Agenda item

*Asset Management Plan 2023/24

To consider and decide on the recommendations as set out in the associated report. 


RESOLVED – That Full Council be recommended that the Asset Management Plan 2023/24 be adopted


REASON FOR DECISION: The Plan supports the Council’s Corporate Priorities in the Five-Year Plan.


County Councillor Sarah Hamilton had registered to speak which included the following:


-       The Wesley Centre should be listed under the category of Community (as the Day centre was).

-       It was both surprising and concerning that the Wesley Centre faced the risk of potential disposal.

-       It was protected on the Towns Neighbourhood Plan which the Borough Council had not challenged.

-       Facilities and access to green space were needed in Paddock Wood.

-       It had been an inspiration of Heritage Paddock Wood to protect the Wesley Centre for the benefit of the local area.

-       The Community Store House was a valuable tenant. The Paddock Wood Community Advice Centre was also nearby so the location was ideal and sustainable.

-       It was important to find a viable way to keep this historic building and allow it to continue to serve the community.

-       Cabinet should remove the Wesley Centre from any risk of disposal at this time or in the near future.  It should instead look to explore, develop and exploit opportunities for collaborative working with other bodies including KCC and partner agencies to build on existing relationships and facilitate an viable opportunity.


Katharine Ridger had registered to speak which included the following:


-       The 4th Paddock Wood Brownies currently met every Wednesday at the Wesley Centre. 

-       They had been using the Wesley Centre for a number of years and it had proved an ideal location with no safe guarding risks.  The gates locked which allowed the Brownies to play freely outside.  Storage was also ample.

-       The new Community Centre had been considered but the risks would be much higher.  The toilets were out of view of the hall, so an adult would have to accompany each time.  There was also no secure play area.

-       Any plans for disposal should be urgently reconsidered.


Jeremy Thompson had registered to speak which included the following:


-       Heritage Paddock Wood rented a small room at the Wesley Centre which was used to store and display some of their large archive collection of photos and other items.

-       It was important that this historical building was not lost to further housing developments

-       Heritage Paddock Wood was building a website that would showcase the history of Paddock Wood and the surrounding villages. 

-       Heritage Paddock Wood were keen to work with TWBC to establish a satellite to the Amelia Scott.  This would include the remodelling of the garden to enhance it as a safe green space in the heart of the town.

-       Green spaces were essential to the health and wellbeing of residents.

-       The Wesley Centre was protected on the Town’s Neighbourhood Plan and on the Local Plan, so why was it included on the list?

-       The consultation had not finished at the time this issue was discussed.

-       Had the Council written to all the users and tenants of the Wesley Centre.

-       The Wesley Centre was not a surplus asset. 

-       Paddock Wood had already helped the Borough with its housing targets.  A number of developments had already taken place, with more to follow.

-       The Council should invest in the Wesley Centre.  The building was very valuable and the green space must not be lost.

-       Vibrant and safer towns had already been declared a priority by the Partnership so the residents should be listened to as they know their town.


Nigel Stratton had registered to speak which included the following:


-       The Centre was a value asset in Paddock Wood.

-       The Wesley Centre was the oldest remaining building in Paddock Wood.

-       It was bought by TWBC in 1996, not as an asset, but to be preserved for the people of Paddock Wood. 

-       TWBC were trustees of the building, not owners to do with it as it liked.

-       It would be complete betrayal if it was allowed to be vested away from Paddock Wood.

-       The land and the Centre were one in the same.  Selling the land but saving the Centre would therefore also be a betrayal.

-       Paddock Wood wanted both the Centre and the land preserved for the future.


Councillor Raymond Moon had registered to speak which included the following:


-       The Asset Management Plan (AMP) 2023/24 included the Wesley Centre as a site to be reviewed for development and sale.

-       The Wesley Centre was not a surplus asset, but one that was used by the Paddock Wood community.

-       The Centre had many users, including the Community Store House (Food Bank) and the Paddock Wood Children’s Centre, who both used it two days a week.

-       Three children centres in Tunbridge Wells had been threatened with closure by KCC.  If the Wesley Centre closed, so would the Children’s Centre.

-       There was no guarantee that the bookings at the Wesley Centre would be transferred to the Community Centre.

-       It was concerning that the consultation for the AMP closed today (9 February) so Cabinet was being asked to make a decision based on a verbal report.  A detailed assessment of the results should be put together before a decision was made.

-       Cabinet should review the inclusion of the Wesley Centre in the AMP and its status as a surplus asset.


Councillor Suzie Wakeman had registered to speak which included the following:


-       Very concerned that the Wesley Centre was included on the list of assets declared as surplus.

