Record numbers at Park inquiry

PUBLISHED: 14:01 22 November 2006 | UPDATED: 21:26 29 May 2010

THE inquiry into the proposed expansion of Oakwood Park, Felsted got off to a chaotic start on Tuesday. So many Felsted residents had turned up at the committee room of Uttlesford District Council s (UDC) Dunmow offices to show their opposition to the pla

THE inquiry into the proposed expansion of Oakwood Park, Felsted got off to a chaotic start on Tuesday.

So many Felsted residents had turned up at the committee room of Uttlesford District Council's (UDC) Dunmow offices to show their opposition to the plans that there was not enough room for everyone to sit down.

It followed an appeal by developers Enodis to build a further 162 houses on the greenfield site, which already houses 838 dwellings. The application was submitted a year ago and turned down by councillors in February.

Inquiry inspector Chris Anstey opened and immediately adjourned the meeting for 15 minutes to give council staff time to get enough seating for everyone.

As people filed outside to allow more chairs to be brought in, one official suggested to the Felsted residents that they could go home and copies of the proceedings would be sent to them.

Celina Colquhoun, the barrister representing UDC had to rush out and call them back explaining that "it would be wrong for people to go because it is important for everyone to have their say."

Andrew Noble, group property director for Enodis, said: "We thought a lot of people would turn up and did offer to rent a room at a hotel at Stansted Airport, but the offer was turned down."

When everyone was invited back into the room a council official commented that they'd "never seen so many people crammed into the room before."

Mr Anstey reconvened the inquiry explaining how proceedings were going to be timetabled.

He was seen to take great care in noting down all of the residents who wanted to speak as part of the proceedings, and made sure that appropriate days and times would be available for them to put their views forward.

Andrew Kelly QC, representing the appellant explained that, although the inquiry was scheduled to last for four days, he was of the opinion that it would probably last longer. Ms Colquhoun agreed.

The planning inquiry is being held at the Uttlesford District Council offices in Great Dunmow High Street. Each day is open to the public with proceedings starting at 10am. The inquiry is due to finish on Friday, but it may continue into next week.

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