press CALA Homes took over Crest Nicholson Plc and British Telecom's Southgate Developments joint application for Telephone House in Tunbridge Wells

". . . It was a major development opportunity in the town centre and in the midst of a Conservation Area : Major redevelopment as this [ Telephone House ] provided an opportunity to reshape the town's landscape for the better. . . ."

"The final plans please no-one - neither local councillors, residents nor the developers."


Guide through the Local Press since August 2000




LINK to Newspaper Articles: Audit Commission 2006 - The axing of 18 jobs (Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Directors and Department Heads) is to go ahead.
"The CPA in 2004 contained searing criticism of the council, describing it as lacking vision, reluctant to take difficult decisions, remote and complacent. It rated it as weak and placed it 218th out of the 237 councils country-wide, warning that improvement would come only if the authority changed its approach and made better use of its resources."


2005 - The Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Chief Executive departure.

2004 - AUDIT COMMISSION REPORT - Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's dismal performance

2003 - Tunbridge Wells - A failing Council under Scrutiny
Stating what we all know. - An Audit Commission report has concluded that Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's planning department is under-performing.

"When one surveys the townscape, all around are pockets of evidence that there is something wrong at the heart of the development control services. Look at the debacle over Telephone House."


unpublished letter 14.02.03 - Failing Council
Letter of a THNA member to the Courier, regarding the much publicised criticism of the audit commission report:
". . . over the years since the Telephone House saga began, qualities of good officers were used to disguise mistakes of Councillors and Officers."



The Courier 10.01.03 - Telephone House plans get go-ahead
Telephone House Neighbours Association said the group approved the third set of scheme of works. It proved Cala could "do better" than the first and second plans, but it had a sneaking suspicion if CALA wins the appeal on the second set of plans Cala will revert to the earlier more cost-effective option.

Kent Messenger 22.11.02 - Scheme goes to appeal
"The scheme [scheme of works submitted by CALA Homes] did not demonstrate sufficient protection to residential amenities in York Road and lacked clarity"

The Courier 15.11.02 - BT house developers asked to think again
"Mr Norman met with the planning manager at CALA Homes Krzys Lipinski to discuss the controversial proposals for the York Road building : minor amendments would go some way to making a building that no-one wanted more acceptable."

The Courier 19.04.02 - TELEPHONE HOUSE DEBACLE LATEST
Telephone House talks welcomed

"Developers CALA Homes has inherited the permission to build 43 flats from Crest Nicholson : It will be in the interest of all parties if the new developer takes the opportunity to review the plans which nobody in Tunbridge Wells finds acceptable."

The Courier 15.03.02 - FRESH TWIST IN PLANNING SAGA
Developers tell MP they are selling Telephone House

"Crest Nicholson managing director Peter Bowden has told Mr Norman that following a "commercial review" Telephone House would be sold.
The final plans please no-one - neither local councillors, residents nor the developers."

The Courier 08.03.02 - Archie reform the Council
"The discontent of many residents of Tunbridge Wells ... Why not give him the chance to use his skills to reform the whole Borough Council, and reshape this town into a proper Spa town of which we all would be proud ?"

15.03.02 - Archie Norman replies: "Our enemy is complacency"

"Yet there has been precious little investment in our infrastructure ... But for too long local people have settled for a lack of investment and increased congestion."

Kent Messenger 01.03.02 - New homes at risk over parking crisis
"Mr Whitehorn [TWBC Highways Manager] knows that he has a crisis on his hands, and that unless he does something to relieve the pressure on parking in the town his whole traffic strategy is going to collapse."

The Courier 01.03.02 - Planning questions still to be answered
"The balance of power between elected members, paid staff, local people and developers has long been under scrutiny. Questions about how the council comes by planning decisions particularly major ones have been asked since the saga of Telephone House in Church Road. "

The Courier 01.03.02 - Vested interests ruin show - Quashed by the board
". . . to bring some democratic changes to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council planning department, was quashed by the Operational Services Board."

The Courier 15.02.02 - Planning practice lessons learned
"The Association urged councillors to support an independent public inquiry to examine the conduct of council officers involved in the Church Road development."

Kent Messenger 15.02.02 - Inquiry is necessary
"The first application for Telephone House, now admitted by officers to have been similar to the second, was indeed refused at delegated level by officers. Strangely, officers changed their mind during the second pre-application period and supported the developer."

The Courier 08.02.02 - Independent Public Inquiry is necessary
"Cllr Price did not resign because of the Inspector's decisions announced in July, but as we know, he resigned because of the whole culture in the Town Hall and the lack of officers' cooperation and Members' limited support."

The Courier 08.02.02 - No respect shown for us
"The development shows no respect for both, future and present residents, for their privacy and their Rights of Light"

The Courier 25.01.02 - Left to pay the Telephone bill
"Failed planning appeal costs taxpayer six-figure sum"

The Courier 04.12.01 - Row over 'biased' Telephone House in-house report
"Telephone House Neighbours Association said, the director of operational services John Haynes' report was neither impartial nor objective as he failed to talk to anybody from outside the council."

unpublished letter 28.11.01 - Operational Services Board Meeting 27 November
Press release of the Association to the Courier, regarding the Telephone House internal inquiry

unpublished letter 28.11.01 - Operational Services Board Meeting 27 November
Statement of the Association, requested by the Courier

The Courier 23.11.01 - Please, No white wash on Telephone House probe
"An independent Public Inquiry into the matter would have revealed the true state of affairs. An internal investigation is suspect of bias and white wash"

The Courier 16.11.01 - MP hopes Telephone House enquiry will be thorough
"Tunbridge Wells MP Archie Norman hopes the enquiry into the handling of the plans for Telephone House will be wide-ranging and constructive.
Developer Crest Nicholson changed its plans on the advice of council officers, but the more modern design [ 2nd planning application ] was subsequently rejected by the council [ Members/Councillors of the Western Area Planning Committee ]."

The Courier 02.11.01 - Faults in planning system (1)
"The present system does not include elected members early enough in the planning of landmark or sensitive sites.
The Telephone House scheme was originally [ 1st planning application ] refused by officers because it copied the houses in Church Road and not contributing to the 21st Century."

The Courier 02.11.01 - Faults in planning system (2)
"it seems to me to be inadequate to have a senior officer of the staff look into the issues raised by Telephone House . . . . . the issues require investigation by an external individual who is seen to be impartial."

The Courier 02.11.01 - Faults in planning system (3)
"We may never discover just who was responsible for the proposal of this disastrous development ......"

The Courier 19.10.01 - Planning needs ground rules
"Telephone House highlighted Town Hall 'balance of influence'
Crest Nicholson's Regency-style development of flats was refused by officers even though councillors were believed to be supportive. A modern redesign on planning officers' encouragement was then rejected by councillors but passed at an appeal."

The Courier 12.10.01 - Deadline to speak is impossible to meet
"Mr Howell [Mayor, Chairman] agreed to take the questions surrounding Telephone House reports and a demand for an independent inquiry at the next meeting in December."

unpublished letter 10.10.01 - Council Meeting 9 October
Press release of the Association to the Courier, regarding "Questions from Members of the Public" in a full Council Meeting at the Tunbridge Wells Town Hall
. . . and the next questions: - are the Council Staff really that inefficient? - or are they making use of a bureaucratic device to avoid answering embarrassing questions?

unpublished letter 19.08.01 - The Telephone House appeal and the emerging Local Plan Review
Letter of a THNA member to the Courier, regarding the deadline (14.08.01) to appeal against the planning inspector’s decisions for Telephone House Tunbridge Wells.

