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‘Our hands are tied on new housing’ says Councillor Tony Penn
ELECTED councillors who oversee planning have effectively been made redundant in the view of a senior Tenbury council chief.
Tony Penn represents Tenbury on Malvern Hills District Council where he holds the planning portfolio.
But he says that because of Government legislation councillors that sit on planning committees cannot do their job.
This is because a new directive that he believes is providing open season for developers.
“As things stand there is often little choice but to approve applications because otherwise we know that the developer will probably appeal and win with the risk that costs will be awarded against the council,” said Tony Penn.
He was commenting after another planning appeal went against Malvern Hills District Council leaving council tax payers facing a massive bill.
It means the scheme for up to 45 new houses on the outskirts of Tenbury can go ahead.
This follows the decision of a planning Inspector to overturn the decision of Malvern Hills District Council to refuse the development on Oldwood Road.
Hard pressed council tax payers can also look forward to a hefty bill after the planning inspector also ruled that Malvern Hills District Council will have to pay costs.
The developer will now have to submit costs which could run into many tens of thousands of pounds.
A scheme to build the estate of up to 45 homes, 12 of which are designated as affordable and six of them for rent was thrown out by planners.
However, after hearing the appeal the inspector Julia Gregory ruled that the Council had acted unreasonably.
The developer successfully contested the refusal that included a view that the scheme would be harmful to the character and appearance of the area.
Julia Gregory also found that Malvern Hills District Council had been wrong in claiming that it already had a five year land supply for future development.
Members of the planning committee refused the advice of their officers in turning down the application.
While they are allowed to do this it is necessary to show that there is good reason and the inspector found that this was not the case.
The inspector was damning in her conclusion which slammed the Council for ‘unreasonable behaviour resulting in unnecessary expense.’ Tony Penn says that the situation will only change when the South Worcestershire Development Plan is adopted which would take many months.
“Until then councillors are almost afraid to do their job for fear of the implications,”
added Tony Penn.
“In most cases we are dealing with outline applications so there will be a chance to make sure it is a good scheme at the detailed stage.”
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