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The case on TWBC's Planning Portal The case on TWBC's Planning Portal

08.09.2006 - The Head of Environmental Services' note inc. related correspondence 08.09.2006 - The Head of Environmental Services' note inc. related correspondence of THNA to the Leader of the Council (Councillors, Officers, etc) on 06.09.2006

06.09.2006 - Adam Knowlson's (Alfern Investments, Jersey) application 14.09.2006 - Adam Knowlson's (Alfern Investments, Jersey) application

20.09.2006 - The Notice of application sent to affected residents 20.09.2006 - The Notice of application sent to affected residents

21.09.2006 - Update by the Head of Environmental Services 21.09.2006 - Update by the Head of Environmental Services

24.09.2006 - THNA's submission during Residents' Consultation 20.09.-11.10.06 24.09.2006 - THNA's submission during Residents' Consultation 20.09.-11.10.06

Sep/Oct 2006 - Residents' and THNA's Letters to TWBC Sep/Oct 2006 - Residents' and THNA's letters to TWBC Planning Dept.

02.10.2006 - Note by Antonia James including THNA's related correspondence 02.10.2006 - Note by Antonia James including THNA's related correspondence

25.10.2006 - The Report of Antonia James including THNA's comments 25.10.2006 - The Report of Antonia James including THNA's comments

27.10.2006 - The Notification to grant Certificate of Lawful Use / Development 27.10.2006 - The Notification to grant Certificate of Lawful Use / Development

Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Section 191 and 192 - Town and Country Planning Order 1995, Article 24 Town and Country Planning Act 1990, Section 191 and 192 - Town and Country Planning Order 1995, Article 24

Kent and Medway Structure Plan 2006 - inc. QL1 (Quality of Development and Design) - TP19 (Vehicle Parking Standards) Kent and Medway Structure Plan 2006 - inc. QL1 (Quality of Development and Design) - TP19 (Vehicle Parking Standards)

Kent and Medway Structure Plan 2006 - SPG4 (Supplementary Planning Guidance 4 - Kent Vehicle Parking Standards) Kent and Medway Structure Plan 2006 - SPG4 (Supplementary Planning Guidance 4 - Kent Vehicle Parking Standards)

TWBC Local Plan 2006 Transport and Parking - inc. Policy TP5 (Vehicle Parking) TWBC Local Plan 2006 Transport and Parking - inc. Policy TP5 (Vehicle Parking)

TWBC Local Plan 2006 Environment - inc. Policy EN1 TWBC Local Plan 2006 Environment - inc. Policy EN1

1965 -   Notification of Completion of 85 Mt Pleasant 1965 - Notification of completion of 85 Mt Pleasant Road

1976 - Borough Council’s representation for the appeal '7 York Road inc. land opp. 8 Y Rd' in 1976 1976 - Borough Council’s representation for the appeal '7 York Road inc. land opp. 8 York Road'

The site has been rated commercially only since 29.08.2006 The site has been rated commercially only since 29.08.2006



15.01.2007 - Letter to Jim Kehoe, Head of Planning Services, TWBC 15.01.2007 — Letter to Jim Kehoe, Head of Planning Services, TWBC

20.02.2007 - Unsatisfying answer of Jim Kehoe, Head of Planning Services, TWBC 20.02.2007 — Unsatisfying answer of Jim Kehoe, Head of Planning Services, TWBC

07.03.2007 — RTW Town Forum 22.03.07 - Members Reports 07.03.2007 — Members Reports for RTW Town Forum meeting on 22.03.07 - Requesting endorsement of a complaint to the Chief Executive Sheila Wheeler

31.03.2007 — Complaint to the Chief Executive, Sheila Wheeler 31.03.2007 — Complaint to the Chief Executive Sheila Wheeler

02.05.2007 — Response of the Chief Executive Sheila Wheeler 02.05.2007 — Response of the Chief Executive Sheila Wheeler

17.05.2007 — Response to Freedom of Information Rquests 17.05.2007 — Response to Freedom of Information Requests (further to the letter of the Chief Executive Sheila Wheeler)





