Blue Boys Inn: council pledges to take action

A long way from its former glories: the Blue Boys at Matfield

A small victory, perhaps, in Tunbridge Wells district, but CPRE Kent has prompted some action in the long-running saga of the Blue Boys Inn at Kippings Cross, Matfield.

You can read the full background to the story here, but, briefly, Lady Akenhead, chairman of the Tunbridge Wells CPRE committee, and John Wotton, chairman of CPRE Kent’s historic buildings committee, wrote to the chief executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council asking the local authority to act to reverse the decline of the Grade II-listed building, which is subject to a planning application for a restaurant and take-away.

The letter read:

“We write to ask you, as a matter of urgency,
a) To ensure that the council acts to secure the proper preservation of the fabric and prevent further deterioration, by issuing an Urgent Works Notice;
b) To ensure that the submissions of details are decided promptly so that any further delay in the reconstruction of the building is not due to council inaction.”

In response, Stephen Baughen, the council’s building control and development manager, wrote that an Urgent Works Notice could not be issued because the building had been “left open in its current state prior to listing”.

Such a notice can only be used to return a building to its state at the time of listing.

However, Mr Baughen does state: “With regard to the prevention of further deterioration, the council has been in discussions with the owners since your letter and has confirmed that measures will be taken within the next week to repair the protective sheeting which covers the exposed areas and secure the building.

“As an authority we have on a number of occasions requested that the sheeting be reattached or adjusted when we have noticed or been notified that it has deteriorated. The owner has always complied within a few days of notification.”

He adds: “With regard to the conditions pursuant to the approved planning application, details have been submitted and are currently be[ing] assessed/negotiated.

“There have been some delays in this process but progress is now being made and several of the conditions have been discharged.

“Several conditions remain outstanding but discussions are taking place to satisfy these elements.

“Officers are in communication with the applicant regarding the timescales for the implementation of the permission.

“The council is committed to see the preservation and restoration of this building and will progress the outstanding matters as soon as possible.

“We will be monitoring the site in the next week to check that the sheeting has been appropriately secured.”

And if the council does not monitor the site, you can rest assured that CPRE Kent will be!

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

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