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Cranbrook community centre cost halved by parish council

By Ed McConnell

A parish council chairman remains optimistic her town’s community centre can be delivered despite issues with the cost and access to the site.

Cranbrook and Sissinghurst Parish Council needed £4 million to deliver the centre at Wilkes Field, which was part of a wider £20m scheme to develop the town centre, but following a “sanity check” that figure has been revised down to between £2m and £2.5m.

Chairman Bridget Veitch admitted some compromises over appearance and materials may have to be made but remained resolute, saying: “Something is going to go there, we will get there. It may not look exactly like what is in the plans but we are certainly going to build something.”

The centre has been costed at £4million

The centre has been costed at £4million

She added: “The simple fact is £4 is too much for this parish. We had a sanity check and have decided we need to spend less.”

Meanwhile, The Co-op continues to be a thorn in the side of developer Guy Johnson.

It has still not given permission for an access route to be established on to Wilkes Field through the car park of its High Street store.

The Co-op was first approached a year ago but said it would not grant access until after planning permission was granted.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council gave the project the nod at the tail end of last year but the company is yet to sign the documents.

It is part of a wider £20million regeneration project, with the former Cranbrook Engineering site in Stone Street also being developed

It is part of a wider £20million regeneration project, with the former Cranbrook Engineering site in Stone Street also being developed

Mrs Veitch said a “cordial” meeting was held between Mr Johnson’s representative, David Rivers, and the supermarket chain at the end of last month, and she is confident the issue will be resolved within the next couple of months.

Until that point it is almost impossible to proceed, although Mrs Veitch will set the wheels in motion at a parish meeting tonight (Thursday) for a project steering committee to be set up.

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