- There are precedents for granting planning permission in the abandoned Campus Project and the nearby Northumbrian Water offices. The former wanted a much larger site and included CEFAS which needed a nearby sea water supply. NW Ltd is moving from one o ut of town site to another, larger one. Therefore, neither case is comparable to the Riverside Road application.
- It will help regenerate the RR area. However, the RR offices do not provide 500 jobs, they are simply being moved.
- Better land packages can be offered in the towncentre. There are already at least six major sites in the centre, empty and unsold. Adding another five is not a benefit.
WHAT ALTERNATIVES ARE THERE?
An ideal town centre site exists at the old WDC Housing Offices in Clapham Road. The Riverside Road building would fit almost exactly as designed on this site. It is owned by the Council, conforms to planning policy, offers advantages in transport being close to the bus and train stations, is more sustainable (no need for a 208 space car park, there is ample nearby), it won’t have to be built on stilts because of flood risks and shops and other businesses won’t suffer from loss of trade in these difficult economic times.
With minimum changes it could also house Customer Services thus avoiding the cost and inefficiencies of “two centres” caused by the distance of Riverside Road from the town centre.
The Town Hall must be kept, for its own value and for the sake of the High Street. The Council Chamber, of course, should be maintained. The building would also be ideal for the Registrar’s Office (the Marina Centre is not) as well as other appropriate services and functions.The ”two centres and no town hall” option is inefficient, expensive and damaging to both the economic health of the town and its heritage
The councils have failed to follow planning policies and the” mitigating factors” are weak. The thirteen councillors on the committee should reject the present plans and tell them to look again at the alternatives