There has been healthy debate among the members of the Havant Civic Society committee over the Havant Borough Council planning decision process. In particular, the following paragraph has come under particular focus:
“It is not always necessary for an application to be decided by the Development Management Committee. In most minor and non-controversial proposals, decisions are made by the Head of Planning, under what is known as ‘delegated powers’ “
The corollary of this is that an application listed for decision under ‘delegated powers’ should be a ‘minor and non-controversial’ application that does not require debate by the full planning committee.The planning application which has generated this discussion concerns the former HSBC bank site on the corner of West Street and Park Road South, an application we first highlighted on this site on July 28th. Whether you view this application as ‘minor’ and ‘non-controversial’ probably depends on whether or not you live within the town centre . Those outside St Faiths might indeed view this change as minor, while residents of St Faith’s would have strong justification for believing it to be both ‘significant’ and ‘controversial’.
The application is for “Change of use from a former bank (Class A2) to a hot food takeaway (Class A5); installation of extraction/ventilation equipment and other minor external alterations”.
We draw your attention in particular to the proposed hours of opening, section 19 of the planning application document:
For the sake of clarity, that reads ‘Monday to Saturday, 09:00 am til 02:00 am, Sunday, 09:00 am til 01:00 am’.
(We note that the Design and Access Statement submitted on behalf of local landowner and developer Geo & R Carrell Properties Ltd. actually proposes slightly different hours, but the impact on residents is broadly the same)
We are pleased to see that a number of comments have already been submitted by local residents and businesses and have just submitted our considered objections in good time for the closing date for comments which is August 17th. We are also contacting the Ward Councillors in order to ensure that the decision process is appropriately informed.
The HCS Committee view is that there are sufficient formal grounds to object to this application and we believe that public debate on this is important.
With reference to the 186 pages of the currently adopted Local Plan, we believe the application falls foul of the following development policies:
DM5 Control of Class A3, A4 and A5 Food, Drink and Entertainment Uses. (Page 128)
“Criteria 5 – …indiscriminate customer parking and/or traffic
movement that would be likely to create hazards for traffic or pedestrians”
“Criteria 6 – …unacceptable disturbance to the occupiers of nearby residential property at times when activity in the immediate vicinity would otherwise be at a relatively quiet level.”
DM14 Car and Cycle Parking on Development (excluding residential)
“Development will only be permitted where it provides parking for cars, motor cycles and cycles in accordance with the relevant standards. Such parking provision must be appropriately located in relation to the development and be practical for its intended use.”
Policy C8 in the Draft Local Plan 2036 (page 309) will update and replace DM5, and equivalent criteria regarding ‘unacceptable disturbance’ are in already place.
In a further reference to the Draft Local Plan, table 1 on page 14, presents a strategy in which hot food take-aways are clearly and sensibly moved away from the core of the town centres.
Curiously, this table does not include reference to policy KS1, relating to Havant Town Centre. Looking at the detail of Policy KS1, paragraph 3.16 is particularly appropriate.
“In the future, development will be supported that diversifies the types of uses in this area. Together with retail, other uses which promote activity and have not traditionally been part of a town centre offer such as gyms or healthcare will be supported. The Council will also support proposals which help retain and enhance the outdoor markets which take place in West Street.”
(Note – the italics are ours)
In summary, no matter how the decision is made, the question of ‘unacceptable disturbance to nearby residents’ is paramount. To place the application in context, consider that McDonalds operates from 6:00 AM til 9:00 PM daily. Granting later opening hours in the increasingly residential core of the historic town would set a very dangerous precedent which others would surely wish to follow.