Fate of theatre complex hangs in the balance as decision is fast tracked

Fate of theatre complex hangs in the balance as decision is fast tracked

6th March 2019

THE inquiry into Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s use of compulsory purchase orders [CPOs] for their planned £90million theatre and civic complex, is set to end this week.

The final outcome will be ‘fast tracked’ with the inquiry inspector making the decisions as opposed to a Government Minister. An announcement is expected within four to eight weeks.

The hearing, which began at the Mercure Hotel in Pembury on February 12, was initially listed for ten days. In the end it has taken almost four weeks.

Earlier this week, the Inspector Grahamk Dudley visited the site of the planned Calverley Square development on the edge of Calverley Grounds, having spent the last three weeks hearing from both the council and objectors.

A range of voices spoke out against to the use of CPOs, which include Mount Pleasant and Great Hall car parks, and part of Calverley Grounds housing the dental surgery known as The Lodge.

Last week, residents of Grove Hill House presented their opposition arguments, led by Tunbridge Wells Alliance founder Dr Robert Chris.

The inquiry also heard from Dr Simon Azimi, the dentist at the Lodge in Calverley Grounds, who says the CPO would see his practice close.

Debra Angus, Managing Director of Hoopers department store told Mr Dudley that granting the council access rights to its car park would have a ‘catastrophic effect on the viability of continuing to trade’ on Mount Pleasant Road.

Mr Dudley had previously heard how Hoopers turned down £50,000 for access rights to its car park, claiming it was a ‘red line’ they would not cross.

The BBC were also listed to give evidence against the CPO’s, which they insist would affect broadcasting from their location in the Great Hall Arcade, due to vibration, noise and dust.

However, the broadcaster did not attend the inquiry to present evidence, and were said to be in ‘discussions’ with the council.

If the CPOs are confirmed then building work on the development will commence in October. If the CPOs are overturned it could mean an end to Calverley Square in its present format and location particularly if there is no access through Hoopers’ car park.

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