THE LOCAL residents opposing the planning application for a mixed use development at 76 High Street in Grays suffered a defeat at the Planning Committee last night (Thursday).
Judged by the officer in charge of the matter as having a positive effect on the regeneration plans for the area that outweighed any harm, the application for 41 flats and several commercial units gained a sizeable opposition.
A five-minute recess was called as Rev Darren Barlow, spokesman for the opposition, made his statement to the committee following a member of the public hurling accusations from the public gallery.
When the chamber was restored to order, Rev Barlow stated that the front elevation of the proposed development may be the same height as the previous application but that the rest of the site would be significantly larger. Rev Barlow said that they welcomed redevelopment on the site but that the current application was an “over-development” and “excessive and over-bearing” next to St Peter and St Paul’s Church, a Grade 2 listed building with some parts dating back 1000 years.
Paul Henry, spokesman for the developer, stated that he had a petition of over 100 signatures from local residents supporting the plans citing that there would be no significant impact in their opinion. Mr Henry also stated that views of the historic architecture would not be adversely affected and that efforts were being made to retain original features surrounding the church.
Cllr Anderson commented that parking spaces for the development were being sacrificed to add more flats and that while the quality of the site had gone up, the quality of the development had gone down given the prime location opposite the new South Essex College campus. He also observed that the Conservation Officer’s report had been given little weight.
Despite the last proposed development being rejected as too bulky and the opposition’s petition of 227 signatures, collected within a week, the Planning Committee voted to approve the controversial development to the groans of discontent from the resident’s opposition assembled in the public gallery.