Last Thursday night councillors had to decide on two applications in the Green Belt. One was for 4 bungalows at Trenders Avenue , Rawreth. Another was for an admin and training centre for the charity Disability Essex. In each case the applicants argued that their schemes should be approved because of ‘exceptional’ circumstances – and both schemes were passed after close votes.
The Trenders Avenue scheme was at Searles Yard, a reclamation yard for architectural and building materials. Residents living next door wanted the yard to go because of the extra traffic it brought down a narrow unmade road and because the yard by its very nature wasn’t suitable to be near housing.
Ron Oatham proposed that the scheme should be passed , saying that it could be treated as an exception because government policy supported the removal of ‘bad neighbour sites’ and our draft district core strategy supported this. Hawkwell Tory Phil Capon seconded the motion.
When it came to a vote, the scheme was passed by 17 votes to 13. As usual, voting cut across party lines, with Ron, Chris Black , Chris Lumley and June Lumley voting for it, and Jackie Dillnutt voting against.
The site for the Disability Essex training centre was on part of the playing field at the Rocheway centre in Rochford (no actual sport pitches would be lost, although the club that uses the site – Hambro Colts- would lose a training area).
Cllr Mavis Webster argued very strongly for the scheme, although she didn’t move approval. That was done by Residents’ councillor John Mason , seconded by Tory Michael Starke. Ward councillor Sue Harper spoke against the scheme, Chris Black spoke in favour.
In the end it was supported by 18 votes to 15 – it now goes to the government for approval because it is a departure from our local plan (just like the Southend United scheme a few months ago).
UPDATE: Cllr John Mason gives his version of events here. We probably wouldn’t describe any of the Conservative councillors as insane, though…