Late night for people fighting flats planBy Jennie Slevin
January 30, 2013
Neighbours involved in a lengthy planning battle were forced to stay at a council meeting until 11pm to have their say on the controversial application.
Families fighting what they claim is overdevelopment at Christine Ingram Gardens in Priestwood went to Bracknell Forest Council’s planning meeting last Thursday to speak out on the latest plans.
But they ended up waiting more than three hours for their chance to speak against the plans to create a one-bedroom flat in the roof space of one block and merge two flats in another block, after the committee worked through a packed agenda.
Alan Thomson, who represented neighbours during the three-minute public speaking slot, said: “We were very determined to talk to the committee about it and to see it through.
“I won’t complain about how long we waited as they did push us forward in the end.”
Councillor Colin Dudley, chairman of the planning committee who arranges the agenda, said: “The agenda is ordered by application number.
“I’m not adverse to moving cases forward but if members of the public see the agenda and turn up later in the evening and we’ve moved it forward, they may miss what they came for.”
In the last nine years Cover Homes has submitted 14 planning applications to alter the three two-storey blocks of flats and build more apartments in the roof space.
Mr Thomson, of nearby Lakeside, believes the developer is attempting to dodge its obligation to provide affordable housing for the borough, by overdeveloping one area without increasing the number of flats.
He said the process had been a ‘planning marathon for neighbours’ who were angry about the number of applications.
He added: “Neighbours are concerned there has been a succession of different applications and we may end up with something different and more flats than proposed unless tight planning conditions are applied.”
During the meeting, Mr Thomson voiced concerns about plans to add extra bedrooms, causing parking issues, and building additional flats without proper permission.
He said: “We are asking you to refuse this application as over development but the next best thing would be conditional approval.”
Councillors approved the plans subject to a list of conditions, but councillor Chris Turrell said: “Unfortunately I don’t think we will be seeing the back of them.
“I suspect we will have to make sure the conditions will be enforced as they may try to put these merged flats back into use again. They have caused the neighbours a lot of stress and the problem is you can’t just tell them they can’t develop so we’ve put these conditions in place to hopefully stop them overdeveloping.”