centre has allocated 64 parking spaces.
Many large events already take place in Paddock Wood, at the Church, School Fetes at the Primary School and the annual carnival and there are no issues with parking with these events. Local people tend to walk to them which we would expect to happen with events at the Community Centre given its accessible location.
The Community Centre is to be built on Maidstone Road. As this is the main road into Paddock Wood, is this not a dangerous location for access/exit and pedestrians?
Working with consultants and Kent Highway Services we are ensuring that the new proposals for the community centre and the surrounding environment continues to be a safe space, for cyclists, walkers, and cars.
Paddock Wood is prone to flooding? Residents in local roads (Ringden Avenue) have reported flooding in their gardens, will this be exacerbated by the building of the Community Centre?
The surface water drainage scheme inclusive of its sustainable urban drainage features is designed to ensure that the surface water generated by this development (for all rainfall durations and intensities up to and including the climate change adjusted critical 100-year storm) can be accommodated and disposed of without increase to flood risk on or off-site. The ‘brown’ water system incorporated into the design also reduces the amount of surface water run off that would otherwise go to the road drains from the site.
The drainage design for the community centre is designed to capture and store on site runoff from the 100year event + 40% climate change allowance. The amount that will be leaving the site is restricted to the greenfield rate. So, we are storing the runoff from a large storm, but only slowly discharging at the rate of a small storm, and that is a significant improvement. The rainwater will be stored by making use of the gravel layer that is required under the carpark, so that it becomes dual purpose, and the storage is kept above the water table which we know to be shallow.
For context, the runoff generated on just the existing carpark and tennis courts is 117 litres per second in a 100-year storm event. The design of this site now limits the runoff to the greenfield rate of 5.5 litres per second for all rainfall events up to the 100 year + 40% climate change allowance. So that decrease is significant.
Memorial Field has been home to football and cricket in Paddock Wood for years? Will the building of the new Community Centre stop these sports?
A full-size football pitch and cricket wicket can still co-exist with the new community centre proposals.
Additional pitches have been drawn on the plans to show what the field could accommodate. However, it is not intended to mark out those pitches for use, at the moment.
Paddock Wood is well supplied with football pitches and the Sports and Recreation Study prepared for the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan did not identify any unmet demand in Paddock Wood for football pitches.
Will the pavilion be knocked down?
The Pavilion is on the other side of the field from the proposed site and will be unaffected. It will continue to be used as a changing room for sport on the fields. The Town Council is looking to upgrade the pavilion in 2021/22
How much will it cost?
The total budget is currently estimated at between £3 to £3.4M. Costs have increased since the initial estimates in 2016, which were based on broad outline plans. Since that time more detailed plans have been developed following input from the local community which has led to the size and specification of the facility being increased. New energy efficient solutions and green technology features have also been included thanks to an additional grant(s).
How will it be paid for?
The Town Council has to date set aside £310,000.
The three developers currently building in and around Paddock Wood must all pay a contribution to provide community facilities and these currently total c£1M.
The Town Council passed a resolution on the 21st December 2020 to take out a 50-year loan for £1.9 m from the Public Works Loan Board. The annual repayments will be £59,408 at current interest rates (1.88% Jan 2021) which will be fixed at the time of drawing down the loan. The £60,000 (allowed for in the ongoing budget) will cover these repayments with no further increase on the council tax.
The Town Council is also exploring the availability of grant funding to help reduce the borrowing requirement to complete the project and has already had some successes in acquiring grants totaling c£95k to date.
How much has been spent so far?
£329,754 has been spent on architects & professional fees, surveys & publicity (up to March 2021).
I live close to Memorial Field and I am concerned about the noise from activities in the Community Centre, particularly on warmer days/evenings if the windows are open.
The noise impact assessments that were undertaken concluded that with the proposed ‘best practice’ sound mitigation construction elements in the design and a noise management plan the development would result in a low impact for both users of the proposed community centre and the nearby residential area. The Environmental noise assessment report indicates that even with a concert taking place in the hall he highest predicted noise level at the nearest residential properties is 12 decibels below the existing background sound level.
We have plenty of other halls in Paddock Wood which can be booked so why do we need another one?
With the +1000 houses being built in Paddock Wood, there will be an increase in demand for the existing halls which are already unable accommodate all requests currently made. Some halls are only available at certain times, e.g., School Halls can only be booked outside of school hours. Many local groups are finding it hard to book regular times in the facilities available and are having to limit their membership and activities as a result.
Why are you building a new preschool? Are we not getting a new one with the new school proposed at Green Lane?
With the increase of 1000 houses currently being built in Paddock Wood, there will be a need for a new preschool.
The Tenax Schools Trust plan for a new primary school at Green Lane is at a very early stage, the land has not yet even been transferred to KCC. The plans do not include a preschool. The preschool at the Community Centre will add to preschool capacity in the Town at a time when the population of young families is expected to rapidly increase. be in addition to the existing preschools in Paddock Wood. The pre-school provider will be appointed via a tender process.
Has it been decided which pre school group will occupy the Community Centre once built?
No it has not.
It is not possible to go out to tender or enter into a contract with a preschool group before planning permission has been obtained and a viable scheme confirmed. Various playgroups have expressed an interest in occupying the premises and representatives from several groups have been involved with the Community Centre working party in an attempt to ensure that appropriate resources are included and there are no safeguarding issues with the construction.