Land opposite No. 8 York Road (TW/06/02750/CEU) — "Lawful Development Certificate (Existing)
- Off road parking for motor vehicles ancillary to a commercial use"
This unacceptable situation has been going on for ,
- since 24 August 2006
ONLY GREED? . . . RETALIATION? . . . SCHADENFREUDE? . . . ?
What are the motives of those involved?
How is it possible that the newly appointed Head of Planning Services of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
granted a Planning Consent for this?
15 January 2007 — The Telephone House Neighbours Association requests Request of revocation of the Certificate of Lawful Use 15.01.07the revocation of the Certificate of Lawful Use
December 2008
Adam Knowlson's land opposite 8 York Road, RTW - between the gardens of 10 York Road and 9 York Road - occupied by TW Flats / TW Lettings

Question to Kent County Council Area Highway Inspector Mark Osborne: Is this KCC Standard for "Clean, tidy and well kept"?
TW-flats / TW-lettings - 6 cars on the plot opposite 8 York Road, Tunbridge Wells
December 2008 — It is not an obsession to 'name and shame' these people of TW Flats/ TW Lettings
- Justin Fletcher, Adam Pooley, Neil Burton, Catherine Wittenberg.
No, it is their assumed compulsive preoccupation to turn this place and with it the neighbourhood and the area "rundown" as opposite to "Love Where We Live". This triggers them to be seen exposed as unsociable!




ONLY GREED? . . . RETALIATION? . . . SCHADENFREUDE? . . . ?
What are the motives of those involved?
How is it possible that the newly appointed Head of Planning Services of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
granted a Planning Consent for this?

15 January 2007 — The Telephone House Neighbours Association requests
Request of revocation of the Lawful Development Certificate 15.01.07the revocation of the Lawful Development Certificate

— Jim Kehoe's judgement was based on the partly erroneous and misleading TWBC's Antonia James' Report 25.10.06report of Antonia R James, a mindset junior officer of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council. The delegated authority signature is of her collegue Andrew Taylor.
We do not know how much groupthink of that department was involved, but it makes clear that residents have no real chances against such a 'Déformation professionnelle' - ( the tendency to look at things according to the conventions of one's own profession, forgetting any broader point of view).

The culture of silo thinking in TWBC is at the base of such decisions. This comes as a shock as one of the newly appointed Directors announced recently changes at a Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Forum meeting and in the local newspaper.

The Courier 13.10.06The Courier 13.10.2006 - Robert Cottrill: "This organisational shake-up recognises the inter-linking nature of many council departments - rather than working in "rigid silos". "We want logic where the departments are organised and we work across the departments to solve the problems."


Adam Knowlson's land opposite 8 York Road, RTW - between the gardens of 10 York Road and 9 York Road - occupied by TW Flats / TW Lettings

According to TWBC Planning Portal this tiny plot in the Conservation Area is authorised to be used as a commercial car park, without restrictions or control over the number of units.
Neither the case officer Antonia R James, nor one of her collegues, did even bother to inform objecting residents of the decision!

Presently an Estate Agent, TW-flats / TW-lettings run their base and 'chauffeur escorts' from here.
They advertised in the local newspaper: "Our offices are located in a prominent town centre location offering sellers and landlords the best exposure of their property. Also, because of our excellent location we are well placed to take interested parties out to the property there and then instead of booking appointments and waiting around thereby making the most of our offce visitors.


Can you imagine the ins and outs, movement of cars; - the disruption at the cost of the amenity of residents?
Why do TW-flats / TW-lettings not run this service from the town centre's Crescent Road Car Park (1,085 bays) which is nearer to their business in Monson Road?



The 825 sqft plot (55' 0" by 15' 0" - TW/76/0255) shown in blue lies in one of the oldest parts of Royal Tunbridge Wells. The area is protected by Conservation Area status.
The buildings surrounding the plot highlighted in dark red are all Listed Buildings. Even the church wall as a boundary to the plot is listed!
The magenta dashed line shows that the plot lies within the Central Access Zone Residential and Residents' Parking Zone C.



