Saturday, April 23, 2011

New Troika Planning Application

The Council’s weekly Planning Application List was produced late Thursday and it includes an fresh application by Troika for their land at Riverside Avenue (at the back of the hospital).

The new proposal is for ‘screening for the erection of a up to 3 storey 60 bed nursing home, a three storey health care and nursing facility and up to 160 dwellings with associated landscaping, vehicular access and car parking’

Currently the application is for an EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) which essentially means that Troika are testing the ground over the changes to their previous applications.  An Environmental Impact Assessment asks the Council to respond telling them what they would have to do in terms of environmental reports were they to go ahead with an application.  There are therefore no detailed plans for us to look at.

To remind you, the planning permission that’s already been passed is for a new junction on the Wessex Way, a park and ride facility to the south east of Riverside Avenue (alongside the sewerage works) and for offices on the land identified here.  We have been consistent in opposing the application because part of it is on green belt land and most importantly the office application provided for accommodation for up to 5,000 workers but parking for no more than 2,000 of them.

Our greatest, and most immediate, concern is the point about ‘vehicular access’.  I have been told that Troika have been attempting to get out of their commitment to build a new junction on the A338 to service this site for a little while.  If their new application for housing proposes accessing the site through Riverside Avenue, and therefore Castle Lane East, that would be a very major concern.  Castle Lane is already over capacity and I cannot see a circumstance where that would be acceptable.

It would appear that this fresh application does not impact upon the green belt.  However, as with any application for this site, it does impact greatly upon the Retired Nurses Home and we would therefore want to talk to the trustees and residents to make sure their interests are protected.

It may be though that housing is a better prospect on this site rather than offices, particularly if there is sufficient parking provided.  We of course need to see much more detail and therefore I’ve requested an urgent meeting on Tuesday with the Chief Planning Officer to go through what he knows of the scheme.  Once we have a little more information we can pass that on to local residents and obtain your opinion before formulating our position in either opposing or supporting the change from offices to housing.

We will, as always, keep you up to date.  Do please let me know if you would like any more information, particularly about the history of this site, or if you have any initial thoughts.

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