Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, Leader of Kent County Council, comments on the Telephone House Development

[ 1 - 4 May 2001 was the Telephone House Public Inquiry at the Town Hall in Tunbridge Wells ]
[ on 9 July 2001 the Planning Inspectorate allowed the appeal and granted planning permission for the high density development ]

Thank you for your letter of 18 May regarding the Telephone House Development, at Royal Tunbridge Wells.

You enquired as to the results of discussions that I had undertaken with my County Land Use and Transport Planning Officer. His comments were that of " In my opinion, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are right to say that the scale of the development proposed here would impact adversely on the Conversation Area and nearby listed buildings ".

Yours sincerely
Sandy Bruce-Lockhart

March 2002 - Kent Profile:
The Kent Property Report

With the government having embarked on a vast building programme to accommodate four million extra households across the UK by 2025, phrases like 'urban sprawl' and 'destruction of the countryside' have been increasingly on the lips of environmentalists as they seek ways of protecting our green and pleasant land.

According to deputy prime minister John Prescott, between 850,000 and one million of those new homes must be built in the South East to cope with the area's growing population. If you who have driven around Kent during the past couple of years will have no difficulty believing the above; indeed, you probably think that the majority of the new homes are going up in Kent.

Development is everywhere, most notably around Ashford, in Medway and at Kings Hill, the impressive mix of housing and prestige commercial buildings on the 650-acre former West Mailing airfield, which is one of the biggest projects of its type in Europe. Have no fear. The good news is that for the first time in most living memories, developers are coming up with exciting, interesting, high-quality homes and not churning out drab estates full of semi-detached indifference. Most of the UK's leading developers are building somewhere in Kent, creating water-side homes, beautiful squares, impressively-converted former commercial properties and hospitals and smart new self-contained 'villages'.

There is more than a nod too, in the direction of the anti-sprawlists, in the form of the government's policy guidance note 3, which advises local authority planners to ensure housebuilder make better use of land by building homes at a higher density. The average number of houses per hectare for new build is 22, but Mr Prescott and his advisors believe that 35 is a better figure; he has even said that by mixing detached, semi-detached and terraced houses, the figure could be nearer 50.

[ The Telephone House Neighbours Association Tunbridge Wells:
This is a far cry from the 140 units per hectare in the planning permission for Telephone House site in the Town Centre and Conservation Area of Tunbridge Wells. ]

These guidelines are certainly being followed in Kent. At Kings Hill, Lacuna and Countryside Properties have both introduced two and three-storey townhouses while at Chatham Maritime, which features - amongst much more - Countryside's 'Fishing Village' development of two and three-storey timber-framed homes is a fine and very popular example.

Kent County Council, meanwhile, is preparing its own development plan to protect the county's environment and steer development and investment in Kent and Medway over the next 20 years. The first draft of the plan's principles have been approved by KCC's cabinet for public consultation this spring, when KCC and Medway Council will be asking people's views before the draft - Structure Plan for Kent and Medway - is published late this year.

One of the main areas for debate will involve housing figures. The discussion document puts forward three options for consultation, varying from restraining provision at 4,300 homes a year to an upper limit of 5,700 - which is thegovernment's figure. There is also a 'middle ground' of 5,000 homes per year.

The number of houses in Kent and Medway will affect the county's economy, transport and environment and a whole range of other subjects are also covered in the draft.

KCC's deputy leader and cabinet member for Strategic Planning, Sarah Hohler, said: "The structure plan is important because it lays down policy guidelines for many county council services which affect people's daily lives and it is vital we update the plan to take into account the rapidly changing circumstances in Kent."

Leader of Medway Council, Cllr. Rodney Chambers, said: "What is really important for Medway is the need to carefully monitor the number of homes planned. We are unable to accommodate wholesale housing development; our greatest needs are for initiatives to encourage job creation so that those people who live in Medway, but work elsewhere, have an opportunity to work locally."

[Government Planning Policy Guidance PPG3: 30-50 units per hectare = 12-20 units per acre -
Planning permission for Telephone House site: 140 units per hectare = 60 units per acre]

density DENSITY - cramming ? lifestyle ?
The high density development of Telephone House, Tunbridge Wells

contents The Telephone House Neighbours Association informs on CALA Homes (South) Development:
CALA Group acquired the controversial planning permission for the high density development of Telephone House site, Church Road / York Road, Tunbridge Wells, TN1, Kent.