Residents’ anger over listed building plans
THERE was anger from the public at a town hall meeting this week after councillors approved plans to convert part of a listed building into community facilities and to reopen a public toilet.
At a meeting of the development control committee on Monday (September 3), one councillor even suggested that his colleagues had tried to “crush” any opposition to the plan, which residents felt would turn their home into “a public park attraction”.
The application to convert part of the ground floor of Ridley Court, Pound Hill, into community rooms had been deferred by a previous meeting after residents – who all live on the first floor of the 19th century building – raised concerns about the impact it would have on their way of life.
The work at Ridley Court would form part of the Worth Park restoration project which recently received a £2.4million Heritage Lottery Fund grant and would include refurbishment work to improve the appearance of the building.
Resident Gregory Stringer told the meeting that he and his neighbours were concerned that re-opening the public toilets within the building from dawn to dusk would lead to antisocial behaviour and expressed concern for the safety of children who regularly play in the building.
He also feared that the subsequent loss of privacy should the building be opened to the public would leave residents “living in a fish bowl”.
Residents even went as far as seeking legal advice and were dismayed when the council chose not to honour a call from their solicitor for a 28-day deferment to allow for further consultation.
Committee chairman Cllr John Denman (Con, Ifield) said: “We defer applications on planning grounds. We don’t defer them because a solicitor tells us to.”
Support for the application was given by leader of the council Cllr Bob Lanzer (Con, Pound Hill South & Worth), head of amenity services Chris Harris and Kate Oliver, chairman of the Worth Park Friends.
Cllr Ian Irvine (Lab, Broadfield North) called for the council to “have some kind of dialogue” with residents and added: “It’s almost as though there’s some kind of council juggernaut coming down the road designed to crush any opposition to this.”
The application was approved by four votes to two while Cllr Duncan Crow (Con, Furnace Green) and Cllr Colin Moffatt (Lab, Broadfield South) chose to abstain – a decision which left some members of the public unhappy.
One man called out: “Why have a committee if you are not going to vote. Those who abstained should be ashamed of themselves.”
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Crawley
Wednesday 22 May 2013
Temperature: 5 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 4 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west