Minutes of the Planning Committee held at the Parish Hall, Victoria Place,

Brightlingsea, Essex on

Thursday 21st March 2019 at 10.30am

 

Present:

Councillors:

V Chapman (Chairman)

J Chapman, J Howard, D Ingate and J Russell

 

Also in attendance:

Councillor M Barry

Tracey Pulford – Town Clerk

 

Substitute member:

Councillor M Barry for D Dixon

 

 

The Chairman welcomed everyone to the meeting, including David Brown and James Blyth from Honace. She then advised why there had been a change of time for the meeting, and stated that, holding the meeting at 6.45pm on the same night as a council meeting, would not allow enough time for the Lower Farm application to be discussed. She stated that the other four applications would be discussed first, then members of the public would have chance to look at the display boards and read the literature they had been given, before the Honace application was discussed.

 

  1. APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE: Councillor Dixon

 

  1. CONFIRMATION OF THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING HELD ON 7TH MARCH 2019:

 

The Minutes of the meeting held on the 7th March 2019 were approved as a true record of the meeting.

 

  1. DECLARATION OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS:

 

None received.

 

  1. PLANNING APPLICATIONS:

 

The following applications had been received by Tendring District Council:

 

Application No: 19/00360/FUL – Two storey rear extension with alterations – 102 Church Road, Brightlingsea

Object             ✓Support          Neutral

 

Reason for comment:

Makes observations on the application

No comment on the application

No objection to the application

Objects to application

✓Supports application

 

Application No: 19/00370/FUL – Proposed single storey front porch and rear extension, including a timber shed/workshop and rear decking – 64 Upper Park Road, Brightlingsea

Object             ✓Support          Neutral

 

Reason for comment:

Makes observations on the application

No comment on the application

No objection to the application

Objects to application

✓Supports application

 

Application No: 19/00383/TCA – 2 No. Oak – reduce back to previous cutting points – 4 Victoria Place, Brightlingsea

Object             ✓Support          Neutral

 

Reason for comment:

✓Makes observations on the application – Provided the TDC tree officer agrees.

No comment on the application

No objection to the application

Objects to application

✓Supports application

 

Application No: 19/00405/FUL – Alteration of rear elevation first floor window to provide enlarged window, formation of screened external roof terrace to side rear elevation and internal alteration to first floor accommodation – 41 Spring Road, Brightlingsea

Object             ✓Support          Neutral

 

Reason for comment:

Makes observations on the application

No comment on the application

No objection to the application

Objects to application

✓Supports application

 

Members of the public were then given time to look at the display boards for the Lower Farm Development, and read the literature which had been provided.

 

The following application was then discussed:-

Application No: 19/00188/FUL – Mixed use tourist and residential scheme comprising enabling development of retirement living apartments (36 units), detached farmstead houses (5 units) and a lodge or club house serving a number of timber holiday lodges (104 units) and ancillary activities such as glamping, toilet facilities and play areas which will be the main focus of the development – Lower Farm, East End Green, Brightlingsea.

 

The chairman advised, on the Tendring District Council web-site, 10 comments had been received against the application, 9 in support and 4 neutral. She stated that everyone would be given the chance to ask a question, but this would not turn into a debate session. She then read out a letter from a local resident, which had been received, and was asked to be read out at the meeting:-

 

“The whole of this proposal has been touted as a version of Center Parcs, with numerous statements in the Design and Access Statement and the Supporting Statement saying “the main focus of the project is to deliver Tourism interests within Lower Farm Park” or “the overarching objective of developing a middle to high end tourist and leisure complex which will offer a new and exciting resort” etc., all of which is to be welcomed.

 

But the fact is this needs enabling developments of 5 large houses and 36 retirement flats to be built first and be 75% occupied before only 25 lodges and the glamping site might be developed suggests that the tourism aspect is in fact secondary. This phase 2 “where practicable the delivery of the tourism elements at Lower Park Farm will be accelerated” and Phase 3 from 2025-2030 will be on “a progressive piecemeal basis” seems to leave much room for Phase 1 (the houses and flats) to be built and possibly 25 lodges but nothing like the 104 lodges, a visitor centre and all the attendant activities promised.

 

Center Parcs has no need for residential developments on their sites so why the need here, with no guarantees that anything like Center Parcs will ever be completed?”

 

The Chairman then asked David Brown to brief members on the project. He gave an overview of the project, including the retirement flats, houses, tree planting, glamping area etc., and stated that that it was not a ‘Center Parcs’ development, but was a high standard development, like Center Parcs.

 

The Chairman informed those present that a Public Consultation was held on site on 20th July 2017, and Honace had met with the Town Council on 8 occasions, either on site or at various meetings. She also informed members of the public that this committee is only able to decide on specific planning regulations, and cannot say we either like of dislike something; we have to abide by the regulations, and the ultimate decision will be made by Tendring District Council.

 

The Chairman asked for comments on the 75% delivery. David Brown replied that leisure was the main focus, but they need to deliver 75% to enable funding for those facilities, and he further stated that they did not want the glamping site or leisure facility to be interrupted by major building work. He said it would be a balancing act.

