Agenda item



Description of application – Demolition of existing buildings (66-70 High Street) and erection of a part 13 and part 16 storey building to provide 559 sqm (GIA) retail floorspace (Use Class Ea) and 68 residential units with associated disabled car parking spaces, cycle parking and refuse storage area.


The Planning Officer gave a brief presentation, providing an overview of the application and update on the report.


The Committee noted that the application was up for non-determination and the reasons were set out in the report.  There was a possibility that during the appeal process further information could be supplied to address these and Officers were therefore requesting authority to remove the relevant reasons to contest the appeal in the event that agreement was reached.


The Committee further noted that final comments from the Health and Safety Executive concerning fire safety were still awaited.  Officers were therefore asking for further authority to add any additional reasons to contest the appeal.


In response to a question from the Chairman, the Planning Officer explained that it had not been possible to determine the application because further information was required.  Information was received in December 2021, however, at that point it was not possible to make a recommendation.


Committee Member and Ward Member Councillor Will Harmer expressed concerns around how the Council founds itself in a position where it was essentially taken out of the decision-making process by an applicant going to appeal who could then add the additional documents that had initially been sought by the Council to enable the Appeal inspector to make a more informed decision.  Concerns were expressed that a precedent could be set in the future.  Questions were raised about why the application was not refused at the 13 week point when the relevant information was not supplied.


It was noted that there were a number of reasons for refusal listed in the report.  It was a poor application that lacked on many fronts.  Councillor Harmer therefore moved the Officer recommendation that the appeal be contested for the reasons set out in the report.


The Planning Officer confirmed that it was common that during the appeal process further information was submitted, and agreement reached.  The Council would also have to be seen to be reasonable if an issue could be resolved without it being heard at appeal this could prevent costs in certain circumstances.  In terms of the receipt of information within the 13-week period, some statutory consultees requested further information and it was good practice to allow time for that information in order to resolved all issues and make an informed decision.  At the validation stage it may not be clear that some information was not included in documents.  It was only possible to validate what was on the local list and the local list had now been revised.


In response to a question, the Planning Officer confirmed that the timetable for the appeal concerning the previous application was not yet known.


Councillor Michael highlighted that were the Committee considering a decision on this planning application there were a myriad of reasons for refusal.  As this option was not open to the Committee, Councillor Michael suggested that the correct course of action was to resolve to contest the appeal on the grounds set out in the Officer’s report.


It was noted that Councillor Will Harmer had moved that the Officer recommendation that the appeal be contested for the reasons set out in the report.  The motion was seconded by Councillor Yvonne Bear, put to the vote and CARRIED.


Members having considered the report, objections and representations, RESOLVED to CONTEST THE APPEAL for the reason set out in the report of the Assistant Director, Planning.


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