Kent Messenger 10.08.01 - Calling off the Telephone fight
"Now it has been advised by its own legal department to drop the idea because there are no grounds of appeal which are worth pursuing."

unpublished letter 08.08.01 - Telephone House - Public Inquiry - 1st to 4th May 2001
Letter to the Courier: "He [the inspector] referred in his decision regarding costs to the fact that the evidence given by the Council's officers did not in fact support a refusal of planning consent nor did it accord with the evidence provided by some Councillors."

The Courier 03.08.01 - No appeal against flat plans
"Rodney Stone, chief executive, said: "This has been an unhappy episode for members and officers and it is unfortunate that very significant effort and expenditure has been incurred without any positive result."
[ - Sir ! What about the residents ? ]

Kent Messenger 20.07.01 - Council loses fight against developers
"Campaigners from Church Road and York Road had sought to convince the inspector that the redevelopment would be both unsightly and over intensive."

The Courier 13.07.01 - Campaign fight lost over BT House plan
"Archie Norman MP, who spoke at the inquiry, said: 'I now hope that Crest Homes will do everything they can to achieve a reconciliation with local residents."

The Courier 13.07.01 - Local Plan - make your voice heard
Letter of the three Councillors, David Wakefield, Kevin Lynes, Leonard Price, of the Culverden Ward, in which Telephone House is located.

unpublished letter 09.07.01 - The Outcome of the Public Inquiry
Press release of the Association Chairman to the Courier and the Kent Messenger Extra, regarding the Telephone House Appeal Decision by the Planning Inspectorate

The Courier 06.07.01 - Telecom House decision causing anxious wait
"Archie Norman, MP said the plans had "probably given rise to more public dissent and anxiety" than any other he had experienced during his four years as MP."

The Courier 08.06.01 - Monstrosity - TELEPHONE HOUSE
"Whatever takes the place of Telephone House must only be of a type and scale to match the adjoining buildings."

The Courier 08.06.01 - Public Consultation for the Local Plan Review
"Unfortunately, Cllr Oliver-Smith, easily led by council officers, found it more important to "whip" the document through (including the Telephone House policy) than taking into consideration comments and requests of residents."

The Courier 08.06.01 - Town Plan
"council officers failed to remove or amend H6(a) to comply with the decision of councillors and the known wishes of the residents"

The Courier 01.06.01 - OFFICERS OR COUNCILLORS IN CHARGE OF THE TOWN
New Draft Town Plan: "If policy H6 (a) is allowed to remain in the town plan, how can the borough council possibly justify the expenditure of so much money on a public enquiry into Crest Homes planning application?"

The Courier 01.06.01 - Celebrate arts centre screen
Trinity Theatre and Art Centre - THNA supports the new cinema.

The Courier 01.06.01 - Doubts at town blueprint
"Chairman of the plan's working party, Conservative Councillor Paul Oliver-Smith: 'We are here to get this document out."

Kent Messenger 01.06.01 - Fury over planning blueprint
"Formal representations from the public will be invited. If objections cannot be resolved, a public local inquiry will be held by a Government inspector."

The Courier 25.05.01 - Residents association to be congratulated for case to conserve local area
"The Association is to be congratulated on its presentation of its case, a case approved by several hundred people in and around Tunbridge Wells"

The Courier 18.05.01 - TAKE THE CHANCE TO IMPROVE TOWN
"The residents realise that all planning guidelines had been exploited by the appellant to the maximum, with one exception: The Urban White Paper, which clearly states that: "people have a right to determine their future and be involved in deciding how their town or city develops!"
"While residents of Tunbridge Wells agree the five-storey building is out of keeping with the street setting, they disagree on what should now replace Telephone House, Church Road / York Road. The alternative must be a development that adds genuinely to the quality of the Conservation Area and provides an enhancement to the look and feel of the town centre. The town has a one off opportunity to significantly improve the fabric of the town centre and enhance the quality of life of the local community."

Kent Messenger 18.05.01 - Two [Cllr Roy Bullock, Cllr Len Price] step down from key roles
"I supported residents' concerns, but I don't think we had any help from our officers and I was not supported by the leader of the council [Cllr James Scholes], so I felt the best thing to do was to give up my chairmanship."

