Many thanks to Paul Trathen for chairing the meeting, and a gold medal to CCR for taking 11 pages of minutes and then typing them up!
MINUTES OF A PUBLIC MEETING CONCERNING THE PROPOSED DEVELOPMENT AT THE FRONT OF THE ASDA SITE ON RAWRETH LANE RAYLEIGH
HELD AT ST NICHOLAS CHURCH RAWRETH ON TUESDAY 19TH AUGUST AT 8.00 P.M.
The meeting was chaired by Reverend Paul Trathen of St Nicholas Church Rawreth. Also in attendance were:-
Councillor Chris Black (CB)
Councillor Ron Oatham (RO)
Nick Morgan (NM) Project Coral
Jason Davies (JD) Project Coral
Ben Ellis (BE) Planning Potential
Rob Skidding (RS) Planning Potential
The meeting opened at 8.00 p.m. with the Chairman welcoming all present. Members of the ?Panel? were introduced. The Chairman stated that it was the intention that the meeting proceed on an informal basis with members of the public coming up to the microphone to ask their questions concerning the proposed development at the Asda site.
NM, for Project Coral, (PC) opened the meeting and stated that he wished to clarify matters. Project Coral are not working for Asda. The company is co-owned by NM and JD and was intending to take forward the proposed mixed-use development on the site. They are specialists in this particular type of mixed-use development and have developed many other similar sites across the U.K. NM has over 19 years experience in this type of development ? which could include shops, community usage, health centre etc. JD explained that he also had similar experience.
BE explained that his expertise was in planning and he had previously been involved in the Asda application . He, therefore, has good knowledge of the history of this site. BE explained that there had been a previous application on this site ? which has been consented too – and that the new application follows a similar footprint. Namely, that there will be retail usage ? was 7 units, now 6, residential accommodation above the retail units and that there was a D1 consent for possible community use.
He said that PC had read the comments on Online Focus and were mindful of ensuring the best mix and diversity of A1 retail units. After discussions, today, with the Planning Department, he said that PC were willing to consider putting a condition into their planning application to limit the types of retail usage. BE stated that the present application was very close to the original consented scheme.
It was also stated that should the present planning application fail then PC would not purchase the site and the control of the land and its future usage would rervert back to Asda control. They were aware of the recommendations to refuse the application, as stated on Online Focus. This consisted of the following four points:-
The proposed building is of a comparable design and appearance to a similar building previously allowed on appeal. The changes to the siting and size of the building are minor and given the setting of the building would not prove harmful to the character and appearance of the area.
The proposal however introduces a considerable number of flats to the upper floors above commercial uses to ground floor that whilst giving life and vitality out of hours would have no amenity space or sufficient car parking necessary to meet the reasonable expectations of those future occupiers.
The applicant seeks to achieve consent for a wide range of commercial uses that serve the local community in the range of services that would be provided. However, no information is provided as to how the variety of uses might be secured in perpetuity. Control would be rested with the landlord and could lead to a domination of particular uses effectively bypassing controls by statute that is in place to address community acceptability.
The proposal includes sufficient numbers of flats such that provision should be made for affordable housing. Although the applicant makes a case for no provision in view of provision on the greater site elsewhere, nonetheless accepts that the provision of at least three units is required. No particulars or agreement have been submitted to achieve this as part of the consideration of the application
PC and PP had met with Council Planning Officers today and reiterated their statement, that they were happy to look at a possible amendment of their application to include conditions on the types of retail usage.
QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR
1. Consent given?
The resident stated that the District Council had never consented to the development and neither had the residents ? it was the Secretary Of State that had consented on appeal.
BE stated that he was aware of this and took the Residents;? point. He gave the history of the matter and said that he was aware of the local feeling but was also aware that a mixed-use development was of the type that was most wanted locally. He was aware of the bad feeling towards Asda but did not want this project to be tainted by the ill feeling. JD asked residents to look at this proposal on its own merits and PC as a separate entity.
2. A resident asked if the ?Panel? felt that the local area was being over-developed?
The Chairman asked that questions be kept specific to this development.
3. A resident asked why, considering that PC and PP had read the Online Focus comments, did the developers not see that this type of development was unwanted here. He cited rodents, traffic issues and the potential problems that take- Awa?s or pubs could bring?
BE stated that they were all here tonight to listen to residents and that Online Focus does not represent the views of all of the local residents. BE reiterated the possibility of inserting conditions in the planning application and that he understood the concerns being expressed. PC have a willingness to listen, hear concerns and address them if they can.
4. Resident was aware that the development would contain a mix of residential and retail units. However, what was to stop one of the retail units later becoming a pub?
NM explained that, in this development, PC hoped to meet the public?s aspirations. If restrictions are placed on the land then they usually stay with the land. However, this was a commercial venture and with the planning application, as it stands, there were no plans for a Public House.
CB, who is on the District Council Planning Committee, stated that it may be possible in future for application to be made for a change of use. He stated a developer who applies may be refused and, if so, a reason for refusal has to be given. Sometimes the vagueness of an application can make it hard for the District Council to enforce. He also explained that a SAT6 condition could be placed on a retail property and this lays down certain criteria which makes changes of use more difficult to obtain.
