Lewes Forum thread

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Stupid Planners do it again

On 30 May 2012 at 11:38am Old Cynic wrote:
Planning permission has been approved for the demolition and change of use of the very small light industrial unit - office/storage buildings (Class B1/B8) to retail pet shop and storage (Classes A1 and B8) and veterinary surgery (Class D1) and alterations to building elevations and parking - Coombe Court 137 - 139 Malling Street Lewes East Sussex
So lets close down a very popular LOCAL business that employs several people and put up a NATIONAL CHAIN superstore and vets on a VERY busy main road with NO parking - the idiots in the planning committee say that customers will walk to the shop - really??? I think not. They also ignored the 80 signature petition against the development - IT MAKES ME MAD and Ill be even madder whan I cant get in any of the very limited parking spaces at home time. But its too late now - I really hope its a HUGE failure and closes down - Cliffe Vets for me and Fur Feather n Fins for the pets - boycot the new store!!!!!
On 30 May 2012 at 12:07pm Interested Party wrote:
I think you'll find it was the Planning Committee that made the decision, your elected representatives!
On 30 May 2012 at 12:35pm I don't live in lewes... wrote:
I think you'll find that the views of the planning committee who indeed are our elected representatives can be over ruled on appeal which makes you wonder what's the point of them.
May just as well let the planning office make all the decisions... which happens anyway doesn't it?

On 30 May 2012 at 12:43pm herewegoagain wrote:
I wonder what will come in the old pet shop site? it's a big shop in the centre of town
On 30 May 2012 at 1:01pm Cllr Ian Eiloart wrote:
I voted against this decision, and I think a few others did, too.
I don't think people will walk there from town, and I don't think this is a "sustainable location". We may have been able to sustain a refusal using what we call the "sequential test": if there's an available location in town, then it should be used in preference to a location on the edge of town. Undoubtedly the applicants would have appealed, and I'm not sure that we'd have been able to sustain the refusal.
Sadly, we're not permitted to take account of the fact that a local business will be evicted if the development goes ahead. If we'd used that as a reason, we probably would have had some costs awarded against us at appeal, and it would not have helped us win the appeal.
Just a note about the process:
Our planning officers decide most applications, using delegated powers. If an application is controversial, or doesn't fall within the delegated authority, then they'll refer it to the planning applications committee, which consists of 11 district councillors. The officers will make a recommendation, and the committee will make the decision. I'm not sure of the exact figures, but in most meetings we'll handle up to a dozen applications, and might make a decision that's different from the recommendation in a few of those cases.
If we refuse an application, then the applicant can appeal to the national Planning Inspectorate, and one of their inspectors will make the decision. Usually, the inspectors agree with us, but they have overturned some of our decisions.
You can follow the link below for more information about the planning process.

Check it out here »
On 30 May 2012 at 4:59pm Clifford wrote:
Ian, thanks for the clear explanation of the planning decision process. I've always thought this 'delegated' decision-making (effectively putting it into the hands of one officer - though obviously supervised) is a bit dangerous, for obvious reasons. I reember the story about the planning officer (not in Lewes) who could afford his own helicopter.
On 30 May 2012 at 6:17pm Old Cynic wrote:
Cllr Ian - all very well and good but there is a complete lack of basic common sense applied to this application. No one will walk to this store, its too far out (especially if you are buying heavy pet food) and you have to cross one of the busiest roads in the county where there is no safe crossing place. As to a vets there are two within a close proximity and one at Ringmer - do we really need another? Neither is is going to create new jobs - just move them from elsewhere - shame on the idiots who passed this application
On 30 May 2012 at 6:38pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
This is a really stupid idea. I'd like to know which councillors voted in favour. Loons, all of them.
On 30 May 2012 at 7:45pm Deelite wrote:
Isn't the vote a matter of public record and as such publicised in minutes to the council web site? If not, why not?
On 30 May 2012 at 9:49pm Awesome Wells wrote:
It is interesting that the same planning officer (responsible for pushing through many unpopular structures over the past 5 years) now seems to be making the decisions on behalf of the South Downs National Park.
The committee seem to be continually persuaded against public opinion and the interests of the town.
On 30 May 2012 at 11:53pm Rooks fan wrote:
I remember being asked in the pet store a couple of months ago to sign a petition in favour of the new location. I pointed out that if they moved, they'd lose my business as it was too far out for me to walk to on my usual shopping round. They looked surprised, but I thought it strange there was no attempt to lodge my views, rather than just those of people who supported it. Seems a really stupid idea to me from a purely business perspective, let alone anything else. I can't be the only one who finds the idea of having to drive somewhere to buy a bag of pet food ridiculous.
On 31 May 2012 at 9:42am brixtonbelle wrote:
which pet store is closing down / moving ?
On 31 May 2012 at 9:51am someone else wrote:
Thank you Cllr Eiloart for the comments. There are a lot of people who simply don't get the basic facts that:

