Kent Messenger Extra 16 March 2001 Page 1

MP fights flats plan

Tunbridge Wells MP Archie Norman has backed residents figthing plans to build 43 flats on the former Telephone House site in York Road.

On Friday [9 March] the shadow environment minister met a deputation of local people on site and said Tunbridge Wells Borough Council had been quite right to reject the scheme.

He added that he hoped to be at a public inquiry on May 1, when developer Crest Homes challenges the council's rejection on appeal, and he would in any event be writing to support the residents.

Mr Norman said the proposed development was higher and wider than neighbouring buildings.

He added: "It is a fat, squat building that might fit in Croydon, but it does not belong here. It is unacceptable in a conservation area with surrounding listed buildings, such as Trinity Church."

The MP heard local people were particularly worried about the high density of housing proposed - 43 flats - equating to 140 units per hectare and the pressure on parking and access this would bring.

They were also concerned a line of roadside trees would be destroyed and that light would be blocked by the new flats. "It is a classic example of insensitive over-building," said Mr Norman.

But Nigel Watts, from nearby Church Road, while declaring no interest, challenged some of the MP's assertions.

He said developers were bound to seek a high density scheme because previous Government rules required a proportion of new build to be made available as affordable housing.

The Telephone House Development - a guide through the Local Press