PLANS: Scrutiny was lacking

With regard to planning permission for the former police box in Grand Parade, covenants on Seafield Green dating back to 1935 restrict use of the land in front of Percy Park properties so that commercial use is prohibited. The police box is within that area.

Thursday, 10th January 2019, 6:05 am

The plans on which the permission was based indicate that the developer intends to extend the building, but to do so he will need to either buy or lease additional land from the council.

We have reminded the council that as Seafield Green is designated public open space it has to follow the correct legal procedures for selling or disposing of any part of it.

That is important because the planning application refers only to a former police box and that it will not result in a shortfall of green space.

The plans appear to show a new pedestrian access to the public highway whereas the application declared there would be no new pedestrian access.

We also discovered, through Freedom of Information requests, that there has been a worrying lack of consultation with local residents – 32 letters of objection and five of support were received.

The council was obliged to carry out a neighbour consultation by informing as a minimum all of Percy Park, Percy Park Road, Seafield View and Warkworth Terrace.

Percy Park has 103 addresses, of which only 17 were notified. Of these, six properties, including Kingsbury House residential care home, were registered as empty. Percy Park Road has 65 addresses, yet only four were notified. Of these, two are registered as empty. Warkworth Terrace has 17 addresses, yet only one address was notified.

The Mayor has insisted that two site notices were displayed, put up on November 29, 2017. No one can recall seeing them.

This planning application should have had more scrutiny from local residents in view of all its legal complexities, but the Mayor insists that consultation was carried out in accordance with national guidelines.

None of the above matters were put before the planning committee before it took its decision to give the go-ahead for the police box scheme.

Residents of Percy Park, Percy Park Road, Seafield View and Warkworth Terrace, as well as Hotspur Street, Syon Street, Argyle Street, Latimer Street, Lovaine Row, Percy Street and Stephenson Street, were entitled to be consulted as part of the neighbourhood consultation so where is the council transparency?

All of us are entitled to have our say before the council disposes of any part of our public open space land.

Jean McLaughlin