05.2001 - The Public Inquiry - Statement of Committee Member Daniel Bech

Roofscape / Spatial Characteristics / Building Lines - The Telephone House Development, Tunbridge Wells


My name is Daniel Bech. I am owner and occupier in York Road.

Roofscape - Spatial Characteristics - Building Lines
are all part of the first paragraph of the grounds for refusal.

When I met Mr Munday of Crest Homes in January 2000, I left a few copies of historic maps and a copy of an old postcard of York Road to him.
I was astonished to see these copies enlarged to A1 format at a presentation in July 2000.
I remember Mr Sutters saying that these copies were part of his research to show that there would be an opportunity to restore the historic building line on York Road.

In the various Proofs of Evidence we read over and over again that there is a need to restore an original or historic building line.
Commander George Lawson of London Road rightfully mentions that there is no Policy Guideline existing for the restoration of building lines.

That said I wish to submit on behalf of The Telephone House Neighbours Association various copies of maps, proving that an original building line never existed on the South side of York Road.

The built up in York Road started in 1847 with the construction of the still intact group of terraced houses on the North side, now Nos. 6-14.

Viewing maps from 1867, 1897, 1909, 1965, 1980 we see that the now called Telephone House site was constantly in a "rearranging" process.

A "closed" line existed for about 70 years only, from around 1900 to mid 1960ís.

The occupiers enjoyed green open spaces towards Church Road.
They enjoyed full sunlight in the rear and had no privacy problem until the Telephone House was built.

With the exception of the 11 meter width of Nos. 23 and 25, the site is known to residents as an open space for the last 30 years.

The closing of this gap, by pushing the new development straight towards the pavement will not reinstate something historic.
If "history" is to be used as evidence for the future it should be accurate.

In this case, swapping townhouses for the blocks envisaged in the development is not reinstating history especially when we know that houses 23,25,27,29 formed a terrace.
The proposition does not seek to reinstate this terrace.

Block B presses 4 storeys into the same height as the remaining 27 and 29, which have only 3 storeys.
Not only is the fenestration line interrupted, but the gap between Block B and the partly demolished terrace is certainly not original or historic.

As for reinstating history - too many factors are missing: - all these points are totally ignored in the design.

During their research for the documentation, residents were amazed to see how attractive the views from the Common towards the town centre once were.
Many prints from around the turn of the century exist, showing these views.

I conclude with a question to the planners:

Why do you want to lose the opportunity to reinstate a "postcard-setting" to write home about?