We’re quietly celebrating the fact that tonight’s Development Management Committee meeting listened, questioned, debated the detail and came to the only sensible conclusion regarding the application by Geo & R Carrell Properties Ltd to re-open the old HSBC bank building as a pizza takeaway.
The planning consultant involved seemed clearly out of touch with the local area and the needs of its residents. He also seemed surprisingly out of touch with some of the detail, for example the current operating hours of the intended tenant, Domino’s, at their existing site in North Street. But that’s just a small detail and we should make it absolutely clear that we have no issue at all with Domino’s at their current site.
The Development Management Committee clearly agreed, overturning the recommendation of the Planning Officer and voting on an amended proposal to reject the application by six votes to one, the solitary supporter being the Chairman of the Committee who expressed the need to support his beleaguered troops.
Havant Civic Society split our five minute slot, objecting to the application on two fronts. The first part, delivered by our chairman, can be viewed by taking this link. The second part was delivered as a personal statement by one of our committee members who lives in West Street, just a stone’s throw from the site of the application.
The ‘obvious’ objection that it was for ‘another fast food outlet’ carries no weight at these meetings, so the core of our objections were ‘the lack of parking at the site’ and ‘the unacceptable impact on Park Road South traffic’.
Tim Pike, as the St. Faith’s ward Councillor who at our request had pushed for the application to be heard in Committee, gave a spirited address which clearly reflected the many letters of objection he had personally received.
In the end, all six council members on the committee voted to reject the application, motivated to a significant degree by their recent visit to a site which was so clearly and unquestionably unsuited to the applicant’s purpose.
A good result all round, particularly for Domino’s who we assume can now remain at their North Street site with its unrestricted opening hours and virtually unrestricted late night parking. To the landowner and their planning consultant we say, look for a more intelligent regeneration option for the site. Apply some lateral thinking and we’ll be the first to support you.
There are, however, a few questions worth asking:
1) How did the developer ever think that they could operate a pizza takeaway in this bizarre location? Surely a ‘dark kitchen’ site in an accommodating local car park would have been more obvious?
2) How did the Traffic Management team miss the very obvious issue of the traffic impact on Park Road South? (Perhaps we’re starting to understand why that issue goes unaddressed. In fact it’s interesting that the members of the Development Management Committee didn’t latch on to it either. Perhaps, being from out of town, they rarely drive through Park Road South?)
3) How come HBC still fail to appreciate the logical boundary of the Town Centre? The shops and new retail businesses surrounding the old HSBC bank, Sherwood Florist, Kuru, Next Floor, Havant Music Mart, and Inspire surely deserve recognition as part of the “primary frontage” of the town centre?
Or are they just content with an arbitrary delineation of the town centre boundary? (We’re only just getting started on this point since we have, of course, the same concern about the dropping of East Street from the ‘town centre’. This is a subject we shall return to)
4) And perhaps most importantly: How come this obviously flawed planning application was originally defined as suitable for a delegated decision? Had it not been for Havant Civic Society jumping up and down and the subsequent support of St Faith’s Councillor Tim Pike in getting this application red-carded for review by tonight’s development committee, this application might well just have gone through ‘on the nod’.
It doesn’t really bear thinking about, but here at HCS we’ll ask the questions for you anyway!