It has not yet been decided whether it will be the Town Council or the Village Hall Management Committee who will request tenders from Pre school groups.
People are concerned about the foul drainage system in Paddock Wood. Won’t the Community Centre be adding to the problems we already have? Will it be allowed to connect to the drains?
Section 106 of the Water Industry Act 1991provides that the owner or occupier of premises, or the owner of any private sewer, is entitled to have its drains and sewers connected to the public sewer, and to discharge foul and surface water from those premises into the public sewer at the nearest point of capacity. As Southern Water are currently undertaking network improvements in Paddock Wood and the developments currently under construction have been permitted to connect there is no reason for the Community Centre not to be able to connect to the foul and surface water drainage network.
Why are the Council building themselves new offices? Do they need these? They already have offices in St. Andrews Park.
The new offices in the Community Centre are not for the Town Council. They will remain at the Podmore Building in St Andrews Park. The new offices will be for the charity who run the building to determine what happens with these.
Why are there only two tennis courts?
The three existing tennis courts are not compliant with LTA standards as they have insufficient space around them. They are also in dire need of extensive refurbishment and are currently unplayable. Two new LTA compliant tennis courts will be built, these will be funded separately. The Town Council has agreed that the courts can be re-orientated to allow the centre to be located further back on the field also allowing for a larger play area for the nursery.
Maidstone Road is the first impression people see entering our town? I do not think a large Community Centre will be attractive.
The design of the community centre has been done sensitively to ensure it fits in with the surrounding area and is appealing to the eye. The building designs have been kept purposefully to a single story so that it does not dominate the landscape and the cladding will allow it to blend in with the large Scott Pine trees along the main road while still ensuring that people notice it and ensure it is well known and well used. The Centre is set back from the road to fit seamlessly into the broad landscape of the recreation ground and so that people can get a sense of arrival to the new facility while not turning its back on the playing fields.
The design can be seen on the website and has been chosen by the Council and the Working Party to be recognisable and distinct but a welcome addition to Paddock Wood.
Will the trees be cut down?
The mature trees along Maidstone Road have a great identity and significance within Paddock Wood. As the plans for the access and parking arrangements are being worked up, we are carefully considering the impact of the designs on these trees. The current proposals result in no negative impact on the trees with some positive impacts from removing hard standing around the root protection zones of some trees.
I have heard that the deeds are missing, that the people of Paddock Wood paid for the field, that there is a covenant in them saying that Memorial Field is a memorial for the war for the people of Paddock Wood and can never be built on? Why are you ignoring this?
There is no legal covenant on the field. The land was purchased in 1953 and conveyed to Paddock Wood Town Council in 1957 ‘for the purpose of exercise and recreation’ The council’s solicitor has advised that a community centre is considered recreational use. The Deeds are lodged at the Land Registry and can be viewed there by logging onto https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/land-registry
Why was the land not registered until 2018?
It is common for local parish authorities to own land that was not registered. The land was transferred to Paddock Wood Parish Council on 22 March 1957 prior to the rules on compulsory land registration being implemented for Tunbridge Wells (1 October 1958). Therefore, unless there was a transfer, or the land was mortgaged, there was no requirement for the land to be registered. The land was registered in 2018 following a voluntary application by Paddock Wood Town Council.
Planning permission on Memorial Field was refused by the Council in the 1980’s so why is you seeking to build there now?
The application in the 1980’s was for a Guide Hall which would not have been available to the wider community. The Town Council do not have records of the reasons for the decision to refuse which was made but the Borough Council at the time. The Town’s population and extent has increased enormously since that time along with demand for places to hold family events and community activities that will benefit people living in the town who currently have to travel for this to other towns and villages.
What consultation has been carried out?
PWTC has been consulting for several years, arranging consultation events, and attending a range of community events to enable discussion on the planned centre and hear people’s views. Further information on these consultations including ongoing consultations can be seen on the town council’s website.
Can the Developer Section 106 Contributions be applied to another site?
The permissions for Mascalls Farm and Mascalls Court Farm are clear specifying that the contribution is for the building of a community centre on the Memorial Field. To meet the legal tests for a variation there would have to be a costed and deliverable project for a community centre on another site. No such alternative has been put forward. Both the developers and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council would also have to agree voluntarily to discuss a variation. Under the terms of the agreements the funding needs to be spent within 5 years of receipt otherwise the funds would need to be returned to the developer. The funds from the Mascalls Court Farm Development have already been received by the Town Council and the clock is ticking. Use it or lose it.
Will young people still be able to meet on the Memorial Field and use the Community Centre facilities?
Yes, access to everyone will remain as it is with the additional provision of the Community Centre facilities.
Will it be possible to stage larger events encompassing the inside facilities and the outside space?
Yes, the plans have been designed to facilitate this.
How will the community centre add to sport being played on the field?
There will be ancillary facilities such as a cafe, refurbished tennis courts and toilets, with an outside area where residents can sit and watch sports being played. The community centre is not intended to be a sports facility.
What are the proposed hire costs?
These will be determined by the management committee.
More information and the plans can be found on our website www.paddockwood-tc.gov.uk
Updated May 2021