HOW DID IT ALL START?
How little respect of Tunbridge Wells' historic environment does an Estate Agent have to nail up an oversized board here, in the midst of a Conservation Area and surrounded by Listed Buildings?

— Neighbours were alarmed when this distracting board of Bracketts Estate Agents went up in the Conservation Area on 21 March 2006. We asked the Planning Department if the signs need planning consent. At the same time we informed officers that the land is defined erronously in their GIS system as car-park between 9-11 York Road, as the site relates only to the property opposite No 8 York Road.

oversized Bracketts, Tunbridge Wells, Estate Agent's letting sign

Planning investigations officer Paul Cole answered: "I have been in contact with Mr Knowlson and will be communicating with his Solicitor, with respect to the usage of the piece of land in question. In the meantime the advertising sign will be removed by the agents."
Paul Cole chose not to inform affected third parties about the outcome of his negotiations.
Why did he avoid any engagement / mediation with / between affected parties?



On 21 June 2006 neighbours witnessed the hectic dealings between, possibily a staff member of Bracketts Estate Agent and two representatives Justin Fletcher and Adam Pooley of TW-Flats / TW-Lettings, Monson Road.

Why would two estate agents (Bracketts and TW-Flats/Lettings) be so keen handling Mr Knowlson's land having a rentable value of likely less than £ 2000 per year? TW Flats' / TW Lettings' offices are actually closer to Crescent Road Car Park. Why would 'young ladies' on high heels need to opt for a muddy plot when a covered car-park is closer? Why would "staff with expert knowledge" bully a neighbourhood into accepting disturbance, nuisance and safety risks?
Why would a junior planning officer be keen on paving the way to such nuisance? Is there something more sinister behind this?
Note that Mr Adam Knowlson, as a Director, sold the land from one of his companies in liquidation to another one for an incredibly low price of £ 10,000 in 2005. Does Mr Knowlson rely on this yearly £ 2000 income in Tunbridge Wells, just having received a planning consent in Jersey, West Pines, Le Parcq de L'Oeillere, St. Brelade to: "Demolish garage & conservatory. Extension to front, rear & first floor,balcony at first floor, new garage & swimming pool"?

Now what do YOU call greed?


Adam Knowlson's land opposite 8 York Road, RTW - between the gardens of 10 York Road and 9 York Road - occupied by TW-flats / TW-lettings

23 August 2006 — TW Flats / TW Lettings boss and 'young ladies' move in. Residents took pictures of the chaos created on the first day, - reversing onto pavement and into the oncoming traffic flow without relying on adequate vision splay.

Mr Justin Fletcher, TW-Flats'/ TW-Lettings' Manager, Monson Road took immediatly an aggressive tone and threatened in a hand delivered letter, that the 'young ladies' of TW-flats / TW-lettings, (reversing over the pavement without vision splay therefore endangering pedestrians and oncoming traffic) felt 'disturbed' and the police would be alarmed, would the pictures not be handed over to TW-flats / TW-lettings!
We answered that we wait for the police to hand over pictures of these 'young ladies' as evidence that they are causing a Highways saftey risk.

Is this the way TW Flats / TW Lettings usually introduce themselves?


land opposite 8 York Road and garden of 10 York Roadland opposite 8 York Road and garden of 10 York Road

On the next day, 24 August 2006 — A man assaults the neighbour's prominent fosythia hedge on order of Mr Justin Fletcher of TW-flats / TW-lettings, without having given Notice to the owners. Mr Fletcher, who worked once for Bradford & Bingley justifies this agression: "As for the trimming of the hedge, as this is overhanging the land we have agreed to rent we are again allowed to do this, in fact we only trimmed a little when in fact we were rightly able to trim it back to the boundary, but did not as we wanted to keep the area looking nice ."

During all the years the land of the Knowlson Family was maintained by the neighbours owning the gardens left and right. They removed weeds and picked up the litter spoiling the environment as Mr Knowlson does not live in our community.
He seems not to bother that a clean environment is important for everyone. A clean environment is a safer one. It is less likely to attract crime. It is less likely to attract pests such as rats. — Has this message not reached the shores of Jersey?


