Shotley Gate: Parish councillor hits out at HMS Ganges site decision
12:00 06 February 2014
A member of Woolverstone Parish Council has hit out at a decision by the Department for Communities and Local Government to allow an application for a housing development in the Shotley peninsula to continue.
In a letter to the EADT, Laurie Mayer said giving the go-ahead to the development at the HMS Ganges site in Shotley Gate demonstrated “confusion at the heart of the government policy on planning”.
In November Babergh District Council (BDC) gave conditional approval to an application by developer Haylink which would see 285 homes, a 60-bed nursing home, a hotel and retail and commercial buildings erected on the former naval site.
But in December the DCLG advised that they would be reviewing the application to see if it should be ‘called in’ for consideration by the Secretary of State.
Now they have announced that the application will not be ‘called in’ and BDC can proceed as planned.
Mr Mayer said the decision empowered BDC to “ignore key national planning principles not only with impunity but with the active encouragement of central government in the name of localism”.
“Core principles such as sustainability, conservation and adequate infrastructure have been trashed in order to drive through the Ganges plan,” he said.
“Mr Pickles’ (Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government) decision is a recipe for chaos.
“It leaves communities up and down the country with no guidance on how to weigh differing or conflicting planning priorities.”
Mr Mayer added: “In 2007 the Secretary of State specifically stated: ‘The immediate advantage of meeting housing requirements does not take precedence over the need to provide well designed, sustainable communities and the long-term advantages than can be secured through the use of sustainable locations.’
“Mr Pickles has overturned this considered view... No explanation, no justification.
“If housing requirement indeed now trumps all other considerations, more and more remote, beautiful and supposedly protected rural areas like ours face the bulldozer and urbanisation.”
The application will now be approved provided BDC and Haylink can agree on mitigation conditions.
However last night Mr Mayer said no level of mitigation could make the development sustainable because the scale of it was “overwhelming”.
He added that opponents of the development would consider a legal challenge to the DCLG’s decision.
A spokesman for the DCLG said very few planning applications were called in for consideration by the Secretary of State and reiterated the points made in their letter to BDC that the proposals “didn’t involve a conflict with national policies on important matters”.