23.07.01 - Letter to the Members of the Operational Services Board, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
The reasons which could lead to a successful challenge of the inspector's appeal decision in the High Court

37 Church Road
Royal Tunbridge Wells

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

To Councillors:
Oliver-Smith, Veitch, Lynes, Noakes, Weeden, Cload, Cunningham, Catt, Neve, Young, Blackburn, Poile, Rusbridge, Paulson-Ellis, - Price, Scholes

cc: Member of Parliament: Archie Norman

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Town Hall TN1 1RS

23 July 2001

Operational Services Board Meeting 26 July 2001
- Agenda Item 12 (OPS/01/07/09)

We understand that at the Operational Services Board Meeting on Thursday, 26 July, the public is excluded and we have no possibility to do a presentation to you. For this reason we urge you to give this letter your utmost consideration concerning Item 12 of the Agenda (Telephone House).

You might be advised by officers that it is impossible or even unconstitutional to take out Policy H6(a) from the Local Plan Review at this stage. It certainly can be taken out in a full Council Meeting. On 17 July, we had asked Rodney Stone, Chief Executive, to support and arrange such a meeting.
For various reasons, Policy H6(a) should not have been integrated into the Local Plan. Please refer to our letter which was addressed to you before the Meeting on 23 May.

The consequences of leaving such a controversial item in the Local Plan are now well known, as, contrary to Rodney Stone's advice to Councillors, the Inspector made Policy H6(a) part of his reasoning for allowing the Crest Homes appeal.

23.05.01 - THNA letter to all Councillors prior to the extraordinary Council Meeting :
to rubberstamp the TUNBRIDGE WELLS LOCAL PLAN Deposit Copy

We asked Rodney Stone for clarification about Policy H6(a) on 6 June. These are the questions to which we are still waiting for answers:

15. The Local Plan Review - Deposit Copy, dated May 2001, on pages 122 & 123 deals with the Telephone House site.

  1. Since this part of the plan (Policy H6(a)) is known to be contrary to the unannimous view of the Western Area Planning Committee, expressed at its meeting in October 2000, and of the residents, why were their views ignored?
  2. Which officer(s) were responsible for the inclusion of this Policy?
  3. Since it was known, even to Council officers, by May 2001 that the area of the site is 0.307 ha (not 0.32 ha) and the density 140 (not 130), why were the incorrect figures put into the draft plan?
  4. and for what purpose?
  5. As stated in the Local Plan Review 6.57 (p 113), "the LPA sought to identify only sites of 0.4 hectares or greater as housing allocation". Why was Policy H6(a) / Telephone House included?
  6. As all officers were fully aware and conversant with our concerns why did none of them have the courtesy to advise us of Policy H6(a) being included in the Local Plan Review up for approval or rejection by the Council in an extra-ordinary Council meeting?

If you are minded to allow Policy H6(a) to stay in the Local Plan Review for the time of the Public Consultation, this, according to the Government Office for the South East, would ultimately lead to another Public Inquiry.
(This possible second Public Inquiry has nothing to do with Crest Homes Appeal, but with the unresolved objections of residents concerning this policy.)

With regard to the Inspector's report we believe the following Reasons could lead to a successful challenge in the High Court:

  1. It is our opinion that if the Appellant, and for that matter the Inspector, wanted to adhere strictly to the grounds given for refusal, the Inquiry would have been finished in one day.
    We believe that the Public Inquiry was artificially prolonged for an extra three days. In his opening speech Inspector Malcolm Lewis stated that he wanted to hear about traffic, parking, loss of privacy, trees, environment. It is a fact that he set the pace of the Inquiry.

    The reasons in the Appeal Decision are given by the Inspector under Sections 14 to 31:

    2 years after the appeal, April 2003 - What is the nature of the negotiations between TWBC and Crest Nicholson?
    What can possibly be demanded and what is offered?

  2. 14.) Referring to the Local Plan Review - Deposit Copy Policy H6(a) - This was not material consideration at the time of the Appeal.
    In the Documents listed in his report on page 11, the Local Plan Review is not shown as part of supporting material.

  3. 17.) The development on York Road site was not part of the grounds of refusal.
    The arrangements on York Road were in the grounds of refusal for the first application, but taken out on the recommendation of Nigel Eveleigh at the 18th October Western Area Planning Committee Meeting.
    If the Inspector takes into account York Road, he would need to have taken into account all arguments presented to him by residents.

  4. 23.) The Inspector finds it important to reinstate the historical street pattern and building lines along York Road and therefore accepts the loss of trees, which were part of the streetscape for 19 years.
    The historical street pattern will not be restored with the development as the original terrace (Nos 23,25,27,29) will not be reinstated.

  5. 30.) This paragraph is in major part the original text of Crest Homes' witness statement by Barton Willmore and contains the same error as the original.
    Due to an inadequate map Barton Willmore refers to opposite houses 34-38 York Road, while the correct Nos are 30-44 (8 houses instead of 3 are affected).
    Crest Homes once offered compensation to house No 32 for loss of light. As the Inspector was made aware of this, he should not have ignored this legal issue without taking a second opinion.

  6. 31.) This paragraph is in major part the original text of Crest Homes' witness statement by Barton Willmore.
    The Inspector believes that for 8 houses on York Road a distance of 12 metres between main rooms is adequate. Contrary to his statement, this does NOT follow the grain of the existing development in the locality.
    We believe that this will not be a sustainable development, and that existing houses opposite will suffer aggrievement by virtue of loss of privacy and value. (All main rooms of these houses enjoy now an open space and a view onto healthy trees. Compare this with overlooking other people's living accommodation, at a distance of just 12 metres, as proposed.)

There are more discrepancies in other sections which are technical and one can go into at a later stage.

We trust that we prove to you that there are sufficient grounds for a judicial review, and that you will support this move. The deadline for a submission to the High Court is 13th August.

Yours sincerely
Annemarie Topliss
The Telephone House Neighbours Association

Could the Inspector's decisions have been challenged ?

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 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.