Local planning committee told to make ‘consistent decisions’ after approving previously rejected proposals
PUBLISHED: 16:42 08 May 2019
The committee in charge of local planning in Newham was warned it must make “consistent decisions” after approving plans for two community centres previously rejected for being “substandard”.
Plans to turn the Eastern Eye Indian restaurant in High Street South, East Ham, into an education facility and a two storey terrace in Plaistow Road, Stratford, into a community hub for up to 70 people were approved by the borough's local development committee this week.
Council planning officers had recommended both applications, which are unrelated, be rejected because of "noise and disturbance" worries.
They added that the buildings were too far from a town centre and did not fit the borough's strategic or local plan.
Similar applications for both sites were refused by the committee last year.
Development manager James Coulstock said: "This is highly unusual. This committee must be seen to make consistent decisions."
After both plans were approved councillor Nareser Osei called for the meeting to be abandoned for members to receive training, but her proposal was rejected.
She said: "I'm very concerned we need to address the issues around the local plan and our understanding of it.
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"We shouldn't be voting on applications if members of this committee don't understand the local plan.
"There are serious issues here."
Hackney-based Apex Learning Hub will provide classes in the former Eastern Eye restaurant building.
A spokesman said they plan to "hold a range of classes and activities, including tuition in English, maths and science, as well as a wide range of adult courses, careers advice and employment training and mentoring and coaching."
The site in Plaistow Road previously had limited permission to act as a community centre for a maximum of 25 people. Up to 70 visitors will now be allowed in the building at one time.
The committee heard that both sites planned to serve "a diverse community".
Councillor Zulfiqar Ali, who voted to approved both applications, said: "Having heard from the applicants it is obvious these facilities are needed in the area."
He added: "If we are just going to agree with the [planning officers] all the time there would be no point in this committee."
A final decision on the plans will be made by the council cabinet later this year.
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