DEVELOPMENT: Scrutinise plan carefully

The planning application for a new retail park on the outskirts of Alnwick has been lodged.

Should the people of Alnwick welcome this as a Christmas present? I wonder.

The Alnwick and Denwick Neighbourhood Plan was adopted earlier this year by a 4:1 majority.

In respect of retail development, the Neighbourhood Plan says: ‘This section considers how the Plan can and should support a locally distinctive retail offering and other town centre facilities, attractive both to residents and to visitors.’

It goes on to set demanding standards of proof in respect of any significant out-of-town-centre retail development proposal.

Planning ‘permission’ should surely mean just that.

This is our town. Through our Neighbourhood Plan and our elected representatives we should come to a view as to whether a proposed development is desirable and appropriate, not simply defer to the professionals, less still to vested interests.

The application includes a 75-page retail statement and impact study, which merits scrutiny, but call me a cynic, why has the applicant made the submission in December, such that half the allowed consultation period will be gobbled up in the Christmas/New Year holiday?

Let’s defend the principles and policies behind our Neighbourhood Plan.

Let’s scrutinise this proposal very carefully to satisfy ourselves that all ‘permitted’ development really does meet the needs and best aspirations of our community.

Philip Angier,

Chairman, Alnwick Markets