Posted: 19.03.21 at 08:02 by The Editor
THURROCK Council’s much-debated and often controversial ‘sites list for new council homes’ took another pasting, this time from planning councillors, last night (Thursday, 18 March) when plans to build five new homes on the site of one large house in Chadwell St Mary were thrown out.
Just planning committee chair Cllr Tom Kelly supported the plan to demolish an existing five bedroom detached property on Loewen Road – eight other councillors spoke up against it.
The decision came two days after another council committee had questioned the whole principle and implementation of the sites list after it was revealed officers had gone public on a plan to knock down garages owned by residents – without even telling them.
Chair of the housing overview and scrutiny committee, Cllr Luke Spillman, suggested it was time to go and rethink the scheme, launched just over a year ago. It has caused huge controversy and many of the sites have since been cut from the original list as the council back-tracked following local consultation and protest.
At last night’s planning meeting members heard residents in Chadwell St Mary were very unhappy with the scheme for Loewen Road – a view shared by a majority of councillors.
Even Cllr Kelly, who stood by his officers' recommendation, had to concede: “There is a lot of upset and concern in the area from neighbours regarding access and parking.”
Cllr Gerard Rice said: “We are shoving five houses into a back garden. This is what it looks like to me. They have two parking spaces per property but if I am a visitor, where do I park? I could understand two or three houses but five seems over development to me. It is too much in view of the existing area.”
Cllr Angela Lawrence said she had found out that the house had previously been converted to meet the needs of a severely disabled local man, who wanted to move back into it. She said: “Uses for this big house should be looked into before we give it away.
“I can’t bring myself to go with this application. It has been altered for a disability use and we have to start considering people who have disabilities.
“And how many five bed houses do we have to offer people in this area? It’s a lovely old house that suits disabled people and big families. We should not give this away and should consider local residents’ opinion.”
Cllr David Potter threw in his view, saying: “I took a drive over and walked round the site and spoke to a resident and was told the council had abandoned the house, which had been converted for a disabled person and it has been occupied by squatters and such.
“I took one look at the back and decided immediately that five houses would be completely out of character. It is ridiculous. I am against this.”
And Cllr Mike Fletcher said the plan was contrary to the council’s own policies and past decision-making. He said: “I look at this development plan and think that we have looked at a number of developments like this where people have wanted to knock down large houses to build more smaller houses on and without exception we have refused them.
“So what worries me is inconsistency. What is so different about this attempt to squeeze five houses into somebody’s back garden?”
Cllr Gary Byrne added: “How and why would you want to take this home away? How can more houses be more eco-friendly than one, a house that is designed for one disabled guy. I am a definite no.”
Cllr Kelly summed up by saying: “Chadwell is quite a fascinating little town really, certainly enriched with open space.
“I can see the concerns but it does also have massive benefit to some families who need homes. Which is why I am minded to support this.”
However, he was a lone voice and the plan was rejected by eight votes to one.