Suggested planning points for spokesperson

I've put some points below that might be of use in drafting the statement of support to be delivered on Wednesday. It is designed to be about 50% of the statement, depending on what is drafted about the overwhelming need for the Headley Court facility. It may read like a drafted speech but it isn't intended to be such, it's just the way the arguments have developed in writing it. I am sure that others can write far more eloquently and turn whatever parts of this sow's ear fit well into the silk purse it undoubtedly will turn out to be! This is draft although 80% there, I could do with revisiting some information about the Montessori nursery that will be miles back in the main thread somewhere!

- The overwhelming need for the facility at this time, and in this location is abundantly clear.
- It is disappointing to witness a number of objections, many of which misleadingly portray the development as a “hostel” run as a business.
- Some of the grounds for objection are truly depressing and selfish, such as the notion of an impact on property prices and the erroneous fear of terrorism. This is particularly depressing when it is considered that a recent application in the same neighbourhood for a change of use to a cattery received no objections.
- Nevertheless, it is only proper that MVDC have dismissed the vast majority of the objections, and have considered the use of the property as a rehabilitation care facility similar to those within local plan policy CF3, rather than as a hostel or some form of business.
- It is also surely reassuring that no objection was received from the Highways department concerning any unacceptable traffic impact.
- However, it is extremely disappointing that MVDC have recommended refusal on general development control criteria ENV22 based on the perceived impact upon the character of the neighbourhood and neighbours’ amenities, particularly as the area is not listed as a residential area of special character in policy ENV17, which places restrictions on alterations and extensions.
- Indeed, it appears that policy ENV22 may be intended to apply to the design of new buildings, as indicated in the first paragraph of the Design, Layout and Development Impact chapter, rather than the very minimal change of use that the SSAFA application proposes.
- Even accepting that there might be an impact on character and amenity – as is inherent in all development – policy ENV22 makes reference to development in terms of significant harm through overlooking, overshadowing, overpowering effect, noise, traffic or other adverse environmental impact. The main ground for refusal appears to be a perception that there will be a deterioration of the quiet and peaceful nature of the area due to the number of people and intensification of use. Given that the property has an established history of use as a Montessori nursery advertised under the name Greenacres – although not permitted as a change of use or subject to enforcement action by MVDC - which requires a staff ratio far in excess of one residential warden, it is difficult to see how the nature of the area – which is not subject to any location-specific protection in any case - would in fact deteriorate. It is perhaps the case that too much weight has been placed on a perception of such an impact in ignorance of the previous use of the property and in the face of vociferous objection, despite the willingness of SSAFA to enter into agreements to minimise any impact.
- The character of the area has been subject to change over the years in any case, as the planning history of the site indicates, and as the planning history of the area indicates. For example, permission was granted on appeal to erect a 5-bedroom dwelling at 33 Grays Lane following the conclusion by the Planning Inspectorate that there would be no unacceptable impact. This proposed change of use at 36 Grays Lane is minimal by comparison.
- To conclude – there is an overwhelming need for the facility at this time and in this location to support the nationally important centre at Headley Court, particularly when this nation is fighting 2 wars and referrals to Headley Court have increased from 60 in 2003 to 51 by the middle of 2007 to the neurological rehabilitation ward alone (note – recent FOI release). There is overwhelming support for this facility, with a national petition of 30,000 signatures and hundreds of letters of support. We also believe that there is substantial support in Ashtead that has been masked by the campaign of objections. The grounds for refusal appear minimal and the officer’s recommendation allows latitude for Members to decide the weights to be given to opposing arguments as well as the planning officer’s recommendation. We therefore respectfully request Members to do the right thing and to permit this application, lest we forget the sacrifices that have been made and which are, sadly, likely to continue.
Can we have a competition for this amongst the punters?

First prize being some fine Arrse merchandise?

Only I've already been approached by men of letters and book-lerrning and the like, that have offered to pen a dit.....
My favourite so far was on Pprune, a councillor who reckoned the policy ENV22 only applied to new buildings. I don't think he is correct, but it sounds good!

