Woking Borough Council’s Planning Committee met on the 15th November to determine Sainsbury’s latest proposals for the expansion of their Redding Way store.
Prior to the meeting, the KRA had written to Members setting out its concerns that the Officers Report upon which they were being asked to determine the application was wholly inadequate. The KRA considered that there was a fundamental lack of evidence to support the Officer’s recommendation (for approval) set out in that report and that the Council’s Officers had mis-directed Members on a number of matters. The KRA also considered that concerns raised in residents’ objections to the scheme had not been adequately recorded or assessed.
Following the Planning Officer’s presentation of the application, the Committee was addressed on our behalf by Mr Paul Gray (a local resident and qualified noise expert) who eloquently amplified on a number of the KRA’s concerns. The meeting was also addressed by Mr David Lazenby of Sainsburys, who extolled the “virtues” an expanded store would bring to our Village, alleging there would be no unacceptable impacts.
Following these presentations, there was significant, and at times heated, debate between Members, many of whom expressed their concern that the impacts of the store had not been tested robustly.
Our Ward Councillors spoke against the scheme – Cllr Sharp highlighting his concerns with the retail impact assessment being relied on by Officers, and Cllr Whitehand expressing her concerns about the impact of additional traffic on the A322.
Cllr Preshaw expressed her extreme displeasure that air quality impacts had not been addressed – noting that this was contrary to the clear direction recorded in the minutes of the Planning Meeting at which earlier expansion plans were rejected.
Cllr McCrum professed to being “genuinely confused”, but that the evidence given to him by the KRA certainly appeared to demonstrate there had been a lack of scrutiny by Officers.
Following a suggestion by Cllr Sharp, a motion for the application to be “deferred” was proposed by Cllr Preshaw and seconded by Cllr McCrum. The grounds for the deferral included the KRA’s assertions that:
- Background information for this application is not available on the Council’s Website?
- There has been inadequate community consultation.
- The Procedural Probity of this application and associated Public Inquiry needs to be questioned.
- Residents concerns regarding the loss of trees have not been addressed?
- Residents concerns regarding air quality have not been addressed?
- Residents concerns regarding the inappropriate use of the access road to the store had not been taken into account?
- The amended plans do not adequately deal with congestion within the service yard?
- The retail impact of the store has not been adequately considered.
- The traffic impact of the store has not been adequately considered.
- The noise impact of the store has not been adequately considered.
So, for the time being, we have no decision on whether this development will proceed or not.
Today, the KRA will be making a Freedom of Information request seeking a number of background documents in relation to this application and will also be seeking a meeting with the Borough Planning Officer to ensure that when this application comes back before Committee, all matters we have raised will have been thoroughly tested.