-       Paddock Wood appeared to be bearing the brunt of new housing developments so there was even more need for Community space, not less.

-       The Wesley Centre was well used by community groups within Paddock Wood, including the Community Store House and the Children’s Centre.

-       It was also the oldest publicly owned building in the town.

-       Assets should be reviewed annually and the Wesley Centre had been on the list under previous administrations. 

-       If the Borough Partnership were considering disposing of this asset, then this should be made clearer and details should be made public so as to avoid speculation and associated anxiety.


Councillor Matthew Bailey had registered to speak which included the following:


-       Opposed to the sale or redevelopment of the Wesley Centre.

-       TWBC provided only a very modest amount of community space in Paddock Wood. 

-       Losing the Wesley Centre would leave the town with only the Day Centre.  This was clearly insufficient for a town that had expanded and would continue to expand in the coming years.

-       Developing the small area of green space to the rear of the building would be inappropriate given the amount of building already taking place in Paddock Wood.

-       The expansion of the town was unpopular, not only because of the loss of green space, but also because of the noise, pollution and congestion the construction process brought.

-       New developments also put an additional strain on the existing infrastructure and available services. 

-       Concern regarding the consultation process and the claims made by the coalition.  Contrary to these claims, it was not common practice for the Council to declare a long list of assets as surplus every year, and then do nothing about them.

-       The AMP last year, did not include a list of surplus assets.  It did however state that the Gateway building would be surplus once the Amelia Scott building had opened.  The Gateway building was now for sale.

-       The consultation period should be extended.  TWBC should make it very clear to residents that this was an important new strategy that would have serious consequences for them and for the Borough.


Councillor Christopher Hall, Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance introduced David Candlin, Head of Economic Development and Property who presented the report as set out in the agenda.


A verbal update of the consultation results was as follows


-       285 responses to the Asset Management Plan (AMP) had been received.

-       109 people had reported they had read the AMP.

-       76 people had not read the AMP

-       165 people had left comments regarding the AMP and these can be summarised as follows:

o   49 related to car parks in Tunbridge Wells

o   101 comments on the Wesley Centre

o   4 comments were received related to other assets

o   8 comments about the policy on potential disposal and the process including the Property Asset Oversight Panel (PAOP).

o   1 comment on the future use of disposals that had not been given in the AMP.

o   2 comments on the clarity and length of the AMP.


Discussion and questions from Members included the following:


-       Responses to the consultation this year had been slightly higher than in previous years.

-       The Council had not been quite as overt about listing potential surplus properties in previous years.  The Wesley Centre had not been directly mentioned, but had been an asset the Council had been looking at via Cabinet reports, firstly in 2013 and again in July 2021. 

-       The Wesley Centre had been on the list as an asset of community value, but came off the list in 2020.  In 2018, the Council, as the owner of the asset, made a notification regarding the potential disposal of the land to the rear of the centre. The Council received no expressions of interest from anybody for the purchase of the land. 

-       The Council had offered the opportunity to Heritage Paddock Wood to come forward with a business plan, but to date nothing had been received.

-       The AMP was essentially a strategy about how the Council managed its assets.  No decisions were being made at this time.

-       The Council recognised that there were assets that needed to be considered.

-       With regards to the Wesley Centre itself, there were a number of issues that had been raised by the speakers which would need careful consideration.

-       It would be very important to ensure there was dialogue with Paddock Wood Town Council.

-       The decision to be taken by Cabinet was whether to agree the management strategy on how the Council would manage its assets. 

-       The list included in the AMP would be discussed and the comments raised by the speakers would be considered.

-       The car parking strategy would have to be finalised before consideration could be given to the disposal of any car parks.  A first draft was expected in the spring.

-       TWBC currently had a long lease with the freeholder (YMCA) for the TN2 centre.  TWBC were having informal discussions with the YMCA about allowing TWBC to relinquish the lease so that they could then provide the 5 community services in their centres. 

-       The TN2 Centre was in need of reinvigoration and regeneration and the YMCA as owners of the property might be better placed to undertake this work.

-       Any discussions about the Wesley Centre should be de-coupled from the Community Centre.

-       Residents would expect the Council to assess all of its assets.  Those that were not offering value (either community or financial) should then be considered for potential disposal. 

-       Listing all the possible assets for disposal was being open and transparent, but it didn’t mean they would all go forward.

-       Being intelligent with the assets the Council had would provide better value for residents.


RESOLVED – That Full Council be recommended that the Asset Management Plan 2023/24 be adopted


REASON FOR DECISION: The Plan supports the Council’s Corporate Priorities in the Five-Year Plan.

Supporting documents: