To consider report PES/357cof the Head of Economy and Planning.
RECOMMENDATION to PERMIT.
The Committee considered report PES/357c of the Head of Economy and Planning which proposed as follows:
Change of use from office (formerly use class B1) to a kitchen to feed the homeless.
Councillors A Belben, Purdy, Sharma, and P Smith declared they had visited the site.
The Group Manager (Development Management) provided a verbal summation of the application, which sought permission for a change of use of the single storey building. The proposal would alter the floor layout to provide a kitchen and storage space for food and equipment for the preparation of meals. The meals produced would be packaged and transported off the premises for distribution to homeless people at agreed locations in Crawley. The application was to be considered separately and on its own merits following the withdrawal of an earlier application that had proposed the preparation, collection, and consumption of food at the site.
The Committee heard that a small physical change to the building was proposed in the form of a roof-mounted cowl. This was due to the installation of an extraction system to lessen odour from the kitchen during its operational hours of approximately 17:00 to 18:30 daily while food was being prepared.
In line with the Council’s Virtual Committee Procedure Rules, two statements submitted by members of the public in regard to the application were read to the Committee.
A statement from an objector (Masoud Ahary) highlighted matters including:
· Many Northgate residents had concerns regarding the application.
· The proximity of the site to a residential area and a school.
· A suggestion that the site could be relocated to a different area of the town, such as an industrial estate.
A statement from a supporter (the applicant, Giving Back Crawley) highlighted matters including:
· The objections of local residents, of which many suggested that safety issues could be caused by people visiting the site. It was clarified that the kitchen would operate a delivery-only service and only the volunteers working at the kitchen would have access to the premises.
· There would be no noticeable impact on traffic in the area and the existing car parking provision at the site was sufficient for the applicant’s one vehicle.
· The applicant’s desire to comply with the Council’s agreed food distribution locations, planning application conditions, and environment health policies.
The Committee then considered the application. A Committee member recognised the large number of responses from local residents, many of which raised concern about visitors to the building, which formed part of the earlier withdrawn application. It was hoped that these concerns had been allayed, both by the information provided by the applicant and the application conditions, which would limit the scope of use at the premises.
It was noted that Sussex Police had recommended the applicant consider the installation of lighting and an alarm system at the site. Upon queries from Committee members that this could become an application condition, the Planning Officer confirmed a condition was not necessary due to the limited footfall in the area. Lighting and alarms were therefore the responsibility of the applicant.
A recorded vote was taken on the recommendation in accordance with the Council’s Virtual Committee Procedure Rules. The names of the councillors voting for and against the recommendation, along with any abstentions, were recorded as follows:
For the recommendation to permit:
Councillors Ascough, A Belben, Irvine, Jaggard, Mwagale, Pickett, Purdy, Rana, Sharma, and P Smith (10).
Against the recommendation to permit:
Permit subject to conditions set out in report PES/357c.