PLANNING: Process does raise questions
I refer to the recent planning approval to develop 15 houses in Swarland.
Your readers might be interested to know that Coun Cairns, who proposed approval, was the same councillor who was the sole committee member voting against approval when an initial successful application was made for one house on the site.
The earlier application was supposed to be on brownfield land. She objected to that proposal on the basis that it was open countryside.
Why the change of heart?
Apparently the exemplary design overrides the encroachment into open countryside, but by her own acknowledgement, the village cannot be considered sustainable.
My request for members to question the officer about sustainability did get a response, but not one of the other issues I raised was taken up.
The member who questioned whether the criteria for sustainability was being met was satisfied by a vague officer response that while Swarland didn’t have a shop or services, or a regular bus service, it did have a café.
The parish council and 14 local residents objected to this development.
There were no letters of support.
What of our own councillor, Trevor Thorne, who sits on the planning committee. Well, he didn’t turn up.
While officer reports continue to reach conclusions based upon questionable interpretations of national planning guidance, councillors conduct themselves in such a manner that their integrity is open to question and local views are continuously ignored.
The planning process in Northumberland will be perceived by many as lacking transparency, accountability and impartiality.