By Craig Robinson
Thursday, February 7, 2013
A PLANNING department has come under fire for seemingly breaking its own policy to pave the way for new homes.
Geof Butterwick, chairman of the planning and transport committee on Melton Parish Council, has strongly criticised Suffolk Coastal District Council (SCDC). It follows a decision to give the go-ahead to 11 new homes – including three affordable properties – in Woods Lane, subject to agreeing a tree and landscape plan and the finalisation of a 106 agreement.
The scheme was recommended for approval despite being outside the boundary of Melton and therefore contrary to the district authority’s Local Plan and the emerging Local Development Framework (LDF).
The proposals were opposed by some people and the parish council, which in its consultation for the LDF had identified the area as a “green corridor” linking the countryside to the centre of the village.
Mr Butterwick said the fact the development was contrary to policy should have led to a clear “no”.
“Members were clearly concerned by the proposed development, but were told that being outside the physical limits boundary is not a material planning consideration,” he said.
“Sub-committee members mentioned giving local people a say in how their communities were developed. But they were told the site was ‘only just outside the boundary’ and the planning officer thought it was the best place to build much-needed houses. Other sites within the village, which have the support of residents and the parish council, were not mentioned.
“So the parish council asks – what has been the point of the last six years of LDF consultation? What is the point in objecting to any application, no matter how ‘contrary to planning policy’ it might be? We now face the prospect of ‘open house’ for developers. Communities across the district appear defenceless against inappropriate development in inappropriate locations.”
The report to councillors said while the site was outside the boundary it was well related to existing services and therefore suitable for residential development in accordance with national policy. “It is therefore considered that the principle of residential development on this site is acceptable and that an acceptable scheme can be achieved without causing significant harm to the character of the area,” the report said.
A spokesman for SCDC declined to comment further.