Response from John Haynes, Director of Operational Services, TWBC - 13 June 2001

Operational Services
Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS

Our ref: JH/SD
Date: 13 June 2001

The Telephone House Neighbours Association
37 Church Road
Kent TN1 1JT

Dear Ms Topliss


Further to my holding letter dated 31 May 2001, please find detailed below responses to the points you have raised in your letter dated 30 May 2001.

  1. I did not advise the Council on 23 May 2001 [ Full Council: Draft Local Plan Review ] to disregard your request. I advised that consideration of your request should be made following wider exposure/consultation on the draft local plan review and in due course feedback to Members.

  2. Councillor Morton did not chair the meeting. The new Mayor, Councillor Howell did. I was invited by the Mayor to give the Council my view. Our standing orders (No. 6) allows this to be done. Our Legal Services Manager can see no basis for your charge of unconstitutional action. He was present at the meeting.

  3. With respect to the Rights of Light issue the correct course of action if you wish to pursue this is to register in the proper way. You may need independent legal advise as to how to go about this but in essence you need to make an application to the Council's Land Charge Registrar under section 2 of the Right of Light Act 1959. Please note the application must be in the right form and supported by appropriate documentation. Clearly therefore this is not a matter for the Planning Department.

  4. It is considered that the wording in the Local Plan document allows flexibility of interpretation as to the appropriate solution for the development and does not specify following a building line. Neither Mr Eveleigh or Mr Prentis recall having expressed a view on development recess preference. Mr Prentis does recall that in discussion with the Neighbours Association he did say that it was possible to mount an argument that a frontage set back further was an alternative approach to securing street scene objectives. He felt that in giving this view he was assisting the Association to develop a case they might wish to make at the Public Inquiry. Peter Ashby only expressed a personal preference for a recessed frontage during the enquiry.

  5. You do not state upon what legal or other basis you believe the Council should make payment to cover the costs of carrying out a survey or generally to compensate residents. If you wish to pursue this matter it will be necessary to make proper justification. In the absence of this, the Council is not in a position to make any payment.

I trust that I have answered all of the points you have raised to your satisfaction. If not, please do not hesitate to communicate with me again. However, if you consider this is necessary may I suggest that you do not do so until you have received a reply to the further letter you have sent to the Chief Executive date 6 June 2002. The Council's response to the 15 issues you have raised in that letter may compliment this response.

I trust however that you will accept that it will take a while for Officers to respond to the 6th June letter because of the volume of questions you have posed and the need for a variety of Officers to research and prepare answers. In this respect, therefore, I am doubtful that we will be able to give a comprehensive reply by 20th June. I trust therefore that you can accommodate us on this.

Yours sincerely
John Haynes
Director of Operational Services

After the Public Inquiry during summer/autumn 2001
TWBC Chief Executive's and Director of Operational Services' attitude towards Residents

Bizarrely, Policy H6(a) allocated for Telephone House was identical to the two refused planning applications for the Telephone House development.
[1st: refused at delegated officers' level - 2nd: refused by the Councillors of the Western Area Planning Committee].
Policy H6(a) is the most controversial document, produced by the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, leading to the Telephone House Debacle.

The rights of light and loss of light issue

What went wrong with the Telephone House Planning Applications ?
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.

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.