Last night’s development committee saw the application for 41 2-bedroom flats (they’ll call them apartments to up the price) APPROVED. We really have to ask, is the Council’s Development Committee ‘asleep at the wheel?’
This application has been refused multiple times already and now providing just “three on-site affordable housing units” and nowhere near enough parking providing just 42 spaces and 1 visitor parking space. Council Officers propose that if there’s not enough parking for this development then either Castle Road or Websters way can be used (making more money for the council!)
Policy H4 of the Core Strategy seeks at least 35% of dwellings on all developments of 15 or more units, or on sites greater than 0.5ha, to be affordable. However, such quantity can be relaxed where the developer is able to demonstrate that 35% provision would be economically unviable, rendering the site undeliverable. As the proposed development is for 41 units this would equate to the need to provide 15 affordable dwellings.
In true style of Council Officers trying to justify approving applications that don’t meet planning policy they rely on referencing a planning appeal to support their proposal to lose the industrial site……
The RAAP (Rayleigh Area Action Plan) proposal does not allocate the site for any specific uses. It should also be noted that a site known as King George’s Court, on Eastwood Road close to the application site, grappled with same issue in the late 1990s (reference F/0631/97/ROC). This application went to appeal and the Inspector allowed the appeal and granted permission for the flatted scheme accepting the loss of the retail units that existed on the site although these units were redundant, whereas at the application site the units are generally occupied at present. Costs were also awarded to the applicant in relation to the retail loss argument of the appeal.
Given that the site is not allocated specifically for employment use and the other matters highlighted above, it is considered that there is not strong policy support for retention of employment uses at this site and that the Council would not be justified in refusing planning permission for the loss of employment uses here. Furthermore, it should be noted that the loss of employment uses here did not represent a reason for refusal in the previous applications.
There is so much more that the Council seems to ‘brush over’, air quality (Air Quality Management Area), congestion, loss of business, school places….