Adam Knowlson's land opposite 8 York Road, RTW - between the gardens of 10 York Road and 9 York Road - occupied by TW flats / TW lettings

24 August 2006 — We informed Paul Cole, Planning Investigations Officer, that TW-Flats / TW-Lettings occupy the land now as a commercial carpark and ask him if consent has been given for such a usage.
From notes taken during a subsequent telephone conversation it sounded like Mr Cole was seeking a planning application from the owner. A similar answer by Gary Stevenson, Head of Environmental Services, confirms this. However, we heard nothing further from Paul Cole. We wrote to the Leader of the Council who asked Gary Stevenson to give a combined answer from his collegues.


Correspondence with TWBC 08.09.0608.09.2006: The Head of Environmental Services answers to correspondence sent to the Leader of the Council and various officers, Councillors and other bodies who should be interested in issues of Tunbridge Wells Conservation Area.


WHAT WERE ANTONIA JAMES' REASONS TO ALTER THE WORDING OF THE APPLICATION?
The applicant filed for the address: "Parking land opposite 8 York Road"
and the application was for: "off road Parking for motor vehicles".
Adam Knowlson's application 06.09.06
Neighbours received a Notification for an Application for a Lawful Development Certificate dated 20 September, one day before the Head of Environmental Services informed:
Site: Car Park Between 9-11 York Road Royal Tunbridge Wells Kent
Proposal: Lawful Development Certificate (Existing) - Variation of Condition (SW/1/61/402 refers) for car parking for the premises of 85 Mount Pleasant Road
Reference Number: Please ask for: TW/06/02750/CEU Antonia James on 01892 526121 EXT 2067

Head of Environmental Services - update 21.09.0621.09.2006: Head of Environmental Services, Gary Stevenson's update
"From a planning point of view we had previously intervened and a retrospective planning application has been invited. If one is not received within the next 14 days, we will move to the next stage of considering whether, on the evidence available, any breach of planning is involved, and if so whether it is expedient to take enforcement action."
TWBC's Statement of Community Involvement (SCI) dictates that this application would have needed a Notice on the site.
Adam Knowlson's land opposite 8 York Road, RTW - between the gardens of 10 York Road and 9 York Road - occupied by TW-flats / TW-lettings

24.09.06 THNA's comments to application TW/06/02750/CEU and officer's response02.10.2006: Antonia James writes: in response to THNA's comments regarding the filed application
"The description for the location of the proposal has been changed on our system and now reads Car Park between 9 - 11 (opposite 8) York Road. I have also changed the description of the Lawful Development Certificate to read: 'Off road parking for motor vehicles ancillary to a commercial use'".
Antonia James did not bother to inform officially any of the third parties that she had again altered the original application.

changes to wording of the planning application notification TW/06/02750/CEUWhat is the reason to insist that this piece of tiny land (55' 0" by 15' 0") is a car park between 9-11 York Road, where it surely effects only the land opposite 8 York Road?
The plot is defined as 'Land opposite No. 8 York Road' in the planning application of 1961 (SW/1/61/402). Therefore the precedent was set on how to define the plot. Additionally as a reference in planning applications of 1984 (TW/84/1112 and TW/84/1113/LBC) plots opposite the terrace 6-14 York Road are clearly defined as ‘opposite 12 and 14 York Road’.
TWBC Antonia James' report25.10.2006: Antonia James writes in her report:
"A declaration received from Mrs Koder of Berry and Berry solicitors confirmed from personal observation of the site, being a prior resident in York Road and having knowledge of the site dating back to 1971 that '- throughout the period in which I have known this property it has been used for the parking of private motor vehicles -'. It appears that this declaration was not clearly thought out as there are grammatical errors and it relates to a 'property’ rather than an area of land. There is no property on this site. I therefore do not give significant weight to this declaration."
Zai Evans Koder, the solicitor representing the applicant (Alfern Investment/Adam Knowlson) confirms that
'from personal oberservation the property has been used for the parking of private motor cars'.
What is Antonia James' definition of 'a property'? - Why did Antonia James declare that the solicitors, who filled out the planning application made a statement 'which was not clearly thought out'? - Why did the officer not give weight to the declaration of the solicitor stating the same as six other residents and THNA:
the land has been used to park private (NOT commercial) cars off road.