Perhaps a competition on the main thread for killer reasons why permission should be granted might work, both general points and planning-related. Short statements may well be easier to sift through than epic speeches.

My suggestion (not for the main thread): if you don't grant permission at this stage, you'll get Mrs Cheeks at the appeal! :twisted:
On a very related topic:

Those of good character look away now. Cashbar, Peter & Sue, you can come back in a minute .....

Ref Cllr Davis (?) who's wife was an objector. Do we know if he has declared his interest in this? If he hasn't been recusant, then do we keep schtumm and point out the fact if SSAFA lose as grounds for an appeal?

Or do we be upfront and make sure he's dobbed out before the meeting starts?

And do we know who's speaking for the objectors? If they haven't got one yet, do we do a quick objection letter and take the slot, only to not show up on the night?

Deviousness ends. Welcome back the Nortons and SSAFA.
I believe the same will apply for the objectors as for us....I am sure they have agreed someone already, so the Machiavellian trick may not work!

As for declaring interest, it is hard to take a view. Does Cllr Davis have any interest beyond his wife's objection? I am not sure that her objection alone may constitute a conflict of interest, it will be a matter of going through the Council code of conduct to check for sure. It may annoy the planning committee if there isn't a clear conflict.
No they hadn't as of 17.30 on Friday.
MrPVRd said:
My favourite so far was on Pprune, a councillor who reckoned the policy ENV22 only applied to new buildings. I don't think he is correct, but it sounds good!

Perhaps a competition on the main thread for killer reasons why permission should be granted might work, both general points and planning-related. Short statements may well be easier to sift through than epic speeches.

My suggestion (not for the main thread): if you don't grant permission at this stage, you'll get Mrs Cheeks at the appeal! :twisted:
Thinking about it, should we ask people to PM points or email (happy for my email address to be used as 'collecting point' for me to post into here later) in order that Red Team aren't pre-advised. They'll probably know our main thrusts already, from the main thread, but we don't have to give them a précis...
We are beginning to work up the SSAFA representation with our nominated speaker. What is becoming very clear is that it's extremely difficult to say anything very much in 3 minutes. Therefore, from our point of view, we intend to deal pretty much solely with the hard planning facts. Even there, we will have to stick to the main ones (although we have already sent a 6 pager to the MVDC following their recent report and recommendation)

It would seem to make sense, therefore, if we could co-ordinate this with what Sue says, leaving her to deal pretty much entirely with the need and what the families will (and will not) do (i.e. not be there in the daytime, need peace and quiet, etc.) and how the facility will be used. Obviously, we can supply any background information to support this piece.

Does that make sense? Be assured that in no way is this our attempt to micro-manage or specify how the second slot is used, simply a suggestion as to how to get maximum impact from the total 6 minutes. I am very happy to PM our representation to anyone who needs to see it. Our speaker is currently working in it but a reasonably accurate draft should be available very soon.


Or 5 minutes of dealing with objections and a powerful one minute speech in conclusion?
2 speakers , 6 minutes , share the objection dealing.
No point in saying something twice unless it is very compelling - rehashing the applicant's planning points is probably not the best thing to do, although the speech needs some planning context.

Suggest the second speaker concentrates on the overwhelming need and support for the facility, and reinforces the crucial planning points by way of making a comparison between the overwhelming need for this facility and the minor and misguided objections and planning obstacles.
Do the speakers need to spend more than a few seconds covering the objections the council have already discounted in the agenda?

If we can pick the running order, I'd suggest the SSAFA planner do the detail work then Sue does a "need for the unit and the difference it would make" fol by a recap in layman's language of the reasons the two main objections are bonk, fol by a killer last line.
Was wondering that too FB. Seems the business / hotel / various other issues would be covered by "the planning report shows them to be invalid concerns" or words to that effect, then concentrate on the rest.

