Now that the new plans for our town have been out for a few days I hope you’ve all made your views known.
Concept sketch of Mount Pleasant and Civic Way. Copyright James Galpin.
No idea what I’m talking about? Then read on.
A few days ago Tunbridge Wells Borough Council published a 28-page document declaring its vision for Tunbridge Wells over the next five years. It makes for some rather promising reading and I felt a fair amount of confidence oozing off of the pages.
The document, overseen by Councillor David Jukes, is full of determined phrases such as "by 2019 we will have...", and "we will...". Councilor Jukes even went as far to say "if this document lays on a shelf gathering dust then sack me". Either he’s not planning to be around in 2019 or he’s pretty darned sure about the contents of his plan.
There might well be 28 pages of it to read but it’s pretty bite-sized so it won't take you long to get through, perhaps you'll even have some time spare to leave a comment or two on it too. We’ve gone over most of the big ticket items that appear in the document before so instead let’s pull out a couple of the more interesting new points that caught my eye:
I think the most exciting of these could be the redevelopment of Union House, the blight that dominates the view at the end of The Pantiles.
Adjacent to the Pantiles, Union House (together with adjoining land) has been identified as an ‘area of change’ and provides a significant opportunity to improve the area and the entrance to Royal Tunbridge Wells town centre. Union House currently provides outdated office accommodation and the landowner is keen to develop this site.
Next steps: The Council will work with Union House and landowners of the remaining parts of this site to enhance this important area and provide a mixed use development at the end of the Pantiles.
Sounds good eh? Let's whet your appetite some more:
"...retaining and enhancing the setting of the listed war memorial which will be located in the heart of the new space and giving it a more appropriate setting for ceremonies. Steps and informal seating could also be included around the statue linking the different levels of Civic Way to Mount Pleasant Road."
Couldn't come quick enough. Let's have another:
"The Council is committed to improving the [Assembly Hall] customer experience and updating the theatre to modern standards, which includes improvements to the seating, ventilation and catering facilities."
Wonderful! We want more:
"create a key public square and extend the development of a shared space from Fiveways to the cultural and learning hub and site of the Civic complex as well as introducing a water feature to the upper part of town."
Alright, enough, I'm getting giddy now.
There are loads more promises just like these inside the document. Of course the Ritz Cinema site gets a token mention too, and as of today (17th February) the Council has officially served a Section 215 on the owners which "effectively initiates the process of requiring the demolition of the site".
You’ve got until Friday the 28th of March to put your feelings across on the Council's consultation page and you can always leave them here too.
I just hope that I'm wrong about the sentence at the end of the foreword: "This is an organic document...". Hmmmmm, read into that what you will.
So, tell me, does this give you some hope, does it fill you with feelings of expectant joy?