Agenda item 4 was introduced as a mix of care and residential use with bungalows and two storey flats. There was screening for the development which would remove a non conforming use. Cllr Kelly asked about access to the site from two named roads. He said he had looked at it on Google Earth. He mentioned bollards and asked about vehicle access to the proposed site. He said there was no condition to bollard the entry which would need a Traffic Regulation Order to be processed. He asked for a condition to be added. Matthew Rushton said it was not as a specific condition but it would be best as a condition. The Chair said it was appropriate to have a condition regarding details of these facing the South-East. Cllr Kelly asked if this would remove permitted development rights. All councillors voted in favour, including the addition of the extra condition.
Item 6 had an amendment to the conditions. Cllr Mitchell and Johnson proposed. All were in favour.
Item 7 had been withdrawn.
Item 8 was proposed by Cllr Mitchell and Cllr Boult. All were in favour.
Item 9 had been agreed earlier in the meeting for a site visit.
Item 10 was proposed by Cllr Johnson and Cllr Mitchell.
The Chair commented that Cllr Realey had not been as vocal and vociferous as usual.
Item 10 was approved by all councillors.
Item 11 was proposed by Cllr Mitchell and Cllr Johnson and was approved.
Item 12 was proposed by Cllr Mitchell and Cllr Johnson and was approved.
Cllr Johnson asked what “sui generis” meant on page 70 on item 14. Unfortunately the planning officer didn’t turn his microphone on so I didn’t hear the answer.
Cllr Boult said he had a problem and wanted to discuss something in closed session without the press and public present. The Chair said it was unusual but agreed so the rest of the meeting considering any other business was held in closed session.
The Chair said it would be dedicated to the hundred and forty households. He said it was better to consult these hundred and forty people asking under the circumstances whether they wanted it or not? He said “Everybody made mistakes”. Matthew Rushton said further consultation would come from the Parks and Countryside Service who have the money which was one option. Cllr Elderton asks for suggested solutions. He said he accepted a or b. Options a and b were proposed and seconded.
There was a vote which split along party lines. Seven councillors (Lib Dem and Labour) voted for option A. Five councillors voted against for option B. Therefore option A (The Local Planning Authority accepts the dedication of land and constructs a play area to the value of £56,000 (plus interest), on that portion of the site indicated at Appendix 1) was accepted.
Cllr Lewis asked if they would have to get planning permission. Matthew Rushton said it was permitted development so it didn’t require planning permission. It would be designed and they would apply for permission. The Chair said the original s.106 was flawed and this was retrospective. He was not happy it was a practical solution. Matthew Rushton said there would be a twelve month period as it would have to fit in with the work program. The Chair said they had spent a lot of time on it. Cllr Mitchell asked why as they had made the decision they hadn’t moved on to the next item? The Chair agreed that was the end of it.
Cllr Bernie Mooney said there had been 26 residents opposed, but what about the other hundred, what if they say they want a play area, what are the legal implications? Cllr Elderton said this had been raised in the briefing. They were asking to take into account the views of twenty-six versus one hundred and forty. He said Cllr Lewis had concluded that everybody wants no play facility.
Cllr Lewis said the ward he represents was interesting electorally. He said the opposition outweighs the benefits and “the residents don’t want it”. Cllr Hayes pointed out the variation to the s.106 agreement regarding the water feature. Matthew Rushton said there had been an application to remove the water feature two years ago and a decision was made. The water feature had been put in because of its nature conservation value as it supported wildlife. However after the houses had been built its nature conservation value had decreased. There had been a planning application made with public consultation and it had not been part of a legal agreement. The legal adviser mentioned about maintaining the area.
The Chair said nobody was “smelling of roses”. However he said if it had gone ahead there would’ve been consultation on what it would have looked like. Matthew Rushton said if it proceeded the Parks and Countryside Service would do consultation. The wording of s.106 agreements usually required the developer to build something after a certain proportion of the housing had been completed. There was no deadline with relation to this case which was unusual and it didn’t rely on other things which was unique.
Cllr Salter said he had been on Planning Committee for nearly ten years. Large developments included a play area. The Council or the builder had done wrong. There had been a big argument about Port Sunlight where they hadn’t wanted children to play. They played on the roads instead so he had decided to go for option a). Cllr Kelly asked how large was the original application in terms of number of houses.
Cllr Elderton said it was for one hundred and forty houses. Cllr Kelly asked about traffic calming on the Reeds Lane/Dibbins Lane junction and the status of the 3600 m² in its Unitary Development Plan designation for example Green Open Space. Matthew Rushton said it had triggered a threshold because of the number of houses which required a play area. The policies had not changed since then.
Technical Services referred to the crossing from Whiteheath to Reeds Lane. Matthew Rushton said in the Unitary Development Plan it was primarily residential and specifically an amenity open space. It was unlikely to get planning permission for development as the policies had been tightened up regarding flooding. It was not a green space due to the plan and policy recommendation to develop a play area. Cllr Hayes said the circumstances had changed and asked Where will the children play? He said there was a brand new play area for them. He said with retrospective public opposition they should go for B and accept the 3600 m² of land.
Cllr Mitchell also referred to resident’s concerns about derelict land. He asked why it had taken so long to make a decision? He was going for option a which was the original decision. He said a certain area of land had been dedicated for it.
The Chair said it was unique. He referred to the £75,000 spent nearby, which mitigated the problem. He was not sure how valid it was. They had in the past agreed in some cases to make changes that went against the Unitary Development Plan such as a sports facility in an industrial area. He was not going against policy and making a precedent but encouraged members of the Planning Committee to “be their own people”.
Cllr Kenny said he had heard Cllr Mitchell and supported what he was saying. He supported option A which was consistent and argued against antisocial behaviour. He said it was strange that every day society had its troubles, with young people not having enough to do. He didn’t agree that there should not be a play area here and the money should be given back. It couldn’t be used for another one, so what would happen to the land? He said the song “Where Do The Children Play?” was by Cat Stevens. He was going to support recommendation a. They had been told there were twenty six people against, but not told the number of people that would welcome a play area that had previously been agreed by Planning Committee.