Stoke-on-Trent Planning Councillors Flex Their Collective Muscles

The eight elected councillors who sat in the meeting of the Development Management Committee this week sent a very clear message out to those who fail to meet their planning conditions.

Planning decisions can often be terse affairs and I am sure that everyone who is reading this article has themselves, or know of others, who have affected by a planning decision. Indeed some people only get to witness the city council at work when they become embroiled in a planning application.

The outcome can sometimes go your way if you are objecting but more often decisions go the way of the applicant.

This week though our elected members who sit on the Development Management Committee showed that they are not for being pushing around, either by applicants or by planning officers.

The issue involved a complaint that a development had taken place without complying with a number of planning conditions.

The site in question is that of the former Eagle Pottery, Ivy House Road, Hanley . Redrow Homes gained outline planning permission in 2005 for a residential development subject to a number of conditions.

The owners of the adjacent Goodwin Steel Foundry alleged that work has commenced without the developer complying with a number of the conditions imposed.

Goodwin’s have been involved throughout the process and are keen to ensure that the developer complies especially in relation to noise, odours, air quality, HGV parking and turning.

In addition to the allegations made by Goodwins, investigations have revealed that some of the works have taken place that are not in accordance with the approved permission. This includes works adjacent to the canal, surfacing and boundary treatment and landscaping.

The report prepared by the planning officers and presented to our councillors at the meeting recommended that the committee “Ëœnote’ the nature of the allegations and that they also “Ëœnote’ that there are ongoing negations with Redrow. Finally it was also recommended that members “Ëœagree’ that it would not be expedient to take enforcement action with respect to the breaches of the planning conditions.

Well let me tell you, the elected members present neither agreed nor noted the officers’ recommendations. They were not of a mind to be directed by the legal officer present either.

Cllrs Paul Shotton and Cllr Ann James in particular demonstrated that this committee was not for steering and would make its own decisions and come to its own conclusions.

Cllr Shotton proposed that enforcement action be taken against the developer for failure to comply with the planning conditions attached to the outline permission.
This was met with a worried look by the planning officers and an attempt at watering down the proposal by the legal officer.

She was concerned that the council would incur costs if the developer chose to fight the enforcement and she also feared that it would not be looked on favourably if the council took enforcement action against the developer on all of the conditions as negotiation were underway to resolve some of the issues.

Not to be deterred Cllr Shotton used the planning officer to help and advise on the wording of a proposal that allowed the committee to impose enforcement on the developer for the conditions they had neglected to adhere to.

The proposal to take enforcement action was unanimously voted through. All 8 councillors present were united and stood firm against the officers’ recommendations demonstrating that the allegations that councillors are led or directed by officers are unfounded.

Cllr Paul Shotton, the deputy leader of the council along with Cllr Ann James’s steely determination sent a very loud warning across to the officers that although Labour have a large majority on the council, when needed councillors will unite to ensure the right decisions are made.

This will not be an officer – Labour Party love-in as some administrations have been in the past.

This was an encouraging start to the ongoing fight to prove that true democracy is alive and kicking in the City of Stoke-on-Trent.

Planning Permission Granted For Replacement Normacot Mosque

Normacot’s Muslim Community was granted full planning permission today to build a replacement mosque on the opposite side of Chaplin Road to where the original building lies.

Approval for planning was voted through without any votes against or abstentions at a meeting of Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s Development Management Committee.

There were no members of public present to raise any objections to the plans. The city council had only received three letters of protest during the application protest.

As a condition, building work must commence on the new mosque within three years of the date that the planning permission was granted.

Councillor Ann James raised concerns over the increased traffic in the area and the fact that there were already parking issues when the current mosque was busy.

The planning officer was able to allay her fears by informing the meeting that the mosques trust had purchased additional land alongside the existing mosque and that both sites would be used for parking.

The height of the building including the minaret will be no more than 1.5 metres higher that the adjacent block of apartments.

The mosque trust will also have to adhere to a number of conditions.

