Priti continues to support Witham Town and local residents on proposals to build on Gimsons site

Published: 20th March 2019 - 9:09 am Category: Local News

Witham MP Priti Patel has backed local residents in opposing a planning application which would have a devastating impact on the Gimsons site and River Walk in Witham. The development proposals were considered by Braintree District Council’s planning committee tonight (19 March 2019), where it was approved despite opposition from over 600 residents. Priti had been working with local campaigners to oppose the application and made numerous submissions to the Council highlighting serious flaws with the proposals. Priti said:

“I commend local residents and campaigners who fought so hard to oppose this monstrous planning application, including those who spoke so well at the planning committee meeting tonight. The report given to planning committee members to consider was heavily biased in favour of passing the application and it is incredibly disappointing that the committee reached this decision. The decision goes against the Council’s own planning policies, which provide protection to this site as a ‘visually important’ site. The Council’s draft policy for the site advocates about half the number of houses but that plan has not been considered by the planning inspector and could be a couple of years away from being approved.”

“Witham already has significant housing growth and this proposal would place further strains on our services, damage the environment and cause risks to road safety. Residents have highlighted a number of concerns with the traffic and road safety assessments, the methodologies used to consider the impact on ecology and the ability of local GPs to manage the additional pressures this development will cause. The report given to the planning committee to consider did not address all of these points.”

“The whole Town has come together to oppose these plans and will be disappointed by this decision. There remain a number of concerns about these proposals and the process used which I will be working with residents on, including looking at what options are available to reverse or change this decision.”

Priti also questioned the decision by the Council to proceed with the decision when some residents were informed by the Council that the consultation period was due to end on 22 March 2019, three days after the planning committee meeting. Priti added:

“It is astonishing that the Council made this decision when their own website clearly advertised that the consultation for this plan would not finish until 22 March. It is extremely unusual and legally flawed for a Council to make a regulatory decision before the advertised consultation period ends as it means all necessary evidence cannot be considered. This will also serve to fuel local concerns that the decision to grant permission was a foregone conclusion. I have written extensively to the Council to warn them of this fact but they have dismissed these concerns. By advertising the 22 March as the deadline for the consultation the Council established a legitimate expectation in planning and public administration law that no decision would be made until after that date and after reasonable consideration had been given to representations received after that date”

“I along with the residents of the Town are disappointed by the abrupt handling of this application and I will continue to support them as their local MP in pressing the Council on this terrible decision.”

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