We though it important as a group of local residents to write to you in response to your news item on July 7 regarding the Elms Public House development “Former pub to be converted despite residents objections”.
This development as reported received a significant amount of objections from our community. In fact no one, apart from the applicant themselves and the Planning Department supported it.
We all spent significant time assisting the Local Authority and county council in providing as much information as possible in order for them to understand the significant concerns that we had with overdevelopment, loss of light, overlooking, loss of community asset, parking and traffic safety in our neighbourhood.
Despite all of this, the planning committee voted to grant this development by 5 votes to 3 on June 30 and one vote to oppose instead of grant the application could have made a difference.
While we are disappointed and frustrated with the outcome, this is not the motivation for writing. It is because we feel it is important to provide a more accurate reflection of the planning consultation than the news item reflected to make your readers aware of the poor handling of the decision-making process at the Planning Committee meeting as well as the contempt shown towards a whole community by one elected member.
There were several examples of the planning process failing us which in our view were ignored by the planning committee:
The committee accepted our point that the traffic and parking situation is severe, yet perversely decided that if it is already severe then granting this development will not make much difference even if this adds more traffic on our streets and less parking as we already suffer with this issue.
Furthermore they accepted our argument that the WSCC Highway Authority investigations which recommended approval were poorly executed but chose to make a decision on the flawed evidence anyway, not even considering deferring decision in order to correct this.
No explanation was provided as to how WSCC insisted that 12 parking spaces should be available, then this suddenly changed to 10. Therefore this development was short of 3 spaces and not 1 as stated.
The Planning Department and Planning Committee were in full knowledge that the nursery option was a viable opportunity to keep the site as a community asset but failed to even consider this option.
Finally, this whole situation was compounded by an insulting comment by Cllr Edward Crouch in response to many parents raising legitimate concerns over traffic safety stating that we can “mitigate this with better parenting” which was seen as offensive by myself and other neighbours present at the meeting.
We walked away from the Planning Committee meeting feeling utterly frustrated and let down by this so called impartial process of consultation.
Our Ward Councillors in Broadwater, Paul Baker, Bryan Turner and Nigel Morgan were very helpful in supporting our objections but we feel incredibly let down by officers in the Planning Department and members on the Planning Committee. We do hope you are willing to put this response from us to print so that readers are aware of the way in which residents have been let down by those whom we elect to represent our interests.
In the meantime, this community asset will be lost forever and we will all suffer the consequences of this poorly executed decision.
On behalf of residents in Broadwater Street East and Beaumont Road, Broadwater
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