Fairfield Halls planning concerns
03/03/2017 14:11:00......Posted by Luke Clancy
Reports have been run recently relaying that the Conservatives opposed the Fairfield Halls planning application last week so I would like to put on record some of the concerns I had with the development to put the issue into some context and explain why I cast my vote in the way did.
Whilst I supported the objective of developing the entertainment offering and financing this with some enabling development, the scale (over 2,200 homes) is I feel cramming too much in. The density is too high and I’m concerned that daylight and sunlight conditions for some homes are well below the recommended standards.
In terms of the theatre offering, there are misgivings the future offering has been decided on without necessary input from potential theatre operators – most notably there was highlighted a number of perceived flaws in the design of the ‘Get In’ that could hamper efforts to book the best and biggest acts.
Then there is the level of reduction of educational floorspace by what could be more than half. This is despite the acknowledged ambition to allow the College to further develop its university offer. The two objectives seem at odds and counter intuitive.
The design of some of the residential blocks is a little uninspiring. Pre-cast concrete? It sounds like a return to the 1960s, and the type of design palate that the town has suffered from for half a century.
In College Green I would like to see more thought given to how this area may be used for outdoor activities and by spectators.
I also think the significant reduction in public car parking provision will be to the detriment of the Halls and the wider town centre; 243 commuter parking spaces would be displaced. These are the regular visitors to our town who spend their salaries in local businesses. I would like to welcome the creation of a two thousand square metre art gallery but I do worry it is a folly at the expense of essential car parking.
Additionally, I deplore the destruction of the Arnhem gate - at the very least it should be mitigated more meaningfully than putting some lighting along the Park Lane frontage.
[It should be noted on the same night there was also an application for an infill site in Coulsdon West in The Avenue. This got approved despite it feeling like an over-development. Worryingly, however, my colleague Cllr Jeet Bains was denied the opportunity to speak against the application, even though the agenda listed him as the referring councillor and so his referral was the reason the application was being heard by committee. Cllr Bains was denied the opportunity to speak by on a technicality - that he had not registered in time to do so. This feels profoundly undemocratic and I do not recall a similar instance of referring councillors being denied speaking time when the Conservatives were the majority group on that committee].