10th Mar 2015
Northumberland County Council Planning Review
Press release (Immediate use) SOCIETY OPPOSES COUNCIL PLANS TO SIDELINE RESIDENTS and TOWN and PARISH COUNCILS
One of the North East’s oldest and most prestigious civic organisations, the Northumberland & Newcastle Society – formed to preserve the heritage of both city and county - together with the Council for the Protection of Rural England has opposed controversial proposals to change Northumberland’s planning system. Northumberland County Council (NCC) recently announced plans to end formal consultation with Town and Parish Councils on planning applications. This followed damning reports to the Council on the way the planning control system is being managed and operated. R
eviews of planning committees and development management performance and processes, carried out by Planning Officers Society Enterprises (POSE), blame poor outcomes and delays on poor organisation and management in the Council’s Planning Department. A further, more cursory, review by Deloitte is being cited as the basis for plans to remove the consultation rights of local councils which are embodied in NCC’s Town and Parish Council Charter.
NCC also intends to abolish area planning committees and to delegate even more decisions to planning officers alone. They also intend to severely restrict site visits by planning committee members. If all this goes ahead, the people of Northumberland will have much less say in planning applications; most decisions will be made entirely by NCC officers.
Mrs Karen Carins Chair of Stannington Parish Council has observed “Residents rely on us to work with outside bodies, on their behalves, to reach a satisfactory conclusion. Using Town and Parish Councils as scapegoats for the unsatisfactory audit of the planning system is both false and insulting. Many applications have been won and lost because of the intervention of committed parish councils who have found mistakes within the applications mainly due to their local knowledge and the knowledge of their communities” The Council is rushing this review through without properly consulting local councils and other bodies. The limited consultation and restricted access to documents is seen as being contrary to the Council’s own principles of localism and local democracy.
The Northumberland & Newcastle Society, The Council for the Protection of Rural England and many town and parish councils are calling on NCC Councillors to reject the current proposals and to engage in proper consultation on the problems and effective solutions.
ENDS For further information about the Northumberland and Newcastle Society, call 0191 281 6266, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.nandnsociety.org.uk. 4th March 2015
The following documents are attached for your information: •Jan 2015 Deloittes Review of the Planning Service • Review of Development Management Performance and Processes Oct 2014 •POS Enterprises Review of Planning committees Oct 2014