Tunbridge Wells Borough Council (TWBC) has applied for £5 million in government funding towards the total cost of over £90 million for the proposed Calverley Square development. However, a critical technical assessment of the project bid conducted by Steer consultancy, on behalf of the South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), concludes that the scheme represents poor value for public money.
The Steer report rejects the current Calverley plan as they don’t think the evaluation process submitted by TWBC is good enough, and also because of potential delivery risks in the completion timeline. It particularly highlights the lack of evidence to support claims that the development would derive additional income from expenditure on food and drink, and also create a significant increase in local jobs.
In response to this damning verdict, Lib Dem Cllr Pete Lidstone commented: “If the business case doesn’t stack up, the Tories justification for wrecking Calverley Park disappears altogether. It’s bad for business, bad for residents, and bad for the environment, so why are they ploughing on regardless? Sounds just like Brexit! You need sensible councillors, who understand business, have independent judgment, and who will stand up for the people of Tunbridge Wells. That’s the Lib Dems.”