Eastleigh taxpayers could find themselves landed with a giant bill for a takeaway after a local area committee voted to stop Fair Oak village centre being coming a Mecca for curry lovers.
The Bishopstoke, Fair Oak and Horton Heath local area committee ignored the advice of their own planning officer and refused an application to convert the small terrace house wedged between the chippy and the beggars roost in Fair Oak Square into a takeaway – this could result in the council having to pay costs if their decision is overturned on appeal.
In 2008 the council had to pay £145,000 in costs after Hedge End local area committee disregarded planning advice to vote against the development at Wildern Mill and subsequently lost the appeal.
Prior to discussion, the Vice Chairman of Fair Oak Parish Council Phillip Spearey made a lengthy representation to the committee.
Speaking from the Public Gallery the veteran Lib Dem wondered why the planning laws regarding the percentage of takeaways had been ignored with the number of outlets already being over an agreed limit of 35%.
He pointed out there was already a restaurant (which also provides a takeaway service) two pubs, four takeaways and two empty shops in the Square
“We don’t want a Fifth takeaway’
“The retail makeup in the village centre is well out of balance”
The council had also received nine objections to the proposed Fast Food shop from locals on the grounds that:
- There are too many existing takeaways
- Anti social and litter concerns
- Competition to existing businesses
- Traffic and parking issues
The Council’s principal planning officer went to great lengths to deal with all objections and to explain that despite the concerns of the Parish council -as expressed by Councillor Spearey – in his professional opinion there were no valid planning grounds to reject the application.
A lively debate followed.
“I’m not happy with another Take away in the Square” said Cllr Roling
Chairman Roger Smith also said he was “Very unhappy with the application”
Cllr Trevor Mignot declared the car parking would be ‘inadequate’ and believed the application would be “detrimental to the area.”Cllr Joe Wright pointed out that the existing parking in Summerlands Road was for customers in the parade of shops and this would cause “lots of problems in the future”
Councillor Thornton described the parking in the square as already being:
“Chock-a-block on a Friday night I’ve seen people leave their cars in the middle of the road while they collect their takeaways…I can’t see this being viable”
When it became clear that the members were about to vote to refuse the application, the planning officer made a last minute intervention to ensure the members fully understood the grounds for his recommendation to permit, warning them that although another takeaway in the Square was “not ideal” if they rejected the application on those grounds “the inevitable consequence” would be “you will get slaughtered on appeal.”He explained that the 35% cap on Fast Food outlets only applied to existing commercial premises and as the property was currently being used for housing it was outside the scope of this particular planning restriction.
A decision to refuse the application because of parking and access issues was duly carried unanimously.
Afterwards the councillors seemed happy that they had voted in line with residents wishes and on grounds they could defend.
Chairman Roger Smith was sanguine saying “They might decide not to appeal” and ‘Even if they won an appeal it doesn’t follow that they would be awarded costs.”