Sunday, 20 November 2011

Town centre redevelopment

It concerns me that there is not a tight timetable for the deliberations of the Town Plan Advisory Group to come up with recommendations for the future use of major sites in the centre of Tunbridge Wells.  Three months should be quite sufficient.  The danger is that the group will descend into a drawn out talking shop and thereby heighten the suspicions of people who believe the group has been formed simply to kick  into the long grass the issue of the future of the civic complex.

There are people who hold the opinion that the group owes its existence more to political expediency and rather less to a determined attempt to resolve the controversy surrounding the future of the civic complex.

The Council should concentrate on determining what Tunbridge Wells needs to improve its vitality and make the town a destination of choice.  To achieve this it needs to build on its current strengths.  This leads me to two conclusions:

  • I concur with Councillor Stanyer that we should have a significant university presence in the town to benefit the local economy and provide a range of community benefits. 

  • The Council should seek to replicate what has been achieved in Canterbury with its new Marlowe Theatre.

Taken together they would enrich the town's economic, cultural, social and educational activity, building on its current strengths.  Given the sites either currently available, or which could be made available, there are opportunities also for some increase in office and retail space.

Let us hope that we see a step-change in the vitality of the town and do not drown in a sea of aspic.

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