Thursday, 22 November 2012

Committee Credibility

As expected, a much easier Planning Committee meeting, but an awful lot to fit in.

The first brought back item on Church Cottages, Birchington resulted in refusal after an extended debate about what was described as a "fall back position". Its a bit difficult to explain this without posting lots of plans etc (and for more detail its best to check out the meeting agenda on the last post's link), but basically the proposal was an extension that would block the light from a neighbouring property's kitchen diner, and given its the only source of light for that room, its a serious impact on that property.

Next up was the Lymington Road micro-pub application which got approval with the conditions agreed with the applicant and a new one about not allowing amplified music. Not really that much to say about this one, because despite the 200-signatory petition collated by Simon Moores and the no vote from Cllr King on last night and the previous meeting, there was little doubt it would pass.

Maurice House got a bit of a talk but with the experience of Cllr Dark added to debate it seemed to alleviate concerns on this development. The Committee was happy to approve this, seeing the need for such a unit as a strong enough reason to overrule the Green Wedge argument,  but it had a few concerns which needed ironing out. In the end it got its approval fairly smoothly, much like the micro-pub previous.

The consideration of a conservatory in Ryders Avenue, Westgate, saw an interesting spectacle of Cllrs Campbell and King duelling over it's impact and the way in which it has progressed, seeing as this application originally came from an application rejected by Planning but granted on appeal a while back. The biggest sticking point was about a handful of windows under the approved plans which would peek over the boundary into the neighbours property, with the unusual problem of the applicant seeming to be the one who would be negatively affected by it. The new plans would remove this and the argument was that it'd be unsightly with bare brickwork.

Cllr Campbell argued that the windows would be unlikely to change anything and that as the Inspector noted in the appeal, it was a "benefit" to the development but was not key to it. Cllr King disagreed, arguing that Planning Committee should be willing to say no rather than taking the soft option of accepting the amendments and should instead be forcing the applicant to put into effect the already approved plans.

Both Campbell and King argued that the credibility of Planning Committee was at stake by this decision, which only added to the atmosphere. This was a very unusual application to have to decide and both Campbell and King had very valid points. Part of the problem was that they were interpreting a section of the Inspector's judgement which wasn't very clear on this aspect and depending on who was reading was open to this sort of argument. A fascinating debate where ultimately approval was granted.

Out of the remaining items, only the Solar Park application got a real debate, though there wasnt going to be a refusal but it was noted by some Members that this was prime agricultural land and that with the number of such applications coming through attention will have to be paid to how many of these should be allowed given the demand on farming.

No comments: