Public Realm 2 Development
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council’s Five Year Plan contains a commitment to enhance the public realm in the town centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells to provide a distinctive community space for residents and visitors.
The Council’s Corporate Priorities for 2017/18 contain a commitment to develop a Phase 2 scheme around the civic centre complex with funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership’s Local Sustainable Transport Fund Scheme via Kent County Council (£1m) and its own resources (£300,000) which is part of the approved capital programme.
The Public Realm Phase 2 project will be a street scene improvement initiative for Mount Pleasant Road, stretching from its junction with Monson Road to the junction with Church Road Tunbridge Wells.
The potential of this space to act as a functional public space is currently constrained in a number of important respects. Chief amongst these is its heavy use as the town centre’s principal bus interchange and the associated bus stop infrastructure which is visually prominent and acts to clutter the space and to restrict pedestrian movement. The limited pedestrian crossing facilities at the junctions with Monson Road and Church Road / Crescent Road, together with the split level and poor connectivity between Mount Pleasant Road and Civic Way also have significant and harmful severance effects.
The Public Realm Scheme aims to address these issues as follows:
- Creating a more pedestrian-focussed space by reallocating two
carriageway lanes on Mount Pleasant Road to public realm, rationalising
bus shelters and installing pedestrian paving on primary desire lines
across Monson Road, York Road and Mount Pleasant Road.
- Introducing wide, stepped areas framing the war memorial to enhance it
as a focal point and create a stronger link between Mount Pleasant Road
and Civic Way, in particular the Cultural and Learning Hub entrance.
- Installing paving within the carriageway of Mount Pleasant Road to define
the setting of the war memorial and create a sense of a public square for
use on civic occasions such as Remembrance Sunday.
The Borough Council worked closely with KCC highway colleagues developing an outline design for the scheme. The project then passed to KCC who took on responsibility for the delivery of the project through their highway scheme management arrangements and appointed contractors.
Public Realm 2 Timeline
- November 2020 - operation commenced 2020
- January 2021 - enforcement relaxed in response to the Covid pandemic
- February to June 2021 - review amending and supplementing the original signs
- January 2023 - Kent County Council asked Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to reimplement the scheme and operate it through until March 2024.
- February 2023 - publicity campaign including press releases, social media posts, letter drops to local residents and businesses and over 18,000 Warning Notices issued to transgressing drivers
- April 2023 saw a move to "live" Penalty Charge Notices.