The report was presented by Nadia Houghton.
Councillor Halden noted that the health contribution from the applicants were £12,500 and queried what the contribution was for. He said that the amount was little and was aware that local practices did not have enough resources to meet the extra demands from the proposal. He also sought further detail on ‘less than substantial harm’ in relation to the heritage assessment. Nadia Houghton answered that the details as to how this contribution would be used by the NHS had not been provided to the Council and that the contribution was asked for by the NHS (Mid and South Essex) who had its own formula as to how the contribution would have been calculated. In regards to the heritage assessment, she said that the Heritage Team had identified less than substantial harm, which was not no harm, but that the level of harm caused was considered not sufficient to warrant a refusal of the proposal on heritage grounds.
Councillor Piccolo questioned why the car park on the site had not been included in the plan but instead formed part of the s106 agreement. He asked if the s106 agreement could be changed without the Committee’s consent. Nadia Houghton explained that the applicant had not extended the red line boundary to include all of the car park, and suggested that the red line was in the applicant’s control but the extent of the red line may have been due to the planning history from 2018. She said that any material changes to a s106 agreement that had been agreed and approved by Committee, would need to come back to Committee to be considered.
Speaker statements were heard from:
Shane Hebb, Ward Councillor in objection.
Danny Simmons, Agent in support.
Councillor Piccolo sought details in regards to including 3 hours free parking in the s106 agreement; whether the applicants could increase car parking charges in the future; and if the applicants could remove the car park for future development. Councillor Polley also asked if the applicants would consult with impacted local businesses on changes to car parking charges similar to the case of Corringham Town car park. Nadia Houghton said that she understood the points raised by Members and said that the site was privately owned but the applicant was agreeing to retain a short term stay car parking fee with the 42 spaces that remained for the town centre car park.
Councillor Fletcher asked whether these 42 spaces were for the proposed flats. He said that some of the future flat occupants may have two cars and queried where these would park. Nadia Houghton answered that there were designated spaces for the flats which was one space per flat. She said that the car park was a public car park and not within the red line boundary of the proposal and would have its own controls but could be used by members of the public subject to those controls. Julian Howes added that the car park had cameras and residents from the flats would not be able to overstay in the car park.
Councillor Piccolo questioned whether residents of the flats could apply through the visitor parking scheme as there were only 3 visitor spaces. Julian Howes pointed out that residents who were not eligible for the resident parking scheme would also not be eligible for other parking schemes as highlighted in the planning conditions and informatives.
Councillor Polley asked whether the applicant was the same applicant in the 2018 application and also the landowner. Nadia Houghton said that the applicant was the same one from the 2018 application but was unsure whether they were also the purchasing landowner when the site was sold, but the applicant would be aware of the caveat mentioned in relation to the site.
Councillor Akinbohun asked how many of the spaces were for disabled users and whether a disabled user would be charged if they parked in a non-disabled bay if all disabled bays were full. Nadia Houghton answered that there were two allocated on the site. Julian Howes explained that the service could suggest no charges for disabled users parking in non-disabled bays but explained that most disabled bays had a time limit.
The Chair noted that the caveat in the land sale of the site was an agreement that the land owner retain 100 car parking spaces as requested by the Council. He asked whether this would be a material planning consideration to which Nadia Houghton confirmed that it would not be given that planning permission had expired.
Councillor Halden stated that he had no objection to regeneration in the area and felt that weight should be given to retaining the 100 parking spaces as per the land sale conditions. He pointed out that the development would be a ‘substantial modern change’ to the area and said that this was enough to cause harm to the heritage asset near the site. He felt that £12,500 health contribution was not enough and had not heard any positive comments about the proposal.
Councillor Piccolo said that the drawings of the proposed building were inaccurate as the drawings implied the proposed building was the same in height as the shops. He stated that the proposed building would look imposing in comparison to the surrounding buildings and that it did not fit in with the town’s appearance. He said that he was not against the development but that the car park was needed.
Councillor Polley commented that following the appeal of the previous decision on the application, the applicant had not worked well with the Council to resolve previous issues. The Vice-Chair commented that there were parking issues in the area. Councillor Watson said that she liked the plan but there needed to be a good blend between modern designs with heritage assets. She said that there needed to be an agreement on the car parking charges in the s106 agreement before approval could be granted. Councillor Halden said that the application needed to be revised and recommended refusing the application.
The Chair said that the applicant had scaled down on the development following the appeal. He went on to say that the only material consideration for refusal was in regards to the impact on the listed building which the Planning Inspectorate had looked at in appeal. Leigh Nicholson noted that most of the debate had focussed on the parking charges and spaces. He advised the committee of the option to defer the application to enable the applicant to look into these issues.
The Committee discussed deferring the application.
No Members proposed recommendation A of the officer’s recommendation.
The Vice-Chair proposed deferring the application to enable the applicant to look into the following:
- parking options to provide free car parking in the town centre car park which could be secured in the s106 agreement;
- further clarify the NHS contribution of £12,500; and,
- for consideration to be given as to the impact to the listed Church near the site.
This was seconded by Councillor Watson.
For: (6) Councillors Steve Liddiard (Vice-Chair), Mike Fletcher, Terry Piccolo, Georgette Polley, Lee Watson and Abbie Akinbohun
Against: (2) Councillors Tom Kelly (Chair) and James Halden.
The meeting was adjourned at 7.58pm for a short break and reconvened at 8.05pm.