St John’s ‘eyesore’ car park is reborn

BHS Tunbridge Wells

The £2.5million development of the old John Street car park off St John’s Road in Tunbridge Wells is reaching the final stages of completion.

The half-acre site, an unmade-up car park on rough ground which Tunbridge Wells Borough Council described as an ‘eyesore’, now consists of new shops and flats as well as a smaller car park.

Council Leader David Jukes is pleased with the progress, saying: “That is a project that we said we would do and we have actually done it and completed it.”

The scheme was centred round the reinstatement of the shop fronts along St John’s Road because there was a ‘gaping hole’ in the row of small retailers.

In recognition of the area’s community feel, the council says the new outlets will be ‘supporting the vitality and viability of St John’s as a retail destination’.

The shops are currently undergoing their final internal fittings and they have already attracted interest after being put on the market.

Three floors of accommodation have been built above the shops, in keeping in the buildings alongside, which will provide four two-bedroom flats and one with three bedrooms.

According to the council, these developments will provide ‘much-needed homes’ for first-time buyers, young families and people sharing accommodation.

The project was originally drawn up to include four town houses at the entrance to the car park on John Street, with four bedrooms and small gardens.

But following a series of public events, local residents and businesses said they were unhappy with the loss of parking spaces that would result if the housing went ahead.

The car park has been properly paved and is now open, with 60 public spaces rather than room for 90 vehicles, as was previously the case.

The site was previously known as The Lew, and was a residential area consisting of small cottages which were built during the 1800s. They were demolished during slum clearance in the early 1960s.

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