Original article from Kent Live
Furious residents in High Brooms in Tunbridge Wells staged an angry protest during what has been an ongoing battle with developers.
People living in Blackthorn Avenue gathered in the cul-de-sac for a full scale protest again what they characterise as the destruction of their quiet place of living.
They claim problems really began at the start of this year when the builders arrived and erected hoarding on the site where new houses were to be built.
Neighbours also said during the protest last Wednesday (July 28) their mental health had significantly been impacted by the escalating situation.
Signing up to the KentLive newsletter means you'll get the latest news direct to your inbox twice a day.
It couldn't be simpler and it takes seconds – simply press here, enter your email address and follow the instructions. You can also enter your email address in the box below the picture on most desktop and mobile platforms.
You can also sign up to our website and comment on our stories by pressing here and signing in.
Dudo Rae, 54 and a mother, said residents were left surprised by the lack of support provided by local authorities.
"Problems first began for us when developers started constructing on the site, which was around March," she said.
"We have always been left to get on with it, there has been very little regard for our welfare.
"We absolutely feel very let down by the council, problems have not been resolved in a manner that we think would be appropriate."
Problems began when Tunbridge Wells Borough Council sold the cul-de-sac in Blackthorn Avenue to developer Albert Ini, without informing residents.
The initial plan was for the access to the site to be made via Aspen Way Clare Stevens, owns a section of land that the builders wished to cross.
The 54-year-old did move to Blackthorn Avenue in 1993, but moved to the nearby Aspen Way in 1998.
'The access via the cul-de-sac has been ridiculous'
"We said that they couldn't do that," she said.
"It was then decided very quickly that the access would be through the cul-de-sac.
"The access via the cul-de-sac for all of the vehicles has been absolutely ridiculous."
The planning officer granted the developer and builders permission to drive on and erect hoarding on council land.
Builders have driven over a nearby public footpath in order to gain access to the site, which has angered residents.
"I feel very intimidated when these people are around, my daughter does too," Ms Rae said.
"I shouldn't feel this way in my own home.
"We've lived here for decades, very very quietly, and now we have these issues."
Diana Hall, 47, has lived in the area since 2005.
'I have suffered with panic attacks'
The single mum-of-two explained that her mental wellbeing has suffered as a result of the tension in the area.
"I have suffered with panic attacks for the last two years and they have increased over the last three months," she said.
"I'm almost having nightly panic attacks, I just don't get any rest, every spare minute is taken up with emails, phone calls and research.
"I'm having to work full-time from home and my office has a window directly overlooking the site."
Residents also say that they have been notified by the developer that he will charge them for repair of the cul-de-sac.
In addition, residents will be forced to apply for a parking permit at £500 per year, which has left them furious.
"The problems here have just kept growing and growing," Mrs Rae added.
"It's now got to the point where we've been told we will have to pay for the upkeep of the cul-de-sac and for a parking permit which is just ridiculous.
"We simply want to raise awareness of all other plans being raised for the area."
Philippa Anderson, 69, has lived on Blackthorn Avenue since 1987, when her house was first built.
'It's just been destroyed'
In all the time that she had lived in the area, the community care worker said it was always a peaceful area.
"I was the first person in this house and it has always been such a lovely cul-de-sac," she said.
"All my friends envied me for living here, but now it's just been destroyed.
"The good thing to have come from this, though, is that we've definitely all come together.
"We're all fighting for each other, which is lovely."
The protest saw locals park their cars across part of the cul-de-sac while signs demanding the developer leaves adorned windows.
Some protesters also made signage to hold, while others stuck messages to their wheelie bins.
Speaking to the purpose of the protest itself, Mrs Rae added: "We want the site to be shut down immediately until this has all be resolved.
"Our end game is we want the cul-de-sac either within our possession or it should be returned to the council.
"We also want to raise awareness of the plans being proposed in the area, they just keep building on green spaces, but people need these spaces especially considering the issues with our mental health."
A spokesperson for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said: "In 2018 Tunbridge Wells Borough Council sold some of the land it owns on Blackthorn Avenue, the sale included a grassed area and an area of road at the end of a cul-de-sac.
"A 'for sale' notice was put on the land before the sale at auction.
"Planning permission has since been granted to the new owner of the land to build three houses on the grassed area.
"Nearby residents have rights of access to their driveways across the area of road.
"We understand the residents are now in dispute with the new owner over parking on the area of road he owns."
KentLive did reach out to the developer Albert Ini, but he redirected any further enquiries to his solicitor.
Sign up to get the latest stories from Kent direct in to your inbox here