WHAT IS THE IMPACT ON THE NEIGHBOURHOOD?
Why did the officer ignore that there was proof, confirmed by her collegue, Bill McCafferty (Head of Revenues) of www.voa.gov.uk - valuation office agencythe Valuation Office Agency that Adam Knowlson or his alleged commercial tenants had never paid business rates to the Council? - Had the officer checked with IR if the companies had ever declared the alledged revenue?
- Why did the officer invent a commercial use which was not requested in the application?

TW-flats / TW-lettings using parking bays in York Road, Tunbridge Wells

When the land becomes too muddy for the high heels,
the 'young ladies' happily take away a parking bay from residents in York Road!

TW Flats / TW Lettings using parking bays in York Road, Tunbridge Wells

. . . and so does the other staff (old white car with roof storage)
when the moving of cars becomes tiresome!

TW-flats / TW-lettings (Adam Pooley) stay overnight on the plot opposite 8 York Road, Tunbridge Wells

. . . Can the occupiers, estate agent TW flats / TW lettings, justify their stays, overnight and on Sundays,
as "ancillary to a commercial use"?


This unacceptable situation has been going on for ,
- since 24 August 2006
What are Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's reasons to let this happen?
How does this mess fit into Tunbridge Wells Borough Council's corporate priorities?
TWBC Key Priority ObjectivesTunbridge Wells Borough Council's Key Priority Objectives relevant to THNA's case: "Land opposite 8 York Road"


TW Flats / TW Lettings' 6 cars (only 5 announced to Valuation Office) on the land opposite 8 York Road

  • We received no further correspondence from Antonia James.
  • None of the residents (many not having Internet access), nor THNA were informed of the decision.
  • The report of the Head of Environmental Services, Gary Stevenson, was not finalised.

WHY DOES THE APPLICATION, THEN THE NOTIFICATION AND LASTLY THE CERTIFICATE DIFFER ?

APPLICATION:
Address: Parking land opposite 8 York Road
Application for: off road Parking for motor vehicles

NOTICE - Request for Comments:
Site: Car Park Between 9-11 York Road Royal Tunbridge Wells Kent
Proposal: Lawful Development Certificate (Existing) - Variation of Condition (SW/1/61/402 refers) for car parking for the premises of 85 Mount Pleasant Road
Reference Number: Please ask for: TW/06/02750/CEU Antonia James on 01892 526121 EXT 2067

NOTIFICATION of granting certificate of use:
Planning Application Number TW/06/02750/CEU/ARJ
Date Valid 14 September 2006
Proposal Lawful Development Certificate (Existing) - Off road parking for motor vehicles ancillary to a commercial use - (Land opposite No 8)

THE DESCRIPTION ON THE TWBC PLANNING PORTAL:
Address of proposal: Land Between 9 - 11 York Road, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent
Lawful Development Certificate (Existing) - Off road parking for motor vehicles ancillary to a commercial use - (Land opposite No 8)



TWBC officer's report 25.10.06 and THNA's analysisWe analysed the officer's report and added our comments
  • This Certificate has to be revoked as it is based on slobby research and a biased report.

  • The application itself had not been for a commercial car park.

  • No evidence was provided that during the last 10 years the land opposite No 8 York Road was used as a commercial car park; and especially no business rates had ever been paid.

  • During conveyancing processes prospective buyers of nearby dwellings were not made aware by TWBC of a commercial car park on the land opposite No 8 York Road.

  • The officer did not take into account many of the points raised by residents and THNA; and especially their statements 'the land has not been used commercially for the last 10 years'.

  • The case officer failed to communicate (?) with her collegues responsible for Conservation Area, Listed Buildings, Environment, Highway Safety, Parking, the Valuation Office.

  • The officer declares the use lawful under Section 191 TCPA 1990.
    - However, it is unlikely that the officer took into consideration document AGR/JB/JS - T5/4b:16118, 31st May 1965 by the Borough Surveyor (SW/1/61/402 refers).
  • The officer declares the use lawful under Section 191 TCPA 1990.
    - However, the officer omitted a relevant planning application of the site's history. In 1976 the Borough Council opposed to the use of the land opposite 8 York Road as car parking land (TW/76/0225 refers).
  • The Certificate contravenes Local Planning Policies and KMSP 2006.

