An independent report commissioned to look at the county council’s planning system raised a number of concerns, which have led to the administration suggesting what amounts to a complete overhaul.
And it’s clear that something needs to be done – whether you agree with the proposals on the table or not – because the current system is not serving anyone’s interests.
On the one hand, local people want to feel that their views are taken into account. If objections arise, the application goes before a committee made up of local councillors, who often respond to local feeling and refuse unwanted schemes.
But on the other hand, planning law is dictated from on high and the National Planning Policy Framework dictates what is and isn’t acceptable. If local views alone are heeded, this can lead to refused bids being overturned on appeal, often at great expense to the taxpayer.
Northumberland needs a system where everyone knows what can or can’t be done.