The Courier 18.05.01 - 10-year forecast outlined in draft plan
"A draft document which outlines Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's 10-year forecast for the area is expected to be rubber stamped next week."

The Courier 11.05.01 - Public concern over site plans
"Peter Morse, chairman of The Telephone House Neighbours' Association, said: "Of concern to local residents is the fact that this future may not be for the better of the town and its immediate community."

Kent Messenger 11.05.01 - Flats ruling now rests with State
" People opposed to plans by Crest Homes to build 43 flats there staged a show of force when the hearing opened on Tuesday, May 1."

The Courier 04.05.01 - Inquiry to decide fate of town building
"Crest Nicholson's plans were thrown out by the council in October last year"

Kent Messenger 13.04.01 - The wrong houses in the wrong places
"The housebuilding commitment has not been matched by any plan for infrastructure."

The Courier 13.04.01 - RESIDENTS OPPOSE SCHEME
"The representative of the borough council who will be opposing on our behalf the application under appeal at the public inquiry on May 1 is the very same case officer who recommended to the area planning committee that this application should be passed"

The Courier 06.04.01 - Monstrosity
"We all tried hard to find something in the proposed plans which looks better than the actual Telephone House - we did not see it"

The Courier 06.04.01 - Precedent for high density developments?
"With such a strong precedent for high density developments one can imagine that it will be easier for BT to sell their 7500 properties nationwide of which many are located in prime town areas"

Kent Messenger 30.03.01 - Flat chance of beating system
"Those who refused the application knew full well an inspector appointed by the Secretary of State on appeal would be likely to allow it.
Yet the conduct of their determination would be seen to be beyond reproach. Let us hope that in this case the British genius for hypocrisy fails to prevail."

The Courier 30.03.01- Light right
"In a letter dated October 22 1999, loss of light to my property was recognised as causing enough of a problem as to warrant an offer of compensation"

The Courier 25.03.01- Trees should not be destroyed
"The trees are a prominent and much loved feature of York Road, and any forthcoming developer should take them into consideration"

The Courier 23.03.01- Inquiry date set for “unacceptable” BT House plans
"Telephone House is out of character with the area, but that does not mean we should accept the first proposal that comes along."

The Courier 23.03.01- Neighbours put protests into action
"A storm is brewing over the development of Telephone House in Tunbridge Wells, which could see building of 43 flats"

Kent Messenger 16.03.01- MP fights flats plan
"it does not belong here. It is unacceptable in a conservation area with surrounding listed buildings, such as Trinity Church"

The Courier 23.02.01- Redevelopment of Telephone House
"This means that the officers should convince the inspector that they now think differently, and will have to present a case they supported fullheartedly, as unacceptable"

Kent Messenger 12.01.01- ”No” to flats plan means Telphone House inquiry
"An appeal against Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for the building of 43 flats at Telephone House, Church Road, Tunbridge Wells, is to be held before the Secreatry of State for Environment"

The Courier 17.11.01- Telephone House - (Conservation Area Appraisal)
"the appraisal was developed without the input of residents of this area"

The Courier 03.11.00 - Developers defeated in important town road
"The application was for 43 units and was described by one councillor as "mass development in its worst form."

The Courier 27.10.00 - Unanimous rejection of plan for Telephone House
"Crest Homes land director, Andrew McPhillips, warned councillors at a tense planning meeting on Wednesday last week this proposal could be the only way to get rid of the current 'eyesore'."

The Courier 11.08.00 - Poor design
"I fear that those entertaining the hope that Telephone House will be succeeded by a building of inspired design are due for a rude disappointment."

The Courier 11.08.00 - Bidding to build 43 flats
"Crest Homes' proposed development in Tunbridge Wells is in the very early stages"



contents The Telephone House Neighbours Association, Tunbridge Wells
The aims are to heighten peoples' awareness and concern for the high-density development on Telephone House site, Church Road/York Road, Tunbridge Wells.