Planning policy criticised by parish council

The Whitton View site as it is now.
The Whitton View site as it is now.
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The county council has been slammed for its protocol and communication with Rothbury Parish Council.

Plans to build 55 new homes on land next to Whitton View in Rothbury are set to be decided upon by Northumberland County Council’s north area planning committee next month.

But the parish council was not informed about a site visit being held by the committee until 24 hours before it was due to commence.

And while the meeting was rearranged, councillors are still concerned about the lack of time that will be spent at the site.

Chairman of the parish council, Alan Fendley, said: “I contacted the county council and objected and I voiced the fact that this was not the way to operate. Not least of all because the site visit to Whitton View was one of several visits including Wooler.

“They were going to spend all of about 10 minutes there.

“Now it is rearranged and they are still visiting Wooler.

“The whole thing has an unrealistic ring about it.

“But the piece de la resistance is that the protocol states that only two parish councillors are allowed on the site visit and there will be no opportunity for speaking.”

He added: “Frankly, if this is the way the county council and its planning committee relate to the parish council then I think we are wasting our time. The level of rudeness about this is unbelievable.”

County councillor Steven Bridgett explained that the site visits had been arranged after the last planning committee meeting and added: “One of the planners naughtily added in Whitton View.

“I contacted the head of planning and she immediately put a stop to it.”

But he added that the protocols for site visits are the same as they were when the parish was governed by Alnwick District Council.

He said they are in place to prevent any prejudice towards planning applications.

Two councillors will attend the site visit which will now take place today.