 

Councillors then asked the following:-

Councillor Ingate – When we first met with you, the question was asked about and 2nd road coming in from the other side, near Martins Farm. Can you advise why there is no possibility of this?

David Brown replied that they have carried out a full environmental impact assessment and included in this is a travel assessment. Their transport consultants have looked at the existing road network and through assessment and counts, their conclusion has been that it is not a negative impact. They will stager the leaving and arrival times for the facility, and they are committed to providing a mini bus, on site, to transport people from railway stations into Brightlingsea or to the rest of Brightlingsea.

James Blyth mentioned that they do not own that land, but have spoken to the owners.

Councillor Ingate stated that a lot of people are objecting to this application due to the access and traffic. Councillor Russell stated that 50% of the population of Brightlingsea want a second road, and 50% who do not want a second road. She then asked that a rumour was going round the town, that you will be having luxury apartments for executives, rather than retirement in the flat complex. Can you confirm this pleases. David Brown replied that they are one bedroom retirement facilities, for the over 60’s, with a couple of 2 bedroom flats.

 

Councillor V Chapman stated that many over 60’s are mobile and still drive cars or ride bicycles, and there are no shops on the site. Have you thought about the long term, when people go there to retire and how will they access other areas? David Brown replied that there will be a small shop on site that serves mainly the lodges, and we are committed to the transport to allow people to go in and out of Brightlingsea via the mini bus. Also with modern shopping, people will deliver. A comment was made about more vehicles.

 

Councillor Howard stated that she thinks the idea is great, however the problem is the 36 retirement homes, as she thought this was more than originally stated. Also the entrance out onto Robinson Road would have a great impact on that road. David Brown replied that he believed that Robinson Road had been widened, and the existing building works over the road will disappear in time. Councillor Howard reiterated that if you have to sell 75% of the units before you can develop the leisure side – what if you do not sell them? David Brown replied that they are focusing on the leisure development and don’t want building works taking place with tourism on the site.

 

Councillor J Chapman said that she has concerns about the 5 houses. She said that the council was always led to believe that the 5 houses were for the owners, now they are to be sold to members of the public. In principle, she thinks the idea is good but the infrastructure is not there particularly with regard to the road and there is a bad junction. She feels that all the times we have met with you there are changes coming in. She also stated that if you cannot sell the properties as retirement flats what will happen to them. We have five for sale in Brightlingsea at the moment, three have been on the market for two years – is there a need for these retirement homes? David Brown replied that on the retirement side, there is generally the move for people to down size from their larger properties, which they don’t need anymore – this is a national statistic. They have had initial discussions with some of the private retirement living providers, and they have shown an interest in that particular site, but there is not commitment there at the moment. They feel that there is a market for this type of living, and they would not be building it if they didn’t think it was viable. Councillor J Chapman mentioned the wood burners, BBQ etc., and said this is totally against the new green environmental policy. She said that there are still some items which the Council needs more answers to. James Blyth stated that Robinson Road was built wide enough so the gravel could go out of that road, so that two lorries could pass each other, and that is the width of the development.

 

Councillor Barry said that he was interested in the supply of utilities and services together with the environmental impact and hoped that it would include some sort of carbon neutral development. He asked what details have they got on those system developments? David Brown replied that they do not have details. They have gone out to the suppliers, looking for gas, electricity, water, and they have come back with no particular problem. Their commitment in trying to provide a green leisure facility and to go for a sustainable commitment – solar pv, gas air source pumps, high efficiency walls, urban drainage etc.

The Chairman then asked members of the public for their questions:-

 

Q1) Is it not a missed opportunity for the leisure facility that it could be a real amenity to the town?

A1) The focus of the development is the leisure facility and to try and make natural use of what you have got – beautiful views, quick access into the town, walking and ecology and allowing young children to play, as we used to in the 50’s/60’s outdoors, encouraging more wildlife onto the site with new planting. Regarding the swimming pool, we have looked at this, but the land is a former quarry that has been backfilled, so this was difficult to consider. Regarding the retirement flats being in the corner – there is only a very small bit of land which has not been dug for gravel, and that is where these flats are to go, and there are also good mature screening trees around this area.

 

Q2) Environmental Impact – Do you have any plans on how to increase biodiversity on the site?

A2) We have to provide the habitat to be able to encourage natural ecology on the site. We have good ecology on the site at the moment:- Marsh Harriers, badgers, protecting the sand bank (which is outside of our area), a lot of planting, installing of bat boxes. Deer wander through the site. We have done two year’s work of ecology on the site, and the environmental impact assessment can be found with the planning documents.

 

Q3) My main concern is traffic. Am I correct to assume all the traffic will go along Red Barn Road and then into Robinson Road, because I think there will be a problem with Mill Street, as I am sure it will be used more? It is a dangerous road, and there are no proposals to do anything about it.

A3) All the leisure traffic, website etc., would identify the routes into the site. We are looking at staggered times for arrival and leaving, the mini bus would also reduce traffic, and people could hire bikes to use the footpath along the sea wall. Councillor V Chapman informed those present that the Town Council are looking at Mill Street and making it a quiet lane.

