Two linked applications have been referred to the committee meeting tomorrow, Wednesday, May 24, because the applicants are David and Angela Collins – David Collins is the council’s property manager. They own the property but rent it out.
The applications have stirred considerable opposition among Willoughby residents, as one plan looks to adapt an existing end-of-terrace property to free up space – and the other is a scheme for a new, three-bedroomed house alongside.
Curiously, the agenda describes the application for the new house thus: ‘Construction of a new dwelling adjacent to No 42 on extra wide plot’.
Quick research on Google raises the issue of what justifies the ‘extra wide plot’ description, as the area in question between the left-hand end of the current, symmetrical terrace of four homes in Main Street and a footpath does not appear particularly wide.
A previous application, withdrawn in December 2022, described the same land as a ‘double-width’ plot.
A spokesperson for the borough council said of ‘extra wide plot’ being used on the agenda in response to an Advertiser enquiry: “The council uses the description of the proposed development submitted by the applicant at the start of the application process.
“All planning applications are determined in line with the National Planning Policy Framework and locally adopted planning policies, unless material considerations indicate otherwise.”
The agenda shows that while the new home scheme was not objected to by Willoughby Parish Council, the borough council has received 14 representations, covering a wide range of issues.
These cover concerns that the new house is not the kind of housing needed in the village; is ‘shoehorned’ in; spoils the symmetry of the existing terrace; will add to concerns over sewer issues in the area; has an impact on privacy of nearby gardens; loss of light and overshadowing; conflict of interest – and more.
In response to the issue of any conflict of interest, the applications are being dealt with by councillors on the planning committee rather than being decided by officers under delegated authority.
The officer report to the meeting addresses the other concerns and makes a recommendation that the plans should be approved.
The full details of both applications can be found on the council’s planning portal using the reference numbers R23/0194 and R23/0196.
The meeting takes place at 5.30pm at the town hall. Members of the public can attend in person or watch a livestream.
It will be the first full meeting of the planning committee since the elections earlier this month when the Conservatives lost two seats and Rugby Borough Council went to no overall control.
But the Conservatives remain the largest party with 21 of 42 seats.
At a brief meeting on Thursday, Cllr Tony Gillias was elected to continue as chair of the committee and Cllr Becky Maoudis was appointed vice-chair, with six of the 12 committee members being Conservative.
The new line-up is: Councillors Garcia, Gillias, Hassell, Lawrence, Maoudis, Ward (Cons); Harrington, Karadiar, Srivastava (Lab); Edwards, Lewis, Sandison (Lib Dem).
Seven of the councillors represent wards in the Rugby urban area – only one of whom is Conservative – and five represent rural wards, including both the chair and vice-chair.