Protest vote after claims man '˜abused planning system'

Councillors staged a protest vote after accusing a man of '˜consistently' abusing the planning system.

Monday, 6th June 2016, 3:24 pm
Updated Monday, 6th June 2016, 4:27 pm
Mr Meredith's property lies adjacent to the High Salvington windmill. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

Worthing Borough Council’s planning committee considered Paul Meredith’s retrospective conversion of his garage, in Furze Road, High Salvington, to a gym, games room and study last Wednesday.

The garage was already under construction when the council rejected a planning application last January but the decision was later overturned by a government inspector.

Councillor Paul Yallop said: “It’s all quite depressing when the man in Bristol overturns our decisions and here we are, it wasn’t a garage after all.

“I expect next time it will be a kitchen, bathroom and it will be a house by then. Who knows?”

The committee was advised there were no planning grounds to reject the application, as the inspector had already deemed the dimensions acceptable.

But aghast at the continued retrospective nature of the plans, six of the seven councillors abstained, leaving just one to wave the application through.

The plans were approved subject to Mr Meredith sending accurate drawings to the planning department which had not been produced.

Planning officer Gary Peck said while the case was ‘frustrating’, to reject it and have to pay costs on appeal would be worse.

Salvington councillor Noel Atkins, who voted in favour, said: “Obviously there are no grounds on which we can refuse this application but I’m disappointed that the applicant has consistently abused the spirit of the planning legislation.”

Councillor Diane Guest added: “I just really feel he is abusing our planning system. I find this incredibly frustrating that we have other people taking our system quite seriously to the letter and then we have this type of application which was obvious from the start wasn’t going to be a garage.”

The initial plans sparked fears the garage would block wind to the High Salvington windmill. Evidence to back up the concern, however, was not produced.

When asked for comment after the meeting, Mr Meredith said councillors should be ‘destroyed’.