CONSERVATIVE PLANNING CHAOS COST TAXPAYER £500,000
Cost of failed planning appeals cost county taxpayer £500k as Pickles Department signals support for proposed changes
Figures released by Northumberland County Council show the full extent of the cost to the county taxpayer from a planning system which was subject to a series of concerns in an independent report from Deloittes. The report ‘recommended that the Authority takes robust action to address these concerns as a priority’.
The report has formed the basis of an ‘action plan’ by the county council which addressed ‘concerns’ in the report which included ‘the proportion of planning appeals lost by the authority’.
Now the county council have released figures which show the cost of public inquiries topped £1.87m since 2008 and the cost of planning appeals hit £500,000 where planning committees failed to follow officer advice.
This comes as Eric Pickles Department of Communities and Local Government indicated its support for the Labour run administration new proposals to save money and streamline the planning process to support economic growth across the county. DCLG officials have indicated they are happy that the council is acting to improve planning.
This comes as a massive blow to a Conservative led campaign to stop the changes which has attempted to misrepresent the council’s plans especially in the area of town and parish councils’ who previously had the right to automatically have a planning objection heard at planning committee. Under the new proposals town and parish council’s will continue to have a right to object to planning applications and policies in the same way as other statutory bodies such as the Highways Agency, Countryside Agency and other similar bodies.
Labour are challenging local Tories to justify the massive cost to the tax payer of failed planning appeals.
Council and Labour group leader Grant Davey said
“Local Tories seem to think we have a money tree and that wasting hundreds of thousands of pounds of tax payer’s cash is acceptable. It’s not and that’s why we are acting with the support of Eric Pickles and his Department. If local Tories think it’s unfair to allow the town and parish council’s the same rights as statutory consultees then they need to explain why it’s okay to waste tax payer’s cash on a planning system which is slowing the county’s economic growth and isn’t working for the majority of residents. This is yet another example of the Tories trying to play politics with the future of Northumberland and putting politics before people. They’d rather see chaos in the planning system than put party politics to one side for the good of the county”.
Concerns raised in Deloitte report
· the timing of decision making,
· the workload being undertaken by committees,
· the proportion of appeals being lost by the Authority,
· the controls in relation to declaration of interests,
· the delays in developing the Core Strategy and
· The effectiveness of the related governance arrangements in place’.