Courier 10 January 2003 - NEWS section Page 8

Telephone House plans get go-ahead

By Mary Harris

It was third time lucky for the developers of controversial Telephone House in Tunbridge Wells, when its method for building flats was finally agreed by town hall planners.

Although plans to turn the Church Road offices into 43 flats were finally approved in July 2001, the scheme of works which outlines how it will be built, were twice turned down.

Now Cala, which bought the site in April, will use its third "much simpler" scheme of works which excludes York Road from being used as an access for construction traffic. The company said this week it did-not anticipate further delays and would begin developing the prime site immediately.

A spokeswoman denied it had been problematic dealing with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, which had been criticised by Crest Nicholson for being unclear about the type of design which would gain approval.
They had been "extremely professional" and offered "valued guidance" throughout the process, said spokeswoman Althea Taylor-Salmon.
She said the scheme of works would be the "backbone" of working practices on site, with relevant guide notes posted around the site to inform builders of restrictions.

Cala's first appeal against an earlier refusal of its scheme of works has been withdrawn. Its second appeal is still being processed - a move lively to alarm Telephone House Neighbours' Association, which has tirelessly fought the plans and raised concerns about the disruption caused by building work. Many, including Archie Norman MP, saw the emergence of Cala as the new site owners as an opportunity for more collaboration between the firm, the council and residents.

Ms Taylor-Salmon added: "We have maintained an open dialogue with all interested parties. We have met with representatives of the association on several occasions and residents have the the opportunity to view and comment on the scheme. We had meetings at the Houses of Parliament where we briefed Mr Norman on Cala's commitment to develop the site in accordance with local planning conditions."

Association member Daniel Bech said the group approved the third set of scheme of works. He said it proved Cala could "do better" than the first and second plans, but he had a sneaking suspicion if it wins the appeal on the second set of plans Cala will revert to the earlier more cost-effective option.

February 2003 - CALA Homes move in - Demolition of Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells"

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