The District Council dealt with four planning applications at last night’s meeting:
The Air Cadet Headquarters in Connaught Road, Rayleigh. PASSED UNANIMOUSLY. This was an application to extend their building.
Officers were recommending refusal purely on Green Belt Grounds. They didn’t think there were exceptional circumstances here that would override Green Belt policy.
However councillors spoke very strongly in favour of the scheme. Ward member David Merrick made what was probably the most important speech of his political career so far. He remarked that the cadets currently had 40 members, with a waiting list of 30. This extension would give enough space to allow a total of 80 young people to be cadets.
Chris Lumley, Chris Black and Ron Oatham all spoke strongly in support as well. Chris Lumley said that he was amazed that officers couldn’t see special circumstances here. The scheme was passed – unanimously.
Weir Gardens, Rayleigh – demolish two properties and build 14 flats. REFUSED UNANIMOUSLY Officers were recommending approval here. However ward members Peter Webster and Simon Smith proposed refusal basically because of ‘overdevelopment’ and the bulk of the building compared with the modest chalets and bungalows around it. This was supported from all sides of the chamber and Cllr Webster actually thanked colleagues ‘of both parties – and of none’ – for this. The scheme was refused unanimously – but it may well go to appeal….
Bullwood Hall Prison , Hockley. Major roof extensions. PASSED BY LARGE MAJORITY This was an application to put new pitched roofs onto the prison, for better maintainance and security purposes. This is in the Green Belt, and some members didn’t think there were special circumstances here to override Green Belt policy , however it was passed by a large majority.
36 Hullbridge Road Rayleigh: Covert existing chalet into 4 flats and add two flats and a maisonette in the garden. TIED 10-10. PASSED ON CHAIRMANS CASTING VOTE. This chalet is the one with the ‘drooping eye’ window that faces you as you come along Rawreth Lane.
The scheme originallly had an exit for cars directly onto to Hullbridge Road- this was opposed by County Highways and the Rochford officers. However the proposed exit had now been shifted onto Mortimer Road and officers now supported the scheme.
Chris Black pointed out that the scheme had some similarities to the one in Weir Gardens that had been refused and was unhappy with the bulk appearance of the building. Ron Oatham moved refusal on the grounds of overdevelopment and unneighbourly appearance. Chris Black seconded refusal and it went to a very tight vote – Ron’s refusal was lost 11-10.
Someone then moved approval and that was tied 10-10. Chairman Simon Smith then voted in favour of the approval, saying that officers had recommended approval and that there had been a full debate. (Those same circumstances applied to the scheme in Weir Gardens where he supported refusal!)
One resident left the meeting very disappointed at what had happened.