First Impressions of Planning Officer’s Report

Having had a first read through of the officer’s report we think our biggest worry is the fact that he has just accepted the financial viability calculations at face value. So he has accepted that with the revenue from the housing land the leisure centre on Princes Parade will cost the council about £2m – that can’t be right.

And worse still he has accepted the outrageous cost the applicant is claiming it would cost to build the leisure centre at Nickoll’s Quarry.

The planning officers have apparently put questions about the financial viability calculations to the applicant but we don’t know what the questions were nor how they were answered.

The planning committee will be given a confidential appendix which we aren’t allowed to see.

But we are pleased to note that the report says that the emerging local plan carries limited weight in the planning decision because of the number of objections to PP being allocated as a development site. So a big thanks to all of you who took the time to submit a comment during the PPLP consultation.

A lot of the report is trying to balance the harm caused to the setting of the canal, the visual amenity etc against the benefits of the scheme – mainly the leisure centre. That is a very subjective decision and we don’t think it should be made by anybody at the council given the conflict of interest.

It would be so much better if the council would agree to defer the planning decision until the Places & Policies local Plan Inquiry. But of course that is why the council are trying to push the application through before then.

And why the applicant is trying so hard to prove that the leisure centre will cost so much more on NQ because if there is an alternative site then there is no justification for all the harm the development on PP will cause.

There are a number of other things of interest in the committee report.

It claims that new data shows that most of the site is in flood zone 1 not 3. Have we seen this data?

It states that the site will provide 30% affordable housing using funding provided by another site. We know that site is the Imperial Green development and what that means is that the offsite affordable housing requirement for IG will not be provided.

We don’t yet know how the Environment Agency feels about the new plan to discharge the surface water in the canal. They have said that where a 25m ecological buffer along the canal cannot be met then a 20m buffer will be acceptable. But the diagram published recently shows that the diverted road will be well within that 20m buffer for quite a bit of its length.

The council have also published a Design Review which we haven’t seen before. it is very scathing about the diversion of the road. You can read it via the link below.

Finally, we have had this response from the MHCLG ” I have been monitoring the progress of this application for some time. The council has confirmed that should the committee be minded to approve the application on 31 July, it will not issue planning permission until the Secretary of State has had the opportunity to consider whether to intervene. “