MP accepts petition from protest group

Members of CRAG hand over the petition to MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Picture by Mary Scott
Members of CRAG hand over the petition to MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan. Picture by Mary Scott

Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan met members of a protest group, which has concerns about the planning system, to receive its petition.

As previously reported by the Gazette, CRAG (Caring for Rothbury Action Group) has been formed to support appropriate and to fight inappropriate developments in and around Rothbury and has been collecting signatures on a petition to this end.

The objectives of the petition are to demand that the Goverment ... alters planning legislation as it strongly favours the interests of landowners and developers over the interests of communities, for example, by only granting a right to appeal for planning applications that have been refused; urges local authorities to prioritise brownfield sites and to curtail unnecessary and inappropriate village expansion; puts in place mechanisms to avoid potential conflicts of interests that may hamper local authorities’ abilities to make fair planning decisions.

Last Friday, members of CRAG handed over the 327-name petition to Mrs Trevelyan, who said that she hoped to present the petition in the House of Commons in September.

During an hour-long discussion, Mrs Trevelyan explained to them that measures are already in place for communities to prevent overdevelopment via neighbourhood plans.

“It was a pleasure to meet CRAG and to hear their concerns,” she said. “I would recommend they speak to Rothbury Parish Council and urge them to complete their neighbourhood plan.

“Completing the plan is the most important thing each community can do to ensure development is sympathetic and does not diminish the character of an area.

“The benefit of neighbourhood plans is that they put legal weight behind a community’s plan for the nature and location of development in their village.

“Without a neighbourhood plan in place, it is much easier for the planning authority – in our case, Northumberland County Council – to approve developments which might be out of keeping with an area or against the wishes of the existing community.”