Council takes action to protect Tunbridge Wells cafe, bakery, restaurant, pharmacy and convenience stores from home conversions

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COMMUNITY: Dash Arulthas (above) is the manager of S&K News convenience store and he said his store is vital to the community.

The shops, café, bakery, pharmacy, restaurant and convenience stores in the heart of the communities of the Borough of Tunbridge Wells must be protected from residential conversions.

Council chiefs used the legislation to ensure that nine business premises in communities and villages continue to play their important role in local life.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has forwarded section 4 instructions to locations it deems “high risk”.

He said if they were converted into homes, businesses were unlikely to be replaced.

And with little to no alternatives, the council fears life will be kicked out of community centers.

The instructions will prevent developers from converting the premises into housing without the need for a building permit – which is currently permitted under “permitted development rights”.

The premises include Post Office Bidborough, Langtons Bakery in Langton Green, Blue India Restaurant in Langton Green, Heath Pharmacy in Horsmonden and S&K News at Woolley Road in Southborough.

Dash Arulthas, manager of S&K News convenience store, told the Courier: “This is very, very important. We are the only store in this part of Southborough and we have three schools around us and a nursery next door.”

He said: “A lot of people rely on us and especially during times of Covid because of where we are located. We are between the common road and the main road and we are like an estate. We are a store. community here. “

Dave Pate, President of Speldhurst Parish Council, told us: “Protecting businesses in our parish and the borough as a whole is vital to ensuring good support to communities.

PROTECTION: Dave Pate, President of Speldhurst Parish Council (photo by Sally Loram)

“With the rapid growth in housing construction and a national planning policy favoring most development applications, protecting these businesses and what they offer to their communities is, in my opinion, vital and I welcomes any approach in this direction.

“This latest decision and action by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council will be discussed by Speldhurst Parish Council in the near future for a collective vision on the matter,” he said.

The council gave instructions on a list of offices in downtown Tunbridge Wells in 2018 and two recently.

But he said this week that new legislation could pose a threat to more in Tunbridge Wells, Southborough and the centers of Rusthall and Pembury.

Speaking of all types of premises, Alan McDermott, member of the Planning and Transportation cabinet, said: “We will continue to monitor the various city centers and neighborhoods, and we are ready to serve more if necessary.”

He said the council made strong representations to the government about authorized development changes when they were consulted twice.

“Since then, we have acted quickly and positively thanks to the service of 31 directives of article 4 to protect offices, stores and cafes where the risks and consequences of loss for residences are the most important,” he said. declared.

In 2018, when he took action on office space, he identified 22% of the city’s office stock that had been lost to residential and more than a fifth was at risk. It served 20 directions out of office buildings in the city, adding two recently.

But due to changes in the law on permitted development rights, these instructions will no longer be in effect as of July of next year. The council hopes that the alternative directions it put in place from that point on will be accepted by the secretary of state.

Stay up to date with Tunbridge Wells, Kent news with Mary Harris News.


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