Cllr Mike Baldock
Tensions have arisen following the planning committee’s refusal of planning permission for the last plot of land on the Great Easthall estate because it did not include a shop.
The developer, Trenport Investments has applied to build up to 33 houses on the plot which was originally designated for community facilities such as a shop, but the developer suggests that such an enterprise would not be viable.
Officers agreed with the developer and recommended that the plans be approved but the planning committee didn’t agree and ultimately, they ran out of time to determine the plans resulting in an appeal by the developer.
Members of the planning committee who have been highly critical of the lack of a shop, suggest that it would be detrimental to social well-being of residents and that there is a demand for a shop.
However, planning officer Emma Eisinger has taken the rather unusual step of writing to the planning inspectorate ahead of the appeal hearing to confirm that the council will not lend any support during the hearing, advising
"Officers of the Council will not be sustaining or presenting the case for the refusal of the appeal scheme."
"We will not be providing an expert retail witness at the Inquiry and a planning officer would be present to deal only with potential conditions and the s.106 obligation."
"should Members of the Planning Committee decide to sustain the reason for refusal, they will be expected to represent the Council’s case for refusal without Officer support."
Whether, members of the planning committee will concede defeat and agree with Officers will be found out tonight when they report back to the planning committee.
Cllr Mike Baldock says “I was surprised to learn that Officers would not be supporting our case as the committee was quite clear that we wanted a shop.”
“Under such circumstances I start to question what the point of the planning committee is other than some form of democratic dressing.”