PLANS: Where’s the democracy?

A planning application was submitted to Northumberland County Council in December for Shepherds’ Huts on the caravan site at Link End, Alnmouth.

After numerous objections on the grounds of lack of water and sewage, parking, access, environmental grounds, problems with health and safety for golfers, dog walkers, ramblers and people using the site, plus a petition of objection with more than 200 signatures, the application was withdrawn without a decision being made.

I am now disappointed to learn that the applicant has applied for a Lawful Development Certificate for an existing use, rather than re-applying for planning permission.

The certificate is treated as a different case to the original application, meaning that any objectors or people in favour are not contacted by the planning department to inform them of the new case. Also, the planning officer can make the decision without consulting any interested parties.

If accepted, the applicant could conceivably be setting up and running a caravan site in a matter of weeks.

It says nothing for democracy and fairness that such a contentious application, within a site of outstanding natural beauty and having a significant effect on Alnmouth Village and the golf course, can be legally passed without any interested person having the right to give public comment on it, or any of the original objections being resolved.

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