After more than four hours of evidence and questions, an Open Planning Meeting looking into redeveloping a vinery off Oatlands Lane into a storage site closed without reaching a conclusion.
With only three political members present, Deputy Dawn Tindall, the President of the Development and Planning Authority, Deputy Lester Queripel and Alderney Representative Alex Snowden were tasked with deciding whether the planning application should be given the go ahead.
But instead they decided to defer making a final decision, which was met with outrage from the audience - including residents of the areas around the Domarie and Avondale Vineries, and Oatlands Lane.
Pictured: This OPM was Deputy Dawn Tindall's first major outing as the President of the Development & Planning Authority. She said she was convinced by the Planning Department's report that the application did fall inside the remit of the Island Development Plan.
At first, it seemed as if there was going to be a tied vote, as Deputy Tindall voted to approve the application, and also warned against deferring because of how long this process had taken. Alderney Rep Snowden suggested he would vote to defer though, and Deputy Lester Queripel voted to reject the application.
Deputy Tindall then interjected on Deputy Queripel's vote, to clarify that he could defer if he wanted to, and also to clarify that he would have to provide 'robust' evidence for why he rejected the application if he did vote against. The longest serving member of the DPA then changed his vote to defer, although he assured people if he had known he could defer, he would have, as he wanted a conversation to take place between the site owner and an adjacent site owner to see if a solution could be reached over traffic concerns.
Pictured: The 12 vergees glasshouse site, which has previously been used by Guernsey Clematis, would be redeveloped to form 15 storage units and two open yards.
The change in vote caused the audience to erupt, prompting Deputy Tindall to threaten to cut the meeting short, saying it would continue behind closed doors.
This will happen anyway now, because while the members voted to defer, the matter will not be heard again in an open setting. Under law, only one Open Planning Meeting can take place, and therefore the final decision on the application will be made in private - where a number of additional pieces of information can be provided, and after further conversations have taken place.
For the residents, going forward there are few options left open to them.
For four years, they have been writing letters of objection against a number of iterations of this planning application, and trying to have their voices heard. They say they are worried about the threat of heightened traffic, noise pollution and the loss of green space.
13 different residents were given the opportunity to speak at today's Meeting, to give evidence about how the development might affect their lives.
Pictured: The matter went to an Open Planning Meeting because the Planning Department believes the change of use of the Domarie & Avondale Vineries in Oatlands Lane is acceptable and meets planning requirements.
The DPA members made a number of changes to the planning decision to tighten up already tight restrictions on what the owner could do if he was given the go ahead to try and reflect the resident's concerns, but in their eyes, these did not appear to be enough.
Their main concern when assessing whether or not to approve this application was traffic. Worries were expressed over whether larger vehicles would be able to safely exit the site without having to mount a cycle path, and the fact that the new Victor Hugo College will have even more students studying there was also raised.
Previously, Traffic & Highway Services rejected the application on traffic grounds, but tighter rules and alterations have led to them supporting it. Alderney Rep Snowden chose to defer because he wanted more information and projections from the service before he made a decision, however.
Deputy Queripel wanted to defer because he wanted discussions over the site access to take place between officers, the land owners, and the former users.
The DPA issued a statement late on Wednesday addressing concerns raised by the decision to defer the decision.
Deputy Dawn Tindall said:
“The Authority understand that the decision to defer may be frustrating to some as this process has been ongoing for some time. However, safety of all road users, including cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, was a significant concern raised by the majority of representors. Therefore, it was agreed that further information would be requested from the applicant to enable a more informed decision to be made.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of those that came to the open planning meeting this morning, especially those that made a representation. The Authority greatly value the views of the community and that is why it was felt that this extra information is required before a final decision is made to ascertain if it can address the concerns raised.”
A final decision as to whether the application will be approved or rejected will be made at an unknown date in the future. It will be made public online at planningexplorer.gov.gg and all those who made a representation will be notified of the decision.
Pictured top: The Domarie Vinery.
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