Kent Messenger Extra 1 June 2001 Page 1

Fury over planning blueprint

A less than ringing endorsement was given to the Tunbridge Wells Local Plan Review when the borough council met to release the document for public consultation.
The five-strong Labour group voted en bloc against approving it "as a material consideration for development control purposes", and several councillors voiced misgivings about its content.

The Local Plan Review was drafted following a series of members' working party meetings and is due to succeed the present local plan in three or four years' time.

Cllr Val Catt (Lab) said she was shocked to see proposals to convert the Royal Victoria Place shopping centre food hall for retail use and move the food outlets to the present Market Square.
There was no indication of what was to become of the market - a source of cheap, fresh produce for many of the town's less affluent people.
Cllr Mrs Catt was also angry that the plan made provision for just 1,000 affordable homes to be built in the next 10 years, when a need had been identified for 1,847 homes in five years.
And she scorned proposals for a park and ride bus lane to be created which would obliterate a football pitch and prove useless to people who had no cars and needed public transport most of all.
To applause from the public gallery at Tunbridge Wells town hall, she said: "I could not vote for this plan and I will not let it go out in my name."

Cllr Peter Bulman (Con) said he was disturbed by plans to build 200 homes at Hawkenbury, which he said would be a "difficult and problematic pill for residents to swallow".
Fellow Park ward member Cllr Henry Harrison (Con) supported this view, while Liberal Democrat group leader Cllr David Mills said the plan was littered with contradiction.

Cllr David Neve (Lib Dem) suggested a covering letter should be sent out with copies of the plan, making it clear that it was not unanimously approved.

Cllr Alf Baker (Lib Dem) proposed an amendment, seconded by Cllr John Baker (Independent), to further make this point, but after being put to the vote the amendment was lost.

Formal representations from the public will be invited over a six-week period, from August 10 to September 21 this year, following a series of public exhibitions.

If objections cannot be resolved, a public local inquiry will be held by a Government inspector.

A recorded vote was taken in which 24 members voted to approve the Local Plan Review, five voted against it, and six abstained.

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"