Most readers will be aware that in February 2016 the Seashell Trust submitted a planning application for the redevelopment of their existing facilities, off Stanley Road and for the construction of 325 dwellings on the Greenbelt land to the North of their current buildings.
The Planning Officers were not satisfied that there was sufficient information in the documents within the application and requested substantial additional information. This requirement for additional information brought in some information but this process has repeated a number of times. Finally, after a year and a half, Council officers placed the application before the Committees.
The Seashell Trust seek to justify building on the Greenbelt by stating that the cost of revamping their site will be £45M. This includes £24M for the school alone, which is about four times the cost of building similar schools.
The Officers recommended grant of planning permission but the actual decision was made by the main Planning & Highways Committee at their meeting in the Town Hall on 11 January.
The Committee were very supportive of the Trust, the excellent work they do with some of the most profoundly disabled children and were most keen that it should continue. However, they were not persuaded that the construction of 325 houses on the Greenbelt was necessary to fund the required reconstruction and that other approaches could achieve the necessary rebuild. The Committee decided to refuse planning permission by 7 votes to 5.
The Trust may decide to investigate and use alternative approaches for their rebuild or, more probably, lodge an appeal against the decision to refuse. An appeal would lead to the decision being taken by a Planning Inspector, probably after a Public Inquiry.
The Seashell Trust announced their intention to appeal the refusal of planning permission in March 2018.