Thursday, 29 November 2012
Tuesday 27th November
Over the years I've for the most part stayed out of local planning matters. Coming from a background of property interests and coupled with a former appointment as Chariman of Planning at SCC, it has been simpler to keep my own counsel on local planning matters, and leave the representation to the proper councillors; i.e. the local Borough Councillors or alternatively share my thoughts individually with interested parties.
However, there are a number of local planning issues that have recently aroused so much local interest that I suspect that silence on the respective matters may seem odd.
Tesco, of course is one of these.
The planning circumstances around this series of planning applications are well documented in the local press and across the internet, but to the lay reader, Tesco have applied for planning consent to change the current 'Lightwater Homecare' site into a Tesco store. You might recall that 'Lightwater Homecare' was the subject of a televsion programme a few years ago, and it would seem that the owner has finally decided to call it a day and sell the premises to the supermarket giant.
Nothing wrong with that of course. That is how business works, and indeed, how the development business works, with renewal a vital feature of both. However, as in Chobham recently, there has been a considerable local opposition to the proposals, with both of the recent planning applications and an appeal to the planning inspector having been refused and dismissed respectively.
What is interesting about the latest refusal, which occurred at Monday evening's planning committee at SHBC, is the manner of the refusal and the grounds upon which the refusal has been made.
Tesco returned with a subsequent application after the original appeal was dismissed. For the most part, it appears the past concerns of both the borough officers and the appeal inspector had been met and the borough officers had consequently recommended the proposal for approval. i.e. to grant the consent. However, the committee disagreed on the basis of highways grounds, which is a technical point and can be 'designed out' in a subsequent application.
What was not included in the refusal were any other planning grounds (competition is not a valid planning reason) including the opening hours which are now therefore deemed to be acceptable.
There were celebrations in Lightwater on Monday evening after the planning committee meeting closed. These I suspect are somewhat premature.
Tesco will be back.