Thursday, 15 December 2011

The Twilight Zone

A curious Planning Meeting last night. To get the headline out of the way, the Planning Committee decided that their mind was not changed by the upgraded listing of the Scenic Railway and that they would have accepted the change to the scheduled timing of the works. But that only tells part of the story...

First up we’ve had some changes in the Committee Membership with Cllrs Hart and Poole replaced by Cllrs Nicholson and David Green, though both attended the meeting. Certainly no dumbing down on the Labour side then. 

There was criticism of the two mock-ups of the proposed store showing one, the height of the development in scale to the Scenic Railway, including the 4m height difference between the two (arguing that Arlington should have been in the image) and second, the image of the store without the hotel section (arguing that the positioning of the store being behind Dreamland Cinema was wrong). While I normally agree with that Councillor and have great respect for him, I must disagree with both criticisms. Arlington is off to the right in the first image so doesn’t really count and as the plans show, the store would creep behind the left side of the Dreamland building.

Harvey Patterson spent his time discussing a letter of objection from Richard Buxton Solicitors, though the word dismissing might be more appropriate. Normally I’d defend his advice giving because he’s usually right on the money but seemed to be off his game last night and a little more agitated than normal. He criticised the publication of the letter online. I read the letter online pretty much as soon as it was published and I have no issue with it appearing online. There’s definitely a public interest and the Members of the Committee should be aware of it.

To reiterate what I said in the preview, this Public Inquiry came only because of the referral to Full Council which was in itself necessary given the legal complications that were appearing. I hear from elsewhere that in fact this Public Inquiry was merely a threat to push the Committee into accepting the application and to ease its process, and that once that approval was given the Public Inquiry would be dropped. We shall see if that is the case in due course.

A Councillor made a comment that the letter to Cllr Poole from June (see “Pooleing Around”) was inaccurate in its description of that meeting’s vote as being decided on the Chair’s casting vote and that instead it was a normal vote. Sorry but that’s not true, it was a 7-7 tie and the Chair’s casting vote decided it. The letter was right.

Im not really one for attacking my own side but I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t name Conservative Cllr Binks who spoke against the development back in June (words along the lines of “I cannot support this application”) but voted in favour, much to the surprise of those watching the meeting who had done the maths and expected the motion to be defeated. Her mind had not changed last night and neither had her vote in favour of the development.

As readers will know, I support the Arlington development and want to see it do well, but that I believe the Arlington House works must be done prior to the store construction since the resident’s needs should come first, especially when residents are highly concerned about Freshwater’s willingness to adhere to its obligations towards its tenants. I don’t agree with the second vote taken last night. As the reports and the advice given last night made abundantly clear, Freshwater didn’t really have a particularly good reason other than “minimising disturbance”, in itself not very convincing. In fact during the debate it was made clear that they would be satisfied with the current schedule, so Im unsure as to why a change should be necessary...

Discussion of Ramsgate Sport Centre's proposed extension seemed to focus on the possible increase of confrontations that might be caused between pedestrians and cyclists by shortening the footpath following behind Paradise Avenue from a width of 3 metres to 2 to allow for more shrubbery. I kid you not... An amendment was made to avoid that and it passed.

Cllr Nicholson’s comment of “a step into the Twilight Zone” pretty much summed the meeting up, indeed the last meeting of the year. 


Ken Gregory said...

In fact Cllr Cohen did not use his 'casting vote' at the first meeting. There were 15 members present (including the chair) The 'floor' was divided 7/7 Cllr cohen used his 1st vote (as a member of the committee). So the decision was made by a straight majority. The chair has an extra 'casting vote' to use if the committee is 'tied' (ie if someone is absent)

James Maskell said...

Bit of a case of six of one, half a dozen of the other given his 1st vote was the decisive one, voting according to the Chair's convention of voting with the recommendation. I cant really be bothered to argue about it, Ken.

ascu75 aka Don said...

finally read it, I cant understand all the fuss just pass it and get on with it. As for the cycle/path issue reduce the width and include mre shrubs to hang over sounds daft to me it willmake path even narrower,

Michael Child said...

James, to be honest I don’t have an opinion either way on situating the supermarket there, but I do have one on the aesthetics of the supermarket building and I wondered what you reckon.

To my mind the view of Margate looking at the seafront is architecturally interesting, whether you like them or not the Dreamland Cinema and Arlington House are striking pieces of architecture representing design ideas of their time. The new Tesco building however seems to be a bit of a blob.

Do you think there is any way that Tesco could be persuaded to make the thing look a bit more interesting?

James Maskell said...

When I said shrubbery I really meant 'landscaping' (basically to put off light pollution into Paradise)...had Monty Python on my mind at the time!

With the legal battles at the moment, I'm not sure how any proposed changes would be dealt with and I cant see Freshwater want to find out either.