Ford site housing plan is thrown out after developers fail to come back with offer that impresses councillors

  Posted: 11.02.21 at 23:19 by The Editor

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COUNCILLORS have thrown out a bid for 86 apartments and six houses which developers hoped would make up the latest phase of the regeneration of the former Fords site on Arisdale Avenue in South Ockendon.

The application was given short shrift when it came before Thurrock Council’s planning committee last month and councillors were close to rejecting it then – but gave builder St Modwen Homes a chance to come back with a ‘better offer’ after branding them ‘greedy’.

In particular they wanted somewhere near the 31 houses that were originally promised as part of the plan – which had been replaced by 86 apartments.

However, when the bid came back councillors were of the opinion that developers had just tinkered round the edges and unanimously rejected the whole scheme.

The changes to the original scheme were five discounted flats made available at 80 per cent of open market value with priority for local residents.

One by one councillors picked the application apart.

Cllr Colin Churchman asked: “How does the five unit 80 per cent of market price work, is it a lucky dip or will it be the first five that come along?” Do we know? And the site of houses is quite dense I must admit.”

Density was also an issue for Cllr Mike Fletcher who said: “This is too dense. We asked for this to be looked at because it doesn’t meet the needs of people. I am not in favour.

“The developer talks of the lack of affordable housing for local people but this is more likely to attract more people from away. It will do the opposite.

Cllr Sue Shinnock wanted to know about the missing detail in terms of infrastructure, including GP places, while Cllr Gary Bryrne said: “It’s a no for me, I follow the advice of the local councillors. It’s not enough, nowhere near enough, if this is all they brought back to the table No’.

Cllr Gerard Rice said: “It is overdevelopment. They really haven’t done an awful lot to meet us. I know they have got this scheme where they have costed everything out and they say they could only do so much but I think we could get a lot more out them.

“They are only just meeting all the targets which is not satisfactory. We need to send it back and get then get them to revisit this.”

Cllr Kelly said: “This is quite difficult. It would appear the developers have ticked the boxes they need to tick and this is on the borderline of what would be deemed acceptable.

“I am on the fence with this one. I sympathise with the officers and the developers as it is within the bounds of reasonable development and ticks the right boxes but it is still incredibly dense.

“I acknowledge it is within the boundary but when you couple it up with parking also being very dense, this project is not proper planning.

“We are not just here to reject homes or to approve homes but to approve good development. We have to look our residents in the eye and say we are approving good development and this doesn't hit the mark.”

He called on members to recommend approval for the scheme but no one came forward.

He then put forward a recommendation rejecting the scheme, which was passed with the caveat that officers will go away and draft detailed reasons about how the decision was reached in caser the matter comes before the Planning Inspectorate.

That task will be led by assistant director for planning, transport & public protection who said: “To be honest I have not heard enough here that we could stand in a hearing and defend your decision. We need to look at this and the implications and what risk the council might have if we go to appeal.

Cllr Fletcher said that a defence would be achievable, saying: “Within the local context they do not have enough dwellings to meet the needs of local people so it is an inappropriate development.”

And Cllr Kelly endorsed that by saying: “As a councillor when we are of the perception that when this is built we are going to have to enforce on the car parking, we clearly don’t believe it is appropriate.

“Before it is built we can see it is going to be chaos so that is not in touch with my reality of a sustainable development, it goes against the principles of good planning. But take it away, I am happy for that.”

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