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Concerns over Highwood Hospital Development remain

October 18, 2010 11:08 AM
Highwood Hospital - where a development of 250 homes is planned

203 new homes will soon be in place at the former Highwood Hospital site

Liberal Democrat councillors have expressed their concerns over the haste with which the Highwood Hospital development was approved by Tory and Labour councillors last week, despite a number of issues remaining unaddressed.

Cllr Philip Mynott, Brentwood North ward councillor, raised questions over many of the units failing to meet sustainability policy guidelines, the new properties closer than the guideline 15 metres to the boundary, security concerns in the site's north west corner and the fact that there are almost no pavements along Little Highwood's roads.

Cllr Ross Carter raised the issues of major congestion implications for Brentwood, along the main north-south route in Ongar Road. The developer's own Transport Assessment's statement states that "in both a.m. and p.m. peaks the proposed junction [at Geary Drive] would exceed its theoretical capacity... [and] the potential mini roundabout is therefore expected to perform worse than the existing priority junction".

Cllr Mynott said:

"At the planning meeting, councillors were allowed only five minutes to speak, despite this being a major development. I would have thought the point of our planning processes is to examine matters with a responsible thoroughness rather than as hastily as possible.

"Back in June Highwood was not discussed at all, since we supposedly hadn't had time then to look at the plans properly, although it was then three months (probably coincidentally covering an election period), since this material had arrived in the council offices, and the statutory period for their discussion was just two days short of running out.

"In September Highwood was hurried onto the agenda less than the normal minimum three weeks after being re-received by planning - so quickly, in fact, that the planning officer's report had actually been written on a different version of the scheme to the then "final" one. Now an again changed version was shoehorned into the agenda, only fifteen days after our being notified of its arrival, and with its therefore surprising appearance there giving only one week's notice to prepare.

"This time, the new report was written before even receiving the county conservation officer's response to further alterations.

"Such haste means that any number of mistakes has likely been made, for which we will all suffer in future."

Conservative and Labour councillors voted for the plans, with Liberal Democrat councillors on the planning committee(Cllr Ross Carter and Cllr Karen Chilvers) voting against.