The Civic Centre
The Council's proposals for the Assembly Hall and the Town Hall are the subject of great controversy and debate. The Society submitted proposals for the Council to modernise the buildings internally, link them and retain them in Council use with public access, with surplus space rented out. The whole civic complex would then function as an active community centre, with business, representative and administrative functions linked to the arts and educational side in the Hub. This has been overlooked in place of a huge scheme involving building new offices on the Mount Pleasant Car Park and a new theatre on the Great Hall Car Park.
After carefully considering the plans, we sent an open two page letter to every Tunbridge Wells Councillor on the 10th November 2017 detailing our qualified support for the proposed theatre and our unhappiness with their plans for the Civic Centre, the underground car park and the impact on Calverley Grounds. A summary of the points in our letter is shown below:
* the Society calls for the future use of the present civic buildings to be decided now together with reasons as to why the Council cannot return there after rebuilding;
* we think the Council should make every effort possible to purchase the Police Station;
* we call for a re-think about the quantity of and access to the underground car-parking associated with the new office building and theatre;
* we want to see the design of the new office building modified as it does not respond well to the sloping site;
* we think there is an urgent need for a comprehensive plan for Calverley Grounds to be implemented in parallel with the civic development.
To see the letter in full please click on this link below:
The Cinema Site
The former ABC Cinema has stood vacant and derelict for sixteen years, blighting this key site in the town centre. Now planning permission has been granted but is this what we really want after all this time?
The Cultural Hub
The Society is delighted the proposal for a cultural hub based on the Library, Museum, Art Gallery and Adult Education Centre has been approved. We believe this is necessary to enable the town's collections of pictures, costumes and Tunbridgeware to be properly displayed, and the most popular library in Kent to have the space it requires. The necessary refurbishment and extension of the listed buildings will also provide for community workshops, to tell the Tunbridge Wells Story, and rehouse services from the Gateway.
Improving the Urban Environment
The Society urged the Council to upgrade the public realm in the town centre, and was involved in early discussions over improvements, with more space and better surfaces for people on foot, less clutter, and reducing the intrusiveness of traffic, possibly by `shared space`. We wanted a simpler, safer environment, cheaper to maintain, with scope for planting, art installations and water features, which could easily be extended to further areas. We were pleased when these principles were adopted but disappointed in what has been achieved so far without further involvement by the Society, with little sense of an overall vision.
The Royal Tunbridge Wells Civic Society - Registered Charity No. 276545