Mrs N would be much better speaking on the "wider matters" that the report has accepted may have a bearing
Thanks. My earlier suggestion that amongst her representation Sue talks about both the need and how the facility will be used, will in effect cover many of the objections. So, by talking about the need of the families for peace and quiet, for example, the objection about noise will effectively be countered, etc
well i'm a bit happier with that, was gonna object to talking about bleeding planning tosh!!!!!
Still daunting nonetheless, but, hey i can ramble on at the best of times, just ask the journos that are calling!!!!
But obviously rambling with substance is the key, so some pointers would be good :D
Do you think it really would upset the applecart even if Pete commented?
This was a good one!

Dear SirsMO/2007/0863, Millcroft, 36, Grays Lane, Ashtead, Surrey, KT21 1BUI write in support of the above application.I note that a number of objections have been made, and seek to address thesebelow.1. National needThe primary concern I request the Planning Committee to take into account is that ofNational need.There are simply no other facilities available to the families of servicemen andwomen who have been wounded in the defence of their country, on our behalf. Thusany objections should be judged against the potential harm to morale arising from aplanning refusal and the consequential effect on our services and ultimately thedefence of the realm.2. Highways and trafficObjections: "safety will also be compromised by the substantial increase in traffic""Additional noise, fumes from increased traffic""one of the pleasures of living here is being able to walk down the lane and hardlysee a car""Additional unwanted traffic that would create noise, pollution, and a hazard to smallchildren, horses etc""My neighbour has many cars, but he can only drive one at a time"Response: I support the applicant in its case that traffic impacts arising from theproposal are minimal, and wholly within the capacity of the road. The applicationshould only be refused on traffic grounds if an unacceptable risk is created. I submitthat is not the case here.Moreover, the proposed use will reduce carbon emissions by allowing families to staylocally to their loved ones who are in the hospital, rather than travelling longdistances on a regular basis.3. The proposed use of the premises is a hostelObjections: "It is going to be running a hostel, pure and simple. The proposedresidents will not be in receipt of care""... merely a place to stay""The introduction of a hostel would have a seriously deterrent effect on potentialincoming residents"Response: I agree with the applicant that this is a misrepresentation of the proposeduse of the building. I advise that a place of refuge and care for the families of2wounded servicemen and women is sui generis, and should be judged on its ownmerits. It does not create a precedent for hostel use in a residential area.4. Noise and impact on adjacent propertyObjections: "Will children want to explore and play football in the road? Why not, butwe have not experienced this as a problem as parental control by neighbours hasalways been exercised.""...what can only be described as a hostel, whose temporary residents would have noincentive to preserve the atmosphere and aspect of their tranquil surroundings...suchresponsibility would not be their concern""... resulting noise levels will surely cause disturbance to this otherwise quietneighbourhood"Response: The planning issues associated with potential noise and disturbancearising from the proposed use of the property are properly a matter for planningconditions, not a reason for refusal.5. Business use and impact on the residential use of the areaObjections: "A change of use... will destroy the current purely private residentialcharacter...""... the proposed existence of any business premisesin what is, and always has been,a wholly and soley private residential road""These residual [sic] properties should not be used as business premises""Grays lane is a quiet residential road containing only private dwellings""Any business use is contrary to the private residential nature of Grays Lane"Response: As set out at 3 above, I argue that the proposed use is sui generis, andcannot properly fall within any of the use classes under the Use Classes Order. Onthis ground, the application should fall to be judged on its own merits, rather thanunwarranted fears about the potential for other business uses.Secondly, the Duchy of Cornwall and the Prince's Foundation has shown thatsensitive mixing of business and residential use has significant wider benefits forcommunities and particularly for carbon saving, avoiding increased travel. Inparticular this application helps meet Mole Valley's requirement to address carbonemissions in the district by displacing long distance travel by families visiting injuredservicemen and women.6. Alternative sitesObjections: "...a residential area in which they would not be welcome ratherthan...converting property at their existing site at Headley Court""...would be much better sited on the MOD's considerable land holding at HeadleyCourt""... temporary accommodation using prefabricated buildings would serve thepurpose"Response: The applicants do not own any alternative premises where the facilityproposed might be provided, and there is no realistic likelihood of development atHeadly Court. I submit that it is ultra vires for the Planning Authority to reject anapplication for use on the basis of an unproven and unwanted alternative, for whichno planning application has been submitted. Mole Valley should decide thisapplication on the basis of the proposals for the subject property.37. Increased risks of terrorismObjection: "...these ghastly terrorists...""... inevitably make the house a potential target - indeed a soft target - for terrorists""irresponsible... would put the safety of civilians - existing residents and their families- at increased risk"Response: Fear of terrorism is not a valid planning reason for refusal (please seethe case law on fear of radiation in respect of telecommunications masts).8. Refuse and pollutionObjection: "...noise and refuse problems produced by possibly a dozen or morepeople will cause problems of pollution...""increased and accumulated amounts of rubbish due to the high volume ofoccupants""We have fortnightly rubbish collections so the amount of rubbish being stored...would mean a possible health hazard. The amount we are paying in Council Tax is areflection of the environment we are lucky to be living in and so if this change of useis to go ahead, we will expect a reduction""Response: The question of refuse disposal can certainly be dealt with by means of aplanning condition and is not a valid reason for refusal.9. Breach of covenantObjection: "properties in this area are covenanted with restrictions to one familyoccupancy per property""By granting permission the covenants would be breached""Please note that we object to any contravening of the covenants concerning theroads in this area"Response: The question of any restrictive covenants (which in any case theapplicants deny are breached by the proposed use) is not a valid planning matter. Itis a matter of private law between the parties bound by any covenants.10. ConclusionsWhilst the application has certainly given rise to concerns from neighbours, few ofthese are valid reasons for refusal of the application, and those that are valid inplanning law do not amount to sufficient grounds for refusal.Resident's concerns can properly be addressed through the application of planningconditions related to traffic, noise and waste.I would regard it as a failure of proper planning were the Local Planning Authority torefuse this application on the grounds of unsubstantiated and selfish fears expressedby local residents.Yours FaithfullyOliver Harwood
Perhaps it might be straightforward to build up the overwhelming need and support for the facility, and to then outline the objections and planning grounds by way of comparison, rather than trying to construct an elaborate planning rebuttal.

