THE TWENTIETH CENTURY SOCIETY   |   AHRA   |   Dreamland Trust’s response to TDC ‘independent’ heritage report

Subject: RE: Arlington: this email has been sent to ALL councillors.. ..please feel free to distribute.
John Moss (Vice Chair of AHRA)
Date: Sat, 15 Oct 2011 07:55:08 -0400
Dear Councillor
There are two matters due to be considered at this weeks meeting of the Planning Committee and I write to raise some serious concerns in respect of the documentation and the consequences of any decisions.
The first matter relates to the report by Montagu Evans in respect of the Dreamland status.
This is supposed to be an independent report commissioned by the Council ? so why has the Council instructed a firm retained by Tesco and why has the £9,999.00 cost been met by Freshwater ?  Any legal challenge would make the Council look a laughing stock and clearly in collusion with the developer and the developers main client.  Why is the Council being so foolish in its desperation to have the Arlington site developed at any cost ?
Much of the content of the Montagu Evans report is open to question.  The author of the report does not state in his report who instructs him ? merely that his brief is agreed with the Council.  Many of the authors comments are speculative and assumptive rather than evidential and factual.
I am at a loss to understand how the author can conclude (inter alia) that the upgrading of the scenic railway would not have changed the outcome of the planning decision.  How can he possibly speculate as to what may have been in the minds of Members ? more especially given the fact that the vote was split 7-7 in any event ?
The second matter to be considered by the Planning Committee this week relates to a request by the Applicant to change the previously approved timescales for the external refurbishment of Arlington House.
At the planning committee on 15 June it was agreed for Arlington House external refurbishment to be completed prior to the construction of the Tesco store.  This was a very wise precaution given Freshwaters history of failing to carry out works to Arlington House i.e. the fire precaution works which were subject to a Section 72 enforcement notice in 2002 and had to be completed by TDC in 2009.
Despite its original agreement to the terms and timescales from 15 June, Freshwater now wants to move the goal posts.  It approached the Council and requested that it be allowed to complete the refurbishment of Arlington House before the Tesco store was fitted out.
The original agenda for the October 19th meeting gave the planning committee three options.
Freshwater has now moved the goal posts even further apart.  It now requests that it be allowed to finish the external refurbishment to Arlington House by the time that Tesco is ready to trade.
The revised agenda for 19 October now leaves members of the Planning Committee with only two options to choose from - either give Freshwater everything it wants or delay the whole project for a year !
If TDC agrees to Freshwaters latest demands it will find itself in a position where the agreement cannot be enforced.  Tesco will be able to reach a stage where the store is fully staffed and fully stocked and ready to open.  If at that time works to Arlington House have not been completed, the Council will be powerless to act because to do so would deny Tesco the ability to effectively trade ? and that is exactly the reason why Members were prevented from imposing a condition restricting delivery hours when it was proposed on 15 June !
Most pertinently,. this whole situation is intrinsically linked with the matter of replacing the windows to the flats.
Whilst Freshwater has already admitted that it has no powers to replace 31 of the windows ? the fact of the matter is that it has no powers to replace any of the windows to the 100+ flats that are owned by individuals on long leases.  It has no right of entry to those flats for that purpose ? and neither the Council nor Freshwater has even made any approach to any of the leaseholders  to seek their agreement for those works to be carried out.
If the Council agrees to Freshwaters current demand then it will result in none of the flat windows having been replaced by the time Tesco opens and Freshwater will be totally exonerated.   The Council will then certainly have no hold over Freshwater to ensure that the required refurbishments and visual improvements are carried out.
I was astonished to find that a further five drawings have been added to the planning application in recent days ? one of which depicts an illustration to show the proposed new windows.  Once again the design appears to have been altered ? without any notification to residents and leaseholders.
The Council must clearly take a far tighter grip of the reigns as far as this application is concerned.  Up till now it has allowed itself to be let by the nose by Freshwater and Tesco ? more especially in view of the fact that Members were told at the meeting on 15 June that (inter alia) Tesco would pull out if its terms and conditions were not agreed to in full.
I would go as far as to say that the whole development is placed in far greater jeopardy by virtue of the fact that the residents and leaseholders of Arlington House will not be vacating the current residents car parking deck unless or until an acceptable solution has been found and agreed in respect of a more suitable parking replacement than that currently proposed.  Approaches to the Council and to Freshwater on this subject have been made on a number of occasions but each time the matter has been summarily dismissed.
The ball is firmly in the Councils court . . .
John Moss