'˜Recommending refusal of Lesbury home plan is pointless'
One of the councillors launched a tirade over '˜plans like this' at the county council's North Northumberland Local Area Council as an outline bid for the development of five homes in Lesbury was given the go-ahead.
The scheme, for land north of Meadowlands, off the Longhoughton Road, had sparked an objection from the parish council as well as two residents, but was recommended for approval by planning officers.
One of the key concerns related to flooding and at last week’s meeting of the area council, members sought assurances on this.
The meeting heard that while the lead local flood authority is not a statutory consultee on small developments such as this, due to local concerns being raised, the issue was taken up as part of the process and no development can take place until satisfactory details are provided.
Given this assurance, Coun Gordon Castle moved approval, saying: “The planning grounds are based on an outline plan. We can’t refuse it because we would rather have an detailed application.
“But we can have confidence that drainage and flooding issues will be dealt with before the development goes ahead.”
But Coun Steven Bridgett said: “I don’t support the officer’s recommendation, but there’s absolutely no point in recommending refusal. If we refuse it, we will lose at appeal.
“I absolutely hate applications like this – it’s an application by the Northumberland Estates to extend one of our communities.
“It will be for large houses which will be out of reach of what local people can reasonably afford.
“Since the Government changed the rules from affordable housing being required as part of a development of five homes up to 10, we have seen dozens of these applications across the north.”
The chairman, Coun Trevor Thorne ‘slapped his hand’, adding: “We are here to implement planning policy, whether we agree with it or not.”
Coun Bridgett came back, saying that for as long as he was a member of the planning committee, he would continue to share his opinions on the plans before them.
Nonetheless, two other members joined Coun Bridgett in voting against approval, while another abstained, but the application was still passed by five votes to three.