Take action on this listed building now, CPRE urges council

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

It cuts a sorry sight now, but the Blue Boys Inn at Kippings Cross, Matfield, has a rich and much-loved history. Its name reportedly refers to the occasion George IV called by to have two of his horses shod, his coach drivers being clothed in a royal blue livery, while the building has had incarnations over the years as a pub, a restaurant and a café.
And in 2014 another appeared to be on the cards when McDonald’s applied for planning permission to develop a drive-through eatery on the site.
The burgers and fries never arrived, which pleased some local people, but the subsequent demolition of the oldest part of the Grade II-listed building was certainly no cause for celebration.
Now the Blue Boys stands in a desperately tatty – and worsening – state, something that the Tunbridge Wells CPRE committee is determined to reverse.
In a joint letter to the chief executive of Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Lady Akenhead, chairman of the Tunbridge Wells CPRE committee, and John Wotton, chairman of CPRE Kent’s historic buildings committee, ask the local authority to take steps to reverse the listed building’s decline.
“More than three years have passed since the owners of the Blue Boys demolished the oldest part of this building during English Heritage’s consultation period (this would not have happened if Tunbridge Wells Borough Council had used its powers to issue a temporary stop notice, as CPRE Kent had requested),” they write.
“Since that time the remaining parts of the building have been open to the elements, protected to some degree by a corrugated iron roof and by tarpaulins, but these are sagging and in tatters.
“CPRE Kent members have previously complained to the council about the poor state of the tarpaulins.
“Following the demolition, the owner applied for planning permission to ‘reconstruct’ and enlarge the building, which was granted in February 2016.
“Seven submissions of details have been made by the applicant to TWBC between early December 2016 and early May 2017, yet only one of these appears to have been decided.
“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.”

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

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