By Local Democracy Reporter
THURROCK Councillors were divided over whether to approve a housing application for six new flats in Fobbing due to questions over whether it is acceptable to build on the green belt.
The planning application to construct six detached houses on the same plot as a large existing property on High Road in Fobbing was rejected during a meeting on Thursday night but a number of councillors questioned whether it was the right decision.
Planning officers told the council’s planning committee that the development should be refused due to it being on green belt land which “by definition is harmful”.
Meeting chair Councillor Tom Kelly warned that the plans were to build in what is “effectively someone’s back garden” and to approve it would set a “dangerous precedent”.
But Councillor Gerard Rice said: “When we look at the national planning policy framework the government does talk about proposals affecting the green belt and say that a departure would be limited in-filling in villages, of which this would be one. Also, we haven’t got a five-year land supply which is another reason for a departure.
“The other big reason we must be mindful of is we have DP World down the road which is screaming out for houses, so there is an economic value to this and that is all in the national planning policy frame work.
“We know we are going have to build homes in the green belt and the national planning policy framework does give us a way forward if members are mindful to support this.
“There is a need for larger homes because we want our top managers to live in the borough and not to live in Chelmsford, not to live in Southend, not to live in Brentwood, but to spend the money they earn in Thurrock.
“I think it is for those reasons I would like to make the case that we can depart and there are sufficient reasons and we should let this go.”
Councillor Angela Lawrence backed Mr Rice’s comments, stressing that the new homes are needed.
Mr Kelly said he understood the concerns but pointed out that there are several large homes on the same street and approving the application would set an “incredibly dangerous precedent” where the other home owners “would and could” put forward an application, resulting in a small village.
Despite these divisions, the majority of the committee voted to refuse planning permission.