Letter 19 August 2001

The Telephone House appeal and the emerging Local Plan Review, Tunbridge Wells

Please consider the following for publication on Friday 24 August 2001, as it is the only possiblity for us to set the record straight. Your article in the Courier on 3 August 2001, probably based on a press release of the Chief Executive, did not specify the relation between the upholding of the appeal and the emerging Local Plan Review.

Despite TWBC having decided not to appeal against the Inspector's decision to allow Crest Nicholson to build 43 flats on the Telephone House site, residents' opposition remains strong.

It appears that TWBC helped significantly to lose their own case.

The Local Plan Review 2001-2011 provides for a Policy on the site. This Policy is virtually identical to the twice refused Crest's application.

Prior to "rubberstamping" the Local Plan Review on 23 May 2001, Councillors were informed by TWBC officers that the Inspector could not and would not take this document into consideration. Councillors should have been told that on 9 May 2001 the Inspector had already learnt of the Policy for Telephone House from Crest and that on 15 May TWBC's development control manager had confirmed to the Inspector that Joint Central Board and Operational Services Board had approved the document.

The Inspector refers to the emerging Local Plan Review in his decision to uphold the appeal.

Residents were not informed that the Inspector had received further evidence after the Inquiry of 1-4 May. A guide by the Planning Inspectorate Making your planning appeal suggests that involved parties have to be informed. It seems legal procedures were not followed and that the Public Inquiry should be re-opened.

As with regard to the rumors of expensive costs, residents believe that TWBC had enough grounds to appeal against the Cost Decision.

Those responsible for the fiasco are relieved that the deadline for the appeal (14 August) passed unnoticed. They invite to comment on the Draft Local Plan, assuring residents that their views are taken into account. Whom are they kidding?

Robert J Soden
York Road, Tunbridge Wells

TWBC Chief Executive Rodney Stone's attitude towards residents

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"