Fears new Benfleet flats will lead to parking ‘free-for-all’

A former clothing business in Benfleet will be turned into more than 20 flats, despite fears over a “free-for-all” for car parking spaces.

The two-storey, flat-roofed building on the eastern corner of Kenneth Road and Kiln Road – which was occupied by corporate wear company Hobson and Sons that vacated the site in 2021 – will come with 30 spaces.

Castle Point Borough Council agreed permission for the demolition of the existing building to be replaced with 21 two-bedroom flats and nine one-bedroom flats over three storeys even though it recognised there was insufficient parking for the size of development.

Planning committee member Councillor Michael Fuller (Canvey Island Independent Party, Canvey Island North) said: “We’ve seen the effect of of a lower provision of parking spaces and what the effect of that is.

“With this application we’ve got 51 bedrooms and 30 spaces to service that.

“But I think we all know that’s not going to work is it.

“The aspiration is that everybody will be queuing up at the bus stop to do all their travelling by bus but because that’s just not going to happen the cars will spill out onto the surroundings. There will be traffic problems. There will be anguish.

“It’s surprising that the 30 spaces are not going to be allocated.

“It’s going to be a bit of a free-for-all.

“If you’ve got two cars for a two-bedroom flat and all the spaces have gone where are you going to go? And we know what the answer is going to be. It’s all going to be out on the streets unfortunately.”

But he added: “It does utilize this brownfield site, it does provide 30 needed dwellings, it does provide a good looking and attractive development in this space and there are strong advantages to it and as it’s been pointed out as well it also provides three affordable housing units.”

The council’s planning committee heard that it was unlikely to win an appeal if it rejected the plan, not least because of its poor housing supply.

It led to moans that they found themselves “between a rock and a hard place”.

Councillor Andrew Thornton (Cons, Boyce) said: “I think ultimately we are between a rock and a hard place. And it may be of our own making that we that previously allowed that precedent to be set, but we are where we are.”

Councillor Jacqui Thornton (Cons, St. James’) said: “We are in a particularly bad place with regard to that because of our failure yet again to meet our annual housing targets.

“I believe we are one of the few councils that are sanctioned in that way and that would indicate that if we did refuse and it was taken to appeal by the applicant then we are in a very precarious position anyway.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter