22.05.2001 - Statement to all 48 Councillors of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council

Prior to voting the Local Plan Review into the status of material consideration, the Telephone House Neighbours Association informed all 48 Councillors of the consequences to accept Policy H6(a) / Telephone House and requested to dismiss it.

Addressed individually to all 48 Councillors
Town Hall, Royal Tunbridge Wells, TN1 1RS

Dear Councillor

We have become aware through the local newspaper The Courier that the Draft Local Plan should be "rubberstamped" by all members of the Council on this Wednesday’s meeting.

We understand that the draft will then be officially released for public consultation. We have inspected the draft and found that it contains a Policy for the Telephone House site, Church Road, - H6 (a) - (Page 122/123)

We urge you to dismiss this specific policy on the following grounds:

  1. In the TWBC Local Plan Review - Housing Development - page 113 (6.57), we read:

    "Given the large number of small, unidentified sites likely to come forward for development during the Plan period, the Local Planning Authority sought to identify only sites of 0.4 hectares or greater as housing allocations . . . "
    Therefore a Policy for the Telephone House site should not have been proposed as the site is known to be 0.307 hectares.
    [Policy H6 (a) / quotes wrongly 0.32 hectares!]

  2. A decision is pending by the Secretary of State with regard to the appeal Crest Nicholson / BT versus TWBC against the refusal of planning consent for application No. 00/01474 (redevelopment of Telephone House site)
    - page 2/5 - 22.05.2001

  3. Throughout 4 days of Public Inquiry (1 May - 4 May 2001) Council officers sitting as witnesses were depicted by the appellant as contradictory and controversial.
    During the Public Inquiry it became too clear that layout, design, proposed density and allocation of affordable housing for the application (refused unanimously by Members on 18 Oct 2000) were the ideas of a few officers - NOT of the developers!
    Residents, the representative Councillors of Culverden Ward and MP Archie Norman opposing the scheme were therefore accepted as a third party at the Public Inquiry.
    785 TW citizens found the scheme unacceptable (writing to the Telephone House Neighbours Association to support their objections)

    The Policy H6 (a) in its present form is virtually identical to the scheme in the Crest Homes planning application which was refused by the Western Area Planning Committee.

    If this policy is not taken out of the review it will be difficult to justify the considerable expense of the costs of the recent Public Inquiry.

    The Policy as drafted, completely ignores the known views of the Elected Councillors and all objections raised by a substantial number of residents and council tax payers.

Should Policy H6 (a) / Telephone House site nevertheless be integrated into the Local Plan - the following concerns should be taken into consideration:


    is not 0.32 hectare - but 0.307 hectare


    The recommended density levels are an exaggerated interpretation of governmental guidelines. They are not followed through in an even way - in other Local Plan policies with more land available e. g. H6 (b) and H6 (d) and H6 (e) and H6 (f)

    The proposed density is criticised by English Heritage (letter 18 Oct 2000 to TWBC) and the Civic Society (letter 3 Oct 2000 to TWBC) - both statements were evidence in the Public Inquiry.

    - page 3/5 - 22.05.2001

    Consider as well:
    - page 10 (2.45): "The density of development should be maximised on such sites without compromising environmental quality."
    - page 27 (4.10): "The extent to which the intensity of the proposed development would impact on the character or amenities of the area and the amenity of nearby occupiers will be taken into consideration."
    - page 114 (6.62): "the density of surrounding developments is often higher enabling the most efficient use of land." Residents of York Road always argued that due to the many conversions in the 1980s and the many bedsits in Dudley Road, the area is already over-populated.


    1. The proposed "frontage development, to follow existing building lines" will result in

      1. Loss of Light, Privacy and Overlooking During the Public Inquiry the THNA successfully demonstrated that the architects did not realise that the distance between principal rooms of the new development and the existing houses on the North side of York Road is only 12 metres!
        Contrary to:
        - page 27 (EN1 (2))
        - page 28 (4.11): "In judging privacy the overlooking of principal rooms or private garden areas will be a particularly important consideration."

      2. Loss of established road-side Trees
        The trees on the South side of York Road should be retained as an integral part of the design.
        During meetings with residents it was confirmed by Mr Nigel Eveleigh, Building and Planning Control Services Manager, and Mr David Prentice, Development Control Manager, that both would accept the recessing of any future development on York Road so as to keep the trees!
        This position was as well confirmed by the Mr Peter Ashby, TWBC Conservation Architect, in his Proof of Evidence to the Public Inquiry.

        Consider as well:
        - page 26 (Aims 8)
        - page 28 (EN1 (4))
        - page 29 (4.23)
        - page 44 (4.91)
        - page 57 (4.157)
        - page 119 (6.91)
        - page 4/5 - 22.05.2001

    2. The proposed "On York Road, the building line should create a sense of enclosure, ... will result in a "TUNNEL-effect

    3. During the Public Inquiry the THNA could prove that cars entering from London Road will draw their headlights straight into ground-floor fenestration if dwellings are not recessed.

    4. Building lines, roofscapes, spatial characteristics were major evidence by The Telephone House Neigbhours Association at the Public Inquiry. All statements are available on the Internet site


    It is understood that the development land is, due to its prime location, of high financial value. A relaxation on affordable housing according to page 109 (6.38) would therefore be appropriate in view to allow for better design and layout in this part of the conservation area. There are likely more suitable places at lower initial costs to integrate affordable housing than on this site.


    Recreational open spaces should be provided on-site - NOT relaxed in form of a commuted sum, which is likely to be only £ 14.700 - minute in relation to an over £ 10 million project.
    Less density could give scope for proper amenities - thus keeping such an important development sustainable for the future.


    The proposed "vehicular access from York Road is preferred." will result in

    1. forcing all traffic into the often congested town centre on exit and
    2. relying entirely on the extreme busy A26 as turning/crossing point for access. Demolition and Construction traffic should be entirely excluded from York Road - otherwise this traffic will unavoidably damage listed buildings in this narrow road.

As a conclusion we wish to express our regret to see that so many hours of residents who genuinely have tried to be articulate, rational and objective, seem to be wasted.

This Draft LOCAL PLAN with regard to Policy H6 (a), the Telephone House, proves that

  1. the residents’ statements have never been read
  2. completely ignored
  3. severe mal-administration is taking place at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

Peter Morse
The Telephone House Neighbours Association

Members of the Committee: Peter Morse, Chairman - Heather Jones, Vice Chairman - Annemarie Topliss, Secretary - Barbara Clarke - Albert Ellis - Daniel Bech - Paul Huxley - Kevin Wilkinson - Emma Cox - William Bennett - Peter Scott

cc: Nick Raynsford, the Planning Minister
cc: Archie Norman, MP for Tunbridge Wells

Bizarrely, Policy H6(a) allocated for Telephone House was identical to the two refused planning applications for the Telephone House development.
[1st: refused at delegated officers' level - 2nd: refused by the Councillors of the Western Area Planning Committee].
Policy H6(a) is the most controversial document, produced by the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, leading to the Telephone House Debacle.

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.