Response from Highway Management Unit, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Kent Highways - Kent County Council and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Highway Manager James Whitehorn

My ref - nb /3015/w

Date - 30 November 2000


I refer to your letter dated 17th November addressed to James Whitehorn and concerning the above. He has asked me to respond on his behalf, being the officer directly involved in commenting on the highway aspects of planning applications.

I would offer the following comments on the points you raise.

  1. I can assure you that I am very familiar with the area involved and the movement of traffic around it.

  2. When commenting on any application, I am seeking to ensure that there is no adverse impact on the public highway in terms of congestion and/or safety. Wherever possible, I look for some form of benefit when works are proposed. Planning applications are often the most practical way of improving highway conditions since we can seek to optimise access arrangements and remove potential and actual problems.

    Church Road is one of the most important through routes within the town centre and, between its junctions with mount Pleasant and London Road, particularly traffic sensitive because of the signal control in operation at both of those intersections. Generally, therefore, I would seek to remove turning movements and additional traffic from that section of the network.

    Whilst I fully accept that the existing parking in front of Telephone House is not numerically great, there is still in my view a sound reason for seeking to remove or at least minimise it. If I always ignored the smaller potential benefits on the basis that they wonít make much difference, then the greater ones are much less likely to follow.

    You ask the question "Why should the present 19 Telephone House parking spaces no longer be tolerated there?" I could, however, ask why you feel that the 39 parking spaces proposed for the rear should not be tolerated as an alternative to the 55+ spaces which currently gain access from York Road?

  3. I note the observations and comments you make about traffic flow in the area but, as per my last comment, why should I assume that this will make the situation any worse than that which currently exists? If a residential development is not forthcoming, the likelihood is that the building will be used for office purposes with the unrestricted parking and traffic movement along York Road that will inevitably result. As I am sure you are aware, no planning permission is needed to continue that use.

Turning to the questions and comments posed on the page headed "Access/Exit arrangement for the Telephone House onto York Road", I would make the following observations -

  1. I do not agree with this statement.
  2. Agreed.
  3. I believe that the planning officers have seen a copy of your letter and can therefore take this into account should a revised application be made. The intention, as far as I am aware, was for all heavy demolition/construction traffic to be excluded completely from York Road.
  4. The access/egress had been designed with a pedestrian visibility splay.
  5. I wasnít aware that any decisions had been made about postal addresses for the new properties.
  6. Iím afraid that I donít get the point you are trying to make there.
  7. I do not agree with this statement.

Most developments in a town centre involve some form of compromise and acceptance of less than ideal traffic conditions. I do, however, still believe that a residential use which has the bulk of its car parking served from York Road is to be preferred over one which gains access solely from Church Road. Ultimately, however, all I give is advice to the planning authority on behalf of the highway authority. Neither officers nor members are in any way bound to agree with my advice and can reject it if they wish.

Yours sincerely,
N Baldwin
Senior Engineer

Traffic and Parking in the Telephone House Area, Tunbridge Wells