I didn’t manage to speak to the Planning Officer dealing with the latest application for Riverside Avenue until Wednesday. As I suspected, he doesn’t have a great deal of information at this time because the application is still one that only covers what would be required from the council in terms of an environmental audit to cover the screening to be placed around any potential development. At the moment there’s no indication of what kind of housing the 160 units would comprise, what the lay out would be or what form the nursing home and health care facility attached to the application might take.
He was able to tell me a little more about the outline of the plan though:
· The application has come not from Troika as we thought but from the Trustees of the Cooper Dean Estate who actually own the land (Troika have an option on the land for their development)
· It definitely doesn’t go outside the current footprint of the field between Riverside Avenue and the backs of the Courts and the Hospital. Nor does it include the Retired Nurses Home site, that would remain surrounded by the development.
· The land is designated in the Borough Plan as Commercial/Industrial. Therefore any change to residential would need agreement by the Planning Board to a fundamental change in use.
· The proposal shows access being gained through Riverside Avenue and NOT from the A338.
This last point is of course the one of most concern. Accessing the site for so many properties via Riverside Avenue would place an unacceptable burden on Castle Lane East and would require the widening of Riverside Avenue causing, I would believe, an unacceptable degree of environmental damage to the south side of the road which is of course green belt.
To that end Jane and I have already made it know we would not support any application that accesses the site through Riverside Avenue and with Lawrence we would campaign actively against it. At this point there’s not much to campaign against in the sense that it isn’t a formal application. However that message is being taken back to the applicants by the Planning Officer.