The Tonbridge Civic Society publishes a full-colour 16-page Newsletter for fully paid-up members three times a year, in Spring, Autumn and Winter editions. [To see a recent example, please go to the Publications page, by clicking on the Publications link in the left-hand column of this page]
The Society strongly supported the original proposals, published by the Highways Agency in January 2010, for the dualling of the A21 along roughly the same route as the existing road.
A Public Inquiry was held in 2013 and the Inspector recommended that the route shown below should be implemented. This was subsequently supported by the Government and it is hoped that construction will commence in 2015.
Colas Site - Vale Road Roundabout
Outline planning permission has been given for this long-derelict but important site. However, unfortunately, no actual development is expected to take place in the immediate future.
SOME OLDER NEWS ITEMS, FOR INTEREST
Civic Design Award 2007 -
Crest Nicholson won a Civic Design Award for the completed first and second phases of their Market Quarter development. The Award recognised the skilful placement of housing within the Conservation Area, the neighbourly qualities of the development and for creating an attractive urban setting with a distinct sense of place.
David Kemp, then President of the Civic Society, presented the plaque to Nicholas Davies, Director of Design & Planning, Crest Nicholson, at the award ceremony held at Somerhill.
Time to Clean up our Act on Litter
The CPRE announced a national campaign concerning litter. Although the starting point is that people should not drop litter, unfortunately litter does get dropped and the CPRE have campaigned for concerted action by central and local government and other enforcement bodies to clean up litter and fly-tipping. The Tonbridge Civic Society strongly supports their campaign.
The Original Proposal by Oracle for the Sovereign House site
In the Spring of 2008, the developers Oracle made a planning application for three housing blocks containing over 330 flats,with street-level shops and including a tower of 15 storeys. The Society was strongly opposed to this high-rise, high-density development which: 'if accepted, would essentially alter the market town and historic character of riverside Tonbridge'.
click here for:
Society Press Release expressing objection to development
The Tonbridge edition of the Courier at the time contained the following picture and report:
click for Courier report
TMBC was also strongly opposed to the development but the developers appealed and an Inquiry was held. Representatives of the Society spoke at the Appeal hearing. The outcome was that the Appeal was rejected and the Inspector strongly supported the views which had been expressed by both TMBC and the Society.
Cycleway from Tonbridge Castle to Penshurst Place
The cycleway to Penshurst has become very popular. It is used by all age groups but families with young children find its off-road features especially attractive. The route has been devised and constructed by TMBC's Leisure Services, with a great deal of active encouragement and co-operation by Mr Scott, Estates Manager of Penshurst Place.
There is still a need to create an improved urban network of cycleways in the town - with safe routes to schools.
Civic Society comments on the Draft Botany Area Planning Brief
In June 2007, TMBC published their Draft Botany Area Planning Brief. Although there were some reservations concerning the details, the Civic Society supported the basic proposals and agreed that the Botany area provided the best scope and opportunity for the regeneration and re-development of Tonbridge town centre.
Click here for larger view of Plan
Proposed River Centre Tower
An impression of the proposed tower, shown alongside the award winning River Centre. The design has been favourably assessed by an independent architectural panel. The adjacent housing provision will include 'affordable housing' and contributions will be made to improve riverside amenity and road access.
Planning permission was granted in 2007 but work has not yet started on the proposed development.
Civic Design Award for
The Society's annual design award made in 2007, for buildings completed in the year 2006, was for the restoration of Tonbridge Mill. Only the footings and some bare ruins existed when Jon Griffin took on the task of rebuilding the mill and restored to Tonbridge a piece of its history. The mill wheel has been retained; the stream flows under the house to the mill pond at the rear of the building, which can be viewed from Cannon Lane.
Angel County Cricket Ground
David Kemp, President of the Society, unveiled the painting of the Angel County Cricket Ground - now hanging in the Angel Centre - painted by Mike Insley and based on a photograph taken in 1903. Cricket Week was an important sporting and social event in Tonbridge, which also supported a cricket manufacturing industry in the region. David Kemp has been Chairman of Kent County Cricket Club and was also a gifted cricketer.
In 2007, West Kent College launched their £87m redevelopment - Campus 21
This is reputedly the largest education project in Kent and one of only two major projects of this scale nationally.
Old School in St Stephens Street - demolition threatened
The society objected to the proposed demolition of the old school buildings - erected in memory of John and Sophia Deacon by their sons in 1871. The application to build 11 flats would have dwarfed the exisiting Almshouses seen here to the left.
It is by this kind of characterless development that we gradually lose our town's identity and erode any sense of place - historic buildings have a virtue beyond their sometimes modest architectural merit.
The application was withdrawn.
Tonbridge Market Quarter (Third Phase)
In their proposal, Crest Nicholson's amendment to the third phase included a change of use from office development of the Capitol site to residential use - with retail space on the ground floor. This was supported by the Society.
Historic Buildings Register
The Society prepared a list of historic buildings which were not 'listed', but were nevertheless important to Tonbridge and the locality. This included items such as horse troughs, telephone boxes, signs and other street furniture.
Star & Garter site
Following the demolition of the Star & Garter public house and the adjacent buildings,
the Society provided a number of mature trees for the important open public space at the northern entry to the town, using funds collected from visitors to its stand at Tonbridge Garden Show.