A COUNCILLOR has claimed Castle Point Council might as well rip up its green belt policy as more and more planning applications on green lung land are being given the go-ahead.
Canvey Independent Dave Blackwell’s comments came as the council’s development control committee made a u-turn decision and approved plans submitted by the King John School that had been earmarked for refusal.
The popular school, in Shipwrights Drive, Thundersley, applied to extend its sixth form building by constructing two glass-fronted wings to cope with an increasing number of pupils who want to go to the school.
The plans also propose to demolish the existing caretaker’s house, which is vacant and in a poor state of repair, and relocate parking areas that will be lost.
However, planning officers recommended it should be refused claiming it was “inappropriate development” for green belt land.
Mr Blackwell said he would vote against the application “out of principal” but admitted he would be “the odd one out”.
He said: “It’s a waste of time having a green belt policy to be honest.
“What’s the point in having policies if we’re constantly overriding them? Bits and pieces of green belt are being eroded away and this council won’t be looked upon as protecting green belt much longer because we won’t have any left.”
Councillors who were in favour of the plans only raised concerns about car parking.
The extension would allow up to 174 additional pupils to attend the school, creating a total attendance of 2,097 and a requirement of 280 car parking spaces.
The scheme aims to provide 158 spaces, which is the current number available for students, but the school is in negotiation with the nearby Hollywood Restaurant about using its 40 spaces in the daytime while restrictions could be placed on sixth formers bringing cars to the school.
When it came to the vote, eight councillors voted for the proposal to go ahead, three were against.
Margaret Wilson, the school’s headteacher, spoke at Tuesday night’s meeting and said as her school was the only one in the borough with a sixth form it is inundated with 1,000 applications every year.
Mrs Wilson also explained there is an “urgent need” for more accommodation as part of guidelines issued by the Government and said she didn’t know what she would have done if the plans had been refused.
She said: “I had to do some research on the key purposes of green belt land and this proposal did not contravene any of those.
“It will really help us to improve our sixth form teaching and I’m totally and utterly delighted with the decision.”