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Re-opening business and venues


The Council is working with a number of different partners to ensure a smooth re-opening of our town centres and high streets.

In line with the government roadmap, a number of businesses have been permitted to re-open as of Monday 29 March, with further re-openings permitted from Monday 12 April, these are listed on our website.

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Getting ready for re-opening

Businesses must be responsible for their own staff and customers including managing queues outside stores. Please work with your neighbours to make this easier.

Please ensure that you have taken all reasonable steps to plan your safe reopening by:

  • Completing a Covid-19 risk assessment
  • Following government guidance
  • Putting signage and communication around your business for your employees and customers

A variety of different posters and signs are also available for businesses to download and print.

For businesses in Royal Tunbridge Wells, a re-opening pack is also available through the Business Improvement District – Royal Tunbridge Wells Together. If you are interested in obtaining this, please contact a member of the team via hello@tunbridgewellstogether.co.uk. There is also the option to download covid-19 posters and signage for your business premise.

A number of booklets have been produced for businesses on a sector specific basis, to assist businesses with accessing guidance related to their particular industry. If you have any specific questions about re-opening your business premise, please contact a member of the Environmental Health team via ehadmin@midkent.gov.uk

Public transport

A number of different bus operators serve Tunbridge Wells borough; please refer to the relevant operator for further details about their current service timetables:

If you are intending to travel by train, please also refer to the Southeastern website for services to and from Tunbridge Wells, High Brooms and Paddock Wood. Please refer to the Southern website for up to date information to and from Ashurst station.

Parking

Additional measures are being implemented in our car parks to support social distancing including:

  • Encouraging the use of credit/debit cards and the RingGo cashless parking app and phone service.
  • Bay suspensions adjacent to payment machines
  • Suspending some machines to enable social distancing.
  • Temporary signage where required.
  • Meadow Road Car Park, Royal Tunbridge Wells will re-open on 12 April, where a pedestrian one-way system is now in place.

The parking and roads pages of our website have further information on car parks across the borough and on registering for RingGo.

Tables and chairs on pavements

To assist hospitality businesses with re-opening and to adapt to social distancing requirements, in line with government guidance, the requirements have temporarily been relaxed to place new seating, tables and chairs on pavements.

In normal times businesses can use land outside their premises which they own (usually referred to as the curtilage and sometimes indicated by studs in the pavement) without the need for planning permission. However they would need to apply for planning permission to Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and pay for a licence from Kent County Council (who are responsible for roads and pavements) if they wished to use areas of land not directly under their ownership.

The licence permits the business to place furniture on highway owned land to sell or serve food or drink and/or allow it to be used by people for the consumption of food or drink supplied from, or in connection with the use of the premises.

The licence can remain in place for up to a year, but are not allowed to extend beyond 30th September 2021. This has been proposed by government to be extended to September 2022 – however this is still subject to parliamentary approval.

A notice will be need to be completed and displayed at your premise, advertising your application and this should be displayed on your premises from the day the application is submitted, for a period of 7 days.

The licence application fee is £100. You will need to upload your plans alongside your licence application.

You can submit an application for Pavement licence for tables and chairs.

Further information about tables and chairs licences is available on the government website.

Retail opening hours

After the government announcement on extended opening hours, the Council will be following this flexible approach to allow for safer return to our high streets. This will make it easier to shop in a socially distanced way, by giving visitors greater flexibility to avoid peak times and easing transport pressures.

Retail units will have the option to open until 10pm Monday to Saturday, even if this is currently a constraint in the business premises planning permission. Businesses do not need to apply to the Local Authority if they wish to open their business within these hours. Enforcement action will not be taken during the hours between 7am – 10pm, Monday to Saturday, unless there are unreasonable actions which require investigation.

Public toilets

Toilets have remained open throughout the town centre at Crescent Road Car Park, in Calverley Grounds, Royal Tunbridge Wells (opposite the station) and in Royal Victoria Place shopping centre.

Deliveries and commercial waste

Please consider if you need to make (or request) changes to the timing of deliveries and commercial waste collections at your business. This may be an issue if you have customers queuing in the same area when deliveries or collections are being made.

Check your water supply

When you return to your place of work you should check your water system. Southeast Water has identified some key actions they strongly advise businesses to take if you’ve been away from your premises for more than a week.

Council services

A number of Council Services will be reopening to visiting members of the public. This includes:

Please see our changes to council services page for the latest information.

Safe Town Partnership

The Tunbridge Wells Safe Town Partnership consists of SafeTown and Pubwatch. This operates in partnership with Tunbridge Wells Borough Council, Kent Police, Kent Trading Standards and Kent Fire and Rescue to reduce crime and disorder, the opportunity for crime and the fear of crime.

The Partnership has members in Tunbridge Wells town, North Farm, Paddock Wood and surrounding areas, consisting of retail premises, restaurants, cafes, takeaways, pubs and clubs as well as other organisations.

The Partnership provides the following services and support:

  • a radio, with full support, which enables members to be in direct contact with the council CCTV operators, Police Town Team officers and each other, allowing members to alert each other of incidents and crime, providing support for staff and the exchange of information and intelligence
  • support of the Business Crime Manager who runs the SafeTown and Pubwatch schemes
  • access to a members only website which gives details of incidents and images of active offenders and suspects operating across Tunbridge Wells and, where justified, Kent
  • assistance in submitting incident records, which allows for warning letters and exclusion notices to be issued to individuals, banning them from member premises for a specified period
  • funding daytime and night-time crime reduction initiatives
  • member meetings
  • various training sessions

Find out more about becoming a member.

We will continue to update this page in line with the next stage of the government roadmap.

In the meantime, if you have a query, please contact a member of the Economic Development team via businesscovid19@tunbridgewells.gov.uk.