England

Surtees 'angry' at Tunbridge Wells building delay

Henry Surtees with his father
Image caption Henry Surtees was hoping to follow in his father's Formula One motor racing footsteps

Motorsport legend John Surtees has said he is angry that planners have delayed building work for a charity in memory of his racing driver son.

Brain injury charity Headway wanted to build a studio behind its day centre in Tunbridge Wells, Kent using money raised in memory of Henry Surtees.

But the borough council's planning committee decided not to approve the building because of its height.

It also said the work would be harmful to the roots of a nearby cedar tree.

Henry Surtees, 18, died in a crash during a Formula Two race at Brands Hatch last July.

Arts and crafts

His family raised £30,000 when they appealed for donations for Headway instead of flowers at his funeral at Worth Abbey, West Sussex. Henry was a pupil at Worth School.

Other fundraising activities since have raised tens of thousands more and there is now a charity, the Henry Surtees Foundation, dedicated to his memory.

His father said the oak-framed building planned for Headway in Culverden Park was for arts and crafts and was an upgraded version of one which had been granted planning permission.

"I am angry because I don't see any reason at all it should be have been refused. It is an attractive building," said Mr Surtees, who lives in Lingfield, Surrey.

"It is certainly no more imposing than other buildings close to the property and no one wishes to harm the tree."

Unanimous decision

He said contractors would be meeting the planning authority to discuss making modifications to the building.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council said the committee's decision to defer the application was unanimous.

"Previous correspondence with the applicant from August 2010 expressed the concerns of the council's planners towards the height of the proposed building and its potential affect on the Cedar tree, which adjoined the site," it said.

"The applicant, however, decided not to take on board the recommendations from the council's planners and decided to proceed with the application as originally submitted."

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