Last week’s “My Point Of View”, by John Maiden, of why a beautiful piece of English landscape should be sacrificed on the altar of materialism to render a commercial profit to landowners and developers, and the failure of councillors not to reject the planning application for this development, really deserves sympathy.
The problem arises from the way that statutory conditions dictate the way councils operate and the emphasis that these statutes place on councillors to accept that the planning officer really does have the final say.
Councillors who reject a planning application that a planning officer has advised them to accept and grant, risk the planning rejection being overturned on appeal with costs awarded against the council. In other words the ratepayers who elect the councillors, end up paying the landowner/developers costs and all that has happened is an application has been stalled.
Members of the public and councillors find this extremely frustrating. When they have elected local councillors to take decisions on their behalf and also lobby them to reject a decision on an application, the decision should be made by these elected councillors and not planning officers who have never been elected.
I would have hoped that the Localism Act 2011 would have assisted to curb the enthusiasm of local planning officers, landowner/developers and given councillors more say on the will of local people. But I believe there is such a confusion over conflicting statutes and central government that only the legal system can sort this out by creating precedents. Until then, apathy and criticism of local councillors remains and landowners and developers win.
Graham Brealey, Old Town Way, Hunstanton