- There is a presumption in favour of development in planning law. There has to be a reason to refuse, not a reason to approve.
- That reason for refusal has to have a basis in planning law and policy. It is not about reacting to what the public thinks.
- The planning committee are not permitted to allow their opinions to override planning policy or law. If they do, there is a risk that the applicant will appeal, win and seek costs. And those costs come out of what you pay in council tax.

The planning committee sometimes has a very difficult job in reconciling the public interest whilst protecting public funds. It's not an easy task.
On 31 May 2012 at 9:54am someone else wrote:
Oh, and Clifford - delegated powers never puts a decision in the hands of one officer. It will always have to be checked and approved by a senior officer.
On 31 May 2012 at 10:08am Rooks fan wrote:
Brixtonbelle, I was asked to sign the petition at Pets Corner, behind the Riverside, so pretty safe to assume it's them. I was buying their own brand cat food, so will need to find another brand my cat likes when they move.
On 31 May 2012 at 10:13am Clifford wrote:
Someone else - do you mean the decision is in the hands of 'a senior officer'? I do like your suggestion that there would be something remiss in planning decisions in an area being based on 'what the public thinks'. We couldn't have that, could we? Next thing we'd be electing councillors and MPs.
On 31 May 2012 at 10:26am brixtonbelle wrote:
So a shop that is centrally situated currently, with good parking right opposite, wants to move to a site with no parking on a main road and poor pedestrain access and away from the busiest shopping area of town. Hmm. That makes no business sense at all.
On 31 May 2012 at 10:39am Cllr Ian Eiloart wrote:
I don't think Someone Else meant to suggest that simply responding to public opinion would be remiss. Just that the committee isn't permitted to do that. It has to find a basis in planning law to reject an application.
Now, there are some planning reasons that are somewhat subjective, and on those matters a committee member's judgement might be influenced by public opinion. So, if a member was hesitant about rejecting an application on the quality of a design, but lots of people said they didn't like the design, then that might tip the balance of judgement.
On other matters, like the loss of a local business, there's simply nothing the planning committee can do but express regret.
As it happens, the Localism Act 2011 does give the public more power, by allowing more local planning policies to be created. For example, Lewes town could create a "neighbourhood plan", which would add detail to the district's policies. The plan would have to be consistent with the district's plan, but could tighten up, or loosen, some planning constraints. And then it has to be approved by a town wide referendum.
On 31 May 2012 at 10:42am Cllr Ian Eiloart wrote:
Yes, it's them alright. They also want to open a veterinary surgery. There's a lot more space where they're moving to, and the parking is attractive to them, too.
On 31 May 2012 at 11:08am someone else wrote:
Clifford - a couple of points:

What I meant about delegated powers is that it isn't possible for one planning officer (nowadays at least) to 'go rogue' without his work being checked. The thing you need to know about delegated powers is that they are not used on any large applications and (for most LAs anyway - not sure about Lewes), any substantive public objection to any application immediately means that it has to go to committee. But if delegated powers didn't exist, the committee's work would be swamped by dozens of minor applications for replacement windows, temporary shop signs, sky dishes etc, which don't really need their input.

