Northumberland County Council forced to award itself retrospective planning permission after a mix-up over energy installations

Northumberland County Council had to award itself retrospective planning permission after one its departments failed to realise it had to get approval.

Thursday, 5th September 2019, 2:15 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th September 2019, 7:17 pm
County Hall, Morpeth

The issue, relating to the installation of a ground source heat pump at the council’s depot at Stakeford, only came to light when the local authority applied to claim its payments under the Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) scheme and sought advice from the planning department, which confirmed that it did need permission.

At September 3’s meeting of the council’s strategic planning committee, Coun Ian Swithenbank said: “I know we have to treat retrospective applications like any other, but it hardly sets a good example to the rest of Northumberland.”

The councillors were told that this was a slightly complicated situation as these installations are often covered by permitted development rights.

However, an application had to be submitted in this case as it lies outside the curtilage of the depot and the system contains more than one pump.

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Planning officer Katherine Robbie said that this wasn’t the only application of this type, with private businesses also being caught out by the rules.

Members voted to unanimously approve the bid, in line with the officer’s recommendation.