Call-in of pumping station decision at Westridge Farm rejected by chair of planning

Cllr Lilley and residents say their comments are being ignored, but the chair of planning says there are no material planning issues with the application that was approved under delegated decision.

michael lilley

A row has broken out with accusations about a lack of transparency and residents’ views being dismissed as NIMBYism after the call-in of a planning decision was rejected.

Ryde East councillor Michael Lilley (pictured above) had requested a call-in of the officer decision to approve a pumping station at Westridge Dairy in Bullen Road, Ryde.

Call-in denied
However, chair of the Planning Committee, Chris Quirk, has told Cllr Lilley he will not consider the call-in, as he doesn’t believe any material planning issues have been clearly identified.

The new pumping station will serve a development of 80 new homes at Westridge, which was granted approval in August 2017.

An enabling application?
Residents say they’re concerned the ‘level three’ pumping station (which has a capacity for more than 80 homes) is an indicator that more homes are planned on the land.

Cllr Quirk (pictured right) told OnTheWight that a ‘level two’ pumping station would not be able to cope with 80 homes, hence the developer having to go with the next one up.

Quirk: Nothing to do with the pumping station
He went on to say,

“This is nothing to do with the pumping station, it’s to do with the houses on Westridge Farm.

“The pumping station will make no difference to any current or future application.

“It relates to the current application because there was a planning condition that they had to sort out the sewage facilities and means of removing them before they could start building. This is in compliance with the existing planning permission.”

He went on to add that the current solution is polluting the water sources as there are leaks from the septic tanks.

2,000 extra homes?
However, Cllr Lilley says that including the Pennyfeathers development, residents are facing the prospect of 1,304 houses already with planning permission (full and outline) being built in and adjacent to the Ryde East ward.

Residents are concerned the figure could be heading towards 2,000 without, they say, a proper road infrastructure, GP surgeries already over prescribed and insufficient community facilities and support.

Residents also feel that house building on farmland contradicts the IW Council’s commitment under the recent approval of UNESCO Biosphere Reserve status which emphasises the importance of maintaining green and ecological space.

Quirk: No material planning issues
Cllr Quirk told OnTheWight that he believed Cllr Lilley “did not understand in intricacies of the planning system”.

He said,

“There’s a whole list of things that Cllr Lilley suggests are material planing issues, none of them are. Most of them would be valid issues if the application was for another 200 houses. But it’s not. It’s for a pumping station.

“It’s not a dwelling or business facility, so therefore not a development in terms of SP1. Having it just outside of the settlement boundary, we allow all sorts of infrastructure outside settlement boundaries, such as stiles, large gateways, etc.”

Cllr Quirk added that the underground pumping station will be invisible because it will have planting around it, and “will greatly improve the existing situation with sewage going into water courses and provide a facility that works for the houses that have already got planning permission”.

From Elmfield to Westridge Village?
Cllr Lilley has told OnTheWight he’s discovered there is a pending housing application titled ‘Westridge Village’ which he believes will need the underground pumping station built first.

Ryde East area including Westridge Farm is historically known as Elmfield and residents now feel their community identity is also being threatened by socially engineering a new village without any consultation.

Wade: Another nail in the coffin of Democracy
Local resident, Jenny Wade, states,

“The decision by the Isle of Wight Council to allow this application to be decided under delegated powers is yet another nail in the coffin of Democracy on the Island. It very much seems to be the case that no longer do local people have their views listened to, let alone taken into account, by those in charge of planning over here.

“Even the views of local town and parish councils are being ignored if they do not subscribe to the decision (for, or against) made by the appointed planning officer; and if the planning committee refuse an application even this decision can be called in by the Head of Planning for a cooling-off period and rethink; however, the same process cannot be applied in reverse!  

“Many people feel the IWC planning department has over recent times been given far too much power to act in an autocratic fashion and now an independent review is needed to return Democratic rights to residents and town and parish councils in planning matters.”

Lilley: Ignores and accused of NIMBYism
Cllr Lilley added,

“I as an elected representative along with local residents have continually asked questions and when I democratically use my right to call-in a proposed delegated decision I am just ignored.

“Residents, Ryde Town Council and I received no rational answer to our properly laid out arguments against the pumping station, but are dismissed as Nimbys with selective use of objectors comments that supposedly enable the Chair of Planning to substantiate this outrageous and biased view. Ryde Town Council put clear material objections along with residents and these have never been properly answered.”

Lilley: Pumping station for a whole new village
He went on to say,

“You can only conclude that minds were made up months ago. Residents and I just want open and transparent honesty. The Pumping Station application was simply an enabling and future proofing application not for the existing consented 80 houses and a few septic tank users, but a whole new village!

“All we wanted was for democratically elected planning committee members to decide not an under the carpet delegated decision. We have been denied democracy!”

Quirk: This is a non-story
Cllr Quirk finished by saying,

“This is a non-story. The story will be if and when we get an application for a lot more houses, yes that’ll be a contentious issue. The pumping station is some locals trying to make an issue out of something that is a non-issue.”

Any views or opinions presented in the comments below are solely those of the author and do not represent those of OnTheWight.

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