High Brooms development blocked by Town Council

PLANS to develop the derelict High Brooms Working Men’s Club have been opposed by Southborough Town Council.

In a comment on the planning application, Tracy Kelly, the Town Clerk for Southborough Town Council said: “The Council has decided to REFUSE this application, citing overdevelopment.”

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) said that the comment is just a recommendation and that the application is still ongoing, pending a decision by the planning committee.

Documents submitted to TWBC detail plans to partially demolish and refurbish the club, while adding an extra storey and creating seven, one- and two-bedroom flats and two, three-bedroom apartments.

The now boarded-up club has been part of the High Brooms community for decades but was closed due to the need for renovation and high running costs.

In 2018 an application was made for the partial demolition and refurbishment of the club with nine flats, which was approved by TWBC.

According to the new plans by ECE Architecture for Naam Investments of Middlesex, the flats will spread across three floors with the renovated club being ‘retained and improved’ with a new bar, kitchen, toilets, and an outside terrace across the ground floor.

The original club space will be downsized from 446m2 to 163m2 to create two more apartments on the ground floor and provide refuse storage.

The lower ground floor will be ‘opened up’ to create 11 parking spaces, cycle storage facilities for 15 bicycles and the existing conference room will be converted into a three-bedroom apartment.

Additional features of the building include a ramp for disabled access, private parking spaces on the lower floor and external cladding to improve ‘thermal retention and visual appearance’.

Plans for the project hope to provide ‘the opportunity to enhance the character of the local environment and improve the views of neighbours as the existing building is of poor architectural quality.’

The new developers say it will address the housing shortfall across the Borough and will create a better relationship between the club and its neighbours.

However there have been some complaints by High Brooms residents about the lack of parking in the area.

Victoria Caglar, from Southborough said: “With eight apartments comes eight to 16 cars. The area is already difficult to find parking due to commuters and this will only add to the lack of parking. Residents have to currently park several roads away.”

Kirsty Carter, from Southborough said: “High Brooms Road can get heavy traffic at the best of times – this will increase with more vehicles in a small space.

In response to the parking issues, the developers have said that there will be a total of 15 spaces on the lower ground level, 11 of which will be located below the building itself and will be secured by a roller shutter door – these will be for residents only.

There will also be four spaces outside the front of the club which will be for club use only.

The applicant, Naam Investments said in the planning documents:

“We consider that the proposals offer significant benefits for the club members and the surrounding area.

“The club building will be refurbished to ensure the club has an appropriate facility to survive, whilst providing much needed housing provision for local people.

“The site is in a sustainable location and the proposals make efficient use of already developed land.”

Southborough Town Council has been approached for comment.

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