Inspector Malcolm Lewis' decisions on behalf of the Secretary of State

Public Inquiry: Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells - May 2001

The Inspector made Crest Nicholson / BT an uncomfortable winner as he might have reached his decision with the help of a very controversial document - Policy H6(a) in the Local Plan Review TWBC, which was not part of the Public Inquiry and of which residents were not duly informed.

Appeal by
Crest Nicholson and BT's subsiduary Southgate Developments
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's refusal to grant plannning permission
concerning the development of Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells

THNA 9 July 2001 - The Telephone House Neighbours Association Chairman's comment to the Appeal Decision

Planning Inspectorate 3 July 2001 - The Appeal Decision, Inspector Malcolm Lewis
The appeal is allowed and planning permission granted for Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells

Planning Inspectorate 3 July 2001 - The Costs Decision, Inspector Malcolm Lewis
The application is made by Crest Homes (South East) Ltd and Southgate Developments Ltd for a full award of costs against Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Planning Inspectorate 2001 - Were the residents wrongfully ignored by the Planning Inspectorate. Bristol ?
Guide 2000: Making your planning appeal - Inquiry Procedure - Late comments

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

Could the Inspector's Decisions have been challenged ?

THNA brought forward a request to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to appeal against the Inspector's Decisions for Telephone House, prior to 14 August 2001.

THNA 05.07.01 - Letter of Councillor David Wakefield to THNA Committee Member Peter Scott
Rodney Stone ( Chief Executive ) replied and said that the Inspector could not and would not take into account the draft Local Plan, since it was not in the public domain at the time of his enquiry.

THNA 09.07.01 - THNA letter to all 48 Councillors of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Presuming that you have the power to control planning policies in this town, we urge you to use it to remove this specific policy H6(a), and challenge the Inspector’s (Malcolm Lewis) decision in this matter (Appeal Decision - Reasons: §14), by applying to the High Court at the Crown Office within the specified time limit - August 14th 2001.
TWBC 17.07.01 - The Leader of the Council, Councillor James Scholes' reply
TWBC 18.07.01 - The Chief Executive's reply
"members of the public will be excluded from the meeting for that item."

THNA 08.07.01 - Letter of THNA Committee Member William Bennett to Culverden Ward Councillor David Wakefield
You are a Councillor, which I am not, and I hope you have not thought me presumptuous in suggesting that an extraordinary meeting of the council should be called immediately to remove clause H6 (a) and create certainty, and that an appeal should be launched in the High Court within the six week period permitted (14 Aug. 2001).
THNA 09.07.01 - e-mail of THNA Founder Member Councillor David Wakefield to Rodney Stone, Chief Executive
The Inspector's decision on the above is now to hand, and I am amazed to see that he did take into account in reaching that decision, the draft Local Plan . . . can it be challenged ?
TWBC 10.07.01 - The Chief Executive's reply to Councillor David Wakefield
" If we were successful the High Court may take two courses:-
(a) quash the planning permission, in which case the developer would reapply with the Draft Local Plan being unambiguously a material consideration. What would our chances be of resisting that - fairly non existent I would have thought.
(b) order the Inquiry to be reheld. At the time of any reconvened Inquiry the Draft Local Plan would be a material consideration. Who would benefit from such a rehearing - it is difficult to see the outcome being different."
THNA 11.07.01 - e-mail of Councillor David Wakefield to the THNA
The Councillors at the Council Meeting on the 23rd May were told that they were not voting for the draft Local Plan, but merely voting to allow it to go forward into the public domain.

THNA 15.07.01 - Letter of THNA chairman Peter Morse to MP Archie Norman
Would you support our plea to Councillors to remove policy H6(a) from The Local Plan Review - Deposit Copy and vote for a decision to appeal against Mr Malcolm Lewis in High Court? - This appeal would need to be filed before 14 August.
House of Common 20.08.01 - MP Archie Norman's reply
THNA docs 15.08.01 - Copy of Chief Executive Rodney Stone's correspondence to MP Archie Norman
[the day after the deadline to challenge the Inspector's decisions]
"There seems little doubt that the Inspector did break the relevant procedure rules in dealing with policy H6(a) in the way that he did."

THNA 17.07.01 - THNA letter to the Chief Executive
We assume that you will support and arrange a Council Meeting so that Policy H6(a) may be removed from the Local Plan Review - Deposit Copy and an appeal to the High Court may be lodged before 13th August 2001

THNA 20.07.01 - THNA letter to the Chief Executive
Have you [TWBC Chief Executive] sought Counsel's opinion on the assumption that Policy H6(a) be part of the Local Plan Review, or would you be prepared to support our request to remove this policy first, and then to challenge the Inspector's decision in High Court?

THNA 23.07.01 - THNA letter to all Members of Operational Services Board
With regard to the Inspector's report we believe the following Reasons could lead to a successful challenge in the High Court: . . .

TWBC 26.07.01 - Minutes of Operational Services Board Meeting
". . .the result would merely be that the Inspector's decision would be quashed. The Council and the appellants would then be invited to make representations covering Policy H6 and others as part of the draft deposit Local Plan which was now a material planning consideration the Inspector could have regard to. The likely outcome of any new decision was therefore the same."

TWBC 27.07.01 - The Chief Executive's letter to announce the decision of Operational Services Board
"there are no grounds of appeal that are worth the Council pursuing with any prospect of success."

TWBC 31.07.01 - Were the residents wrongfully ignored by the Planning Inspectorate, Bristol?
Residents found out with the Chief Executive's reply and enclosures


Comment November 2001

THNA made it very clear that Policy H6(a) of the Draft Local Plan was a mistake and has to be corrected

Policy H6(a) is bizarrely


Chief Executive Rodney Stone does not attempt to follow residents' requests [23.05.01 amp&; 17.07.01 amp&; 20.07.01] to call for the removal of Policy H6(a), but ironically admits, that this policy IS unambiguously a material consideration [RS to DW 09.07.01] and therefore to challenge the Inspector's decisions would not have the slightest chance.
In his letter of 07.09.01 Rodney Stone then writes:
"I still take the view that it would not be useful to answer the questions that you have raised, or now raise, when the site now has a planning permission. [Deadline to appeal was 14.08.01] . . . . Of course you still have the ability to comment upon Policy H6(a) or any other aspect of the Local Plan."

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

TWBC Local Plan 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.

CALA Homes February 2003 - CALA Homes contractor Wooldridge Ecotec move in - Demolition of Telephone House
Will the planners for Telephone House NOW realise, how small this site is ?
Will the planners for Telephone House NOW realise, how many flats they want to cram onto this site?

contents 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, Kent, TN1.