RESIDENTS turned out in force to voice their concerns at a public hearing held in Leek yesterday, Tuesday, over proposals to redevelop a former textile factory site.
In August last year Staffordshire Moorlands District Council refused Cheshire-based Renew Land Developments permission to redevelop the old Slimma factory in Barngate Street, Leek, with 20 houses and 12 apartments.
The application site is surrounded by Barngate Street, James Street, Waterloo Street and Langford Street.
Residents in the area raised concerns over the design and parking, as only 27 places were being made available.
Following the refusal the developers submitted an appeal against the decision to the planning inspectorate at Bristol. Opening the public hearing, inspector Mel Middleton said he had visited the site and walked around the area on Monday night.
Representing the district council, planning officer Chris Johnson, said: "The distance from the windows of the proposed properties and the present houses is less than the council's policy of space between dwellings. There is no reason for the departure of the policy. This will compromise the privacy of some of the homes. The development will also have a dominant effect.
"The sustainability issue does take into consideration environmental matters which are aimed to protect and enhance areas. The council does not feel this has been achieved in this application as the sustainability issue does also not outweigh the character and appearance of the area."
Representing Renew Land Development, Ben Webberley, said: "We do believe that the plans protect and enhance the area. After months of discussing the plan officers agreed.
"The proposals meet the need where there has been a poor delivery of affordable houses in Leek. The site is also brownfield and has been vacant a long time.
"The site is also accessible and within walking distance of services."
But resident of Langford Street, Christine Botham, said: "We have no objection to some development, but this is over development of the site."
Roger Adams, of Langford Street, said: "The main concern is about the character and design with the adjacent Victorian houses, which were built by James Cornes."
Councillor Stephen Ellis, who is also a member of the planning committee, said: "The committee had concerns about the large three-storey building which would block the front of the listed Waterloo Mill, which is visible from around Leek. There is also a significant shortfall in the council policy of space about dwellings. People in the mill will be to close to the new building. It will have a huge variation on light for the small apartment block."
Resident of James Street, Ted Lowell, added: "We are not against development it is about design and the car parking problems already in the area."
Following the hearing the inspector again visited the site.
It is expected his decision will be announced within two months.
A CHIMNEY at the former Slimma textile mill was demolished ahead of the public meeting.
Contractors moved in on Friday to pull down the structure as part of the overall demolition of the site.
For more pictures of the demolition, visit our website at www.leek-news.co.uk