As described by SOS member, Peter Whitfield, in his speech to the Full Council last night (25th mMrch) :
Councillors, I refer to paras 6.14 to 6.20 of the DCEO’s report.
On 1st March 2013 the DMC refused OPA 12/1847. Two key reasons given were loss of parkland and proximity of the development boundary to the listed summer house on the site.
The application had shown the development line as the top edge of a path leading towards the Depot area in defiance of the extant Local Plan which showed it to follow the footprint of the current building. That line is still the one in force until the revised local plan which you are considering tomorrow is approved by Mr Thickett.
I would ask you to reinstate that line and reject the one before you in today’s relocation submission. The development extension onto the upper terraces has never been properly debated by full Council. – indeed whenever it has been raised by the public, discussion has been curtailed – one example being at your meeting on 24 July 2013 when a public speaker did refer to this issue as it was part of a parcel of 18 sets of Minutes being nodded through. But Cllrs Cope and Bloxham moved “next business”.
All officer reports on this issue refer only to the quantity of the open space at risk and in language designed to emphasise how small the loss is (although some might think 14% is not inconsiderable) – no mention is ever made of its relative quality. Data derived from snapshot studies of usage have been used to justify the appropriation of open space purportedly to show that the Knowle site is no longer required for the purpose of public walks or as a pleasure ground.
But this data was collected between 2 years and 16 months ago and frankly the four comparator sites are ludicrous and one does not even exist! – my time does not allow explanation. The top terraces are what give the great vista to the sea and over the parkland and trees below and set off whatever building they sit beneath.
Today’s boundary is drawn just six feet from the Grade 2 listed folly and to the feature marked by the edge of a bank and the path to the depot – although the Planning Policy Manager responding to comments from the public told DMC’s July 2013 meeting that “it would not be appropriate for a Local plan to refer to measurements of site/development boundaries from given features”. This appropriation based on that emergent Local Plan cites no measurements – only lines on a diagram drawn to match specific features.
I ask that in the interests of giving due recognition of the value of quality of open space over quantity you redraw the development line for appropriation to that of the extant local plan on Inset Map 48.
( it does not say what part of the Knowle was surveyed – it was probably just the top two terraces. But the vista provided from Station Road and by the approach up the drive is beautified by the sweeping grassy banks of the car parks – not much walked upon but definitely appreciated as part of the view and certainly seen by more people than cited in the table)