A new chip shop in Fair Oak has been given the go-ahead despite the overwhelming opposition of locals who made their feelings known during a fiery November meeting of Bishopstoke and Fair Oak local area committee which resulted in the Chairman threatening to clear the room.
The controversial chippy will now be one of three takeaways in Sandy Lane and becomes one of four fish and chip shops in a two mile radius.
Prior to the meeting the council had received 40 letters and two petitions totalling 149 signatures in opposition to the planning application while only two letters had been received in favour. Over 50 objectors attended the meeting using up all the available seating.
The Parish Council had previously rejected the application forwarding the matter to the area committee and Parish Council Vice Chair Philip Spearey voiced the Parish Council’s concern regarding noise, nuisance and parking problems. Cllr Spearey was especially concerned about the proliferation of hot food takeaways in Fair Oak changing the nature of the village.
One Witt Road resident, Caroline Haynes, told the committee her car had been previously vandalised by yobs hanging around the shopping arcade and feared an extra takeaway would lead to an increase in this type of anti-social behaviour.
A representative for the chippy said that anti-social behaviour was a national problem and the alternative to a takeaway would be an empty shop which in itself could be a focus for ASB.
Up to this point objectors had managed to contain their simmering emotions however tempers began to fray after a planning officer told them that as regards the ’perceived’ problem of anti-social nuisance in the area, the crime prevention adviser had reported very low levels of anti-social behaviour in the previous 12 months and only one 101 call about ASB had been received in the last six months.
This statement was met by a gale of ironic laughter, cheers and applause from the crowd who clearly thought otherwise.
The outburst broke a dam of frustration for the audience and Chairman Roger Smith had to appeal to objectors several times to moderate their behaviour as they began to punctuate proceedings with a stream of objections and observations.
There was some debate as to what constituted a 35% limit on takeaways.
Planning rules state that no more than 35% of shop units should be takeaway premises and as three out of eight units in Sandy lane would be serving up fast food, this objectors said, would be contrary to policy. But council officers insisted the 35% limit applied to the extent of total shop frontage.
As comments from the objectors became more voluble Cllr Anne Winstanley attempted to explain that to reject a planning application contrary to planning officer’s advice to permit, could land local taxpayers with a sizeable legal bill if the applicant successfully appealed. By this time though the increasingly restless crowd were past caring and continued to interrupt prompting the chairman to threaten to clear the room.
Cllr Smith’s intervention acted as a catalyst for objectors who voluntarily began to leave en masse although not without some barbed comments.
The application was unanimously approved.
Speaking to residents afterwards, most appeared dejected and frustrated. Although they had been given a chance to speak at the start of the discussion, most wanted to be able to fully debate the matter in the round.
Several expressed their disappointment that despite headlines about ‘localism’ they felt the views of locals had been ignored.
“Why don’t they just listen to what the residents want?” queried Caroline Haynes.
Another objector told me he was worried about the increasing urbanisation of the village and pointed out that during the course of the meeting a planning officer had referred to Fair Oak as a town which he felt had ominous implications.
Also present in the audience were the applicants for a hot food takeaway in Fair Oak which had planning permission refused earlier this year despite the planning officer’s recommendation to permit.
“I don’t understand it” said the applicant “They said they refused me because there were already too many takeaways in Fair Oak and now they do this”
A member of the unsuccessful applicant’s party suggested they would consider their position in the light of the Committee’s decision to permit this latest takeaway.
During the course of the meeting residents were told by a planning officer that their traffic and parking concerns were a matter for the police which prompted one objector to ask “why aren’t they here this evening?”
After the meeting an officer from Eastleigh East Safer Neighbourhoods team contacted Eastleigh News to explain they would have been happy to attend the meeting but had not been made aware of it.
The officer added:
“I can understand why the residents were not happy as this area was one of our hotspot locations for anti-social behaviour, although these reports have decreased over the recent period. I can confirm that the police have received more than just the one ASB call in the last six months for this location, but it would appear that the residents don’t seem to always report the problems to us.”
see also: No to a fifth takeaway in Fair Oak