PLANNING: Decisions costing us thousands

A plan of the proposed new estate at Grange Road in Shilbottle.
A plan of the proposed new estate at Grange Road in Shilbottle.

Re: Shilbottle planning application, article in Gazette, January 22, rejected locally/overturned on appeal.

Having read this article and having full sympathy with residents whose lives will be disrupted, I still had to have a small chuckle at the comment attributed to Councillor Steven Bridgett.

He is quoted as saying ‘Why bother with a planning committee if the decisions made are overturned by a planning inspector from Bristol?’

Well, Coun Bridgett, could it be that the inspector from Bristol merely agreed with the recommendations made by the local professionals who, applying the criteria of planning law as it stands, originally recommended acceptance of what was a valid application?

The north area planning committee chose to ignore the advice given by their professional advisors and then express surprise when the committee’s invalid decision is overturned on appeal.

I realise that this should not mean that officer recommendations must, on every occasion, be accepted by the committee.

I am sure that the committee’s judgement on local issues is important but pressure from members of the public alone should never be sufficient to decline an application.

Perhaps it is time to look at the north area planning committee who, understandably, will have great sympathy with local feelings and who, as elected councillors, are standing on a regular basis for re-election.

There must be a great pressure on committee members to take this into account when making a tough decision .

Much easier to blame the big bad bogey man in Bristol when a decision is overturned.

However, and importantly, picking up on Ian Robson’s comments in the same article ‘this has cost the residents of Northumberland an absolute fortune’.

Any information from the chairman of the north area planning committee as to the actual costs of this and other decisions which have gone to appeal and been lost?

Just to reiterate, this application went to appeal despite being recommended for acceptance from the locally-appointed professionals who advise and report to the north area committee.

It would appear the north area committee chose to ignore the recommendations and declined the application.

Hopefully, the costs will be fully justified though I will not hold my breath for a detailed reply.

Even better, in these tough financial times, you may inform the rate-payers of Northumberland that there are no costs involved in any aspect of these appeals at all!

I still have great sympathy for residents of Shilbottle whose lives will be disrupted by this development and whose hopes were raised, perhaps unfairly, by the committee’s original decision.

Name and address supplied