Cobham Conservation and Heritage Trust

Notes following South Area Planning meeting 12th December 2016

There are four issues which trouble me following the above meeting where the Holly Parade planning application (Ref 2016/2185) was approved by 6 votes to 2 with one abstention for forwarding to Full Planning Committee next month:

  • It appears that the saved policies such as CS1, CS10, CS17 and DM2 relating to such areas as design, enhancing public realm, integrating sensitively with the local distinctive landscape and enhancing local character carry no weight with Bristol Inspectors and are therefore hardly worth the paper they are written on. If this is a correct assessment, some important rethinking is necessary.
  • That the in excess of 450 objections most of which appeared to have been individually and carefully crafted representing between 6%and 7% of dwellings in KT11 could be tossed aside at the stroke of a pen. This is particularly in the context that questions were raised at the meeting with the developers as to how effective the advertising of their consultations in reaching out to the community had been.
  • That the Localism Act of 2011 of allowing the wishes of local people to be given more weight in the decision making process seems not to have percolated down to the planning process.
  • That the whole subject of air pollution hangs over this application like a toxic cloud. Whilst I believe all parties now accept that this redevelopment is in one of the worst parts of Cobham for persistent poor air quality and that the elderly are particularly vulnerable to poor air quality, the way forward remains opaque. If I heard her correctly, Elmbridge’s legal adviser proffered that air quality was an issue for Public Health and not for Planning; thus, no condition requiring the non-opening of fenestration, access to balconies or communal terraces overlooking the High Street could be made.

Whatever the legal advice, it seems to me morally reprehensible for Elmbridge BC (for which I have the highest regard and have said so publicly) to knowingly put vulnerable members of the community at risk by allowing such a development without such conditions to go ahead.

Equally McCarthy and Stone who are rightly renowned as a class act in their field of accommodation for the elderly surely, on reflection, would not want to put vulnerable people at risk. Indeed, they would be risking their own high reputation; this takes years to gain but can be lost in an instant.

Thus, I hope that between now and the full planning meeting in January 2017, this application will be reconsidered by all parties and either the vulnerable residents are to be protected from harmful effects of poor air quality or this application is withdrawn.

G Acher 13th December 2016

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