Friday, 11 November 2011

The Battle of Southborough (Tesco) 2

The newly-elected Conservative councillor to Southborough Town Council has declared his opposition to the need for a big supermarket in Southborpugh and is quoted in the local press as stating: As a Conservative group, we all feel the same.  Are the Labour and Liberal Democrat Groups willing to issue a similar statement? 

However, there is the word 'big' in the statement.  So, how does the newly-elected councillor and his colleagues define 'big', and would they be willing to accept a 'smaller' supermarket, and if so what size is 'smaller'?

The problem is that in a sense it doesn't matter what the Southborough Town Council members think, they do not make the planning decision, that is a matter for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.  What does matter is what is the statutory documents and planning guidance pertinent to the land  upon which it is proposed to build the supermarket.   Therefore the real issue for the Conservative councillors in Southborough is the extent to which it is possible for them to persuade their counterparts in Tunbridge Wells to change the documentation insofar as it is possible to make changes.  Planning committees are quasi-judicial bodies.  An aggrieved planning applicant can appeal against a refusal of planning permission and is likely to succeed if it can be shown that the planning authority has reached its decision contrary to  the Local Plan without giving a legitimate  reason(s) for making an exception.

However, the key point is land ownership.  Some of the land is owned by Southborough Town Council.  Pressure should be brought to bear to stop the council selling the land.  In light of the foregoing comment by the new councillor it will be interesting to see if a motion is put to the council which seeks to stop the sale of this land for retail development.

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