CVCHA say their consultation with residents about building homes on the site of the Skylark pub was worthwhile. Helen Ratley, CVCHA’s Resident Inclusion Co-ordinator, was responding to criticisms of the event by John Miles, former chair of the TRA.
In a letter to Vale Mail, John Miles has said that his suggestions for the site, which included building a family restaurant, or building bungalows for the elderly, were both rejected because planners would not allow them.
His letter says: “Personally, I think planners are there to be challenged! However, if they are to be considered as the final authority on the development and they have stipulated what must be done, what is the point of a ‘Consultation’. The only point I can see is that someone can tick a box saying that they have conducted a ‘Consultation’ process with the residents. However, it was obvious to me that the whole thing was a waste of everyone’s time.”
Helen Ratley explained that CVCHA do not own the site, and would not be allowed to reopen the site as a pub, or to build a restaurant. “If we were to buy the site, we would only be able to get funds for building accommodation. Someone else is quite entitled to make a bid for the site if they want to build a restaurant. But we are a housing association, and we deal with accommodation.”
She acknowledged that the City Planning Committee were not likely to give permission for bungalows to be built there, because they are keen to see more family accommodation. CVCHA do have plans to build some bungalows on the Ternhill House site in Halfpenny Field Way. The Housing Association does own that site and have submitted plans to the Council to develop twelve homes, including bungalows.
The consultation for the Skylark was held at the Sanctuary , with two drop-in sessions for residents last week. John Miles says: “The whole thing seemed such a waste of time……. we were being used somehow to legitimise the imposing of a pre-planned scheme and making it look as though the community were involved in the process.”
Helen Ratley disagrees. She says: “26 people came to the drop-in sessions and gave us their views. Most residents said they would be happy to see homes built on the site because they are fed up of seeing it as an eyesore. We used the consultation to see whether residents wanted us to build homes on the site. No decisions have been made because we don’t own the site, but we are still interested in it.”
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