Dr Michael Bowles’ letter (Observer page 7, April 4) seems to have been written without his having a proper grasp of the way that High Street shops change hands; how the planning system works and the Town Council’s role in that system.
First, Battle Town Council (BTC) is not the planning authority for the town. Rother District Council (RDC) is. BTC is however consulted on all planning applications and is working closely with RDC on all District Planning matters
Shops are sold/leased with the benefit of planning permission for a particular type of use. The 1066 is authorised for use which covers use of the premises for the sale of food and drink. That means that any occupier may use the 1066 for that purpose without further authority being needed.
It is a fact that disliking the business owner is not a planning ground for rejecting a planning application. Costa Coffee have as much right to use the 1066 as a café as would a local entrepreneur wishing to set up an Olde Worlde café.
Dr Bowles makes a personal attack on me and my credentials to look after the best interests of the town. I invite him to look at the work which I have put in during my years chairing the BTC Planning Committee including the review of the Battle Conservation Area as well as the council’s contribution to the production of the Battle Study which will be used in drawing up the District plan for the years to 2026. In all these areas I have assiduously fought to retain the character of the Town as well as to defend the countryside around the town centre from development.
In short, I am deeply offended that Dr Bowles sees fit to seek to tell me what is required of me as Town Mayor and Chairman of BTC when I have been doing just that – and more - for nine years now. I am sorry that he does not want a Costa Café in Battle. Perhaps he would have preferred that the 1066 be left as it has been for far too long now, a forlorn, dilapidated building that I was ashamed that visitors to the town had to see.
Cllr Ron Harris
Town Mayor and Chairman
Battle Town Council