Demolition of Garages across the Borough of Tunbridge Wells.
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If you have garages similar to these that are under the control of the TOWN & COUNTRY HOUSING GROUP on your housing estate, if it hasn’t reached you yet, there is a planning application coming your way soon!
The Town & Country Housing Group, as a registered non-for-profit making charity, having decided that as their garages ‘are not performing efficiently for the business’ they intend to demolish them and build dwellings in their place.
NOT TO INCREASE THEIR STOCK OF SOCIAL HOUSING BUT BY SELLING THEM OFF ACQUIRE SOME SHORT TERM CAPITAL!!!
To what purpose this to be used we are not told.
During the 1960’s and ‘70’s, when the UK car population was 10 million, Tunbridge Wells Borough Council in conjunction with the Parishes had the foresight to make provisions for the residents to park their cars off street as they built the Council housing estates.
Having started by the ‘right to buy’ in1985, in 1992 the Thatcher government then forced the councils to hand over their housing stocks to Housing Associations.
These Associations were strictly controlled by The Housing Corporation.
They were custodians and initially managed the housing and associated amenities such as garages along with local Tenants’ Associations.
In 1993 the original Tunbridge Wells & District Association became The High Weald Housing Association and remained in the same offices in Monson Road, staffed and run by the EX-TWBC Housing Department team.
Throughout the ‘70’s and ‘80’s all 20 garages in Southfields Way housed the local resident’s cars.
In 2000 the remaining houses, amenities plus the land as passed to the present corporation, Town & Country Hosing Group.
The regulating body The Housing Corporation was replaced by the government run Homes & Communities Agency sometime around 2010. This reduced the regulations governing the housing associations
At the beginning of 2016 through February, March and April Monson Homes (The property and development arm of Town & Country) submitted planning applications To TWBC to demolish the garages and build dwellings for sale at the following sites:
Frythe Walk Cranbrook. (16/502246) Permission Granted.
Sandhurst Ave Pembury. (16/502249) Permission Granted.
Park cottages Hawkhurst. (16/502248) Permission Granted.
Oak field Rd Matfield. (16/503391) Permission Granted.
Goldings Paddock Wood. (16/503393). Awaiting decision.
Powder Mill Lane Southborough. (16/502250) Permission Granted.
North Farm Rd Tun., Wells. (16/503390). Awaiting decision.
Bright Ridge Southborough. (17/00371) Permission Granted.
Bright Ridge Southborough (17/00372) Permission Granted.
Bright Ridge Southborough (17/00373) Permission Granted.
In July 2016 the TWBC set up its own ‘Planning team’ which now allows them to exercise full control over planning applications.
In March of this year (2017) Monson Homes submitted another application: Southfields Way, Southborough(17/01080) to demolish 20 garages. (Awaiting decision)
The car population now stands at 36 Million!
On the 6th April 2017 a new ‘Housing and Planning act 2017’ came into force which appears to allow housing Associations to dispose of garages without referring to the regulator but it is unclear as to whether it refers to garages related to a dwelling or blocks of garages for community use.
However planning permission is still required.
For this there are two key aspects which to date TWBC planning department have ignored.
The change of use of the land.
The resulting effect on the local Highways in respect of residents’ parking, congestion and safety.
The highways factor has been raised by Kent County Council Highways in respect of most of these applications but it avoids submitting an official objection by referring to some undefined arrangement protocol; yet it then lists all of the reasons why it should do so. They do suggest that this is really a matter for TWBC’s own traffic department.
TWBC Parking services comment by saying they do not wish to lodge an objection but they then also list all the reasons why they should.
Every objection lodged by the residents on the grounds of lack of parking places, obstruction and safety is ignored. Even access for fire engines and ambulances are brushed aside.
Town & Country Housing Group’s Mission Statement reads:
“Its objective is to make life better for people in the neighbourhoods the group serves”.