BE said that if a specific condition was inserted into the present application as to types of units e.g. 2 x A1 Usage, or 2 Professional Services etc this would be preferable to stating exactly what each unit could or could not be. If conditions were too specific it may not be possible to let the retail units.
5. A resident commented that it had been stated ? If planning permission is received the development would be viable? If it was not received does that mean it would not be viable and would not proceed?
BE stated that this was difficult to assess at the moment. His company are working within all the perameters of the previously consented scheme and the local officers and with Government planning guidance for ?residential over retail? to stay as close as they could to the current consent.
6. Would the design of the development be sympathetic with the surroundings?
NM said that the current application contained some artwork. Copies of this were distributed. He stated that he felt the architectural style to be in keeping with that of the locality and that the look gave one of a residential building.
CB stated that the originally consented scheme had no residential element, whereas this application has. RO also stated that the first application had been refused due to its residential element.
7. If Asda already has planning permissions for seven retail units why are they not building them?
BE said that Asda still could. He could not comment on why they had chosen not to proceed.
8. Asda itself so if permission is refused and PC choose not to proceed will ownership then pass back to Asda and allow them to build a petrol station? It is assumed that the seven retail units could be in direct competition with
BE reminded residents that PC are not Asda. If PC get their permission then they will buy the site by way of a purchase contract between themselves and Asda and proceed in accordance, in so far as is possible, with the aspirations of the public.
9. The majority of residents do not want certain types of retail establishment, they are concerned that, whatever types of business occupy the units, there will be some duplication with what already exists locally. Also there are concerns with regard to vandalism of vacant units. The local High Street is already full of empty shops and therefore this development cannot be seen as to be commercially viable.
BE stated that consent already exists and he stated again that PC would do all they could to ensure the development was in keeping with the locality, they would do all they could to dispel future uncertainty and work within guideline perameters. There will be a retail element to this development ? just how it is to be delivered is the question.
10. Where will people using the retail units park ? not many spaces are evident on the plans?
BE ? this is a mixed-use development and part of a neighbourhood centre ? of which Asda was the first part. Therefore it is envisaged that cars using the retail units will use the main Asda car park.
Residential parking for the flats about the retail units ? concerns has been raised by local Councillors.
11. Essex County Council recommends 1.5 parking spaces to be allocated per flat built ? how does this equate on this development? Where do visitors to residents of the flats park? Local roads are too narrow and congested.
BE ? 19 spaces had been allocated and there were now 24 in the latest application. 29 were wanted. PC have agreed to look at reducing the number of residential units to meet standards. Visitors could use local neighbourhood parking ?Asda?
12. What about re-instating the community use element?
BE agreed to look at this
13 – CB asked if PC still intended to present their application at the forthcoming Council Planning meeting or not ? in the light of their proposed amendments or adding of a condition?
BE said that they consider taking this to the Secretary of State, but that?s not the approach we want they wanted to take. They will go back and take into account all the points and make amendments. It may be the case we withdraw the application from the next committee and come up with an alternative proposal.
14. What about the units being in competition with Asda? Surely there is a market that is being targeted for these particular units ? people you have in mind? How many similar developments have PC been involved in?
NM said that PC was committed to developing a market interest in the development.. BE said that trades such as florists, small bakers etc ? niche traders were the sort of businesses that they hoped would fill the units. Asda was the main draw for shoppers and the fact that other shops were available would be a bonus. Any conditions placed in planning regs could not be too specific or restrictive or the units may not get let. Other possible uses were discussed including a caf? etc.
NM said he had been involved in ?some? other similar developments and BE said he had been involved in 100 plus
15. Had there been any interest in the market place in the taking-up of any of the units?
The retail units were being marketed by Bidwells . NM said information had been mailed out to likely purchasers.
16. Were PC aware of the increase in traffic levels this development was likely to bring?
BE – Whilst it was appreciated traffic had increased since the opening of the Asda store, it was anticipated that the retail development would not significantly increase traffic as the smaller shops would feed off existing shoppers visiting Asda. Delivery vehicles were likely to be of the size of a transit van ? not the HGVs Asda use. There may be some additional traffic as a result of the residential element but there was no significant increase anticipated within the context of the original consent.
17. Would these flats bring down the prices of those in Temple Way ? as they would be in ?direct competition? with them?
BE ? there is a great demand for flats at present . It is possible that some of the units may be deemed ?affordable? housing . The previous consent was unfettered and contained no conditions on type of accommodation.
In summing up:–
CB ? People feel anxiety over the unknown element. It may be advantageous to see details of similar developments undertaken by PC and perhaps arrange site visits to look at the sort of retailers using the units.
RO ? Asked if there were any restrictions placed on the development by Asda?
JD ? only that no retail foodstore or convenience store is to be built.
BE ? He felt that he, NM and JD had given open and honest answers to the questions asked . He did feel the animosity towards the development but reiterated that the Secretary Of State had given initial consent to the development and many of the same elements are in existence in this application.
Concerns were expressed regarding parking and possible future issues.
CB – thanked all who attended and reminded them that the Planning Committee meeting was next Thursday at the Civic Suite in Rayleigh. All were welcome to attend but only one person could speak against and one for the development.
The Chairman thanked everyone for attending and stated that he felt that the meeting had been a ?useful experiment?.
The meeting closed a 9.00 p.m.