Households in Hipsburn and Lesbury received consultation documents from Northumberland Estates on November 29, about proposals for housing developments in each area.
This was two days after the parish council meeting; a meeting that would have enabled the community to come together to discuss these proposals.
It is hard not to see the timing of the delivery of these proposals as deliberate.
Here, we want to focus on further fundamental flaws in the consultation process itself.
The consultation seems primarily aimed at pitting one part of the community against the other.
The online questionnaire opens with: ‘If you are in favour, which of the two developments would you prefer to go forward?’
The options are both, Lesbury or Hipsburn. There is no option to say none. We assume they hope everyone in Lesbury (the larger of the two communities) selects Hipsburn and vice versa.
The questionnaire is also designed to lead people to agree with the proposal, for example, ‘are you in favour of high quality/affordable housing?’
These questions do not specifically relate to the proposal, particularly the volume of housing proposed. This seems manipulative.
We suggest anyone participating in the Estates’ consultation process thinks very carefully about how they respond and how it will be used by the Estates to support its application for planning approval.
Katie Ash and Janice McLaughlin
Tony and Val Chesterman
Ian and Angela Clough
Janet and Hal Platt
Alan and Ann Wainright
Tom and Sheila Wilson,