Developer to file formal complaint after councillor ‘fails to declare interest’
PUBLISHED: 07:00 26 February 2020 | UPDATED: 12:00 26 February 2020
A housing developer is filing a formal complaint against Clevedon councillor Mark Crosby, claiming he failed to disclose a potential financial interest when he spoke out against its plans.
Cllr Crosby criticised proposals for a nursery and 55 retirement flats by McCarthy & Stone, in Kenn Road.
He did not take part in the vote that saw the 'monstrosity' scheme refused, and the developer reportedly 'demanded' he should be barred from future debate on it.
Cllr Crosby told the planning and regulatory committee meeting on Wednesday, February 19: "The applicant is submitting a formal complaint about my behaviour at the last meeting.
"They said I failed to declare a pecuniary interest in my son's house - which I certainly don't have - that I assisted a resident in distributing a presentation to committee members, and that I didn't adopt a suitably passive role in the debate.
"They also demanded I not be permitted to address this committee, nor even attend it, and you should not listen to what I said at the last debate.
"We will see what happens."
Cllr Paul Gardner asked if it were an attempt to 'subvert the democratic process'.
More than 100 people objected to the application, which would have provided 55 retirement apartments in a three-storey building and an 81-place day nursery.
It was Cllr Crosby's opposition that led to the application's coming before committee members last month and ultimately being refused.
He argued the new occupants would have an 'unrelenting direct view' into their neighbours' bedrooms and bathrooms, and that the buildings were too high.
He also disputed the applicant's claims the nursery or care home were 'much needed'.
Cllr Crosby later admitted his son owned a house nearby but said he 'genuinely' had not realised beforehand. He said the property was not 'in the least affected'.
Councillors are required to declare in advance if they have a pecuniary interest - where there is a reasonable likelihood or expectation of appreciable financial loss or gain.
North Somerset Council's website says: "Where the interest declared is pecuniary or prejudicial, a councillor must leave the meeting while that item of business is dealt with so there can be no suggestion they were able to influence any decisions made in the meeting."
McCarthy & Stone regional managing director Shane Paull said the decision put its proposals 'in jeopardy' and that the 40 jobs that would have been created now 'hang in the balance'.
The developer's plans have been revised in response to the committee's comments.
The extra-care building has been redesigned, its height has been reduced and it has been moved further away from neighbouring properties.
The number of retirement apartments has fallen from 55 to 54.
The refusal was due to be confirmed this week, but members voted to defer their decision until further changes were made to the plans.
Despite the developer's formal complaint, Cllr Crosby spoke out again against the plans this week, saying: "I'm still very concerned about the safety of the access off Kenn Road.
"I remain concerned about having a children's nursery close enough to the roundabout that my three-year-old granddaughter could kick a ball across it."
A spokesman for North Somerset Council said it had not received the formal complaint.
A spokesman for McCarthy & Stone said: "The application has not yet been formally determined, and it would, therefore, be inappropriate to comment at this stage.
"McCarthy and Stone and Happy Days Nursery have submitted amended plans which we hope will go a long way to addressing the concerns of the planning committee.
"Both companies remain committed to delivering a much-needed extra-care retirement community and a children's nursery."
The application will come back before a future meeting.
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