Tunbridge Wells council boss stands firm in planning stand-off
IT IS "unfair" to accuse council officers of delaying plans to build a community centre in Cranbrook, the chief executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has told the town.
William Benson denied the town's bid to secure land for the centre was being slowed down by his officers.
Wilkes Field, near the Regal Car Park, was agreed by Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council over a year ago as the best site for the new centre, but planning restrictions on the privately-owned brownfield site meant they approached the borough council for help.
In January then parish chairman Peter North accused the borough council of dragging their feet on the matter and said urgent action was needed to put the field within the town's limits-to-build area – where development is allowed.
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At a parish council meeting on Thursday, Mr Benson said the criticism was "unfair".
Parish councillor Brian Swann told Mr Benson: "The problem we are trying to sort is to get an area within the limits-to-build.
"(Borough) Councillors said it could be done but then it was blocked by officers.
"We seem to find obstacles have been put up."
Mr Benson said "That's unfair. I think the limits-to-build boundaries are there for a reason and in fact you should be pleased they are there.
"We have had a productive meeting on how to take this forward."
Mr Benson explained that there were planning procedures they could follow which would need proof of public support.
He added: "I do not think it would be planning slowing this up. I think it would be other reasons. I am more positive than ever in taking this forward.
"We will move heaven and earth to make sure it happens but you need to be in the driving seat.
"We will support you but it needs to be you taking the lead."
The parish council had hoped the £1 million facility would be built by 2013.