Apartment block development prompts safeguarding concerns

New Development at Hamilton Court

PLANS for an extra floor to be added to a block of flats in Tunbridge Wells have been approved despite local concerns around parking and safety at a nearby nursery.

The plans for an additional 11 apartments to be built on a new fourth floor at Hamilton Court on Chilston Road were approved by the Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) Planning Committee on July 19.

However, the development has been met with resistance from local residents and businesses, notably from the nearby preschool and nursery over safety and parking concerns.

St George’s Nursery, Pre-school & Out of School Club, which is located next to Hamilton Court, “strongly” objected to the proposals, outlining its fears that the extra floor would create safeguarding issues as it would overlook the playground.

In a letter to the Planning Committee, St George’s Business Manager Morgane Glew said: “We feel that any increase of Hamilton Court’s height would mean the building would rise above the [trees] located in one corner of our playground and result in a loss of privacy and natural light, especially given that St George’s Nursery’s playground is directly adjacent to Hamilton Court’s building.

“Our biggest concern is the safeguarding of the children we care for, and more windows directly facing our playground and classrooms would simply be unacceptable.

“Since Hamilton Court is located to the south of our setting, our playground would be overshadowed and overlooked if the height of [the building] was to increase any further.”

However, the TWBC Planning Officer said: “There is nothing to restrict occupants of the consented scheme from using a bedroom as a study or occupying the bedroom during the daytime.

“The impact on the residential amenities of St George’s Childcare/Nursery would not be materially different than that already approved.”

The nursery also highlighted the potential impact on parking along Chilston Road after it was agreed that “no new car parking will be provided on the site” despite the apartments being able to house up to an additional 32 people.

Ms Glew points out: “It is often that local residents struggle to find a parking space.

“It is also often nearly impossible to drive through, and because the cars are always parked partially on the pavement, it makes it dangerous for young families with pushchairs, as they are forced to go on the road because they cannot squeeze through on the pavement.”

The nursery’s concerns were echoed by other residents, including the Chilston House Residents’ Association, who noted that Chilston Road and nearby Queen’s Road were “already unsafe” and any increase in traffic would “make this situation even worse”.

TWBC parking services also expressed concerns for the site and did not support the approval of the latest proposals.

According to developers Castlemere, the site “will not cause harm to the character and appearance of the street scene”.

They explained that “the building will be rendered in a light colour to ‘minimise its visual impact and break up the expanse of brickwork”.

The apartments are expected to consist of six one-bedroom flats and five two-bedroom flats, six of which will have southwardfacing glazed balconies. Eight of the flats will be accessible via a lift, while the others will be accessed by a stairwell.

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