Statement from Chairman of Planning & Environment Committee re: Proposed Southern Water Sewer Works

Proposed Southern Water Sewer Works

Dear Residents of Paddock Wood,

Many of you will have received correspondence from Southern Water about the work to be undertaken to provide a sewer network to the three new developments in Paddock Wood.  This ‘newsletter’ invites correspondence from residents and the accompanying letter states that they are looking at how to hold local drop-ins, which are in lieu of a public meeting which was planned for April 2nd, but had to be cancelled.

Whilst we welcome Southern Water’s commitment to putting the sewer in after Paddock Wood Town Council have spent four years in negotiation with Southern Water ,with more recent intervention from MP Greg Clark, we are not in agreement with the following elements of this plan:

  • The plan is being implemented to serve the 1200 houses being built on three sites to the south and east of Paddock Wood, but almost none of the pipeline will be built on developers’ land, but will be placed under the major road routes used by residents of Paddock Wood. This scheme is only being implemented to accommodate the current 3 new developments in accordance with Southern Waters obligations under the Water Industry Act 1991 and for no other reason.
  • The location of the pumping station to serve the Berkeley Homes site on Badsell Road is still not certain despite clear space to place this on the Berkeley site close to Badsell Road.  Town Council have refused permission to build this on Council Land at Foalhurst Wood, as this would adversely affect the local nature reserve and accessibility for residents.
  • The plan to join the sewage from 1200 homes into the Church Farm pumping station could cause significant problems for the residents of the surrounding area.  In early 2019, Paddock Wood Town Council were told by Paul Kent, Environment and Wastewater Strategy Manager, Southern Water (now retired) that this pumping station was at maximum capacity and would need significant upgrade to cope with additional flows.  The best plan at this time was considered to be a completely separate pipeline laid across the three development sites and going under the railway directly to the waste water treatment works. This proposal was supported by the Town Council. At this time there was also the possibility of diverting sewage from the Le Temple/Dimmock Close area and the Green Lane estate into this new pipework to take the pressure off the system in this part of the town.  We have no evidence from Southern Water, despite requesting information, that there has been any work on this pumping station to increase capacity, the only information we have is what is enclosed in their letter to residents.

For the above reasons PWTC does not support this scheme as it does not bypass the existing network which is already at capacity. The addition of 1200 homes to a system which Southern Water have repeatedly told us is at capacity does not make sense to us.


Councillor Carol Williams, Chairman of Planning and Environment Committee




Statement from the chairman of the Town Council Planning and Environment committee

On 29th July, Cllr Ray Moon myself accepted an invitation from Peter Trent (co-opted member of PWTC P&E Committee) to attend a meeting arranged by Peter with Southern Water to discuss the plans for the new sewer to serve the three new major developments in Paddock Wood. The plans presented to Paddock Wood Town Council by Southern Water in February 2020 illustrated a ‘Round the Town’ solution with the ‘majority of route within development site boundaries to minimise construction activities’. The benefits of this approach were avoidance of ‘extensive disruption and road closures’, existing deep lying pipes were constrained by other services and storage tanks requiring hard standing for tankers could be reduced or avoided. We understood that Southern Water were in discussion with Network Rail to agree a new route under the railway from Church Farm directly into Paddock Wood Wastewater Treatment Works.

Imagine our surprise on 29th July when we discovered that the current plans include the pumping station to serve the Berkeley Homes (Mascalls Farm) development being situated on one third of the Foal Hurst Wood carpark (land which is owned by PWTC). The pipeline from the same pumping station will be laid along the length of Badsell Road to Mascalls Corner, then under both Maidstone Road at Mascalls Corner and along Mascalls Court Road, under PWTC land on Green Lane land , finally entering Persimmon owned land. The alignment then continues along the western edge of the Persimmon development site. From where it turns left – approximately north – along Church Road and joining the current sewerage system at the existing Church Farm pumping station on the corner of Le Temple Road. No new route is planned under the Paddock Wood to Ashford railway line at all. The point of connection into the existing system is in an area where there is a combined surface and foul water sewer system and where residents frequently complain of sewerage overflow problems.

It is claimed that Berkeley Homes have no space on their site for the pumping station or the pipe network to serve the houses they are building, despite knowing that a new sewer would be required since the development was given planning permission four years ago. Similarly, even though the final layout on the Church Farm site is not fully approved, Countryside cannot allocate space for a sewerage pipe to go across their land. Finally, although it was not clear if they were actually approached, Network Rail have not approved a route under the railway, so whether this was due to a refusal by Network Rail or because this would be too costly for Southern Water this is no longer planned. Whichever way this is viewed, the situation we are in shows complete contempt for the existing residents of Paddock Wood by the developers and Southern Water. There is a requirement for developments not to make conditions worse for existing residents and the Borough Planning Officers often talk about ‘betterment’, referring to improvements for existing residents.

The situation we are faced with is that:

  • three of the main road routes through and around the town will be disrupted for prolonged periods of time, causing major disruption for existing residents
  • we could lose one third of the car park at Foalhurst Wood, which serves the local nature reserve and the adjacent allotments
  • the existing sewage problems in and around the Church Farm area and into the Town centre could get worse.

Greg Clark MP chaired a meeting with Southern Water on August 11th, when we stated our concerns relating to this plan and will feed back to residents shortly.

If Paddock Wood is to get the desperately needed new trunk sewer, thus ensuring that all three new developments do not add to known existing drainage issues, residents need to get behind the Town Council on this matter. Residents are encouraged to write to the following:

  • Southern Water Chief Executive
  • Berkeley Homes Eastern Counties
  • Persimmon Homes South East
  • Countryside Properties
  • Head of Planning at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
  • Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark

They should be asked directly for a rethink of this plan and to put the sewer inside of the three new developments’ boundaries, with a new pipe crossing under the railway line straight into Paddock Wood WWTW.

PWTC Planning & Environment Committee

Southern Water Adjournment Debate

Greg Clark proposed an adjournment debate on Monday (28th October) regarding Southern Water.  Paddock Wood and the struggles the Town Council have had with Southern Water is given as his specific example.  The full Hansard report can be found here.

You can see his speech by following this link.