 

Q4) Leisure for Brightlingsea needs to be more than what is proposed, like a swimming pool. There is nothing in the proposal to make this a leisure facility.

A4) We are encouraging 3-4 day short breaks, some of the lodge facilities will have hot tubs, BBQ facilities etc. The vision we are trying to sell is that families can come together and play, walk etc. There is likely to be fishing on the site, paddle boards and non-motorised water sports, and making connections with the other facilities in the town, e.g. sailing, fishing trips, ferry etc.

 

Q5) Is there a question and answer site for this proposal?

A5) Comments can be submitted to Tendring District Council.

 

Q6) There is not enough there in terms of leisure facilities. We already have a lido in the town. There is not enough there for modern families to make it a leisure hub. Modern families are not going fishing. We should not be lighting BBQ’s and log burners and this is an environmental issue. People who visit the camp site, come out and do other things around the town. To relate this as a ‘Center Parcs’ is a joke.

A6) The Center Parcs comparison was used only to show that we are a middle to high end market.

 

Q7) Regarding traffic, my understanding is that a report has been carried out by Intermodal Transportation but they took no data and did not assess any of the junctions. Can you tell me what proper assessment was carried out?

Q7) The whole document form Intermodal Transportation is in the application. From their assessment, we are committed to a travel plan as a result of the assessment.

 

Q8) I think this is absolutely fascinating. I have only been in Brightlingsea for four years and I absolutely love the place. Is this going to be Center Parcs or not?

A8) It is not associated with Center Parcs, what we were trying to do, by saying that, is to show that we are looking at high end lodges like Center Parcs, and not bringing caravans onto the site.

 

Q9) As a Town and District Councillor responsible for footpaths, the way I look at it, this should be part of an integrated system of the whole town, for instance, we have already suggested having green lung areas in the town, one to stop urban sprawl, and to make areas accessible to the public. As a town Council we have already done this – you have the Gravel Field tree plantation, footpaths that go onto the Sea Wall. We have good facilities already, so we need to make people aware of what is available.

 

 

Q10) How many full time jobs will be created by having this facility?

A10) At least 5 or 6 on the main leisure facility and obviously we have already committed to the Architect, who lives in Brightlingsea and through the development we look to encourage other local contractors to support this development.

 

Q11) Are we to assume that the existing system we have in the town is capable of taking away the sewage and waste?

A11) We have spoken to the various providers and there does not appear to be an issue in either case. The lodges are all septic and will have tanks, and the retirement and residential will be connected into the system.

 

Q12) On the drawing, there were a couple of arrows, by the adventure playground for children, which looked like you might be able to get through the hedge onto the footpath onto Stoney Lane. Is this correct?

A12) We do not own any of that land, and there will be no access from the site directly onto the footpath.

 

Q13) Most over 60’s still have cars. What is the car park situation?

A13) The car park will serve one per property, plus the maintenance people and in-house concierges.

 

Councillor V Chapman asked if they had had pre-planning meetings with Tendring District Council and through those meetings have you tweaked various things, and have they made comment? David Brown replied that they have had several meetings, discussions and comments from different officers. Councillor V Chapman asked with what they had heard this morning, is there anything that they would be prepared to change, amend or re-look at, particularly with the leisure side of it? David Brown added that the Barrow is a flexible open space, so it will be an attraction for people on holiday.

 

The Chairman then asked members of the committee for their final comments:-

 

Councillor Ingate – No objection on planning issues.

Councillor Howard – Fantastic idea, however have concerns on the 36 apartments, and the impact on Robinson Road. Also like to read more of the literature. It would be difficult to make a decision today.

Councillor J Chapman – Like the idea in principle, except many of the items discussed today including traffic. Feel that the public should be more involved, and maybe we should hold an evening meeting for them.

Councillor Barry – There are some very positive aspects but the devil will be in the detail, in terms of the infrastructure and utilities.

Councillor Russell – What is the date of the letter from Tendring. Councillor V Chapman replied the letter was dated 1st March, but was hand delivered to us on the 12th March 2019. Councillor Russell said that, usually we have 21 days from the date of the letter for our comments to be made..

 

Councillor Russell then proposed that the Council makes a neutral decision, as there is division amongst the public and councillors, and can make no comment at this stage.

This proposal fell as it was not seconded.

 

A discussion took place.

 

It was then proposed by Councillor V Chapman that the application is approved subject to more detailed submissions on utilities, service provision, waste disposal, concerns about traffic and facilities.

Seconded by Councillor Barry.

A vote was taken: For: 4, Against: 0 Abstention: 2. Agreed.

 

The Chairman reiterated that all the comments had been taken on board, but that the ultimate decision was with Tendring District Council. She thanked everyone for attending the meeting, and for their input.

087       CLOSE OF MEETING:

 

There being no further business to discuss the Meeting closed at 12.05 p.m.

 

 

Received by Council on: 18th April 2019                                       Approved by Committee on: 4th April 2019

 

                  Signed by Chair:                                                                                Signed by Chair:

 

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