That which I sat through – Development Control Committee

I attended Development Control Committee yesterday afternoon. Actually, I attended part of it. I left after just under three and a half hours, once the application I was interested in was dealt with.

Development is a contentious issue, and I do not envy the seventeen councillors tasked with scrutinising these. Aside from the occasional fraught nature of the proceedings, I was impressed with the somewhat tortuous process that meant that it took over an half and a half to just deal with the first item; there was something like twenty-one applications on the agenda.

Democratic oversight is important, and I would much rather see elected members deal with applications than officers whose accountability is zero.

The first application dealt with was in respect of land between Barge Pier Road and Ness Road. This land has already been granted planning permission for commercial purposes, and so could be concreted over in its entirety tomorrow. The application was to change this so that some houses could be built. I will be honest, I could see little wrong with the application. Flooding, of various types, was alluded to in the debate. The liability to flood must be less with housing as compared to factory units, you do not get gardens etc with commercial developments. Cllr Moyies (UKIP, West Shoebury) made an absurd reference to Archimedes. Archimedes’ displacement principle refers to measuring the mass of an object and has nothing to do with the dynamics of water flow. In the end the officer’s recommendation was rejected (5 votes to 11). It was then proposed that this item be deferred; this was carried by the Chair’s casting vote after a 6-6 tie.

Cllr Byford (Conservative, Eastwood Park) intervened to say that he was opposed because Essex is full up. This odd statement somewhat ignores the chronic housing shortage; I presume he is content to see the housing list remain as it is, to see aspirant home-owners perpetually denied, and to see youngsters staying at home indefinitely. Cllr Byford contributes little to debates normally, and after this intervention I see no reason to encourage him.

There was also mention made to the local infrastructure which is deemed inadequate to cope with the extra cars, school children, etc. There is merit in this argument, although a commitment to improving this in the east of the borough will only incentivise developers, in my humble opinion.

Cllr Moyies left muttering something about a lack of democracy. I am not sure what he objected to, it seemed an open and fair debate to me.

There was also a debate about a street tree in Salisbury Road (Leigh-on-Sea). This was also deferred (motion carried 11-0). I confess to not understanding why this was deferred. (I am also perplexed why we had abstentions in this and other votes – I thought we were elected to make decisions not pass the buck.)

And so onto the Shelter, Western Esplanade – otherwise known as The Leas or sun shelter. I was delighted that the officer’s recommendation was rejected and this application was refused. Cllr Jonathan Garston (Conservative, Milton) gave the most lucid speech I have heard him make, and I am grateful to him for his support. The vote to refuse was carried 11-5; three Tories, one Independent and a Liberal Democrat were content to see the erection of a single storey glazed rotunda above the shelter.

The Leas Shelter development proposal speech

Below is the speech I gave at Development Control Committee earlier this afternoon. I am pleased to be able to report the residents and I won – the application was rejected by eleven votes to five.

The borough of Southend-on-Sea has a wealth of architectural delights and this is reflected in the number of Conservation Areas that exist locally. Milton ward has five conservation areas, and this proposed development sits within the Leas Conservation Area.

To be honest, though, it is not all good news as regards to conservation in this corner of Essex, and some frankly ghastly buildings have been allowed construction in recent times. I am no NIMBY, but I am banging the drum that says we should cherish our heritage.

Conservation and conservation areas are not just about buildings – Milton, for instance, is blessed with some truly gorgeous gardens bequeathed to future generations by the far-sighted who graced this place before our arrival. I hope we can continue this fine tradition.

Anyone who has visited the sun shelter that is the subject of application number 14/01507/BC4 recently will be aware of the contrasting bouquets one is assailed with, for competing with the fine array of flowering plants is the all too recognisable stench of urine. The shelter itself oft becomes home to all sorts of human detritus. It is no longer used for the purposes it was built for, and news of its re-development was welcomed by me, and by the over-whelming majority of people I have spoken with.

My objection, and I believe the objections of those residing nearby, has nothing to do with the proposals for an eaterie within the sun shelter itself. Providing the architectural integrity of the sun shelter remains then this is a welcome development.

