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Parish councillors accused of 'victimisation, intimidation and bullying' over Sedgeford home proposal

Community leaders have been accused of "victimisation, intimidation and bullying" over their response to plans for additional bedroom accommodation at a West Norfolk village home.

The claim was made as borough councillors overwhelmingly approved a retrospective application for the development in Sedgeford on Monday.

But an objector claimed the plan showed "informed disregard for due process" which could not be supported.

Planning Applications (1887694)
Planning Applications (1887694)

The application sought approval for the conversion of outbuildings to form three extra bedrooms and a studio, plus a storage shed, at the property on Fring Road.

West Norfolk Council's planning committee heard the village's parish council had asked one of its ward representatives, Terry Parish to call the scheme in for a committee decision.

In late correspondence ahead of the meeting, the applicant, Kathryn Holt, wrote: " I feel the conduct of the Parish Councillors in taking my very small project to Committee stage amounts to an abuse of their valid powers and smacks of victimisation, intimidation and bullying."

In addressing the committee, Mrs Holt said the parish council's main objections were related to a separate scheme.

But, in a statement read on its behalf, the parish council said development had been undertaken in breach of planning laws and it would have been a "dereliction" of its duties not to submit a robust response to a scheme, which it claimed breached the provisions of its neighbourhood plan.

Mr Parish also defended the parish authority, telling members it had been willing to engage in discussions on the scheme, though none were sought.

He added: "Such informed disregard for due process should not be supported by officers or this committee. Otherwise, what is the point of it?"

However, committee members voted by 12 to three to accept officers' recommendations to approve the proposal.

But, one of them, Bob Lawton, was unhappy that the committee was being asked to consider a retrospective proposal.

He asked: "When are people going to realise you can't just go ahead and do works without permission from the council? On those grounds, it should be refused."

Assistant director Stuart Ashworth acknowledged the frustration, but said officers had judged the application on its individual merits and the law allowed for retrospective applications to be made.

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