Plan for homes in South Road, South Ockendon thrown out

JUST minutes after planning councillors went against their officers’ recommendations and granted planning permission for new homes in South Ockendon, they threw out a plan for another planned new housing development in the area despite acknowledging there was much to commend the scheme.

They were hearing an application to build 16 new homes in a courtyard development on a site currently occupied by some buildings at 9-13 South Road including a current shop frontage.

Planning officer Kathryn Blow told the meeting that while, in principle, there was no objection to development on the site the design for this application by Mr Ray Morgan was not of high enough quality.

She also said there was a disjointed approach to the site’s development and also lack of affordable housing and no contribution proposed for health and education provision.

However, the applicant’s agent, Mr Nigel Bennett, took a different view and told the meeting: “This is an attractive and high quality architectural scheme that will help to regenerate this area.

“The existing site is in a very poor state of repair; the rear buildings are a derelict eyesore; and its boundary wall with St Nicholas’s Church , an important grade I listed building, is both ugly and cheap.

“Your Officers agree that the principle of redeveloping this brownfield site is acceptable.

“There is no objection to the loss of the vacant retail unit; no highways objections; no landscape or ecological objections; no archeological objection and no flood risk objection. Rather, your officers’ main concern seems to relate to very subjective design matters raised by the Historic Buildings Advisor which are simply not accepted by the applicant.

“I do however accept that the frontage building has some local character and whilst our structural survey has indicated that it would not be practical or cost effective to convert it, the applicant would be prepared to explore whether its front façade could possibly be retained as part of its overall redevelopment.”

He also indicated the applicant was ready to agree other issues such as affordable housing and a contribution to local services.

Debating the issue, councillors overwhelmingly seemed in support of the idea of a development on the site, but not the scheme before them and in the end rejected the bid.

Contributions to the debate included Cllr Barry Johnson saying: “I agree with a lot things the applicant said and a flint wall as proposed in the application would certainly enhance the view from the church.

“However, I am concerned by the height of the main building.

“I have no problem with putting something in here, I like the idea of the facade being kept but I do believe the overall design doesn’t come into what we need.”

Cllr Robert Ray was even more forthright, saying: “The design looks a bit of a carbuncle and doesn’t do justice to the church. I don’t think it fits in.”

Cllr Brian Little was concerned about the lack of affordable housing and said that the site needed to make a contribution to the local community it his opinion on it were to change.”

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