An application by Herne Bay Operatic Society to use its base in the town for social events and as classrooms for foreign students has been rejected by the city council.
The refusal by members of the development control committee on Tuesday night prompted a chorus of approval by neighbouring residents who had turned out in force at the meeting to protest. They complained that the ancillary uses of the society’s headquarters in Arkley Road had caused serious problems for them, including parking congestion and anti-social behaviour by students.
The problems were high-lighted after council planning officers investigated and found the society’s base was being used for other activities as well as rehearsals and set building for which it did have permission.
It prompted a retrospective planning application by the society which claimed it did not know it was breaching planning laws. Last week society chairman Mary Hixon said the additional uses provided the society with valuable income.
In its fresh application the society asked councillors to give permission for educational use for eight weeks of the year and for social evenings once a month up to 11pm.
Sharon Taunton of Arkley Road, told members:
The original planning permission was granted in 1996 to protect residents but the activities of the society have not stopped. Sometimes there are between 60 and 80 people attending. To allow an increase until 11pm would be totally unacceptable.”
Donna Keene, said her mother Stella Keene suffered rubbish being thrown by students over her wall into her garden and on one occasion an apple core had narrowly missed her grand-daughter’s face. She claimed that previous conditions had been flouted and the noise was unbearable.
There is no respect and consideration for neighbours and relations have deteriorated.
Cllr Michael Steed said he was surprised the society had not made more of an effort to justify its application. Cllr Julia Seath said the additional uses were unacceptable and the building should only be used for what had been originally agreed. Cllr Peter Vickery-Jones said photographs from the applicant showing the road almost car free were misleading as it was normally ‘wall to wall’ traffic. He added:
If we gave permission, I am not convinced they would comply.
Kentish Gazette, 9th Dec 2010