Phil Campbell, Margaret Ward, David Ellison, Paul Carr and Gary Whetton spoke against the application.
A petition of support for the application was presented on behalf of a constituent by Councillor Alan Smith
Town Councillor Alan Tyson spoke against the application
Councillor Joan Ellis spoke against the application
The Agent Jeremy Williams spoke in support of the application
The report recommended approval subject to conditions recommended at Annex 1 and the signing of a s106 agreement to secure financial sums for the monitoring of a Travel Plan and the implementation of a Traffic Regulation Order.
The Planning and Building Control Manager introduced the item advising that Members may have recalled a similar application being refused at the meeting of this in July of last year. He referred members to the reasons detailed on page 20 of the agenda papers.
He commented that the previous application was now the subject of an appeal to the Secretary of State, the procedure being a Hearing. However, he advised that the existence of that appeal should have no bearing on the determination of the application now before members.
However, he did advise members that a further 6 months had elapsed since the determination of the previous application and the site remained undeveloped. It had been the subject of continued marketing with no interest. There were clear issues with the viability of B1, B2 and B8 schemes without either external funding or a viable use being developed alongside.
The Planning and Building Control Manager continued their introduction by commenting that there was a mix proposed of an employment use (flexibly proposed as B1, B2 and/or B8 to maximise the possibilities for development coming forward) and, critically, an A1 use that provided the overall viability.
Weight is afforded to this consideration, the A1 use also provides meaningful employment. The weight afforded to this is particularly significant given that an undeveloped site does not provide employment.
He commented that little weight should be afforded to policy SA43 of the emerging Part 2 Local Plan due to unresolved objections and reminded members that, in July they did consider that the development was appropriate in terms of retail impact.
Questions were asked of the speakers and the officers and debate followed relating to flooding, site uses/permissions, employment, sustainability, travel and trees.
Councillor Cockburn then moved to refuse the application on the grounds that the development would result in the loss of saved employment allocation EM2 and the loss of existing trees protected under Tree Preservation Order No.9 of 2017.
The motion was seconded by Councillor Munby
A vote followed 7 voted in favour of the motion to refuse, 4 voted against the motion to refuse, 0 abstentions.
The motion was carried.
Reasons for Refusal
1. The Local Planning Authority considers that the proposal would result in the loss of saved employment allocation EM2 to the detriment of the current and future needs of the spatial strategy and growth for Cockermouth as a key service centre, contrary to Policies S3, DM3 and S12 of the Allerdale Local Plan (Part 1) Adopted 2014.
2. The proposal would result in the loss of existing trees protected under Tree Preservation Order No.9 of 2017, Low Road, Cockermouth to the detriment of the visual amenities and character of the locality and the approach to the town centre, contrary to Policies S4, S32, S33 and DM17 of the Allerdale Local Plan (Part 1) Adopted 2014.