Councillor hits out over appeal

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THE planning appeal process has been criticised as misleading by a Morpeth town councillor.

Coun David Parker has welcomed a decision by Planning Inspector Malcolm Rivett to dismiss a Bellway appeal to build 200 homes at South Loansdean.

But he told members of Morpeth Town Council’s Planning and Transport Committee that he was disappointed to find the authority’s submission had not been included on a list of formal documents from the hearing.

“The process has led to us being misled,” he said.

“In the actual decision from the inspector there are various documents listed at the end and ours isn’t listed. What I have realised, and I don’t remember this ever being said, is that if you wanted things formally recorded and taken formally into account, you had to hand them over there and then on the day of the hearing.

“We had sent our submissions through our officers previously, but they weren’t in the list and I’m very disappointed at that.

“The points I made were listened to and they are referred to at least twice in the inspector’s decision, but in relation to it being a matter of public record we as a town council are not listed and I think we should have been.”

Morpeth Town Council had backed residents’ group the South Morpeth Coalition in its objection to the Bellway proposal, which would have included a commercial centre, as well as the housing estate.

The authority argued that the scheme would prejudice the development of a Neighbourhood Plan.

Mr Rivett concluded that the proposed development would cause significant harm from the loss of open countryside, an affordable housing element would not be affordable to many people and there is already an adequate five year supply of housing in the area.

Coun Parker praised residents for leading the successful fight against the appeal.

“I welcome the decision and I applaud the efforts of the South Morpeth Coalition in relation to the fight it put up,” he said.

“The three people who mainly acted for it did an excellent job. I was very impressed by the work they put in.”