29.08.2001 - Reply to Chief Executive Rodney Stone's letter of 31 July, including further questions

37 Church Road
Royal Tunbridge Wells

e-mail: telephonehouse@cs.com
internet: http://uk.geocities.com/telephonehouse

Rodney Stone Esq
The Chief Executive
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Town Hall TN1 1RS

29 August 2001

Dear Mr Stone

Telephone House Development

Thank you for your letter of 31st July. We are grateful to you for replying so promptly to our letter of 28th July

We had believed when we wrote to you that the ombudsman might have invited the TWBC to appeal to the High Court. Unfortunately, by the time the Operational Services Board took their surprising decision on 26th July not to proceed, it turned out that the ombudsman may not have had the time to consider the evidence and possibly make a recommendation to you before 14th August.

We would now like to consider with you this whole matter without the appeal being a factor.

We are disappointed that you and the Borough Secretary and Solicitor have decided not to disclose Counsel's opinion. In this day of open government we would ask you to reconsider. Counsel's written opinion seems to match his performance at the Public Inquiry in May (if he is the same Junior Counsel) if he seriously suggests that TWBC and we were not "substantially prejudiced" by the Inspector's non-compliance with the rules and by his own misdirection.

Sadly, it now seems possible that Tunbridge Wells may be blighted for an indefinite time by another wholly inappropriate development in a Conservation Area at the heart of the Borough against the wishes of the majority of local residents and the Members of the Western Area Planning Committee whose decisive vote to refuse planning application in October 2000 was unanimous.

This has been brought about by what seems to have been the deliberate disregard of these wishes by certain Council officers. It is a matter that cannot be confined to oblivion which you, as Chief Executive, seem to be suggesting in your letter of 9th July. We are indeed concerned that you should write as you did if you had by then read the Inspector's damning comments about council officers' "unreasonable behaviour".

Of course, our letter of 6th June with the annexed questions was written before the appeal findings were published. Our then fears about the conduct of certain officers were borne out by the Inspector's conclusion.

We must ask you therefore to let us have replies to our questions when according to your letter of 9th July a considerable amount of preparatory work had already been done. In addition, as a result of events about which we have learnt only subsequently we have the following additional queries:

    1. Who leaked the content of the Draft Local Plan to Barton Willmore prior to 9th May?
    2. What was the purpose of leaking this document?

  1. Although Mr Prentis only bothered to put in a momentary presence at the Public Inquiry, he must surely have learnt that the THNA had an important part in the proceedings.

    1. Why did Mr Prentis not send a copy of the Barton Willlmore letter of 9th May and his own letter of 15th May to the THNA?
    2. Why did Mr Prentis not remind the Inspector of the many factual errors in the appeal statement by Barton Willmore?
    3. Why did Mr Prentis not remind the Inspector that the Draft Local Plan was not yet an Adopted Local Plan, and therefore section H6(a) was irrelevant?

    1. Had you been made aware of the two above-mentioned letters before the Council Meeting on 23rd May?
    2. Why did you advise Cllr Wakefield at this meeting that the Inspector could not and would not take H6(a) into consideration when coming to his decision about the appeal?
    3. Do you agree that the Inspector misdirected himself when he did in fact take it into account?

  2. Could you advise us the reasons why the Operational Services Board on 26th July decided not to appeal

    1. against the Inspector’s Appeal decision?
    2. against the Costs decision?

    1. What is the monetary loss to the ratepayers resulting from the Costs award to the appellant?
    2. If this is not known yet what is your estimate?

    1. How did the Policy H6(a) emerge
    2. when was it integrated in the Draft Local Plan?

We look forward to hearing from you by 14 September 2001.

Yours sincerely
Annemarie Topliss
for the Committee of
The Telephone House Neighbours Association

2001 - The uneasy questions to the Chief Executive Rodney Stone and other senior officers of TWBC
2003 - the questions are still unanswered - they are as intriguing as in 2001.
What went wrong with the Telephone House Planning Applications ?

During summer/autumn 2001, after the Public Inquiry - The attitude of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's
Chief Executive and Director of Operational Services towards Residents

The Telephone House Neighbours Association, Tunbridge Wells
The aims are to heighten peoples' awareness and concern for the high-density development on Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN1.