Sometimes planning meetings aren’t simply about passing something or refusing it. They are about suggesting improvements in the layout. A good example of this was back in the 80s with the Downhall Park Way Development . The Lib Dem ward councillors at that time got the layout altered in a number of places , to minimise the impact on neighbours. So , for example, they got the plan altered so that one family didn’t get seven lots of gardens adjoining their own garden. This was done at the full planning committee.
No such niceties nowadays in Basildon, according to the Yellow Advertiser:
BASILDON Council has approved detailed plans for the first phase of the Dry Street development, without holding a public meeting.
The decision was taken behind closed doors under delegated powers, at the suggestion of Tory planning committee chair Carole Morris.
Tory councillors overruled opposition members in 2013 to grant outline planning permission for 725 homes on green space off of Nethermayne and Dry Street.
The permission meant that more detailed plans would have to be signed off at a later date.
In an email sent to committee members on August 28, Mrs Morris said she did not wish the new, detailed plans to be discussed publicly as she felt residents ?do not understand? the process.
She wrote: “The council rules allow for reserved matters applications to be decided by delegation. In this case I feel that it is the wisest course, as members of the public do not understand the differences between what can and what cannot be taken into consideration and would expect to discuss whether to build or not.”
Cllr Morris also implied that she feared the committee – on which Tory members are now outnumbered – might fail to grant permission.
Since outline permission was granted, Basildon Council has voted by majority to pass a motion expressing regret at the decision.
She continued: “As we all know, the only matters that are considered are things like appearance, layout, landscaping and scale, which have not previously been considered.
“Because of this, I would not be able to allow [residents] to speak, as any attempt to revisit the matters which have already been decided could mean that the applicant go make a legal challenge, something to be avoided as it could cost the council a lot of money….
…..Labour?s Alan Bennett called it an ?abuse of power?.
He said: “The option to bring a huge development like this before the committee – and this is the biggest development in Basildon – means that if a developer has missed something out or bodged something up, local councillors can have some input, make suggestions for conditions and make sure they get the right development for residents. But none of that can now happen in this case.”
Full article here.