The report was presented by the Major Applications Manager.
Councillor Byrne commented that a previous application for a bigger development seemed to sail through with approval from officers, however this application which was a smaller development and in the same location was being put forward for refusal.
The Major Applications Manager explained that the location had key differences at the time when the application in question came through it was in line with the local development framework, where the need for a hospice was highlighted. He continued by explaining the sites were not linked and the local authority had carried out a planning test as with all sites.
Speaker statement was heard from:
Mark Jackson, agent in support.
Councillor Byrne commented that Members needed to be consistent in our approach for this type of development as we had said yes to a much larger development nearby the site. He commented that this current application had been submitted by a family business who also looked after the local church. He continued by mentioning that a bigger development had been approved by the committee which was located across the road from the current site and he could not understand why Members were happy to approve that application yet seemed to have concerns with this one.
Steve Taylor stated that the location of the development was on the narrowest part of the Green Belt, which when established was between 25 to 35 miles around London which was why it was called the metropolitan greenbelt. He continued to state that the location where the development was suggesting to be built had about 5 miles of greenbelt remaining, this would be cut in half should the Local Thames Crossing go ahead, he further commented that the location of the development had no pavements for children to walk or local services, no bus stops and no special circumstances that he could see for the application to be approved.
Councillor Byrne mentioned that the development would result in creating up to 200 jobs for our captains of industry. Councillor Piccolo queried with Councillor Byrne where these 200 jobs would be coming from in relation to this development.
Councillor Halden mentioned when he first looked at the application he was happy to support Officers recommendations and oppose the development on the grounds that it was to be built on the Green Belt however as 2 of the 3 reasons were openness and characteristics of the site. He found this difficult to agree with as there was now a housing development site on the other side of the road which had already created the characteristics for the road and limited openness of the greenbelt.
Councillor Fletcher stated he knew how Councillor Halden felt, as looking at the application it was principle against practical consideration, which was why he had queried the building north-west of the site and if this was to be replaced as part of the application the site would be no more open than it currently was. He continued by stating his understanding was that just because there was a new development in the area, did not change the fact that the land was Green Belt.
Councillor Watson commented that she understood where Councillor Byrne was coming from, however the decision made with regards to the bigger development site was decided by a different Committee of members than those currently sitting on the Committee. She continued by stating there were plenty of Brownfield sites which could be developed and the application in front of them was still a Green Belt issue.
Councillor Polley remarked on the impact on the heritage of the site, she continued by stating following statement from Heritage officer it was clear that the development would cause harm to the heritage of the site.
Councillor Liddiard commented that they needed to make it clear to developers that we will not accept piecemeal development with 6 dwellings here, and 5 houses there, and that Members should say no to this.
The Chair of the Committee proposed officer’s recommendation and this was seconded by the Councillor Fletcher.
For: (6) Councillors Tom Kelly (Chair), Steve Liddiard (Vice-Chair), Mike Fletcher, Terry Piccolo, Georgette Polley and Lee Watson
Against: (2) Councillors Gary Byrne and James Halden