You might have thought that the former Subway shop in the entrance to Camberley’s mall was a restaurant. Apparently not. As a fast food outlet, it appears to have been classified for planning purposes as ‘retail’. However, that’s about to change, as an application to change the classification to ‘food and drink’ has been submitted. It is said that no new occupant has been identified, but that the change is in order that the premises will appeal to a wider range of businesses.
This, of course, raises an interesting issue. The borough council will shortly be the owners of the mall – and it will be the council’s planners who potentially decide whether or not to approve what willl presumably become a council planning application. How will the independence of the decision-makers be assured? Will the career of a planning officer suffer if they make the ‘wrong’ decision? Presumably, the way round the ‘conflict’ will be to submit all applications relating to the mall to the planning committee – which is made up of councillors rather than council staff.
(We recall that a peer review of the borough council criticised the planning committee’s rejection of an application that related to the council-owned Pembroke House in Frimley Road. If we remember correctly,, the review suggested that there was a lack of understanding between officers and councillors. We disagree. The committee must retain its independence.)