All objections rest on the proposal for a rotunda on the roof of the sun shelter.

I wrote the following when submitting my objection to the plans as they currently stand:

it is clear that any development here must not be intrusive, spoil the character of the conservation area it is situated in, or diminish public access to a much cherished public resource. This proposal fails on all three counts. It fails to satisfy because of the proposal to build above the shelter. Erecting a single storey glazed rotunda above the shelter should not be allowed to go ahead. The rotunda will visually impact residents in the area, and is liable to cause noise nuisance. The proposed late opening times will exacerbate this, and those who currently enjoy quiet sea views will likely see this ended. This old shelter is an important piece of the conservation area jigsaw, and its development will change this. However, whilst the development remains at ground floor level the change will be reasonably discrete; adding onto the roof will substantially alter its character, to the detriment of the vicinity. The roof is currently used by passing pedestrians, being a good viewing platform for Westcliff-on-Sea beach and the estuary. A rotunda will deny this amenity to future visitors.

Residents are often more eloquent than me on this subject, and you will have received many of their objections.

A rotunda, and any additional seating placed on the roof, turns an otherwise welcomed development into something definitely not welcomed. I am minded to note that having received favourable responses about her initial plans, the applicant has then over-reached herself. I hope that a desire to maximise profits has not clouded her judgement.

I think that the success of this project does, in significant measure, depend on the goodwill of its neighbours, many of whom will form its local customer base. Alienation of the neighbours does not make business sense.

However, it is not for commercial reasons that I wish to see this application refused. I return to my opening remarks in which I spoke about the heritage of the borough and how it must be cherished. Please do not allow this area to be spoiled.

And to the applicant I make this entreaty – scale back your plans and keep to the original idea of a ground level development only and I, and those residents with whom I have spoken, will back you.

The Leas Shelter – APPLN. NO: 14/01507/BC4

APPLN. NO: 14/01507/BC4
Officer: Sophie Glendinning
Date Valid. 19 September 2014

USE SHELTER AS CAFE (CLASS A3), ERECT REFUSE AND PLANT ROOM TO SIDE, ALTER ELEVATIONS AND ERECT RAILINGS TO SOUTHERN BOUNDARY AND LAYOUT HARD AND SOFT LANDSCAPING, ERECT SINGLE STOREY GLAZED ROTUNDA ABOVE SHELTER

SHELTER WESTERN ESPLANADE WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA

The development of The Leas shelter is largely to be welcomed, and this is not just my view but also that of many residents I have spoken with.

However, it is clear that any development here must not be intrusive, spoil the character of the conservation area it is situated in, or diminish public access to a much cherish public resource. This proposal fails on all three counts.

It fails to satisfy because of the proposal to build above the shelter. Erecting a single storey glazed rotunda above the shelter should not be allowed to go ahead.

The rotunda will visually impact residents in the area, and is liable to cause noise nuisance. The proposed late opening times will exacerbate this, and those who currently enjoy quiet sea views will likely see this ended.

This old shelter is an important piece of the conservation area jigsaw, and its development will change this. However, whilst the development remains at ground floor level the change will be reasonably discrete; adding onto the roof will substantially alter its character, to the detriment of the vicinity.

The roof is currently used by passing pedestrians, being a good viewing platform for Westcliff-on-Sea beach and the estuary. A rotunda will deny this amenity to future visitors.

Four recent planning applications in Milton ward

APPLN. NO: 14/00900/FUL

Officer: Sophie Glendinning Date Valid. 6 August 2014

CHANGE OF USE OF FIRST AND SECOND FLOORS FROM OFFICE (CLASS B1) TO CONSOLE GAMING CENTRE (CLASS D1)

FIRST FLOOR AND SECOND FLOOR 102 HIGH STREET SOUTHEND-ON-SEA

APPLN. NO: 14/01010/FUL

Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 1 August 2014

DEMOLISH EXISTING 2 STOREY STABLE/MEWS TO REAR OF 38 HAMLET COURT ROAD AND ERECT TWO STOREY DWELLING WITH COURTYARD TO REAR
38 HAMLET COURT ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX

