PLANNING councillors have rejected a bid to build 24 new homes in the heart of Tilbury - and told the designers to come up with a better design.
Last week’s meeting of Thurrock Council’s planning committee heard impassioned pleas against the plan to demolish Tilbury’s derelict leisure centre from the chair of Tilbury Forum and local ward councillor Lynn Worrall.
She said: “I am disappointed to be sitting here tonight to be discussing this application. There has been no consultation.
“This is on the residents’ land - our park. We need something special on that land; Tilbury deserves something special - not a block of flats. This application gives nothing towards the needs of the community.” Also up in arms about the developers plan for the new homes, which also features a gym, was forum chair Kay Lawson who told the meeting that the scheme flew in the face of what she was trying to achieve for the town in its centre.
“I am from the nearby children’s centre and here on behalf of the parents.
“We do need something on this site, it is currently an eyesore. I’ll be honest and say I don’t know what the answer is but when we did have a public consultation about this site residents said they did not want housing.
“We have attracted £178,000 of funding for a new children’s centre and we don’t want to be overlooked by this - or faced with the problems of parking and cars that it will bring.”
Mark Stephens, who spoke on behalf of the developers, defended the plan and said it had been created to best serve the site - something which was difficult to develop in one go as different parts were owned by different developers.
However, under questioning, he admitted the developers had not been involved in consultation with residents.
Also discussed was the fact that there was a covenant on the land which prevented inhibited development but councillors were told that it was not relevant to planning permissions.
That prompted Cllr Tunde Ojetola to say: “It’s crucial developers work with the community.”
He was supported by Cllr Shane Hebb who added: “The cornerstone of the Localism Act was that developers should engage.”
Cllr Richard Speight suggested the proposal was at odds with the Council’s stated policies and questioned the validity of a “piecemeal” development.
The debate was summed up by Cllr Phil Anderson who said: “Every time, I drive near the Civic Square I think what an iconic area it is. There should be a plan to bring it back to its former glory. We need to have design aspirations that make Civic Square a spectacular place.
“If this building got a report it would be a ‘C’ - could do better but I don’t think they are a million miles away from achieving something special.”