Northiam Spa owner speaks out

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In reply to Ian Jenkins’ letter (December 6th), as the Owner of the Spar store Northiam, I feel I should defend my position.

Advice was “taken up” from the Planning Officer at RDC, having withdrawn my 1st application. Worryingly, the officer stated, “In my opinion, the issues with the scheme are so fundamental that they cannot be remedied as part of a revised scheme for this application”.

The second application was smaller and far more sympathetic, in view of neighbours’ concerns to the rear of the shop. I should point out the business existed long before any surrounding housing was built.

I was advised that the height of the building should remain as is and hence the need for a section of flat roof. Additional windows were a concern as was roof pitch hence the plan eventually submitted had numerous changes incorporated during discussions in an effort to appease RDC.

On meeting the planning officer on 9th October no hint was given that it was still an unacceptable development. His only concern seemed to be whether the proposed living space was achievable, and drawing details.

Regarding the Post Office facility, I temporarily withdrew my interest in September due to the delays extending the retail space. As I understood it the existing Postmaster would retire in November 2014.

It is therefore incorrect to say Northiam would undoubtedly be without a postal facility without Jempson’s arrival. I would have promptly reapplied should planning approval be granted.

Jempson’s appear to have been appointed as the new Operator of the branch on 11th October 2013, a full month before being granted change of use at the JJ Carpet site!

Mr Jenkins was the most vocal supporter of this application, (RDC planning meeting 14th November) and paid scant regard to local views or indeed the RDC original planning decision of August 2008 when conditions were attached to safeguard the amenities of the area.

Despite my correspondence to him at no point has he sought my views on this important local issue and he failed to attend any Parish meetings discussing the subject.

Nigel Fothergill, Spar Stores, Station Road, Northiam.