APPLN. NO: 14/01161/FUL

Officer: Sophie Glendinning Date Valid. 16 July 2014

ON LAND ADJACENT TO 91-95 ST HELENS ROAD ERECT TWO STOREY DETACHED DWELLINGHOUSE, EXTEND EXISTING VEHICULAR ACCESS AND FORM HABITABLE ACCOMMODATION IN EXISTING BASEMENT AREA AT REAR

91 ST HELEN’S ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX

APPLN. NO: 14/01194/PA3COU

Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 28 July 2014

CHANGE OF USE FROM SHOP (A1) TO ONE DWELLINGHOUSE (C3)

28 – 30 HAMLET COURT ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX

Have ego, will email

Email exchanges between Southend-on-Sea’s councillors are mostly mundane. Only occasionally do they titillate.

One Independent member of the Executive chose to include the following in an email to all councillors today: There have been two pre- application presentations in the last two weeks, the amount of interest and attendance by Members has been in my opinion appalling.

I did not go to the first of these (I do not have a note of it, but I assume I was busy elsewhere). Quite often I am double booked, and I cannot be the only one. I did go to the second, last night’s pre-planning presentation on the plans for the old college site in Carnarvon Road. I made a note of who was there: four Labour members, three Liberal Democrats, two from UKIP, two from the Independent Group, and one Conservative.

I can only presume that said Executive member is having a swipe at the Conservatives and his own group as the other three groups had about half their members present. I should add that many of us specialise, and therefore elect to attend presentations that reflect these specialisms.

The Executive member’s email did give another member the opportunity to query part of their email sign-off; they styled themselves ‘Chair, Independent Group Committee’. The Executive member was reluctant to fully explain, a reluctance that is puzzling.

Anyone wanting to see the email sign-off for themselves are advised to email CllrAssenheim@southend.gov.uk

Said Executive member also added this: Hopefully, the new presentation for the Fossetts Farm Development tomorrow evening will be better attended.

I will not be going to this presentation, or conducting any council business unless there is an emergency. This is because of the industrial action being taken by public sector workers. They are sacrificing a day’s pay, and the least I can do is respect picket lines, both physical and electronic.

Inconsistencies (jumping on any passing bandwagon)

Some of Cllr Mark Flewitt’s posts require close reading, if only because of the grammar defying nature of much that he writes. The Conservative member for St Laurence is currently hopping onto the Thornford Gardens action group’s bandwagon. See TAG is getting it’s point across

Two thoughts struck me on reading this. Firstly, Cllr Flewitt has been vociferous in his objection to a speculative garden grab, yet is objecting to a brownfield development. Quite where are we supposed to build houses is beyond me. Oh yeah, the answer is always ‘elsewhere’.

The picture of TAG (Mark has a predilection for TLAs) shows the SKIPP triumvirate (Mark, Patsy and Sheena). It occurred to me that they (SKIPP) are campaigning for a museum to hold the Saxon burial articles to be built in Priory Park (instead of on the Cliffs). This museum will generate traffic – which begs the question as to why traffic associated with housing is bad in their eyes, but museum traffic is good?

Two very interesting planning applications

APPLN. NO: 14/00770/DEM

Officer: Sophie Glendinning Date Valid. 27 June 2014

DEMOLISH YACHT CLUB

ALEXANDRA YACHT CLUB CLIFTON TERRACE SOUTHEND-ON-SEA

APPLN. NO: 14/00914/FULM

Officer: Janine Rowley Date Valid. 23 June 2014

DEMOLISH PARTS OF EXISTING BUILDING AND CARRY OUT VARIOUS EXTENSIONS TO FORM 3 STOREY BLOCK OF 22 SELF-CONTAINED FLATS WITH ASSOCIATED CAR PARKING, AMENITY SPACE AND CYCLE STORE

32 – 36 VALKYRIE ROAD WESTCLIFF-ON-SEA ESSEX

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