Secondly, I'm not telling you what I think is remiss, I'm telling you what planning law is. For my money, the planning process has to strike a balance between the wider public interest and public opinion which is, to be honest, inclined to the reactionary / NIMBY. For example, I've witnessed public objections to extensions to schools and hospitals - works which were definitely in the public interest. I've also witnessed public campaigns against building works simply on the basis that the construction work itself would be noisy, which isn't a reasonable objection. The nature of democracy is that everyone wants cheap housing but doesn't want any new housing on their doorstep. There has to be a balance.
On 31 May 2012 at 11:36am Old Cynic wrote:
A lot more space - really? There current building is a three or four storey warehouse - with a huge public car park opposite. The new site is single story with a smaller footprint an resident/public parking for 7 residents (with over 14 residents, visitors to the Malling allotmnets, visitors to Malling Down, care workers for the elderly resident, visitors to the working mens club , visitors to the offices- all looking for spaces) just around the corner are a handful of parking spaces for the residents of Wheatsheaf Close - they are in the same situation - so WHERE will the pet store staff park, where will the vets staff park, where will the customers park?? More importantly where will I park - what is the point of having a permit? The blue meanies visit twice a day as it is - Im sure we will see more of them... the whole thing is so stupid. Im now boycotting Pets Corner - get your petfood online and delivered - Ive discovered its so much cheaper!
On 31 May 2012 at 5:39pm Harold wrote:
Just for those who did not know , that site in Malling street was Southern Veterinary supplies in the 1980`S , what goes around........!!
On 31 May 2012 at 7:54pm Ducatipete wrote:
I think I might find a shop in central Lewes to sell pet supplies as clearly this move is doomed to fail.
On 31 May 2012 at 9:13pm Eric Pickles Brother wrote:
Is it just me or is Lewes full of Nimby's?!
On 31 May 2012 at 9:17pm Akane wrote:
It is pets corner. I live a couple of doors down and our good neighbours started a petition which a lot of people opposing the idea. A great local butcher wil be moving, parking will be a major problem. It's completely ridiculous and pets corner petition we heard was rushed through and submitted late. Anyway, it's done now. Completely ridiculous and I think will increase the risk of traffic jams and possibly accidents as surprised drivers stop to make an impromptu trip to the shop and realise they can't park, will holdqd things up. C'est la vie! Shame on those who agreed this.
On 31 May 2012 at 9:20pm Eric Pickles Brother wrote:
Stop moaning. If you want something to moan about wait till you hear what Tesco have in mind for their store!
On 1 Jun 2012 at 10:40am Spartacus wrote:
Akane. Which local butcher is moving?
Anyone. Whats happening to the old Pets Corner building?
On 1 Jun 2012 at 10:48am someone else wrote:
To be honest, I'd be surprised if Pet's Corner are enthusiastic about the move. Few businesses would give up a good central location with easy parking, when the costs of the move (in a recession) would wipe out several years profits.

So I wonder whether there are some issues with huge rent increases on their current site, or the like? It's hardly an unknown phenomenon in Lewes.
On 1 Jun 2012 at 1:57pm AKane wrote:
I am moaning. Paidf for parking space, want to park outside my house. If I can't see my car from the house, it may get turned over AGAIN and written off. Butcher is called Geoff at Lewes Poultry. Great little business
On 1 Jun 2012 at 5:42pm Lewes Resident wrote:
I heard the company is moving because the owner of the property wants to turn the 4 story build in riverside into Flats.
On 25 Jul 2014 at 1:15am dog man wrote:
I for one can't be bothered to go to the new shop and have started using the old pet shop in town. Starting to keep it local.

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