Future Vision

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council is working on its Vision 2040 strategy for Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre which will in turn create a more prosperous and sustainable town. Tunbridge Wells Business Magazine discovers more about the plans…

TUNBRIDGE Wells Borough Council (TWBC) finished holding the first stage of its public consultation period for the public to have their say on the drafted long-term plan for the town centre, named VISION 2040. The public consultation started on February 23 and ran until April 15.
The Council has been working in partnership with organisations and residents to develop a strategy for the future of Royal Tunbridge Wells town centre to help create ‘a more prosperous and sustainable town centre.’
The Town Centre Plan is a separate document from the Borough-wide  Local Plan which is currently subject to independent examination.
The plan will provide a vision, objectives and a planning framework for the future of the town centre up to 2040.
Including diversifying and adapting the town, making sustainable improvements to public spaces and travel, attracting investments for high-quality living, working, shopping, learning, leisure, and cultural spaces, all while preserving and enhancing Royal Tunbridge Wells’ heritage status and historic attributes.
TWBC is also issuing a ‘Call for Sites’ in the town centre, to identify sites which might be available for development or redevelopment in the period up to 2040.
The Call for Sites is particularly aimed at landowners, developers and their agents but it is open to anyone to submit a site.
Key provisions are that the person submitting the site can confirm that the landowner is willing to make the land available for development and it must be located within the defined Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre boundary.
During the seven-week consultation period residents were asked to give their thoughts on what changes and developments they would like to see evolve as well as their current views on Tunbridge Wells town centre.
A TWBC spokesperson told Tunbridge Wells Business Magazine: “Our ambition is for Royal Tunbridge Wells Town Centre to maintain and enhance its reputation as a historic spa town. We want to ensure that it is an appealing and vibrant destination for residents, businesses and visitors alike with accessible and improved services and facilities as well as acting as a commercial, leisure and cultural centre serving the town’s residents, workers, businesses, visitors, and the surrounding area.”
They added: “Royal Tunbridge Wells should be a welcoming spa town of the future that will benefit from high quality and connected developments that protect and reinforce the town’s distinctiveness.
“It is a great place to live, work and play with a rich mix of jobs, services, homes, diverse public realm (i.e. the spaces between buildings, the streets, parks, street furniture, such as seating and landscape features), and cultural and leisure facilities, which meets the needs of people at all stages of their lives. Its diverse, passionate, creative and entrepreneurial community works together with energy and passion to achieve a common vision.”
The Council has worked in partnership with a range of organisations including LDA Design who carried out a ‘Town Centre Study’ to help inform the preparation of the Draft Plan. This has informed the preliminary vision and strategy for the town.
LDA Design’s draft ‘Masterplan Framework’ guides future development up to 2040 and divides the town into four areas (known as ‘quarters’ – see breakout for more information). This, says TWBC, sets out priorities for possible intervention and change.
“The Town Centre Study recognises that Royal Tunbridge Wells is a linear town centre which is characterised by distinct quarters that give the town its sense of place. A range of uses are found within these quarters, which collectively contribute to the success of the town centre.
“The quarters are defined within the Town Centre Study document and areas of opportunity are highlighted for each quarter.” 
A number of key ‘Principles and Ambitions’ have been identified within the Town Centre Study. They include creating the following: a low carbon future, connected landscapes, a sustainable and resilient economy and Tunbridge Wells being a creative destination.
“The next steps will be to produce a full draft plan which will be informed by the results of the consultation and by further supporting documents and engagement which the Council will undertake,” confirmed the TWBC spokesperson. 
The full Draft Plan is due to be published for further consultation later in the year. The spokesperson added that this will include more detail on sites and uses as well as detailed policies to guide future development within the town centre over the plan period to 2040.
For more information visit: tunbridgewells.gov.uk/planning/planning-policy/rtw-town-centre-plan

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