Sedgemoor District Council Development Committee has narrowly voted to reject a bid to convert a West Quay Hairdressers to a late night chicken takeaway following objections from Bridgwater Town Council and Westover ward councillor Brian Smedley. The committee voted 6 votes to 5 with 2 abstentions to reject the bid and instead backed a motion by Cllr Kathy Pearce (Lab Westover) that the application was contrary to Policy D25 which referred to the impact of noise, disturbance and odours on the neighbours. Ward Councillor Brian Smedley (Lab, Westover) said that the measures attempting to deal with waste management had only heightened fears in relation to fire risk and the result would still be a noisy late night takeaway with maximum impact to an area already identified as number 1 on Police Priority list for anti social behaviour and now would be made worse by the danger of fire to the neighbours. It would also fly in the face of plans to enhance the West Quay pedestrian zone.
The original application was proposed by Cllr Tony Grimes (Con, Berrow) who said “All the other premises have the same fire risk so it’s no different” and was seconded by Cllr Alistair Hendry (Con Burnham Central) who said “There’s always a fire risk, that’s the way it is, move on!”.
Cllr Kathy Pearce (Lab, Westover) led the counter argument saying “There are major issues with this application including late night noise disturbance, anti social behaviour and these will all be exacerbated. This is not the right application for this shop”
Cllr Li Gibson (Lab, Eastover) said “This will be a nightmare for residents with cars parking all over the place and on yellow lines like they do outside the other takeaways in town and they already don’t respect the pedestrianisation on West Quay so this will just make it worse.”
Cllr Bill Revans (LibDem , North Petherton) said “I object to this proposal on grounds of fire safety, anti social behaviour and it fails to enhance this part of Bridgwater alongside the River Parrett”
The committee voted to reject the proposal 6 -5 with 2 abstentions
Supporting the application;- Hendry (Con, Burnham) Grimes (Con, Berrow) Kingham (Con,Polden) Bolt (Con,Wembdon) Filmer (Con, Knoll)
Opposing the application:– Pearce (Lab, Westover) Gibson (Lab , Eastover) Revans (Lib Dem, N.Petherton) Bradford (Con, N Petherton) Perry (Con, Kings Isle) Scott (Con, Axe Vale)
Abstaining;- Granter (Lab, Fairfax) Facey (Con, Burnham North)
Cllr Smedley’s speech on behalf of residents;-
“At Development Committee in November I spoke to members on behalf of all the neighbours and made the point that this application was universally unwanted, out of keeping with the Quayside and said that the preferred route would be to reject the application and ask the owner to come up with a different project more in keeping with the street scene. Nobody believed that a late evening takeaway in that location was a good thing.
At that meeting you deferred decision so that the applicant could make his case about some of the issues raised in particular in relation to waste management.
This now refers to indoor storage bin area, fire resistant door and smoke detector, ventilation system, and oil stored on site and removed twice weekly.
Residents and others nearby remain of the believe that the measures suggested are not appropriate and that the project should be scrapped and a different solution should be urged.
The basic problem is that in trying to address the waste management issues even more fears have been heightened in particular safety and fire risk in an ares where residents live above and around these premises
At the last meeting planners discovered that the proposed back exit would not be possible because the guy who owns the Castle House objects on the grounds of right of way. The trouble is this right of way issue is now a major consideration and in order to satisfy this requirement, it seems that 8 flats in Fishermans Wharf have to now shoulder the risk of having a potential tinderbox inside the building. In addition to the storage of hazardous waste, this new takeaway outlet proposes to install mains gas. At present there is no mains gas supply in the building.
Fire doors and smoke alarms are not going to stop a fire spreading upwards through the ceiling or sideways.
We feel this a totally unacceptable solution.
All that highly noxious, inflammable waste, stored internally, constitutes a highly unpleasant and significant fire hazard right underneath residents and to the whole building. People will have to inform their Insurers of this increased risk will have an effect on the overall buildings insurance and individual contents insurances premiums.
So, the proposed “fire resistant door” and “smoke detector” do not give residents much comfort in that fire doors and smoke detectors do not stop fires, they just maybe give people extra time in which to evacuate the building.
In addition, are they expected to be happy to have waste collection vehicles picking up stored highly flammable waste twice a week from outside on the pedestrianised West Quay? How large are these vehicles and at what time are they doing these collections?
The point remains that people still think this is the wrong type of business for this area and will add to the problem of late night noise.
The area has been identified as the Police’s Number 1 priority for ASB and if we are going to work properly in partnership with joined up thinking we must now support this police priority and reject this proposal
This planning application has not addressed the issue of risk towards the residents in the Fishermans Wharf building. The risk of fire in the building is heightened by having this takeaway move into the building which will then increase insurance costs (for all). We are concerned that the takeaway will be storing large quantities of oil on the premises and this again increases the risk of fire spreading quickly. Also that the only entrance and exit is onto West Quay.
We do not feel reassured that the waste will be disposed of as in the proposal
We do not feel reassured that people gathering outside for take away be managed and that this will cause disturbance at night.
We do not feel reassured that there won’t be cooking smells, plus the disturbance of coming and going of a takeaway service
We do not feel there is a reduced risk of fire hazard, quite the reverse. This is a listed building and very old with very dry timber involved. If this take-away caught fire it would mean the tenants at that end of the building would be unable to use their fire escape and be forced to make for the other end of the building. This would mean 8 flats in total trying to depart from one door. There should be no gas allowed at this premises. The residents only have electric heating for this reason.
We do not believe the issue of the pedestrianisation has been taken into account. Vehicles are only allowed on the pedestrian area of West Quay between 8-10am – and it remains a frustration already with Somerset Council as to how can vehicles be monitored if they do not follow this rule?
I therefore again ask you to bring an end to this application, to reject it and instead to work with the owner and applicant to come up with an occupancy for this unit that is in keeping with the street and does not terrify the residents.”