We had an extraordinary meeting of the parish planning committee tonight to consider an outline planning application by Telford & Wrekin Council for the regeneration of Brookside local centre.
The masterplan is broken down into three phases - shops, community centre and houses. The first phase is due to start in 2013, the second phase in 2014 and the third phase (you guessed it) in 2015.
The first phase will see the new shop building to rehouse the existing tenants in the local centre - the hairdressers, the chip shop and the supermarket and post office sharing premises. The second phase will see work to demolish the existing shops and extend and reconfigure the community centre. The third phase will see new low density bungalows and/or houses built on the site of the youth club and nearby flats. It was unclear at what stage the associated changes to the car parks and playgrounds and construction of the community gardens are going to be made.
The main bone of contention with the outline plan is the proposal to extend the car park in front of the green outside Windmill School. I am, of course, opposed to any encroachment on the green and (along with the parish council) successfully stopped the council's own application to build houses on the site. The application to register the site as a village green was only postponed because Telford & Wrekin Council promised not to build on it - a promise that it is now clear was absolutely worthless. However, it is important to consider the safety of children going to the school and the appalling parking around the school - parking on the grass, on the car park entrance, on the no parking zig zags outside the school gates and on the road reducing Beaconsfield to single file traffic.
With a bit of heated debate and compromise the committee agreed on a position that the parish council doesn't agree with the creation of the extra parking spaces and believes that Telford & Wrekin Council should be doing more to encourage walking to school but if the creation of the extra spaces does go ahead then Telford & Wrekin Council need to voluntarily register the rest of the green as a village green. I was a little more blunt and told the planning officer that if Telford & Wrekin Council didn't agree to that then I would personally put in the application for village green status for the whole plot and they wouldn't be able to do anything at all with it.
Other feedback was that houses, not bungalows should overlook the community gardens as the bungalows are most likely to have elderly people living in them and they are less likely than a younger person to confront anyone trying to vandalise the gardens. We also had concerns about the planned footpath running from the school through the community centre area being used as a rat run by people on motorbikes and quads.
I have very little faith in Telford & Wrekin Council's planning department actually taking any notice of the feedback the parish council gives them because they invariably do what they want no matter who comments or objects on planning applications (the wind turbine at Windmill School being a prime example - I have a complaint outstanding with the planning department over this still) but it's important that the council puts back a proper response on the off-chance they might decide to listen. We do have the solution to this problem incidentally - check out UKIP Telford & Wrekin's local planning policy.