On 6 December our Council took one step closer to making the largest investment ever made by the Council since the end of the last World War, by voting the proposed £93m (yes, it has gone up again) Civic Complex development through to the next stage, planning permission.

TW Alliance will continue to fight this demonstrably ill-conceived project.

Thirty Councillors in favour of the project were waxing lyrical about how lovely a new theatre would be, and how it will enhance the Tunbridge Wells economy. But at time of voting, the facts still remain that:

  • There is still no delivery access to the theatre.
  • There is no coach access to the theatre.
  • There are 7 compulsory purchase orders (CPO) to fulfil.
  • There is no guarantee that the Council can either afford the CPOs or that they will be successful.
  • The proposed theatre is even less flexible than the existing Assembly Hall and is the very minimum size for today’s shows.
  • The Council’s agents, Vectos, have made calculations using vehicle sizes that are smaller than Kent Highways stipulates.
  • The cost of the development has increased by £21m to £93m since the July meeting – that’s more than £1m a week!
  • Everything relies on the state forcibly taking the private land of Hoopers for their own ends – something that could have been addressed at the very first stage of the plans before £4.2m of public money had been spent.

There are too many unanswered questions, including the affordability of the development. We are confident that the project will not succeed.

TW Alliance is not anti-theatre, but there is a definite line to be drawn between what may be considered bold and imaginative, and what is foolhardy.