New office development proposed for Tunbridge Wells

Recognising the need to provide new office accommodation in the heart of Tunbridge Wells has led the borough council to bring forward development plans.

The proposals, which are currently being considered as part of plans for a new £72m civic centre, theatre and car park, include the development of 20,150 sq ft (1,872 sq m) of new office space for business.

The plans include a further 12,309 sq ft (1,872 sq m) of new, energy efficient accommodation for the Council’s staff who currently work at the Town Hall, plus a Civic Suite, incorporating the Council Chambers of 5,726 sq ft (532 sq m).

Since 2010, the Council has seen a reduction in its workforce of 25 per cent with only 280 employees now based at the Town Hall.

The move to a new Civic Centre would see the Council reduce its office space from its current 40,460 sq ft (3,720 sq m) at the Town Hall – a reduction of 70 per cent.

Cllr Jane March, Cabinet Member for Economic Development at Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, said: “We recognise that if we are to have a strong economy we need a vibrant business community who use the local shops, bars and restaurants at lunchtime and after work, and are able to recruit locally.

“To achieve this, businesses need to have places to work, which is why the new office accommodation is an integral part of our plans for the new civic centre.”

Paul Wookey, Chief Executive of Locate in Kent said; “Kent has been established as a key area for growth within the South East for some time now, and Tunbridge Wells is no exception to this.

“The problem of office space shortage is not a new one, and these proposals from the borough council come at a good time.  SMEs form the backbone of our county’s economy and we must give them the opportunity to prosper. There is no better place than Kent for them to continue their growth.”

If the decision is taken by the Council to go forward with the development, a planning application would be submitted with a view to securing permission and starting work on the site of the Great Hall and Mount Pleasant car parks, and Calverley Grounds in 2019.

The existing Town Hall and Assembly Hall Theatre would be redeveloped when the new civic centre, including a 1,200 seater theatre and office accommodation, was operational.