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Planning and Development (Essex)

Volume 507: debated on Tuesday 16 March 2010

The Petition of Brian Keeler, the residents of Castle Point and others,

Declares that they object to the proposed development of the area between Nos. 18 to 32 High Road, Benfleet to construct a building providing 5 Retail Units at Ground Level, 22 Parking Spaces, 2 Offices, plus 12 x 2 bed flats and 2 x 1 bed flats at 1st and 2nd floor levels; that this development should be rejected because the proposed, much larger building would dominate and overlook existing properties, bring unacceptable problems including inadequate parking, fails to show where access to and from the site parking area will be, bearing in mind an existing public parking area in Adelaide Gardens, vague refuse storage area, restricted sight lines for emerging traffic from St. Mary’s Drive, reduction of the pavement, loss of light entering adjoining buildings and relocation of the heritage telephone kiosk and post box; further declares that this development would further spoil the Conservation Area and create unacceptable stress on the existing infrastructure, including roads, schools, rail, doctors, dentists, etc.; that for these and many other valid planning reasons this application should be rejected by the local Councillors, elected to represent their constituents, and that given the importance to the wider community of protecting this unique Conservation Area, unelected and unaccountable officers must properly and widely consult the public before permitting such developments.

The Petitioners therefore request that the House of Commons urges the Government to press Castle Point Borough Council, and all Councillors, to reject this planning application and to substantially protect the unique St Mary's Conservation area

And the Petitioners remain, etc.—[Presented by Bob Spink, Official Report, 2 February 2010; Vol. 505, c. 274.]


Observations from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government:

The Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is aware that a planning application has been submitted to Castle Point Borough Council in respect of the above development. He is advised that the planning application was registered on 24 December 2009 and is currently expected to go before the Planning Committee to determine whether approval should be granted or not on the 27 May 2010.

The determination of planning applications is primarily the responsibility of the Borough Council as local planning authority, and the Secretary of State cannot comment on the merits or otherwise of any application, or prospective application.

Decisions on planning applications are required to be in accordance with the adopted development plan, unless material considerations indicate otherwise. The Government’s statements of national planning policy are material considerations which must be taken into account, where relevant, in planning decisions, but it is the responsibility of the local planning authority to identify and weigh up all the different issues, in the context of the specific local circumstances, having regard to the views of local residents and other interested parties.

The Secretary of State may decide to call in an application for his own determination where he considers that it raises issues of more than local importance, but his policy is to be very selective about this. As it is possible that the proposal may, at some future date, come within his jurisdiction, it would be inappropriate to comment on the matter raised in the petition.