CROYDON Council has re-started talks on a key development after an outpouring of support for it from local residents.
The council had wanted to refuse Coulsdon business Doble Motorcycles' application to expand its site in Brighton Road, saying the design had become unacceptable.
But it is now renegotiating with the family business after residents' associations said the development, on the land behind the store's premises at 103 Brighton Road, was vital for the town.
In an e-mail seen by the Advertiser, the council's director of planning Mike Kiely stated: "I have therefore agreed that we will let this application go over the normal eight -week determination deadline so that we can continue to develop the design with the applicant, and hopefully bring it back on track.
"I have taken this decision in the light of the significance of this business in Coulsdon and the employment benefits that it brings."
The plans are for a two-storey building containing a retail sales area and service stations on the lower floor, with storage space for 88 motorbikes on the upper floor.
Residents' associations have deemed the development, highly visible from the town's northern entrance and the bypass junction, a boost to the area.
Charles King, chair of the East Coulsdon Residents' Association, said when the plans were introduced: "I am very pleased because it will create activity in the town centre, bring people into the town and maintain around 30 jobs in the town centre.
"The last thing we want is them moving out of Coulsdon, and I think that might have been the case."
Richard Thurbon, chair of the Coulsdon West Residents' Association, said he was shocked to find the association could only send a development to planning committee if it objected, not if it approved, as in this case.
"I stated the fact that this reduced residents' associations to a bunch of NIMBYs who object to everything," he said.
Major redevelopment of Coulsdon is on the way, with 650 homes planned for Cane Hill and a new masterplan for the town being finalised.
Mr Thurbon added: "I think [there will be more planning problems] until we restore faith and commonsense planning and don't hide behind endless jargon and guidelines when judging applications.
"It just seems to drive another nail into the sarcophagus of Coulsdon unless we get real traction on change."
Doble Motorcyles has been in Coulsdon since its founding in 1967. Mike Doble was unavailable for comment before going to press.
A council spokesman said: "The constitution does not allow for an application to be referred to committee where a residents' association supports an application and there is a recommendation to refuse permission.
"When permission is refused under delegated authority, the applicant has the right of appeal against this decision and local residents can make their views known during the appeal processes."