Sex shop consultation criticised

THE row over a sex shop trying to open in a Suffolk village took a new twist yesterday when a council admitted it could have handled the consultation process better.

By Richard Smith

THE row over a sex shop trying to open in a Suffolk village took a new twist yesterday when a council admitted it could have handled the consultation process better.

Suffolk Coastal District Council was criticised by Wickham Market parish council about the speed in which the planning application was handled and the initial failure to ask businesses for their views.

The parish council is now considering whether to employ legal representation in an attempt to stop the controversial Adam and Eve's Emporium from opening in the Riverside industrial estate, Border Cot Lane, Wickham Market, near Woodbridge.


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Many villagers attended a development control sub committee at the district council's headquarters in Woodbridge on October 15.

The council is advised by the Government to make a decision on an application within eight weeks and residents were surprised to discover that a decision was about to be taken on the controversial members' only adult club and shop only four weeks after they had first heard about the scheme.

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The committee report, prepared more than a week before the meeting, said there had been eight letters of objection and officers recommended approval. But at the meeting councillors were told there were more than 120 letters of complaint and a petition signed by 1,005 people.

The district council decided to postpone a decision until November 12 after making a site visit.

Sue Lewis, parish council chairman, said: ''We are assured that the rest of the letters and the total number on the petition will go to this meeting.

''We are fighting the plan as hard as we can on every planning ground we can. We are doing our best to make sure we have every piece of ammunition.''

A council spokesman said the normal 21-day consultation process had taken place with immediate neighbouring properties.

''It was subsequently realised that this was really an application that deserved a wider consultation and letters were sent to a wider area. In hindsight, we probably should have recognised that this planning application was an exception from the norm and begun the wider consultation from the start.

''Ensuring a full consultation about a planning application is always a difficult task, especially with a background of Government-imposed target times. There are doubtless some lessons to be learnt from this and the council will endeavour to put them into effect,'' he said.

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