The planning application from local beauty therapist Joanne Embery has been approved at tonight’s meeting.
This was an application to convert some disused toilets in a former mushroom shed at Lubbards Farm into a very small beauty salon . Officers had pointed out that the site was in the Green Belt and recommended refusal.
Chris Black opened the debate and immediately proposed that the salon should be approved. He pointed out how small the salon would be, explained why Ms Embery was applying and in fact covered a lot of the points that people had left in their comments on onlinefocus. He also mentioned that Ron Oatham couldn’t be here tonight but fully supported the application.
In particular he asked for council policy R9 to be displayed on the screen, which said that redundant farm buildings should be re-used provided that:
“the proposed use would not introduce additional activity or traffic movements likely to materially and adversely affect the character of the Green Belt or place unacceptable pressures on the surrounding rural road network ;”
Chris said “The traffic from the salon would be miniscule and that if the officers thought it would materially affect the character of the Green Belt then that was… ” – at this point Hawkwell Councillor Phil Capon helpfully said “It’s Poppycock”
After Chris spoke, a whole wave of speakers came in support. Peter Robinson from Hullbridge seconded the approval, closely followed by Hawkwell’s Heather Glynn. Mavis Webster said that it was nonsense to say that it infringed any of the regulations.
Chris Lumley said that he had never seen such a response on a planning issue – he’d received more letters, emails, phone calls and even personal visits than on any other application outside his own ward. He added that a lot of Rayleigh people were affronted by the suggestion that this might damage the vitality of Rayleigh Town Centre when the officers hadn’t said this about Asda – and this raised a cynical laugh from a couple of councillors.
After this there was plenty of support from other speakers. The most notable comment came from Phil Capon who said “If this council wants to make itself into a laughing stock, it should refuse this application”
So the motion for approval was passed without anyone voting against. It was a clear sign that councillors had been impressed by the massive efforts of Joanne Embery’s customers and listened to what they were saying.