Plans for a car wash and tyre shop have been criticised by councillors – but they are powerless to stop it from going ahead.
Updated proposals to redevelop a derelict site in Canal Road, Strood, were put before members of Medway Council's planning committee last night (Wednesday, March 8).
They said they had no idea the plans were in the pipeline in the first place – or that they had been approved.
The site is in a prominent spot near the railway bridge and was formerly occupied by the Watermill Tavern.
The applicant was granted permission to build on it in November last year. The decision was made by the council's planning department, rather than members of the planning committee.
Those behind the venture then altered their plans and asked the council if the proposed car wash and tyre shop could occupy more of the plot.
The site includes the location of the former Canal Cafe, which became derelict and was damaged in a fire in 2017.
The authority's planning officers had recommended approval for the revised plans before yesterday's planning committee.
Speaking at the meeting, ward councillor Stephen Hubbard (Lab) said he was disappointed not have seen the original application, which drew no objections from residents.
He added how he felt this was not the appropriate location for this type of business, given how close it would be to homes in Kinsgwear Gardens.
Cllr Hubbard said he was unhappy with planning officers because they hadn't referred to the Strood Waterfront Development Brief in their report to councillors.
The document – produced by the council in 2018 – detailed how the authority wanted to regenerate some of the empty brownfield land along Canal Road, and on the site of the former Civic Centre on the other side of the High Street in order to provide 1,600 homes, none of which has materialised.
Cllr Adrian Gulvin (Con), said of the plans for the car wash and tyre shop: "I'm extremely disappointed.
"I think we had a golden opportunity to put something far better there and we've blown it, and I just can't understand why we have blown it.
"There's nothing worse than the noise of a pneumatic device for tightening up nuts on tyres, having that screaming away all day and all the other banging and crashing going on.
"Really? A car wash? Is that something we really want in an area we're trying to upgrade? And that will be the entrance to what will be, hopefully, developments further down the road."
Despite councillors unanimously refusing the updated plans, the applicant will be able to make use of the existing permission.