Residents living near the Willow Brook Centre who have raised objections to a planning application for two new drive-through food and drink units at the site could be denied the right to attend and ask questions at a site meeting of the council committee that is likely to be tasked with determining the case.
Site inspection meetings, which give councillors a chance to visit the area of a proposed development and listen to the views of those for and against, are currently open to the public, but plans recently put forward by the Conservative-led administration at South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) would see them become closed meetings.
The change is part of a raft of proposed measures intended to modernise the planning system and help the council defend its decision making against potentially costly appeals.
The reforms were due to be discussed at SGC’s annual general meeting on 16th May, but the agenda item was dropped at the last minute following outcries from the opposition parties, who described the proposals as “a body blow to local residents’ rights” and accused the Tories of operating a “culture of concealment” by publishing the proposals without prior consultation.
The proposals will now be brought to SGC’s Full Council meeting in July, following “engagement with opposition councillors in a spirit of openness and cooperation”.
As reported in our May magazine, Bradley Stoke Town Council has objected to the Willow Brook proposals on the grounds that the development would “lead to increase in traffic levels”, also citing “highways and transportation issues, environmental concerns relating to noise and lights plus the impact on local houses”.
At the time of writing, 136 members of the public have formally registered objections to the application, with three writing in support.
Asked when the application was likely to be brought to SGC’s Development Control (West) Committee for determination, a council spokesperson said:
“At present, given the high level of public comments received in relation to the drive-through element of the proposal, this is something that is likely to be the subject of ongoing discussions with the applicant.”
- Planning applications of note (The Journal)
- Conservatives “take axe” to local democracy with changes to planning application rules (South Glos Liberal Democrats)
- Lib Dems welcome Conservative climb-down on planning changes (South Glos Liberal Democrats)
This article originally appeared in the June 2018 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal news magazine (on pages 4 & 5). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.
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