Friday, May 11, 2012

Planning - again!

On Wednesday afternoon Stockton Council's planning committee met in public to discuss the Allen's West application.  The agent, very predictably, talked about how good it would be for the borough - more housing, more money etc.  I pointed out that the road infrastructure nearby, specifically Yarm High St, is creaking and although the application can't put that right we are convinced that it will make things worse despite the best efforts of SBC engineers.  I also spoke about the proposed care home - not needed in stockton or in Eaglescliffe.  We have a surfeit of places in residential care and what we really need is the kind of extra care sheltered facilities that are found at Aspen Gardens.  Residents keep telling us that what they want is a replacement for Witham House.   What we are offered is a choice between residential care or expensive retirement flats.  It's not on.
The killer for the application turned out to be the thing I've said all along - why lose employment opportunities just to give the Irish Government the money back that it needs after bailing out a bank which lent a ridiculous amount to the previous owners of the site?  There are warehouses on there which could no doubt have their contents and employment transferred to other similar warehouses around the borough but the high storage for the NHS in one of the large sheds doesn't seem to be transferable at an economic price.  That aspect of the site could be accomodated with some imagination and determination but the present agents seem unwilling to even consider it.
The head of that company spoke eloquently about the need to be where they are, I followed it up with my views and two Labour members of the committee had the courage to go against the officer recommendation and vote against the application in its present form.  With my fellow councillor, Alan Lewis, the Tories and the Thornaby Independent representative that was enough to reject it.  As a result the applicant has a fortnight to have further discussions with the relevant people to see if they can produce an acceptable solution.  It will come back to committee on 30th May in all probability.
Meanwhile I've been dealing with a number of queries about other applications, ranging from the fairly large one opposite Hunters' Green to a replacement for one house on Yarm Rd/Cleveland Gardens junction.  The Urlay Nook application will be the subject of a pre-application meeting next Wednesday, 16th May between 4 and 7pm at the Oakwood Centre.  I've complained about the venue - not exactly the most accessible place in the ward - and asked why they didn't book the community centre or one of the school halls.  After all, Nifco did that and their application has a lot less impact on the area.

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