THE problem with planning policies is that you tend to have to stick to them, otherwise they are not worth the paper they are written on.

That suggests a degree of inflexibility which the planning system is often straining against. From time to time development proposals come along which appear to be highly attractive but go against planning policy.

The Eco Build UK proposals for an environmentally-friendly holiday lodge development just outside Richmond have many things going for them, not least the business the project could bring to a town centre in sore need of customers.

But, and it is a big but, the development is proposed for open countryside which ordinarily would not be considered appropriate. That's laid down by the Local Plan, a policy document which the whole community has had the opportunity to comment on and contribute to and therefore can be said to have broad public support.

So should the planning authority, Richmondshire District Council, indulge itself because the Eco Build project is the "right development in the wrong location"?

The answer has to be no. If it was approved, the provisions of the Local Plan relating to restricting developments in open countryside would be worthless and the door left open for other less obviously attractive proposals to be put forward for similar locations. The planning authority might well wish to stick to the Local Plan to refuse these less appealing projects permission, but the lattitude it might have given itself in approving the Eco Build lodges would pull the rug from under it should the applicant go to appeal.

Policies can be a pain but planning authorities have to have them and stick by them.