Since June last year a number of groups have been looking at the future development of Crowborough over the next 15-20 years.
With the help of a Planning Consultant small number of volunteers, representing themselves or interested parties, have been working hard to gather evidence and formulate proposals which will eventually come together to form a Neighbourhood Plan.
Neighbourhood planning allows communities, both residents, employees and businesses, to come together and say where they think new houses, businesses and shops should go – and what they should look like.
A Steering Group oversees four Working Groups looking at different aspects: Community Facilities, Environment, Housing & Transport and Commercial.
The Commercial Group is currently looking at the changing face of the ‘High Street’ in Crowborough & Jarvis Brook and whether more land is needed for industrial use. The Group has also conducted a parking survey and is currently looking to identify sites to provide more parking for the railway station.
Extract from the minutes of the meeting on 29th July:
…the continual rise of internet shopping is changing the demand for High Street retail units. Units that do sell are generally from businesses that would not work via the internet. These businesses are service related; for example nail bars and hairdressers, low-cost, second hand, or charity shops, or those that are specialist and sell niche products. There is also a rise in coffee shops and restaurants…
It is also possible that many units that are currently shops will become residential units; particularly shops that are currently situated on the fringe areas of a High Street.
Crowborough has always suffered from being too close to Tunbridge Wells. The main shopping area is now the area between The Cross and Croft Road. Footfall has moved from the High Street to Croft Road.
Once in the final stages, the draft Neighbourhood Plan will be published for public consultation. As a statutory planning document it is then subject to independent examination before being voted on in a referendum.
All meetings are open to the public and are mostly held on a Wednesday evening at 7.30pm at the Town Hall.
If you are interesting in finding-out about their discussions take a look at the minutes on Crowborough Town Council’s website.