An earlier intervention could have saved time and trouble

RESPONDING to your article: Claims leave taxpayers facing bill for millions – Gazette, 22/12/11.

All planning regulations are prejudiced in favour of developers. Developers can present proposals again and again with only minor changes each time. They have only to win their argument for approval once no matter how strong, or indeed how justified, the opposition’s case may be.

Conversely, opponents have to win every time and simply cannot afford to lose even once, for if they do, development can take place.

Once permission is granted there is rarely another opportunity to apply to have the development abolished and the original site reinstated.

This is why it is essential that the two sites at Beadnell are registered as village greens. It is the foremost way to ensure that these sites are protected from the threat of development in perpetuity.

Where it can be shown that the land in question meets the established criteria for the classification ‘village green’ it is an appropriate course of action to pursue for those who would wish to prevent inappropriate development.

However, as Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army used to say: ‘They don’t like it up ‘em Captain Mainwaring’ hence the distorted and totally biased reporting of village green applications of late by the LGA (Local Government Association). According to their recent press release, they would like to see councils have more power to tackle ‘vexatious, malicious and incomplete proposals’ at an early stage.

We in Beadnell who are awaiting the outcome of our village green applications see nothing wrong in this.

If a claim is not based on fact and is indeed being used as a ‘spoiling tactic’ simply to obstruct development then that should be seen through straight away and dismissed forthwith. It would save us all a lot of time and trouble.

After saying that, wouldn’t it also be appropriate if planning applications were dealt with in the same vein? If reasons given for a planning application were so blatantly false then that application should be similarly rejected at an early stage.

If this were the case the Beadnell applications for coastal building would have been cast aside almost immediately.

As it was, these ‘malicious, vexatious and incomplete proposals’ have been allowed to progress through the system for some three to four years.

Some correction is needed to the quoted article so as to shed some genuine light (as opposed to more heat) on the understanding of the situation here in Beadnell. To quote: ‘The right balance needs to be reached between looking after genuine village greens and the provision of affordable housing’.

To mention village greens and affordable housing in the same context for Beadnell, as if one is preventing the other, just goes to show how much obfuscation and indeed intended misinformation is bandied around to suit those who don’t mind employing such tactics.

‘Unfortunately, millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money are currently being spent by councils processing ‘village green’ applications whose primary aim is to prevent development.’

The people of Beadnell raised thousands of pounds out of their own pockets to fight for village green status on the coastal land in question. Some gave money they could ill afford.

This was done so that visitors and residents alike could continue to enjoy access to the disputed ground both now and for generations to come.

Our village green applications were sincere and based on the reality of many decades of familiar use by the overwhelming majority who have enjoyed this place.

If councils around the country are concerned about saving money then perhaps they should concentrate more on examining the reasons given for many planning applications.

If the applications as submitted by the Secretary of the Beadnell Harbour Fishermen’s Society had been scrutinised properly at the outset they would have been dismissed straight away by the planning dept as having neither merit nor justification. And goodness knows how much taxpayers’ money would have been saved.

It certainly does not apply to Beadnell but if there are people throughout the country who are using village green legislation as a ‘vexatious and malicious tool’ to combat developers then it seems to me that they are simply employing similar tactics to those as used by the more unconscionable developers themselves and, as Corporal Jones said previously, ‘they don’t like it up ’em Captain Mainwaring!’

Jim Norris

Save Beadnell Association