Friday, December 25, 2009

Town Council Planning Committee is a JOKE!

I know Doug Terry, Liberal Democrat Councillor for Eynesbury, is trying his best. He seems to think the Town Council is somehow a planning authority. In a recent post on the St. Neots Community Forum he says:

"As you are awear Paul but others may not be any planning aplication for St Neots comes before the town council therfor we make the first recommdation. HDC planning dept then decide if they agree or disagee with us."

The way I decypher his statement is the Town Council makes the initial recommendation on a planning application and HDC either agrees with it or not.

That is wrong. The Town Council is an official consultee of the Planning Authority on all planning applications. There are many other official consultees and these are normally listed in the HDC Officer report into planning applications. So the Town Council is one amongst many.

So why do I feel Town Council planning is a joke?
  • The first reason is they put so much effort into the consultations. The TC Planning Committee sits twice a month to review planning applications. HDC Development Control Committee only sits once a month!
  • Secondly, the Town Council doesn't have the resources to employee a couple of planners to advise the Planning Committee on the planning applications. Indeed it would be a vast waste of money as they can only object to an application.
  • Thirdly, the Town Council doesn't normally receive information from other consultees.
  • Fourthly, it is obvious they don't know the planning policies, laws and regualtions and don't think ahead.
To illustrate what I'm saying I'll give some examples (SNTC / HDC or CCC):

The Super Surgery was opposed by the Town Council and allowed by HDC. (0900709FUL)

Outside the Super Surgery with all the traffic congestion???

The reasons the Town Council gave for refusal:

Lack of retail units within the town, and keep the town centre fit for purpose. HDC disagreed with this objection. - HDC Planning found the change of use acceptable.
The high increase in traffic into the town will increase congestion and difficulties in parking. How did the TC know this? No evidence was brought forward to support this objection. HDC quite rightly disagreed with the Town Council objection.
Additional windows in the shop frontage will change the street scene and not be an enhancement. HDC Planning disagreed with this even saying the change would be an enhancement.


Housing development at 11-15 Church Street (0900305FUL)

The reasons the Town Council Planning objected:
Not in keeping with the street scene and choice materials within the C/A (Conservation Area) are not in keeping with the surrounding properties. HDC Planning disagreed and stated the the development would enhance the conservation area.
Overdevelopment of the site making traffic congested area in peak times would further be detrimental to the highway. HDC disagreed with overdevelopment. CCC Highways Authority disagreed.


The new application for building behind 22 Hight Street. (0900411FUL)

These are the reasons given by the Town Council for objecting to this planning application were:

Gross overdevelopment of the site, Town Centre site more suitable for retail. HDC disagreed with both objections.


Land behind Tesco. (0900495REM)

Even when both HDC Planning and SNTC Planning agree to refuse, these aren't necessarily for the same reasons. SNTC (HDC).

Overdevelopment of the site with no privacy for neighbours. (Not given as a reason by HDC for refusal)
Lack of landscaping within the area. (Partial - landscaping around the parking courts was a reason for HDC refusal)
NO facilities for the children within the site. (Not given as a reason for refusal. Not following the 106 agreement on Play Areas is a reason given for HDC refusal)
The highways are narrow and can prove difficult for emergency access and delivery lorries or buses. (All the fire authority was worried about was the provision of hydrants. The highways narrowness was not a reason given by HDC for refusal)
Limited access to facilitate 220 houses. (Not a reason for HDC refusal)
More than one access point needed to enter and exit the development. (Not a reason for HDC refusal)


I do feel that Town Council Planning Committee is a waste of time and effort. There are many places in England that do not have Town and Parish Councils. Planning functions perfectly well without having Town Council interference. Time the Town Council thought about ditching this process unless SNTC members can actually up their game.

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