Courier 13 July 2001

Campaign fight lost over BT house plan

The end of the road has come for 100 residents who fought plans to develop Telephone House in Tunbridge Wells.
They said their views "count for nothing" after Crest Homes won its appeal to demolish the former BT offices in Church Road and build 43 flats.

A hard-hitting campaign by Telephone House Neighbours' Association supported by Archie Norman MP ended in a three-day inquiry in May.

This week's announcement has sent shock-waves through the association, which claimed the plans were "over-dense" and would impact too heavily on surrounding streets.

Peter Morse, association chairman, said: "So much for democracy. The ramifications of such a decision appear enormous. Developers can now use a precedent to develop what they like, where they like, knowing that the views of local people and their elected councillors count for nothing."

Archie Norman MP, who spoke at the inquiry, said: "The residents were up against a top gun, one of the most expensive planning QCs in the country and in terms of resources it was a very unfair contest."
He added: "I now hope that Crest Homes will do everything they can to achieve a reconciliation with local residents"

Malcolm Lewis, Government Inspector, said the development was not over dense in comparison with nearby homes.
He was satisfied the four-storey building facing Church Road would not dominate listed buildings, including Trinity Arts Centre.

Tony Sharp, negotiator at chartered surveyors and property consultants Cluttons, in Tunbridge Wells, said the development was unlikely to affect York Road house prices.
"I have not seen the plans, but I think it would be preferable to what is there now and I can't see any marked effect on values either way."

The appeal costs must be paid by the borough council, which is currently waiting for a figure from Crest Homes.

Speeches of Members of The Telephone House Neighbours Association,
Councillors of Culverden Ward, the MP for Tunbridge Wells
and the appellants' QC

DENSITY - cramming ? - lifestyle ?
The high density development of Telephone House Tunbridge Wells

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