Friday, 17 June 2011

Arlington Tesco's approved...sort of

The Planning Committee approved the outline application to build a Tesco's, a car park and associated shops at Arlington on Wednesday evening. Although it didnt. It took a few attempts to explain to Members that TDC cannot decide on granting planning consent by itself because the Tescos is too large for them to call it. Instead it has to be referred to the Secretary of State, but that TDC gives its recommendation. All delightfully complicated.

The three speakers against the application were very good and stuck to planning issues in their speeches. Far too often I see speakers talking about non planning issues which basically cant be considered by the committee. If you are to speak against an application, your chances are vastly increased by speaking on planning grounds.

An amendment was proposed to refuse night time deliveries. It was explained that such an amendment could not be accepted even if a majority of Members agreed because it was considered unacceptable to the applicant. It did sound absurd but clearly its a red line for the applicant.

It was always going to be close and when a Conservative Member spoke against the application it seemed the application could be refused. When it came down to the vote though, it was a 7-7 split which makes me wonder if that Member voted with their speech (I was in the spillover room so couldnt see). The tiebreaker is the Chairs vote which is by convention to vote with the officer's recommendation. It now comes before the Secretary of State.

Comment was made during the debate that "You're not helping yourselves" and a dismissive wave made towards the public gallery when they booed a comment made by a Member. I don't blame the residents for being upset at the plans and for booing. Its a monster of an application which will lead to huge disruption to their homes and they are worried that promises made to them will either be bodged or simply forgotten. One resident walked out of the meeting in frustration after making some choice comments about the officers which I couldn't possibly repeat here.

My feeling is that if we weren't in such a dire economic situation, the residents scheme would be more attractive. But you have to deal with what you have, not with what you want. As with Iris Johnston and others, I hope it comes before Full Council for detailed consideration and that continued public consultation takes place as there are still a lot of questions to answer.

Arlington Square is the sorriest sight in Thanet and the residents support its redevelopment - but change needs to work with the residents, not against them.


Anonymous said...

Is it a coincidence that the chairman whose casting vote was so important has the same surname as the original owner of Tesco when it first started?

James Maskell said...

I would suspect so. Cllr Cohen has been Chair before and the convention's always been there even if its not been used often. The Member who said they couldn't support the application then did is the one who had the true casting vote.