A Tiny Planning Breakthrough

At tonights Planning Meeting at SODC Paul Jenkins (Cholsey PC planning spokesperson) and I had a minor breakthrough.

We spoke strongly against a potential development at Cross Road – a developer wants to cram a bungalow into a tiny space – and have succeeded in persuading the committee to undertake a site visit in the next few weeks. This was against a background of the committee being unable to do anything except follow the advice of the officers, who were recommending approval, with most of those attending not having visited the site.

I believe SODC should be bolder about the planning decisions it takes and be prepared to go to appeals when a developer wants to challenge those decisions taken in support of local communities.

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6 thoughts on “A Tiny Planning Breakthrough

  1. More power to your elbow Mark.

    For what it is worth, at the Exmoor National Park, we recognise we have extremely intelligent, sympathetic and sensible planning officers. But we regularly challenge their decsisions, because officers recommendations are always clearly and coherently based on planning regulations and the local plan – plus in our case National Park Purposes. Inevitably therefore, there are cases that fall into a grey area of interpretation, and these are the ones (usually where a Parish complains or goes against a recommended refusal) that applications come to Committee.

    Although more often than not we back the officers, in about one in three cases we find clear reasons to reverse their recommendation. This was for some time the case with small wind turbine applications for example. Through this scrutiny of the effects of policies, we learn, and where necessary change policies at the next review. In fact I know that sometimes officers /have to/ recommend acceptance or refusal, but actually hope to be over-ridden.

    So what this is all about is that it is very important that recommendations are not just rubber-stamped, and if it is rare that they are challenged at SODC, something is perhaps a little amiss. Officers have to go by the book, committees should temper this by going with the times, and with the views of the people, where there is a real case to be made.

    So good luck with this and similar cases in the future. Steve

    close to a

    • Hi Steve
      Thank you for that and I think you hit the nail right on the head there; our elected representatives should do more than rubber stamp the recommendations of the planning officers.
      I was tempted last night to suggest that both officers and members should “grow a pair” as they seem to run scared of the planning inspectorate. Not a good or equitable position in which to find yourself.
      Best wishes
      Mark

  2. Well done for your courage in pushing for this site visit. Wish more people would take that kind of stance. You have my support.

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