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Oversight row after council misses out on chance to speak on plans

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: January 15, 2014

Burton Local Election ..General Views..Philip Somerfield

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PARISH councillors in Rolleston have hit out at an oversight by planning officers which left them unable to speak against a development in the village.

Members of the authority had expressed deep concerns over plans for 21 homes off Meadow View, and had been intending to share these when it went before East Staffordshire Borough Council’s planning board in December.

But the first notification they had of the meeting was a decision notice which arrived five days after it had been approved. The authority has said this was an oversight and changes had now been made to ensure it did not happen again.

Councillor Jason Wyatt said: “The real sin for me is the council has talked about the need for public engagement in planning decisions, and then do this. It’s wrong.”

When the parish council wrote to the borough to ask why they had not been invited, they received an apology from head of planning Philip Somerfield.

In the letter, seen by the Mail, Mr Somerfield said: “As a result of this mistake, the procedure for notifying interested parties of committee meetings and public speaking is being revised.”

The development was passed in outline earlier in the year, and it was the detailed application which went before planners on December 16.

Councillors in Rolleston said the second application differed significantly from what had been proposed, and did not fit in with the needs of people in the village.

Mr Somerfield added that the committee was aware of parish council concerns, and he did not think their presence would have affected the outcome.

Councillor Shaun Adams said he was ‘disappointed’ with his response. “The fact the council as not invited to speak is fairly outrageous.”

The council can now only challenge the decision through an expensive judicial review.

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