Local residents had been complaining about the state of planning of large developments in central Staines-upon-Thames and the planning seemed, well, unplanned overall.
Lib Dem Councillor Chris Bateson (Staines South) brought this motion to council asking the council to put plans on hold, pause major developments and consult local residents.
The Residents' Riverside Coalition, representing the interests of some 600 residents both sides of the river, afterwards commented:
We applaud Cllr Bateson's initiative in bringing his motion to Council. It has shone a bright light on a matter of desperate concern to residents. The issues at the heart of this are the historical absence of democratic accountability and proper due diligence.
The motion was PASSED by council will all voted for except three councillors.
The Staines Masterplan has evolved in administrative changes, but the document remains important as the framework to establish sustainable development of Staines Town Centre.
In recognition of this importance, this motion states that the council shall henceforth order that:
1. Any proposed development of Staines Town Centre by Spelthorne Borough Council and Knowle Green Estates shall be kept on hold until the Staines Masterplan has been approved.
2. Developers of Major applications proposed in the Staines Town Centre shall be invited to defer their applications until such time that the Council has established policy direction from the Staines Masterplan.
3. The Staines Masterplan needs significant consultation with the community of Spelthorne from the outset.
Not considering this motion now would mean development with no clear strategy that we will be having to attempt to remedy too late. Residents expect clarity for what Staines will look like in the future to ensure they can buy into a positive and ambitious future for Staines Town that respects its heritage but developed for a sustainable future.
Proposed by Councillor C. Bateson (Liberal Democrats)
Seconded by Councillor T. Lagden (Green Party)
Chris Bateson's proposing motion:
Thank you Mr Mayor
May I start by posing the question why should such a motion as this be necessary to bring to Council? The motion presented here tonight is a watered-down version of what we wanted to present. It was deemed that the wording first chosen and published was such that it jeopardised the Councils position and left it open to a possible legal challenge from developers. The bringers of this motion are less convinced of this argument, especially where the Council would be the applicant. However, it was important to ensure that this very important topic was brought for debate tonight.
We as Councillors, all of us, have before us the responsibility of helping formulate and produce a development framework for the future look of Staines Upon Thames. What we decide will affect how the town will look for generations to come. Such a framework needs to coordinate both preservation and development of a future sustainable town. This is no easy task.
There is increasing alarm from both Councillors and Residents alike about how things in relation to Staines are developing. The task groups set up by the Leader, both that for Staines and the Local Plan, are inextricably linked in their work and have been set specific remits to make recommendations to Cabinet. A clear vision as to what a future Staines will look like is still in the development stage. The process rightly in my view must include significant consultation with Residents.
Our concern as that as things stand, we have on offer a series of proposed high rise developments all sited well within a one mile radius, without necessary accompanying infrastructure to deal with very important issues such as traffic, parking, schools and medical services. If they came to pass unchallenged or with very little debate, they would quite simply blight the face of the town and with it destroy its character. We do not want another Woking in our Borough. On specifics, questions also remain, as yet unanswered as to exactly what the Council has tied itself into in respect of the Arora development in Bridge Street. At what cost and if the need become apparent what financial penalties could it face if contemplating withdrawing from this agreement. Councillors and Residents need to know exactly where we stand on this one.
This motion does not in any way seek to set the Council on a path where it becomes in direct conflict with the protocols of Planning law. As the wording in the motion states where the Council is the applicant, it asks that it reflects and by so doing ensuring that it achieves the best possible outcome for Staines. Where outside developers are concerned, it merely requests, not instructs or demands that they defer any such application, again until the development framework is nearing or at completion. They are of course under no obligation whatsoever to comply.
I hope all members this evening feel that can get behind this motion and demonstrate that we are listening to what our Residents are telling us and acting accordingly."