MP questions planning system after Mt Oswald vote

AN MP is to ask the Government to review a council’s planning setup, amid anger over the approval of a £200m housing scheme for a city golf course.

Roberta Blackman-Woods, Labour MP for Durham City, spoke out after Durham County Council’s county planning committee backed Banks Property’s proposals for Mount Oswald, off South Road, Durham, on Tuesday.

The MP questioned whether planning decisions should be taken by councillors from outside the affected involved, saying the system had “structural problems”.

Dr Blackman-Woods pledged to write to Communities Secretary Eric Pickles to ask him to consider the council’s decision making process.

The make-up of planning committees has been increasingly questioned since Durham City Council was abolished in 2009.

The county council has a 16-member county planning committee with members from across County Durham to deal with major applications and three 16-member area committees, with eight councillors from the divisions covered and eight from elsewhere.

After Tuesday’s vote, Roger Cornwell, chairman of the City of Durham Trust conservation group, said: “There were a number of councillors from outside Durham who didn’t say anything but then put their hands up and voted it through.

“It seems to be happening more and more. It’s an almost colonialist attitude, in the way the council is exploiting this.”

Dr Douglas Pocock, the Trust’s honorary secretary, added: “(Our reaction is) one of sadness: the clearest example yet that the county knows what is best for the city. The county town without even a parish council to represent it.”

Stuart Timmiss, the council’s head of planning, said the county committee was made up of the most experienced councillors, plus the chairs and vice-chairs of the area committees.

Planning was a complex area and councillors complete mandatory training, he continued.

“I am confident that the committee members who considered the Mount Oswald application judged it on the evidence provided and in light of national legislation and policy and that they made a decision which they believe will add to the economic prosperity of the county,” Mr Timmiss concluded.

Dr Blackman-Woods also plans to call a meeting to discuss possible ways forward following the vote. Details are yet to be announced.

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Comments (4)

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7:39pm Thu 7 Feb 13

peter laidler says...

I wish Dr Blackman-Woods every success in her venture. I was dismayed when I heard the result of the vote. The County Council under Henigs' leadership will ruin the city of Durham. I am well aware of the outside forces who work to influence the County Council particularly where plans within the city boundaries are concerned and to whom money is God, but how hypocritical for a Labour majority council to criticise the coalition over cut backs, banging on about the reduction of services to the public, only to go and support a scheme which boasts a millionaires row. In the words of private Fraser; We're doomed
I wish Dr Blackman-Woods every success in her venture. I was dismayed when I heard the result of the vote. The County Council under Henigs' leadership will ruin the city of Durham. I am well aware of the outside forces who work to influence the County Council particularly where plans within the city boundaries are concerned and to whom money is God, but how hypocritical for a Labour majority council to criticise the coalition over cut backs, banging on about the reduction of services to the public, only to go and support a scheme which boasts [and I quote] a millionaires row. In the words of private Fraser; We're doomed peter laidler
  • Score: 1

10:40pm Thu 7 Feb 13

Jen204 says...

That is ridiculous. It is a county council. There is no City council. All the councillors can vote on what happens within the city boundary, just as City councillors can vote on what happens in the rest of the county.
We need houses, particularly for the younger people who cannot afford to live in the city. So all the City councillors are allowed to say they do not want any houses building in the city. They have to be built in Consett, Lanchester, Langley Park, etc., anywhere but Durham City?
At the same time they are saying, no we do not want ring roads!
It does not make sense.
That is ridiculous. It is a county council. There is no City council. All the councillors can vote on what happens within the city boundary, just as City councillors can vote on what happens in the rest of the county. We need houses, particularly for the younger people who cannot afford to live in the city. So all the City councillors are allowed to say they do not want any houses building in the city. They have to be built in Consett, Lanchester, Langley Park, etc., anywhere but Durham City? At the same time they are saying, no we do not want ring roads! It does not make sense. Jen204
  • Score: -2

3:51pm Fri 8 Feb 13

the-big-yin says...

Never mind investigating just the planning department. Every department within d.c.c. needs to be investigated.
There are far too many underhand decisions being made. This makes me wonder if any backhanders are being given.
I hope d.c.c. start to realise that the electorate of County Durham are getting sick to death of these crazy decisions being made and the waste of money wihin all of d.c.c. departments.
Never mind investigating just the planning department. Every department within d.c.c. needs to be investigated. There are far too many underhand decisions being made. This makes me wonder if any backhanders are being given. I hope d.c.c. start to realise that the electorate of County Durham are getting sick to death of these crazy decisions being made and the waste of money wihin all of d.c.c. departments. the-big-yin
  • Score: 0

3:08pm Thu 14 Feb 13

NJGR26 says...

the-big-yin wrote:
Never mind investigating just the planning department. Every department within d.c.c. needs to be investigated. There are far too many underhand decisions being made. This makes me wonder if any backhanders are being given. I hope d.c.c. start to realise that the electorate of County Durham are getting sick to death of these crazy decisions being made and the waste of money wihin all of d.c.c. departments.
I will second that !
[quote][p][bold]the-big-yin[/bold] wrote: Never mind investigating just the planning department. Every department within d.c.c. needs to be investigated. There are far too many underhand decisions being made. This makes me wonder if any backhanders are being given. I hope d.c.c. start to realise that the electorate of County Durham are getting sick to death of these crazy decisions being made and the waste of money wihin all of d.c.c. departments.[/p][/quote]I will second that ! NJGR26
  • Score: 0

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