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Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Mince pies and Mulled wine all round....
Botany Stream Development Proposal next to the Angel Centre
New bridge and walkway up central street
For those of you who didn't attend the last Tonbridge Civic Society talk of 2010 you didn't half miss out on some lovely mulled wine and some scrumptious mince pies! Apart from that there was some nice company, oh yes and an illuminating talk about the latest proposal to develop the Sovereign House/Botany Stream area. That's that ugly bit between the walkway to the side of the Angel Centre entrance and Waitrose/Iceland stores. It's quite a large area which currently comprises the old Benn Publishing, as I know it, office building and the car park along side it. The pictures above show you the extent of what is being proposed at the moment. I say proposed because, actually, the plans have all but been approved as the developers informed us last night. There's a plan A and a Plan B but basically it appears to be a shoe in probably more down to the economic situation rather than it being a design classic. I must say though, on the evidence of last night's presentation, it appears to be a vast improvement on the previous owner, Oracle's, proposal to build a fifteen storey tower there. BUT I'm still unsure about it myself. There's the elephant in the room question, which was only very briefly mentioned last night, about how much of it will be "affordable housing" and what type of families might be living there right in the centre of town. Is it to be a no go area or do the pretty tree lined streets in the presentation really depict the true image of how it might look in ten years time? To be honest, no matter how they tried to dress it up with their high tech "fly past" views of computer images of the finished development, I was still left thinking that it will look like a large Medittarranean style block of flats. (That said, if money were no object, I wouldn't mind one of the top penthouse appartments with panoramic views to the South West!) But come on where's the retail units which had been discussed for this river side development? Where's the restaurants and waterfront cafes? Walking between the buildings down the newly formed street will seem like walking along with the White cliffs of Dover on either side of you with a few shrubbs to keep your mind off them! If they decide to keep the old Benn building then, so we were informed, this is most likely to become a new large medical centre with three Tonbridge practices all moving in there. (Any guesses as to who?) Let's face it the Sovereign House development will be functional at best and certainly no oil painting. Mince pies anyone?!..