PLANNING: Not listening to the public

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Is it any wonder that people get angry and frustrated when their voices are not heard and their wishes and needs are simply ignored?

There is nothing more annoying than when rural villages are spoilt by unnecessary, sprawling, housing developments against the wishes of the local residents.

Members of the county council’s North Northumberland Local Area Council voted by five votes to four, with one abstention, to approve plans for 22 new homes on land west of Acklington Village Hall. This decision was taken despite 85 objections received from the residents of this small rural community.

The county council claims that one of its core planning principles is to ‘empower local people to shape their surroundings’. Yet when Acklington parishioners point out that there is no evidence of a market demand for these houses, and that such a development would significantly extend the footprint of the village into a greenfield site, their concerns appear to fall on deaf ears.

The plan for building these new houses on a greenfield site contradicts the council’s pledge to ‘prevent unnecessary loss of valuable open land to development.’

Extending the village boundary at the expense of the countryside would, according to Acklington residents, adversely affect the community and should not be an option.

The development is not satisfying any local need and there is simply no need whatsoever for any more houses on open fields in the village. This is especially the case bearing in mind the extensive house building programmes planned for neighbouring communities, such as Amble, Togston and Warkworth.

Sadly, it seems that too little thought is given to retaining the character of places and the infrastructure to cope with the increased pressures extra housing brings.

These days it appears that our politicians, both nationally and locally, do not listen sufficiently to the views of the ordinary public.

As far as the Acklington residents are concerned, many feel that their fears and reservations have been arrogantly dismissed. Their concerns and opinions don’t seem to matter.

I have no doubt that the vast majority of our local councillors work extremely hard, and I appreciate that they often have very difficult decisions to make. However, when local opinion is ignored and poor judgements are made, it is easy to see how all respect can quickly be eroded.

It is hardly surprising that people get turned off politics when you can’t trust your political representatives to keep to agreed core planning principles, or to make effective decisions for the benefit of the communities they represent.

John Davison,

Acklington Village