The odd subdued feeling I’ve got after the planning applications meeting success is purely down to a rotten cold, which transmutes into ‘man flu’ that we all know is one of the world’s most deadly illnesses [at least men say it is].
Anyway, facts first. Surrey Heath Council’s planning applications committee rejected the application for a Tesco Express at 89-91 Guildford Road, currently occupied by Surrey Homecare. The recommendation from the officer’s was to grant the application, so this was a signal success.
The meeting was well-chaired, as planning meetings can get heated. There was a large audience in the council chamber, the majority of whom it turned out were there to see what happened to Tesco’s application. They were a good-humoured bunch and clapped everybody who spoke against the Tesco application, except me. I’ll come back to that.
Mike Gilfrin, an independent planning consultant and Lightwater resident, spoke impressively against the application. Under questioning from the committee he argued that as Lightwater not likely to get any bigger, then an additional supermarket would only dilute the income of all the other shops, putting the viability of some of them at risk. What a good point from Mike. One supporter spoke up for the new development. He was certainly correct in saying that the existing building would benefit from a redevelopment. In that I’m sure there’s general agreement.
I must say that I was unsure that the committee would reject the application. Resolve often weakens over time. Therefore, the case I constructed was a bit complicated, in overturning an officer’s recommendation, sound planning reasons are needed, or alternatively the application of strict conditions. Also, it probably didn’t help that my delivery wasn’t great, hence, no clapping.
My case was that the committee should look solely at whether the planning inspector’s judgements, in refusing the previous application, had been satisfied in the new application. The key test was on highway safety, which the committee agreed was, again, still the reason for refusal. The second test on impact on neighbours, I suggested could be mitigated with a reduction in operating hours. I guess arguing for both was too complicated.
Anyway, I needed have worried. Cllr Vivienne Chapman was straight in arguing for refusal, followed by other councillors, all of whom were clapped vigorously. Oh, I should acknowledge the insight of a resident who alerted me to an error in the officer’s report. A small but significant error, which I feel it helped in a small way support the refusal.
Finally, here’s something that I didn’t put across well at all last night. In the accompanying papers to the application, it showed that there was an area reserved for servicing delivery lorries. Into which they would reverse. Yet, the plan on view to the committee showed this had been replaced with a bicycle rack. No reason was offered for this change, as the applicant wasn’t there to argue their case.
Now off for a reviving cup of tea, and two paracetamol and two ibuprofen tablets. I met an A&E nurse on holiday, who said that there’s no problem in taking both together as they’re different drugs. But, methinks that they make you mentally less sharp, and when you’re lacking brain power, as I do, you need all your wits about you in planning meetings.