Letter to Councillor Leonard Price, seeking clarification on questions addressed to the Chief Executive - 18.11.01

Cllr Leonard Price
14 Royal Chase
Royal Tunbridge Wells

18 November 2001

Dear Leonard

As discussed in our meetings we would be most grateful if you would seek, as promised, clarification of the following questions, for which we sought answers in vain from the Chief Executive [during summer/autumn 2001].

  1. Item 4 of the notification for refusal of the first application of January 2000 stated that the trees on York Road side were sufficiently important to constitute a ground for refusal for the application.
    Why did officers, nine months later, recommend that these trees could be removed?

  2. The Western Area Planning Committee, unanimously, and for numerous good reasons, turned down the 2nd application in October 2000:
    1. Why did Mr N Eveleigh, Manager of the Planning and Building Control epartment, tell Councillors they could not refuse planning permission on the same grounds as in the first application (as was specifically suggested by Cllr. Mills).
    2. Did the officer have the authority to alter/weaken the formulation of the grounds for refusal, thus not representing the Members' strength of opinion?

    1. Why and on whose authority did officers continue to negotiate the Grounds for Refusal, eg WK2, ENV15, EN17, EN1 with the appellants after 18 October 2000, which resulted in the Inspector concluding that the true grounds for refusal had been negotiated out (referring to the Statement of Common Ground).
    2. Was the appeal recommended to the appellant by officers?

  3. With regard to the Public Inquiry Mrs Chambers stated in her introduction to the Proof of Evidence which she submitted on behalf of the Council to the Inspectorate that "the views expressed in my Proof of Evidence are intended to reflect those of the Members of the Committee and are not necessarily my own."
    1. Why were Mrs. Chambers' views included in a statement which was known to be adverse to those of Councillors, when she should have been representing solely the Members' decision? Is it standard practice for an officer to make a disclaimer?
    2. Why were Members of the WAPC not shown her proof of evidence before submission to the Inspectorate?
    3. On whose authority was this proof of evidence submitted?

    1. Why was it decided to instruct Junior Counsel as opposed to Queen's Counsel, to act for TWBC at the appeal hearing?
    2. On what date was Counsel instructed?
    3. Why did Council officers not pass a copy of the THNA's submission to Counsel as background information?
    4. Why did Council officers refuse to allow the THNA to meet Counsel in conference prior to the Public Inquiry?

  4. Council's witnesses at the Public Inquiry: How much do officers represent Council?

  5. Why did officers in several meetings with members of the THNA prior to the Public Inquiry not reveal that Mr Alan Legg and other officers had dictated to the Applicant the entire scheme, even increasing the number of units?

  6. "The view in Tunbridge Wells is that any change is bad, even if it is for the better."
    1. Is this disparaging view about residents, held by Mr Legg, consistent with his position as Conservation Strategy Officer?
    2. Are the views of Mr Legg endemic amongst the officers of the Borough's Planning, Building Control, Strategy, Development and Conservation Departments?

  7. Why did Council officers ask Crest Nicholson to desist from having any contact with residents?

  8. Policy H6(a) Local Plan Review Deposit Copy dated May 2001:
    Why was Policy H6(a) in the LPRDC, when it is contrary to Council's decisions to reject twice very similar planning applications?

    1. Who leaked the content of the Draft Local Plan to Barton Willmore prior to its adoption by the Operational Services Board on 10th May, when it only came into the public domain on 23rd May?
    2. What was the purpose of leaking this document?

As discussed we would much appreciate you writing to Mr Prentis, Development Control Manager, asking him for clarification on the following questions:

  1. What did Mr Prentis insinuate with his phrase in his letter dated 15th May 2001 to the Inspector: "The Council's position is that the Draft Policy [H6(a)] is consistent with the case put on our behalf at the Inquiry."
  2. Why did Mr Prentis not remind the Inspector that the Draft Local Plan was not yet an Adopted Local Plan, and therefore section H6(a) was irrelevant?
  3. Why did Mr Prentis not remind the Inspector of the many factual errors in the appeal statement by Barton Willmore?
  4. Why did Mr Prentis not send a copy of the Barton Willlmore letter of 9th May and his own letter of 15th May to the THNA?

As you are aware, The Telephone House Neighbours Association is not against redevelopment of the Telephone House site, but are just keen to see the townscape reshaped for the better.

We thank you for your continued support and look forward to hearing from you soon.

With kind regards

Annemarie Topliss
The Telephone House Neighbours Association

Return to THNA letter to the TWBC Working Party meeting 10.01.02

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's Internal Inquiry into
the Telephone House Debacle

What went wrong with the Telephone House Planning Applications ?
The uneasy questions to the Chief Executive Rodney Stone and other senior officers of TWBC

2003, the questions are still unanswered - they are as intriguing as in 2001.
April 2002 - CALA Homes bought this planning application.
With an ever increasing awareness of the flaws in the design? - Foundations for sustainable and viable development?