This coming Wednesday sees the Arlington Tesco’s issue come before Planning Committee as part of the Public Inquiry process. The application has come to Public Inquiry because the application took too long to go through the system and therefore the applicant is claiming non-determination. This meeting is to decide on how the Planning Committee stands in relation to two aspects, firstly the upgrading of the Scenic Railway’s listed status and second, the timing of the works themselves. The report for this can be found here.
The last time this application came before Planning those were the two aspects being decided on, but was referred to Full Council on grounds of “transparency and accountability”. I agree with the decision the Committee came to. As the report makes clear, the relevant Manager was not authorised to take into account, under delegated powers, the upgraded listed status of the Scenic Railway, therefore this had to come before the Planning Committee, even if it didn’t change anything in the Committee’s mind. As for the second problem, of the timing of the works, the proposal was at Freshwaters insistence not the Councils. Add to that the talk of the possible listing of the site and referral to Full Council seemed a good decision. Even with the current political set-up and considering the possibility that the application could eventually have been voted down, I still back that vote. In any case that vote is basically void and it’s up to the Planning Inspectorate now.
As for the application as a whole, I’ve not really published a settled argument, basically because I’ve struggled to come to one. On balance, I support the application and see it to be the best opportunity for redevelopment of the site. I know there was an alternative scheme proposed but given the current economic situation, I’m not convinced on it, and that’s a shame. Yes, there’s going to be an impact on businesses nearby and there will be parking issues, but given that anything built on this site would attract high numbers of traffic and given the awkward location, it’s going to be the case pretty much whatever is put there. There’s doubt at whether Freshwater will act honestly with the residents of Arlington House, but that’s more to do with the associated legal agreements than the main plans and can be dealt with by the Council Officers.
I know other bloggers have commented that they would have preferred to see a smaller proposed store and I agree. The reality is it’s not on the cards. We must consider the application as a whole and be careful not to lose this chance of fully redeveloping the site.