  • Granting the 'Certifcate of lawful use' results in an unacceptable adverse effect on residential amenities, the Conservation Area and the setting of Listed Structures/Buildings.


COMPLAINTS TO THE HEAD OF PLANNING / TO THE CHIEF EXECUTIVE
15 January 2007 — 17.01.2007 - Letter to Jim Kehoe, Head of Planning Services, TWBCLetter to Jim Kehoe, Head of Planning Services, TWBC
with THNA's request for revocation of the Certificate of Lawful Use regarding the 'Land opposite 8 York Road'

— We hope Jim Kehoe's answer will not be guided by allegiance to his collegues but professional integrity will prevail.
20 February 2007 — 20.02.2007 - Unsatisfying answer of Jim Kehoe, Head of Planning Services, TWBCUnsatisfying answer of Jim Kehoe, Head of Planning Services, TWBC :
"The evidence submitted by both the applicant and a number of local residents in their comments indicated that the land had been used for commercial parking during the last ten years. On the 'balance of probabilities' the lawful development certificate was issued."

— Jim Kehoe's statement is contrary to THNA/residents letters submitted to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and at the same time his statement clashed even with the planning officer's report: 'Representations received - 6 private representations received. Local residents believe that this 'land opposite 8 York Road' was not used commercially during the last 10 years.'
31 March 2007 — Letter to Sheila Wheeler, Chief Executive, TWBCLetter to Sheila Wheeler, Chief Executive, TWBC

— We asked that the letter should not be seen as an ‘all shutters down’ approach. We believe that TWBC has the capacity to deal with the case in a positive manner as long as an easy and time saving ‘brush off’ attitude is not applied.
2 May 2007 — Answer of Sheila Wheeler, Chief Executive, TWBCUnsatisfying answer of Sheila Wheeler, Chief Executive, TWBC :
"I am satisfied that your comments and those of neighbouring residents were taken into consideration at the time, although I recognise that the final outcome is not what you would have desired. ... and I am satisfied that the Officers involved are extremely professional, competent and reliable members of staff. ..."

call@telephonehouse.org.uk - Comments May 2007 — We are not alone! - only 27.7% are satisfied with TWBC planning services, down from 33.5% three years ago; we belong to the majority (72.3%) of dissatified customers!
VANDALISM IN YORK ROAD
by TW Flats / TW Lettings, estate agents, Monson Road, Tunbridge Wells,
tenant's of Adam Knowlson's Jersey company Alfern Investments


13 June 2007 — Even if the new "Neighbours from Hell" might have the impression that the local community has not received the due support from the officials, they have no right to vandalise a hedge and trees (being clearly in the ownership of the adjacent property) within the Conservation Area of Tunbridge Wells.

Vandalims in York Road: by TW-flats / TW-lettings, Tunbridge Wells

Justin Fletcher of TW Flats / TW Lettings in 2006: ". . . we wanted to keep the area looking nice . . ."
— obviously now he gave instructions to bring down the residential environment of York Road.
What is the expected outcome of his flagrant provocation?


We have endeavoured to be fair on the facts as they became available. If one of the parties mentioned in this article feels that we have got facts wrong or they have been misrepresented, we will undertake publicly to ensure that requested corrections (if indeed accurately stated) are added as quickly as possible.

There is absolutely no intention to misrepresent anyone at any time. - However, the lack of local awareness of this planning consent, the fact that we only found out about this decision on TWBC's website a few weeks ago, the highly specific grounds to grant a Certificate, that objections were dismissed and the distress caused to neighbouring residents (especially the closest to the site) have obliged us to take soundings and raise awareness. It would have helped if clear and consistent communication had been established between the parties involved.

There is a profound difference of opinion and interest between the residents, the applicant / his tenants and Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Be in no doubt - our intent remains to stop this blight and to do this in the public interest, as we see it.





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