May I through your letters column comment on your feature ‘Developer hits back at Lodge Way opponents’. As a councillor I take my duties seriously and representing residents on planning applications is an important part of this role.
In 2007 when the first application to develop this site was submitted I was asked to represent the residents of Lodge Way and Manthorpe Road at the development control committee meeting. The application was refused.
A similar situation arose in 2010 when a further application was made. Once again the application was refused on the grounds that the ‘scale and prominent location would be dominating not only to neighbouring properties but also have a detrimental impact on the character and appearance of the adjacent conservation area’. This decision was upheld by the planning inspector. The developers state Coun Ray Wootten’s comments are baffling and ask why he didn’t express any negative comments when he last met both the architects and local officials. The last time that I saw the developers was in July 2011 in the planning committee and apart from visiting the Guildhall a few weeks ago to look at the public display of the new plans I have had no contact whatsoever either with or from them. Let me clarify their misquote, ‘development should be elevated or prominent’. My actual words that I said at the committee were ‘This application, and the subsequent altered plans do not offer a development for which is a prominent, elevated and strategically important entrance to Grantham’.
And as for saying that I refused to meet with the developers to discuss local opinion on three separate occasions, this is totally untrue. Despite my efforts to broker a meeting it was the developer who refused to meet with residents or indeed to listen to their concerns.
The developer highlights how South Parade and Harlaxton Road is not a good gateway to Grantham; if that is the case why then have they deliberately left a van to rust at the entrance to their site? What message does this send to visitors to Grantham? They also talk about NIMBYism, but local residents do want the site developed.
Let me quote what the planning inspector said in his last decision, that he concluded ‘that the proposal would unacceptably affect the character and appearance of the area and detract from the setting of the Grantham Conservation Area’.
Cleary this new application has yet to be submitted and of course should residents have strong views either way and want me to support them I will be happy to do so.
Coun Ray Wootten
St Wulframs Ward