My words at Development Control, today, in respect of the latest planning application for The Leas sun shelter

Many here present will recall my 55th birthday, for that was when we last discussed the Sun Shelter. On November 12th 2014 the suggestion for a rotunda on the roof of the shelter was rejected by the Development Control Committee.

It may be remembered that the suggestion for a rooftop structure at this site, which lies within the Leas Conservation Area, was rejected, in part anyway, because it was considered out of character for the area.

Many then were of the opinion that the Waites were nothing if not persistent; and so it has been proved. Today you are being asked to approve another plan for the roof, albeit one that it is being described as temporary.

I will give credit to the Waite family for one thing – they do have a certain facility for uniting popular opinion. Almost everyone who lives within the vicinity of the sun shelter is united in opposing any change to the roof.

You will have seen a number of email exchanges, and this application has been a significant feature of my inbox for several months. It has to be said that the antics of the developer has brought suspicion upon themselves, and I believe that trust has been damaged.

This is to be regretted, because their original plans were welcomed. And their proposals would be welcomed again if only they would abandon plans to extend the cafe beyond the sun shelter and the ground immediately in front of it.

The current proposals hinge on the placement of air conditioning equipment. All sorts of alterations have been made to the roof in anticipation of the developer being able to get their own way. This is an affront to how we should operate, and in of itself should be enough for a ‘no’ vote. How can you go ahead and vandalise public property without proper consent? I am outraged.

In amongst the mass of emails it would appear that the Council has been aware of what the developer was doing, although I have to say that there is an air of confusion about who knows what, and when. I confess to not being entirely on sure ground with this application, because there has been some inconsistency in what has been presented as fact.

I hope I am a reasonable person. A genuinely temporary structure that once removed (with a strict timetable) would see the balcony restored to former glories is a compromise I would be content with. However, I am less than convinced that residents, at present anyway, will be so easily assuaged.

I urge all who sit on DCC to send a signal that their authority is sacrosanct, and that any alteration to the roof of the sun shelter is not welcomed, and will not be allowed. And, if they are so minded to approve a temporary structure, I would encourage a firm and strict timetable be put in place, with equally strict requirements for the putting right of the balcony upon its removal.

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