County Plan and concerns about our planning department

At Cabinet yesterday, a report was agreed which outlines the situation regarding development whilst we are stuck waiting for the outcome of the County Plan debacle. This entire mess is the making of the Labour Party at County Hall for failing to listen to anyone.

I asked yesterday if with hindsight Cabinet should have met to discuss the decision to go to judicial review and once again it was clear they are in denial on this issue. It was simply unacceptable to use the excuse of timing, not to bring such an important decision before Cabinet to allow the public and back bench councillors to question them and to hear their debate and reasoning.

The report it has to be said was very welcoming and can be seen here:

it sets out the weight which should be given to the local plans of the former districts, to the National policy Framework and to the County Plan and does provide some reassurances on most points that planning officers are still able to control development in the County.

However there are still concerns about the march of further unnecessary, inappropriate student developments in and around the City, which Cllr Nigel Martin challenged. it was confirmed that a further document would be brought forward to Cabinet in the coming months, but I am sure it will not be enough.

As always in County Durham, this means we need to keep a keen eye on applications coming forward to make sure not just that they are acceptable, but that afterwards, what was said is actually implemented – over and over again we see promises made at planning committees and in reports failing to match up with what ends up on the ground, and I continue to be┬áconcerned as to the way in which our planning department is run.

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