Courier 01 June 2001 - LETTERS section Page 24




OFFICERS OR COUNCILLORS IN CHARGE OF THE TOWN

At an extraordinary meeting on Wednesday last week [ 23 May 2001 ] the new draft town plan was submitted to the borough council for their approval.

This document, prepared by council officers with some input from a working party of councillors, is 250 pages long and contains many contentious policies.
It was clear that many councillors were concerned that they were being asked to approve a long, complicated and very important document without having had time to read it properly, still less to digest and consider the many issues that it raises.

However, council officers were adamant that failure to approve the draft in its present form would put the whole process back several years and would leave them having to work with an out of date town plan (why the town plan had been allowed to get so out of date was not explained!). In spite of the many problems and reservations cited by many councillors present the plan was approved.

Those of us observing the meeting from the public gallery might have been more sympathetic with council officers' anxiety to get the document approved had it more accurately reflected the known views of elected members.

Policy H6(a) concerning the Telephone House site is virtually identical to the proposal submitted by the developers, Crest Homes, for this site. This proposal was turned down by the western area planning committee and is the subject of an appeal which was considered at an expensive four day public inquiry at the beginning of May.

If policy H6(a) is allowed to remain in the town plan, how can the borough council possibly justify the expenditure of so much money on a public inquiry into Crest Homes planning application?
Or should the question be, who is running Tunbridge Wells, the elected councillors or the council officers?

Cmdr. G. V. Lawson
Church Road, Tunbridge Wells
(The Telephone House Neighbours Association)



John Haynes, Director of Operational Services at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council replies:

The council agreed that the draft local plan could be processed so that consultation can start.
The council reserves the right to amend any policies in the draft plan following consultation and detailed examination of policies and views.



Bizarrely, Policy H6(a) allocated for Telephone House was identical to the two refused planning applications for the Telephone House development.
Policy H6(a) is the most controversial document, produced by the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, leading to the Telephone House Debacle

A guide through Tunbridge Wells Local Press since August 2000 - "The Telephone House Debacle"