03.05.01 - The Public Inquiry - Speech of Committee Member Barbara Clarke

Traffic and related Design Flaws - The Telephone House Development, Tunbridge Wells

My name is Barbara Clarke and I have lived in York Road for the last 24 years.

I wonder how many of the experts sitting here came by bus !
We mean by bus - because when we read through the Highways and Transportation Proof of Evidence chapter 4.1, we find an entire chapter is dedicated to bus services, which comes to the conclusion:
"that the site is within the r e c o m m e n d e d walking distance of 400m of eight bus stops serving 28 separate bus routes."

The future owners, we are told, will be owners "of luxury apartments, and, as such, the nature of the intended occupants are not likely to include those with young children, or families"

Architect Sutters’ Proof of Evidence, Appendix A - 31A p.3

When it comes to reality it is more likely that on a Sunday morning this person will rather drive to the newspaper agents than take a bus to reach a leisure complex.
Having the fortune to live in a £ 250.000 dwelling he/she probably has never used a bus in Tunbridge Wells or is even aware of how unreliable this bus service can be?

On what we do agree, however, is that train services will probably be integrated in the sales brochure. These flats would be ideal for commuters. But in general, commuters of the targeted wage group will have cars, if only for their leisure. If they are single they certainly have friends.
Where will these friends park when they come to visit?
We speculate - it will be in York Road - on yellow lines and on the pavement !
I have to point out that actually confirms the residents’ opinion that parking space is at a premium:
"The site contains abundant surface level parking, a facility which is in s h o r t supply in Tunbridge Wells."

Barton Willmore’s Proof of Evidence, 3.2.7, p.14

Having said that - York Road was certainly not designed for modern motor vehicles. The houses which were once standing on the open space in York Road - now the car park of BT - were built with no modern traffic in mind.
This is not taken into consideration because it is now proposed to build on that same line where these houses stood - actually, not for that long.

I, now wish to tell about an observation of my own:
As I am a representative of a company in London, I often come home very late by car.

Photograph (1) - Design

When I enter York Road from London Road I realise that this narrow road slightly rises towards the BT site and guides my car into its left curve drawing the headlights straight into the trees on the BT site.
If the trees are to be replaced by block D/affordable and B, cars’ headlights will flash right into the fenestration of the proposed blocks.
I cannot imagine that this aspect was addressed by the architects !

Photograph (2) - Layout of blocks of flats

Maybe Mark Berry, the case officer of the first application, realised this when he "was concerned about the residential amenities of the blocks and felt that the principal windows of the ground floor flats being so close to the boundary was unacceptable".

Architect Sutters’ Proof of Evidence, Minutes of Meeting 1B, p.4

I believe that if consultation with residents had been taken seriously and intensified - some of the design faults would not have happened !

January 2003 - CALA Homes move in -
putting up hoarding and introducing the new building line