Panel poser on house plan in Tydd St Mary
A parish council chairman has questioned elements of the planning process in the wake of a second bid to build a house in Tydd St Mary.
Coun John Ley, who chairs Tydd St Mary Parish Council, said the referral of plans for a two-bedroom house in Church Lane to the “Chairman’s Panel” of South Holland District Council’s planning committee was “a rather odd way of managing a contentious issue”.
Original plans for a detached, four-bedroom house at the same site were refused by the district council in May 2017 because it would have blocked views of St Mary’s Church and a horse chestnut tree in its churchyard.
But a revised application, with the number of bedrooms cut from four to two, has been made, has been made which the parish council has opposed
Coun Ley said: “The original application to build a detached house in a garden in Church Lane would have interfered with views of the church.
“So the application has been changed slightly by moving the house a little further back into the garden and by having fewer bedrooms.
“But the reason for rejection hasn’t changed and if I was the planning committee chairman and I had another application put in after the previous one was rejected, why would I want to take the new application out of the planning process in order to make a decision on it?
“It just strikes me as a rather odd way of managing a contentious issue when the entire planning committee should decide on the application instead.”
Coun Roger Gambba-Jones, chairman of the district council’s planning committee, said: “The Chairman’s Panel, comprising the chairman, vice chairman and another member of the planning committee, is used by planning officers as a ‘safety net’ where they have already considered, and come to a decision on, a planning application where some minor concerns were raised.
“No decision is made by the Chairman’s Panel, either for or against an application, as that decision remains with the officers.
If I was the planning committee chairman and I had another application put in after the previous one was rejected, why would I want to take the new application out of the planning process in order to make a decision on it?
“The panel can only offer advice to officers and, unlike the planning committee, the decision always remains with the planning officers.
“The Chairman’s Panel meets every two weeks and officers will point out the issue, or concern, that was raised and advise the panel members of their view on it.
“If the panel has no concerns about the officers view, then it will proceed as normal.
“But if the panel members suggest that the officer might have looked at the issue in a different way, the officer will either revisit the issue with the applicant, or a consultee, or consider sending it to the planning committee for determination.
“District council ward members are always informed when an application is being referred to the panel and they can attend to clarify issues, or speak on behalf of applicants, objectors or residents if they wish.”