Dispute over youth club rumbles on

    CLOSING – The Club started in 1966 but will close in March

    A PETITION has been launched to halt the sale of the site of the Teen and Twenty club.

    In December, the Times revealed that the youth club, which has been a feature of the town for over 50 years, is set to be sold to make way for a new ‘state of the art’ medical centre. The building will shut in March, with construction aimed to begin in the second half of the year, for an estimated 2019 opening.

    The 23,680 sq ft site is currently owned by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council (TMBC) and has been leased out to the Teen and Twenty Club since 1966.

    The sale to Tonbridge Medical Group, who will use the centre to replace their surgeries in Higham Lane and Pembury Road, is anticipated to be formally approved at a TMBC cabinet meeting on February 9.

    It will form part of an ‘asset review’ of Tonbridge Town Centre, which is expected to also include a discussion on the future of the Angel Centre.

    But the Chair of the Barden Residents’ Association, Mark Hood, feels the sale is being rushed without due consideration of the wishes of the local community.

    “Nobody wants to keep the Teen and Twenty building, it is not fit for purpose anymore. However the facilities need replacing either on this site or elsewhere.

    “The details of discussions have been obscured by confidentiality measures designed to stifle debate, allowing the closure of the club and presenting a fait accompli by ensuring all the groups that use the club had been moved out by the time they went public.”

    “Tonbridge needs a new purpose built hall for hire and this site could be the place for it,” he said.

    Leader of TMBC, Nicolas Heslop, confirmed that the sale of the land is dependent on approval by the Cabinet and will not involve a public consultation.

    Although he pointed out: “If the sale of the land is approved, the scheme for the proposed new medical centre will of course need to be the subject of a planning application submitted to the Borough Council in the normal way which will itself be subject to public consultation.

    “It is likely that any such application will be considered at a meeting of the Area 1 Planning Committee in due course, which the public can of course attend and register to speak.”