Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Wine, Plans and Markets

That odd mix describes today's meeting round. First up was a planning session for the Fairtrade Wine tasting which is being planned for October 17th - put the date in your diary now if you're within reach of Stockton on that evening. There'll be lovely Fairtrade wines to taste, some nibbles to snack on and fun all round.
This afternoon the planning committee had to decide on a number of applications, including the Allen's West outline application. The report from the Planning Officer was heavy going and then there were presentations by the applicant and some of the objectors followed by a lengthy debate. Today's application was solely for the means of access and the principle of mixed development, neither of which was contentious. The problems arise with the indicative master plan for the housing, and the height of the buildings fronting onto Durham Lane, the distance of the SW corner of the site from the road - evidenced by the plan to put a cycle store at the bus stop!, and the traffic impact. Sadly, this is another example of the developer being able to demonstrate on a computer model something that goes against everyone's gut feeling and local knowledge. But we know from previous appeals that the inspector will only look at the computer modelling. Reluctantly I felt I had no choice but to support the outline application while making it very plain that I did not regard the SW corner housing nor the 15m high flats on Durham Lane as acceptable for the future reserved matters application.
We had an interesting application outside of this ward, which eventually was refused. The applicant wanted to put up small studio flats in an area which allowed them to be relatively low cost starter homes. The design was modern and completely different to the 1930s housing on the other side of the road, but as it was replacing a horrible old commercial building with no architectural merit at all I thought the modern ones were an innovative solution. I actually thought it might regenerate the area a bit and bring some younger people into it. However the majority of the committee disagreed and felt that it was out of keeping with the area so the applicant is faced with either an appeal or a redesign.
Fortunately the Markets Forum was pretty positive. At last the issues around the Christmas Festival and the Stockton Riverside Festival seem to have been resolved and things are progressing more smoothly. I just hope that it continues that way.

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