Stop the funding for TWBC Civic centre/ theatre in grade 2 listed Calverley Grounds Park

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The proposed new civic centre / theatre / underground car park will encroach on the park. Over 70 trees planted to commerate war heroes who died in World War l will be cut down. Tree surgeons have stated these trees have over 70 more years life in them. Lord Dowding’s Memorial would have to be resited.This is a grade ll listed park in a conservation area which Queen Victoria walked through. It should be preserved for all generations to enjoy. This proposed development has over 64 compulsory purchase orders all to do with access to the proposed development as the infrastructure to support the new development is not there. Consequently in order to access it  Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are proposing to compulsory purchase car parks and delivery areas of established buisnesses that have been in the town for years. A private dental business will have to be demolished and the said businesses have stated such as Hoopers, Sainsburys, BBC that the this access rights will ruin their business forcing closure and job losses. They have also stated they will fight the Compulsory Purchase Orders.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council did a survey of the people in 2015 which asked if the public were willing to pay £10 a year more in council tax for a new theatre 55% of the public said no and only 32% said yes. Considering the uncertainty of the times reference Brexit and what’s recently happened in Northamptonshire for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to borrow the grand sum of £77 million for a new civic centre and theatre when the people that they represent are so clearly against it is extremely worrying including friends of Calverley Grounds. And not only that the said new theatre is already by design not fit for purpose as the accoustics won’t allow for symphony orchestras to play there something currently enjoyed on many nights by Tunbridge Wells Symphony Orchestra and the seats are fixed not allowing for a variety of uses of stage shows or other exhibitions or events. Thereby illustrating its an out of date venue before its even out of the ground 

However there is an alternative plan that most people prefer and support and would give Tunbridge Wells Borough Council the same effect as the current proposed development.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council are with the help of a grant from the arts council referburbishing part of the current civic centre as a learning and culture hub. There are detailed plans and ideas drawn up and undertaken in s six years project by Dr Philip Whitbourne

lf these plans were followed Tunbridge Wells Borough Council could complusory purchase the police station as they are moving out to Tonbridge and therefore could completely redesign the current theatre and civic centre that they have at a much lower cost of £31 million. It would not destroy a grade ll listed park. They would not have to Compulsory purchase 64 places for access as the infrastructure is already in place and therefore would not have to pay out compensation and would not ruin any business or destroy jobs. 70 trees that were planted to commerate war heroes lost in the World War l. Lord Dowding’s War Memorial wouldn’t have to be resited. A dental business wouldn’t have to be demolished. Tunbridge Wells Borough Council could still improve access to the park in conjunction with Friends of Calverley Grounds. If the current civic centre is completely refurbished as no one cannot understand why Tunbridge Wells Borough Council can completely refurbish one part of the building to bring it up to modern day standards but not the rest when they are all the same age?

A completely refurbished and redesigned new theatre/ civic centre on the current site would not only be a better decision in these times of uncertainty but would enhance the town as it would be opposite the Trinity Arts centre and would create a cultural  square bringing footfall from the station to the top of the hill where presently shops are closing daily. The park could still enjoy the ice rink, the Melia, and local and live music festival whilst the Pantiles brings footfall to the bottom of the town. 

This is the sound and correct decision and we in Tunbridge Wells ask the Secretary of State for Housing, local communities and local government to intervene and not grant Tunbridge Wells Borough Council the £77 million loan for this development. We ask on behalf of the businesses they are about to put out of business, those who will lose their jobs and for all the people in the town who will have services cut and have to pay more council tax.  The people of Tunbridge Wells do not want to be another Northampton. We also don’t want Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to do what Preston did just before the banking crisis. However Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will not listen to the the people or public they are supposed to represent. This new civic centre / theatre is a concrete monstrosity. It looks akin to Royal Festival Hall plonked in a grade ll listed park. Building on grade ll listed park sets a precedent. If Tunbridge Wells Borough Council start building on it now what is to stop them building any more of it in the future?

The only way to stop this proposed development now is to ask for the funding to be turned down.

So please do not agree to give Tunbridge Wells Borough Council £77 million loan to build this proposed new civic centre and theatre and help us save our grade ll listed park and don’t let us become another Northampton!


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