For example:
Need and Support section...

Planning bit...

It is disappointing that there has been such a campaign of objection to this facility, which is absolutely vital to HC and has overwhelming public support. Compare that to a recent application to construct and run a cattery, which received no objections. Some of the objections seem bizarre and selfish, such as the fear of terrorism and the effect on property prices.

However, it is reassuring that MVDC have rejected most of the objections to this facility, such that it is allegedly a hostel and will cause traffic problems. In particular, there has also been a surge of support from Ashtead residents.

Having said that, it is difficult to understand how the council officers can recommend refusal. The only reason is a perceived impact on the amenity of the neighbourhood under a general development control policy, which appears to be related to new buildings rather than a minor change of use such as this. The policy defines significant harm in terms of overlooking, overshadowing, overpowering effect, noise, traffic or other adverse environmental impact. It is not clear how a facility used by Service families for the sole purpose of visiting their wounded loved ones will have such a significant impact. In fact, the property has a history of use as a childrens' nursery, which would surely have generated even more activity. Also, SSAFA have said they will enter into any agreement to minimise any such impact.

That would hit most of the planning points in a brief statement. More could be added (the successful appeal at 33 Grays Lane) but then it may get unwieldy.

Hope this helps!
Guys, am giving you heads up am on a really dodgy wireless link here - You wouldn't believe this but I have a family bereavement which means my parents might not be able to look after the boys for weds, they've got to get from Essex to Cumbria for a funeral on Thurs am......He only dies this morning and no-one is budging
so it may be looking at the possiblity that I might not be at the planning meeting, will let you know, or if the link fails will call PTP - spoken to Pete so he is aware
One day perhaps I might lead an easy and peaceful life!!!!!!! :roll: :roll: