Southborough Bell site (Hub) *** DRAFT ***
Tunbridge Wells is located in the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANoB – as a National Park). The Green surround has been protected by the County Structure and Borough Local plans for many decades. The protection has been compromised but this is an exception Such as Knights Park, cinema, bolplex planning appeal was won at Public Inquiry. The entrances to Tunbridge Wells are actively protected by Tunbridge Wells Borough planning such as their object to the 6 lane section of A21 at Castle Hill. That objection, which was partly on extra traffic in to Tunbridge Wells and also to prevent visitors seeing the unsightly 1980′s planning at Longfield Road. (A21 Dualling Bypass Public inquiry 1993).
Southborough is recognised, in planning terms, as one of the entrances to Tunbridge Wells.
The northern end of Southborough is very smart with the common and 200 year old cricket pitch south to the S-bend in the road is a conservation area. The councils objected to Brookfield Court development the final won at appeal is very much smarter and in keeping with the area than the original plans.
The south eastern side of the main road. But for the Listed Bat and Ball Public House (18c building which may have 16c or older Cellars) the building on the east side of the road are mostly set back to form a substantial forecourt the Tesco Express is not in keeping in with the style or setting. Fire Station, Library and Coppers Court, Then the Yew Tree Road junction Gallards Alms houses, The Bank which is recognised building of architectural significance. It is a wish for The Council and the Royal Victoria Hall to be improved externally and the council to conform to disability access legislation these but the Tesco Express stands out as out of style. Hyth Close and the bus lay-by fits in reasonably well.
The West side of the main road features diverse range of shops of differing styles but all with a small forecourt of pavement. One independent, I think, mini-market closed soon after Tescos opened. Some of these shops are specialist including a traditional hardware store.
Store Size (M^2)
329 Present Tesco Express
687 Sainsbury (55 extra jobs)
1,000 T/W Tesco Metro
1,400 Southborough Co-op considered (Planning minimum Co-Op may have preferred 1,000 in 2/2003)
2,000 Proposed Tesco store for Southborough (Planning maximum) equal to the present Pembury store.
6,000 Brighton Co-op Superstore on the Ridgewaye field 1992??? – Would have been one of their largest superstores similar to their Worthing supper store.
Consultations and planning applications
1997? Fire at unoccupied Bell Pub owned by Sheppard Neame.
199?? Brookfield Court (next to the Weavers at the edge of the conservation area) McCathy Stone – won a planning application on appeal. This was their third plan in 10 years and it addressed the objection of bring traffic out to the A26 and on a bend, Also the large monolithic style of the earlier plans was addressed and the building’s height was mitigated to avoid being overbearing to the Weavers listed building.
199? Shell Petrol Station closes and is decontaminated.
199? Shell Put forward a planning application for two blocks of flats on the Petrol Station site. Approved with STC suggesting amendments on vehicular access particularly the bin lorry and the location of the Wheely bins.
1999/2000 Planning application to put a shop front on the Bell pub site.
1998/9 Aquilla Properties and STC play proposal and consultation – publicly positively received. The feature of this plan was the restoration of the Victoria Hall front to as it was originally. The developer is Bayham Properties (speculating article Courier 22/01/99).
1999? TWBC Consultation on the Town centre held at the front of the Victoria Hall. Well supported as I recall.
1997? Fire and demolition of the Bell Pub Sheppard Neame on safety grounds – enforcement.
2002 Tesco Express at the former Shell Petrol Station
8/2002 Sainsbury’s submit a competing plan for the Bell site. The building could be extended at a latter time if Council land if made available at a future time. Sainsbury unsuccessful Planning Application (split vote 3/4 at Southborough Town Council). Planning application TW/02/01602/FUL/RCC of August 2002
3/2002 Tescos Express is won planning appeal.
2003? Co-op acquire Bell site land and make a substantial offer to purchase further land from the councils.
xxxx The councils persuade Co-op to enclose their land.
200?? Bat & Ball – Planning application for a Chinese restaurant was successful at Tunbridge Wells (which I supported) but STC opposed.
4/2003 CO-OP/Ash-Sakula proposal consultation – This had the open precinct and a building with an internal court-yard formed of the inside of the current council building. 350 comments at the exhibition. These architects are primarily theatre design specialists
2003 SEH Labour party plan – went down well in public consultation. The award-winning London architect SEH did the drawings speculatively. the feature of this plan was a modern light front on the Victoria Hall/Council/library and an open light style pedestrian square.
11/2005 STC Advised of Air Quality Management Order, Environment Act 1996 Section 83(1) A26 Air quality triggers measures because it could be at WHO limits. In planning buildings should take air in from away from the road. A monitoring unit fitted on St Johns Road in a wide open position (Air quality has been monitored since the early 1990′s as far as I know)
03/02/2006 Poor Access stops town involvement, Courier Page 3 – Narrow staircase to Southborough Town Council office hinders attendance for disabled people like. Cllr Cicilla Bannister who is disabled is pictured in the article.
December 2015 two month consultation carried out by Kent County Council on The Southborough Hub - This was a better quality consultation than others in recent years offer options that people could go with. The outcome was published in February 2016. New build was the most popular option - although The Labour Group on Southborough Town Council have a strongly negative agenda towards the town council and other political groups but Kent County are positive so what they aspire to do is worth supporting anyway but the proposals are also good.
A26 25,000 Vehicles per day (anecdotally said to be unchanged since 1970′s). Widened at Yew Tree Road junction to help vehicles filter left towards Industrial Estate in March-April 2010.
A26 Said this type of road has a capacity of 18,000 VPD by a KCC Highways Officer at Southborough Town’s Annual meeting in April 2011.
Consequently although the A26 is at capacity more traffic attracted is off-set by other traffic deterred, do something else instead. At the A21 public inquiry in 1993 the Department of Transport said, in answer to my question, that if their favourite road scheme were not to be occur, it has not occurred, the traffic on the A26 would increase to 40,000 VPD in 2011 – this has not occurred evidently the road is limit at over capacity.
The planned access to car parking, which would be on the Ridgewaye field, is via Yew Tree Road/High Brooms Road/High Field Road. This may have more capacity but in any case there is need for pedestrian crossing points all along this road should be part of a transport assessment.
Public Transport link is required between the two parts of Southborough such as the 284 bus route extended to week days as well as Saturday.
Schemes to increase capacity include clearing all the parked cars on the A26 into T/W. Roundabout, which are fast, at Yew Tree Road junction. Alternatively build a by-pass across Southborough Common.
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