Chris and Ron recently received a letter from Coral, who are applying for permission to build at the front of the Asda site. With their permission, we are printing most of the letter below.
As councillors we have to keep an open mind in advance of the council committee meeting (whenever that is). We won’t be commenting here ourselves, except perhaps to deal with any factual errors.
But if we can start a dialogue between the applicants and residents , that could be useful for everyone. So we welcome everyone’s comments – please approach this in a positive way.
PROPOSALS BY CORAL PROJECTS LIMITED, RAWRETH LANE, RAYLEIGH
I hope you will excuse the direct contact with you as the Ward Councillor for the Downhall and Rawreth Area. However, we thought that it would be helpful to write to provide you with some of the background and context to our proposals to provide the remaining element of the mixed use neighbourhood centre envisaged as part of the wider development of the former Park School Site on Rawreth Lane.
I would like to begin by stressing that we are not connected to Asda in anyway and indeed we have only recently become aware of the controversy that surrounded their previous proposals.
By way of background we are a small company that specialise in providing local/neighbourhood shopping facilities to meet the day to day shopping requirements of local communities. We pride ourselves in providing truly local facilities, somewhat in contrast, to larger one stop national multiple operators who appear to increasingly dominate the convenience retail market.
Due to our relatively small size and our speciality in providing local facilities we are often able to take forward proposals where others are struggling with viability. We have had to work hard to ensure that the proposals, as they are currently being promoted, could realistically come forward and provide a vital and viable shopping centre for the surrounding community.
By way of further background we benefit from an agreement to purchase the land from Asda Stores Ltd subject to planning permission which has given us the opportunity to promote the current planning application. Should we be successful we will develop the mixed use building for neighbourhood centre and incorporate a mix of uses that will ensure the sustainability and vibrancy of the centre. A lot of thought has been given to the actual mix of uses which is crucial to ensure that the aforementioned sustainability and vibrancy is achieved.
We have been careful to create sufficient flexibility within the description of the development to ensure the best prospects of letting all of the units. It will be in no ones interest to have voids within any proposal which will detract from overall aesthetics and undermine the parades role and function.
The most significant difference between the latest proposals and those granted on Appeal is the introduction of residential accommodation on the first and second floor. This is seen as essential to ensure that the proposals are viable and can be delivered. The introduction of residential above retail units is supported by both national and local policies and has additional benefit in ensuring that the aesthetic quality of the proposal is maintained in the long term and that natural surveillance is provided to ensure the security for both proposed and existing residents.
With regard to the overall design, we have been careful to emulate that which has been granted consent, although we are currently in discussions with officers of the Council over various details.
There is some debate in respect of whether or not affordable housing, as part of the scheme, is applicable given current policies within the Local Plan. However we have undertaken to provide 15% of units as affordable and are currently in discussions with officers with the Councils Housing Department to establish the mechanism to take these forward. Individual parking spaces will be provided for all of the units proposed.
Our proposals give the neighbour centre the diversity of uses that should be expected of any sustainable neighbourhood centre. The mix of uses provide retailing, health/community use and residential accommodation (including much needed affordable units) that provide security to the centre.
I sincerely hope that you are able to support these proposals and we would be more than willing to come and discuss our position with you if that is seen as appropriate.