Statement of THNA to Operational Services Board Meeting, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council - 27.11.01

Cllr Paul Oliver-Smith
Chairman Operational Services Board
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
Town Hall, Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS

21 November 2001

Dear Cllr Oliver-Smith

Telephone House Development
Special Operational Services Board Meeting - 27 November 2001

On behalf of the Telephone House Neighbours Association I wish to make the following statement and add a few points at the above mentioned Board meeting:

The Telephone House Neighbours Association regards the report drawn up by Mr Haynes as not objective and impartial as it has been conducted by an officer of the Council who, apart from being a colleague of those whose actions are the subject of this enquiry, quite deliberately did not consult residents as part of his investigation.
(We had submitted our list of questions to the Chief Executive on 6 June 2001 and 29 August 2001 and 17 October 2001).

For the following reasons alone, we recommend that you do not approve the report.

In Mr Haynes’ report vital points have not been addressed:

  1. - Point 7 and 29
    It was clear to all who were present in the Council Chamber at the Western Area Planning Committee meeting of October 2000, (and Mr Haynes was not present) that the Committee were minded to refuse the planning application for almost identical reasons to those given by officers when refusing the first application, as was specifically suggested by Cllr Mills.
    Mr Eveleigh publicly told the Members of the WAPC that they could not use the same reasons for refusing the second application as they had been used for refusing the first application.

  2. - Point 14
    The report fails to mention that officers instructed the applicant not to meet with residents, at any stage, which would easily have avoided the second planning application refusal and subsequently the costly inquiry.

  3. - Point 15
    Applicants and residents will benefit by the non-participation of officers in consultation meetings.

  4. - Point 43
    In the Statement of Common Ground for the Public Inquiry the case officer negotiated out the grounds for refusal which the Members of the WAPC considered having formed part of their reasons to refuse the planning application. It appears no Councillor was shown the Statement of Common Grounds before dispatch to the Inspector.

  5. - Policy H6(a) - Local Plan Draft Review
    Officers and Members drew up Policy H6(a) in entire contradiction to the actual refusal of planning permission by Members on 18th October 2000 and the Inspector used Policy H6(a) as a reason for allowing the appeal.

    Policy H6(a) was leaked to Crest Nicholson’s agent Barton Willmore prior to its adoption by the Operational Services Board on 10th May.

    The impact of Policy H6(a) has nowhere been addressed in Mr Haynes’ report.

  6. - Points 46 and 47
    Although Mr Haynes professes to avoid the issue of blame he squarely places it at Members’ feet when it should be at officers’.

Yours sincerely
Annemarie Topliss

cc: John Haynes, Director of Operational Services
Cllrs. Leonard Price, Roy Bullock

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 aquired this planning application from Crest Nicholson.
With an ever increasing awareness of the flaws in the design? - Foundations for sustainable and viable development ?

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

The Telephone House Neighbours Association, Tunbridge Wells
The aims are to heighten peoples' awareness and concern for the controversial high density development on
Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells.