The Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells, Kent

Location: Conservation Area - Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells
Site size: 0.307 hectare = 0.7 acre

Refusal of 1st Planning Application January 2000: Crest Homes (South) and BT's Southgate Developments Ltd.
Refusal of 2nd Planning Application October 2000: Crest Nicholson and BT's Southgate Developments Ltd.
Public Inquiry May 2001: Crest Nicholson Residential Plc and British Telecom's Subsiduary Southgate Developments versus Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Appeal Decision July 2001: planning permission granted
1st ownership change October 2001: BT sells to Crest Nicholson
2nd ownership change April 2002: Crest Nicholson Plc sells site & planning consent to CALA Group
January 2003 - Building on site: derelict British Telecom Telephone House since May 1999
March 2003 - Demolition completed - site empty.

The clash between
the legalistic approach of CALA Homes (South) Ltd
the common sense of The Telephone House Neighbours Association Tunbridge Wells

What does the planning consent allow?
How do CALA Homes defend what is known to their directors as "hot potato and rotten apple"?
What impact does the planning consent have on this Conservation Area?
The Telephone House Neighbours Association suggests
DENSITY 43 FLATS in 4 blocks (equivalent to 140 units/hectare = 60 units/acre)
Building 35 "luxurious" apartments and 8 "social" flats on 0.3 hectare = 0.7 acres
25 UNITS (equivalent to 82 units/hectare = 33 units/acre) would provide for better design
Urban cramming, producing visual social differences has nothing to do with luxurious lifestyle
CALA Homes 43 dwellings far exceed levels of other comparable plots in Tunbridge Wells
Government Planning Policy Guidance 3 states: 30-50 units / hectare = 12-20 units / acre
Telephone House: 140 units / hectare = 60 units / acre are an extravagant interpretation of governmental guidelines
LAYOUT The development makes the best use of a brownfield site The layout looks more like varying mounts of concrete.
BUILDING LINE in York Road Housing blocks to be built up to the pavement. Buildings should be recessed as the distance of only 11-12m to opposite houses will cause severe privacy problems.
MASS / SCALE on York Road Planners claim this development will enhance the Conservation Area The development does not respect building heights of neighbouring, and houses opposite on York Road. The Blocks are overbearing and overshadowing.
MASS / SCALE on Church Road The proposed massing and roofscape offer a considerable improvement to that which exists and would blend in with the surrounding buildings.
(Inspector Malcolm Lewis, who is no longer in the employment with the Planning Inspectorate)
Trinity Church, a former landmark, remains largely unseen from Mount Ephraim.
Does the final development appear worse than the old Telephone House?
DESIGN of Block D in York Road The inclusion of affordable homes has not led to any design compromises and of course quality of design and respect for its setting is no less important for that type of accommodation as it is for open market dwellings.
(Richard Phillips QC)
Block D will be the only brick-built house in York Road - all the houses are stucco rendered or built of stone. If there is to be no compromise why would Block D be brick-built?
DESIGN of Block B in York Road 8 flats designed over 4 floors. Block B will not match the windowlines of the existing 3 storey house (27/29 York Road), the remainder of the former terrace.
DESIGN of Block C - "mews-style" The redevelopment of this site would actively enhance the amenities of the occupants of Clarence Mews. (Barton Willmore) Loss of privacy, sunlight and daylight, will affect residents of Clarence Mews. Block C will be overshadowed by other blocks within this development.
DESIGN oF block A in Church Road 18 flats to be built including penthouses Block A's appearance is not dissimilar to the previous building Telephone House.
AMENITIES on site None - commuted sum to be paid instead. No recreational amenities for 43 flats. There will be only concrete, tarmac and carpark. On a high-density development recreational amenities are a must.
TREES - on York Road side Felling of the trees is unavoidable. Trees were originally planted as a planning condition to enhance the amenities of the area in 1981. - These amenity trees were chopped by CALA Homes in spring 2003.
TREES - on Church Road side Architect's drawings show trees to be planted. Only mature trees will be acceptable.
PRIVACY Houses opposite in York Road are at a distance of only 11-12 m. The new buildings in York Road should be set back, allowing a distance of 16 m, preferably 21 m as Kent Design suggests. BRE standards are not being met.
PARKING 42 parking spaces with access/egress via York Road only. Insufficient parking spaces for the number of flats, causing an overflow into neighbouring roads.
TRAFFIC ARRANGEMENT only from York Road Sole access/egress from York Road is unacceptable.
(Electricity, Gas, Sewerage, Water)
This is not an issue. Poor infrastructure will be unable to cope with the increased demand.
CALA Homes prospective buyers will ultimately encounter the same problems as the residents
i.e. lack of privacy, lack of sunlight/daylight, lack of amenities, insufficient parking, outdated infrastructure, living in high density.
Therefore, there is a risk that the CALA Homes development, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, will be unsustainable.

Councillors of Culverden Ward, the MP for Tunbridge Wells and the appellants' QC

Whom are we dealing with? - The developers of Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells

The Telephone House Neighbours Association informs on CALA Homes (South) Development :
CALA Group acquired the controversial planning permission for the high density development of Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1, Kent.