Tories in Northumberland are backing a national petition which calls for parish councils to be given the right to appeal planning decisions.
Under the current system, if the local planning authority (the county council in the case of Northumberland) refuses a planning application, the applicant can appeal that decision, but if an application is approved, there is no right of appeal.
The petition, which can be signed at petition.parliament.uk/petitions/110489, states: ‘The planning system is unfair. It is one of the few decision-making processes that gives no right of appeal to affected third parties.
‘The Government should introduce a limited third-party right of appeal by giving parish councils a right to appeal planning decisions to the Planning Inspectorate’.
Berwick MP Anne-Marie Trevelyan said: “There is a balance to be struck and I do not want to see every development blocked, but where there are reasonable grounds to appeal a decision, the parish council is the right body to do so, on behalf of the local residents it represents.
“It is right that local communities’ views should be taken into account, and they should have a means of appeal should things go wrong.
“Parish councils from across Northumberland have been in contact with me this week, asking me to support the petition, and I am very happy to do so.”
Coun Peter Jackson, leader of the Conservative Group on Northumberland County Council, is also a supporter of the proposal.
He said: ”My Conservative Group was strongly against the recent changes to the planning system at Northumberland County Council.
“All forms of local influence and involvement were taken away at a stroke.
“It is disgraceful that the views of parish and town councils are not taken seriously in the making of planning decisions.”
The changes to the planning system did remove the automatic trigger of a town or parish council objection sending an application to committee, however, if parish councils do make valid objections then they are discussed by the committee chairmen and a lead planning officer to determine if they should be decided by committee.
Also, a county council spokesman has previously defended the new system, saying: “Over the last year, we have successfully reviewed the planning service which has streamlined and improved the decision-making process and turned around the time taken to determine applications.”