At a busy South Area Committee meeting tonight, councillors surprisingly went against the advice of their own officers and approved a proposed development on the corner of Hills Avenue and Hills Road. The existing house (241 Hills Road, although effectively part of Hills Avenue) was long ago considered to be “of no merit to warrant its retention”, but a previous application to replace it with six flats had been rejected in 2011. This time, the applicants had proposed three “town houses” (below).
Council Officers had come up with a number of objections to the design, and at the Area Committee meeting, there were statements from the Officers and, on the other side, from a Planning Consultant working for the applicants. After listening to these, Councillor Dryden (from Cherry Hinton) commented that he didn’t dismiss his own officers’ recommendations lightly (or often), but in this case he thought that “far more substantial developments have been permitted in the area” and that in this case the development should be allowed “in the interests of consistency”.
All three councillors representing Queen Edith’s disagreed with him, but he was supported by other councillors from Cherry Hinton and Trumpington, and the Council Officers’ objections were dismissed after a tied vote and a casting vote from the chair.
I believe that with a tied vote, the chair should have acknowledged that the councillors who actually represented the area (who are from different parties) were unanimously supporting the Council Officers’ objections, and reversed his vote. But it was not to be. I do wonder if a different result might have resulted had there been forceful (or indeed any) real support for the Council Officers’ objections from residents. Maybe the fact that there was so little was what persuaded the councillors from Cherry Hinton and Trumpington to vote the way they did.
The applicants, it should be noted, seemed genuinely shocked to have received permission to go ahead with the development.