Planning and Transport Committee Report to
Annual Town Meeting of Southborough 19 April 2000
By Councillor Andrew Lohmann chair person of the planning and transportation committee.
Many planning applications have passed through the committee. In the majority of cases the Western Area Planning Committee of TWBC agree with us but in some they have surprised us by disagreeing. We meet every two weeks and start at 8AM by looking at plans and then visiting the sites speaking to the applicants and others who may be directly affected. The committee meeting in the evening then discusses and makes its recommendations, in which the more public participation has occurred with prior permission of the chair. We are only consultees with the same consultation period as the public. Western Area Planning Committee decide.
Planning enforcement has been an issue. Consistency and stronger local plan policies are needed. Alleged off site car sales in High Brooms Road and consequences of the rejection of a retrospective planning application at the Brookfield development are two contentious issues. The committee pursued the issue of blue light pollution from Knights Park but we are told there are no outstanding planning issues. I had not expected such a bright light advertising ballplex.
The Town Council has a Disability Policy thanks to the efforts of the Town Clerk and this will appear in a future Newsletter. Already it has been cited in the rejection of the rejection of the retrospective planning application by Brookfield Court.
The committee could not see any reasons on planning grounds to recommend refusal of the application to build a hostel for the homeless in Colebrook Road. Many of the objections made both at the application and subsequently were not within the remit of planning.
Masts for mobile phones have been applied for and there application has often been contentious. Though anecdotal fears of a radiation hazard can be compelling they are not proven and so far as I know planning law does not take a precautionary approach. Clearly use of mobile phones by drivers of moving vehicles is a proven risks and council staff are banned from such practice whilst on duty. Building a secure pound to enclose telecommunications equipment at Amberly Court would be a step away from our policy of encouraging residential development where industrial or commercial usage is no longer economic and appropriate.
Where housing development is on brown field sites with good public transport access we have been supportive. One such case involved a property in Sheffield Road, but WAPC rejected it. We recommended approval of another application to change the old Laundry and associated transport depot for residential use, but sought assurances on transport and educational infrastructure.
Transport matters are important for the committee. We responded to consultation such as TWBC’s Transport 2000 plus review and the Rail Users Consultative Committee aspirations document for the new rail franchises.
We have supported local residents who are campaigning for a restoration of the 284 bus service on Saturdays. When cut were proposed in both the 281 and 214 services we made strong representations suggesting a slightly more modest service but with improved rail connection times. KCC finally agreed to subsidise until 2004.