09.05.2002 - Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells, Planning Inquiry May 2001 -
Complaint to the Planning Inspectorate, Bristol

37 Church Road
Royal Tunbridge Wells

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

The Planning Inspectorate
Room 14/04 Tollgate House
Houlton Street
Bristol BS2 9DJ

9 May 2002

Dear Sirs

Telephone House Planning Inquiry - Complaint about the Conduct of the Inquiry
Reference: APP/Mss70/A/00/1054946 dated 3rd July, 2001

  1. The Appeal Decision quoted above makes it clear that the Inspector attached considerable importance to the Draft Local Plan, Policy H6(a), in coming to his decision to allow the appeal.

    At the time of the appeal Policy H6(a) was in early draft form and had not been submitted to the Borough Council or its Western Area Planning Committee. At the time of the inquiry Policy H6(a) was a document prepared by planning officers which the elected members had not yet had the opportunity to consider. It was not until after the Inquiry that the Draft Local Plan (incorporating the Policy H6(a) document) was brought before the Borough Council and accorded "Deposit Copy" status.

  2. At the time of the Inquiry, Policy H6(a) had no legal standing and should not have been accepted in evidence by the Inspector. In this connection it is significant that, one year later, Policy H6(a) has still not yet been approved by the Borough Council and informal contacts with the Local Planning Authority leads us to believe that this draft Policy will be allowed to lapse.

  3. An additional irregularity to which we would wish to draw your attention was the acceptance, by the Inspector, of substantially flawed evidence in the form of "Shadow Diagrams" to which he refers in paragraph 30 of his report and to which he clearly attached some importance. These diagrams were fundamentally inaccurate in that they were clearly prepared using ordnance survey maps that were out of date and showed buildings in York Road that had been demolished over 20 years earlier. Furthermore, the diagrams purporting to show the existing buildings in York Road included one block of the proposed development. These shadow diagrams, on which the Inspector clearly relied, were so inaccurate that they conveyed a completely false picture of the effect of the proposed development on existing York Road properties with respect to deprivation of light.

  4. The members of The Telephone House Neighbours Association think that the Planning Inquiry was not conducted with the degree of care and diligence that they are entitled to expect, with the result that such confidence as they may have had in the fairness of the system has been seriously undermined.

    Yours faithfully

    for The Telephone House Neighbours Association Committee
    Annemarie Topliss

    Inspector Malcolm Lewis' decisions on behalf of the Secretary of State
    Public Inquiry May 2001: Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells

    The Telephone House Neighbours Association, Tunbridge Wells
    The aims are to heighten peoples' awareness and concern for the controversial planning permission of the high density development of Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells.