Villagers' anger at council blunder

ANGRY villagers will converge on the headquarters of a Suffolk council to protest about a planning blunder that could lead to the demolition of a landmark building.

By Richard Smith

ANGRY villagers will converge on the headquarters of a Suffolk council to protest about a planning blunder that could lead to the demolition of a landmark building.

A coachload of protestors from Thorpeness will arrive at Suffolk Coastal District Council in Woodbridge on September 13 to confront members of the development control sub-committee.

The residents will display placards to show councillors that they are unhappy with the way in which the council has handled an increasingly complex and controversial row over the future of the building housing the Gallery coffee shop in Thorpeness.


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The council has admitted it made a mistake by granting planning permission for developers to rebuild the Barn Hall before it received the verdict of a planning inspector, who then turned down the scheme.

It cannot formally reconsider its decision, but the sub-committee will now discuss what went wrong and what its verdict would have been if it could revisit the application.

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Villagers and Aldringham-cum-Thorpe Parish Council are awaiting the outcome of the latest deliberations on the planning row before deciding if they need to take action against the district council.

A developer wants to rebuild the Barn Hall, which houses the Gallery, as three-storey private housing with the café moved from the front of the building to the back.

The plans were passed by the district council in March before the decision of a Government planning inspector was known.

The inspector then supported the rejection a year earlier of a previous application and said he did not think Barn Hall should be demolished.

But, because the council had already put its decision on its website, it cannot reconsider its ruling and has admitted the mistake.

Philip Ridley, head of planning at the district council, said: “There is case law to confirm that a local planning authority's decision in respect of a planning application is the issue of its formal decision notice.

“Until that decision notice is actually sent out, it is open to the local planning authority to reconsider any resolution that it may have previously made.

“Although the formal decision notices have not been sent to the applicants in the usual way, the decisions have been placed on the council's website.

“This has enabled the applicant (and others) to download both a planning permission and conservation area consent decision notice in respect of the proposed development.”

“The advice obtained from counsel is that the placing of the decisions on the council's website constitutes the issue of its formal decision notices.

“Accordingly, the applicants now have a valid planning permission and conservation area consent which they are free to implement if they so wish.”

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