18.02.2000 - File Notes by Chris Howe, Architect Trevor Sutters Partnership, London
submitted in March 2001 as Proof of Evidence for the Appeal Crest Nicholson/Southgate Developments versus Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

The Project :
Telephone House, Church Road and York Road, Tunbridge Wells

[BT's Southgate Developments / Crest Nicholson}

DATE: 18.02.00
FILE NOTE: 1.00 pm

CH spoken to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Found my way through to Alan Legg Conservation Strategy Officer [ TWBC ]

On the basis of the Character Statements for Each Conservation Area. Barton Willmore advise that these are not done yet and will not be completed in the near future.

From Planning these have been completed in DRAFT by Alan Legg finished last week and are awaiting typing. It looks as though we will get Taxed DRAFT copies of these on Monday unless Planning Officers block this.

The Site is in Central TW Conservation Area

Ignore large block opposite. Raising this will put officers backs up. Better conversions of 60's blocks in the town to look at if this is the only viable option (Planning are not ruling this out however is not what they want)

To justify the development brief for this site Planning (AL who has a 'design' background) has completed a draft development scheme design. The gist of which is as follows:

Looking at front block (not blocks) give reasons why eaves level retention and splitting blocks gives towers not villas. Wrong form Large block better commercial viability

Blocks to the rear (Push right up to street frontage (existing) building line). Aware of public support for retention of trees however planning know these are not great tree specimens (indifferent species) and are not really worthy of any protection also if pushed then no one can claim that these are 'in character'

Central block / blocks discussed practicality of car parking. AL confirms that the LDP gives a MAX 1-1 ratio from his designs he believes that 85% provision is achievable and cannot be deemed as against policy. Planning do not want more cars in Tunbridge Wells however need more housing. In principle not against any forms within the depth of the site.

AL confirms that to back up the development plan there is a development scheme. Completed by AL this has 40+ units (mix unknown) however as important it is the variation and mix of unit types (hence mix of occupants) which allows relaxation of parking etc. and is felt to reflect the mix and grain of the area.

Access from Church Road. Has been almost agreed as an unwritten rule that no traffic to come off Church Road as this is a major transverse corridor to which no slowing of traffic is wanted. This needs looking at more closely however cannot be ruled out completely (we have no feedback or comment from Highways either way - earlier comments about this as a possible reason for objection seem unfounded).

Massing of front block as single unit but modelled as two. This is important to achieve no. of units problem seems to be in the past not just the massing of the block (how it is modelled) but the overall depth hence the mass, in view of a plan planning consideration not an elevatiuonal. A big mass on plan does not sit well in the area. Try to keep the front block / blocks as shallow as possible, like villas to the west.

Removal of trees and Replacement of original trees to Church Road tree lining - discussed views on enhancement of privacy from street for development and positive fragmented views through trees / foliage to church from west up church road. Similar to tree lining to the east.

This shows a number of discrepancies (which AL claims to have highlighted in the Dev Brief) namely :

- Parking Rates consider 1-1 but bear in mind 0.85 to 1 as potentially acceptable

- Overlooking: Distances to retain the character and grain (particularly to rear there must be a relaxation in the standard overlooking of 20m (Kent Council requirement set at 21 m !. This relaxation is included in the dev brief (we need to know what would be acceptable)

- Massing of front block as single unit but modelled as two. All dependant on the modelling. Not adverse to contemporary however this is styling but glass as transparency helps, (look at 60's conversions in town.)

- Removal of trees to rear not considered a major sticking point despite MB apparent wish to appease local residents who have grown to like the trees. Trees to front compliment other side of road.

AL very affable very keen to see this site working. Has no problem with copying us with his draft info unless MB has any strong objection. Looks forward to speaking next week (Monday) and would like to meet up next week if possible to discuss and provide any other assist / input.


DENSITY - cramming ? - lifestyle ?
High density development of Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells

12.04.2002 - Back to Notes of the Meeting with CALA Homes
CALA Group Ltd acquired the controversial planning permission for the high density developmepnt of Telephone House site, Tunbridge Wells

Back to William Bennett’s speech at the Public Inquiry in May 2001:
BT's Southgate Developments and Crest Nicholson versus TWBC