Under the general heading, HOW THE COUNCIL WORKS sub heading Council Structure the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council states:
“The overriding duty of councillors is to the whole community, but they have a special duty to their constituents, including those who did not vote for them”.
Councillors have to agree to follow a code of conduct to ensure high standards in the way that they undertake their duties.
This is formalised in the ‘Council Constitution’ Part 5 that is based upon the Localism Act 2011. Section 5.11:
PROTOCOL FOR MEMBERS TAKING PART IN THE PLANNING PROCESS.
Paragraph 1.3 The purpose of planning is to control the use and development of land in the public interest. The aim of this protocol is to ensure that there are no grounds for suggesting that any planning decisions have been biased, partially or not well founded.
Paragraph 2.2 Both members and officers are governed by Codes of Conduct.
Paragraph 2.4 It is important to understand whom they represent and whose views they should consider. Whilst members have a duty to their ward constituents, including those who did not vote for them, their overriding duty is to the whole community. They must not favour any individuals or groups. It follows therefore that when they come to vote, they must do so in the interests of the Borough as a whole rather than just those of their own ward.
The Audit and Governance Committee is responsible for training members and advises on the code of conduct.”
“The Council also appoints the members of the various committees including the Audit and Governance Committee and Planning Committee and the Cabinet Advisory Boards”.
In the face of all of this the juggernaut ploughs relentlessly on wards, driven by Town & Country and navigated by our elected representatives and their servants the planning officers.
Repeatedly, the planning officers’ recommendation emphasises those factors that supports the applicant and virtually disregard all objections lodged by either the residents or official agencies.
The negative effects upon the residents; where to park the displaced cars; the impact on the local roads and pavements; the added congestion and the hazards which will inevitably threaten the safety of drivers and pedestrians is of little consequence. That which will be irrevocably lost is ignored and the Committee Members concern themselves with the applicant’s proposal; Nice drawings of dwellings depicted in a benign environment and of course being an addition to the houses, irrespective of the unsuitability of the site, puts aside any duty to the electorate and permission is granted.
Don’t take my word, check it out for yourself.
Search Planning Applications
Planning Application Search
Enter reference number for that site (the references are those in the brackets against the sites listed above e.g. 17/01080
Use the TABS
‘Documents’ lists all the key documents and comments (objections) from various agencies and residents.
You can read any document by clicking the icon in the ‘View’ column on the right.
By searching Southfields Way (17/01080) you can follow the current application.
If you wish you can read my comment/objection;
Neighbour Comment: S. Smith.
You can join in if you want to; send your email to Planning Support; email@example.com
Include your name and address and your email address.
Comments/ objections can be submitted any time before a decision is made.
For a deeper insight have a good browse around Town & Country Housing web site.
For an even deeper insight go to Companies House web site and check out all the players: All tabs and follow all links:
Monson Homes ltd. (Company No. 05880788).
Supporting Document-Transport Statement; Powder Mill lane, North Farm Road RMB Consultants (civil Engineering) ltd. (07456100)
Supporting Document –Parking Assessment; Bright Ridge, Southfields Way Consultants Paul Mew associates (Traffic Consultants) (07349139)
THIS IS WHERE YOU CAN DO SOMETHING TO STOP THE LOSS OF THE COMMUNITIES AMENITIES FOR THE FUTURE!!
PLEASE CLICK ON read the letter TO READ THE PETITION BEING PRESENTED.
Whether you use these garages, park in the vicinity, live in the area OR are concerned that your democratic rights should be properly represented by those whom you elect YOU can ‘take back control’ by signing this petition and then spreading the word either by mouth or better still on twitter and face book.
REMEMBER IT COULD BE YOUR GARAGES NEXT.
This petition will be delivered to: The Chief Executive and Director of Planning and Development William Benson and Jonathan MacDonald and Chairman of the Audit and Governance Committee Councillor Len Horwood Tunbridge Wells Borough Council
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