A) The provision of a traffic management scheme and if required, a controlled parking zone.
B) Covered cycle parking facilities provided within the site.
C) A detailed Travel plan that sets out how the mosque users and the trust intend to reduce the reliance on private motor cars.
D) A landscaping plan that details the treatment of all ground surfaces, tree and shrub planting, finished level of contours.
E) Announcements and calls to prayer using external amplification shall not take place except on Fridays, Eid Days and during the holy month of Ramadan. On these days they shall not take place before 07.30 or after 20.00 hours. The announcements or calls shall last no longer than two minutes and shall not exceed a volume of 60dBL at source.

The call to prayer issue has already been addressed.

The Mosque trust have already stated that it would be announced through an internal PA system 5 minutes before the actual prayer meeting takes place. The previous permission was subject to a condition which limited the volume and times that prayer calls could take place and it is suggested that a similar condition be used, now that planning had been granted.

Members of the mosque trust were present in the chamber to hear the news of their successful application.

Planning Application for Parkhall Academy Refused!

UPDATED: VIDEO INTERVIEWS NOW ONLINE!

Today the Development Management Committee on Stoke-on-Trent City Council rejected an Outline Planning Application to build a brand new City Academy school on the controversial ‘Springfield’ site in Adderley Green.

Councillors voted against the application by 8 votes to 1.

The Committee then voted in favour of a motion put forward by Cllr Paul Shotton and seconded by Cllr Pauline Joynson refusing the planning application again by 8 votes to 1.

The meeting had started with an overview of the plans presented by Brian Davis head of Planning.

He accepted that this was the most controversial of all the BSF planning applications. But he reminded those present that this application should not be used as a judgment of the BSF programme as a whole.

He highlighted the benefits to community through the added sports and recreation facilities that would come with such a development. He did recognise that there was considerable objections to the development. He also pointed out that the areas was not short of green space with Parkhall Country Park close to the vicinity of the proposed academy.

He recommended that outline planning consent be granted with the satisfaction of certain conditions which included concerns over drainage and contamination of the area and he also conceded that there were concerns over the width of pavements and traffic congestion but he stated that these concerns could be overcome and he considered the site suitable.

Pits’n’Pots’s very own Nicky Davis gave an excellent PowerPoint presentation which pointed out many flaws in the application. She also pointed out that the Springfield site had originally failed the council’s own feasibility study into suitable locations for the Parkhall Academy.
She also reminded those present that Cllr Terry Follows had issued an election leaflet during the last elections stating that he himself was against schools for 1200-1400 pupils and that he was in total favour of schools being in the centre of the communities they are to serve.

Speaking for the Sringfield Action Group Ian Jenkins gave an impassioned address to the meeting highlighting the variety of uses that the Springfield site had offered over the years. He pointed out the threat to the various wildlife in the area. He also informed the meeting that the proposal to divert a footpath around the development it take it closer to an areas troubled by Anti Social Behaviour.

Speaking as a resident as well as a ward councillor Denver Tolley told the meeting that the residents of the area concerned were not anti education, they were very much pro education. He siad that all the residents and the poeople who lived in that part of the city knew how bad the trafiic was and how dangerous the roads were. Indeed there was gridlock yesterday [Tuesday] caused by an accident involving a child being knocked off a bike. He also pointed out that a previous report had suggested that the proposed academy was to serve pupils between the ages of 11-16. The report presented today states that the school is to serve pupils between the ages of 11-18.

Mark Fisher MP gave a very good speech in support of Mitchell High and why it would be wrong for the pupils of that high school to attend a school in Parkhall.

After the applicants address to the committee in support of the development and an extensive question and answers session the application was put to the vote.

As the results were read out in favour of the community, widespread cheering and applause broke out around the chamber.

The Springfield Action Group and the supporters of the Mitchell High School left the chamber in a jubilant mood. But they will expect the fight to continue as the City Council now considers it’s options which include an appeal of the committee’s decision to the Secretary of State and/or a fresh submission of the planing application addressing the Development Management Committees concerns and reasons for refusal.

Please watch the video interview below. Mark Fisher MP gives his reaction to the news. There are more links at the bottom of this article which will take yo to our You Tube channel where you can view more interviews with the action groups representatives and our very own Nicky Davis.