'Consultation is essential' - Council urges MPs to fight for planning rights

North Norfolk District Council is doing an IT upgrade, meaning its local search departmet is closed

North Norfolk District Council wants local MPs to fight for right to comment on planning applications - Credit: Archant

A Norfolk council is calling on the government to continue to give local people a say on planning.

Norfolk Norfolk District Council (NNDC) agreed a motion on Wednesday evening to call on Norfolk MPs Duncan Baker and Jerome Mayhew and the government to "protect the right of communities to object to individual planning applications".

A recent government white paper suggested cutting community involvement from individual applications, instead only allowing comment on the wider neighbourhood plans.

The motion's proposer, councillor John Toye, cabinet member for planning, said: "Consultation and responses are essential, if we do not retain the ability to consult at all stages it is possible that in a few years time developments like North Walsham West will continue without further public engagement.

John Toye, who is also on North Norfolk District Council. Picture: John Toye

John Toye, who is also on North Norfolk District Council. Picture: John Toye - Credit: Archant

"Last month the House of Commons called on the government to protect residents rights to retain a voice over planning applications.

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"I believe this council has a strong record of listening to public opinion and views and the many consultations carried out are a testament to this.

"This is why the proposed changes are not acceptable to our residents."

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Independent group leader, John Rest, seconded the motion, he said: "The planning bill will strip away the democratic rights of people to voice concerns about planning issues in their neighbourhood.

Councillor John Rest has resigned from the Cabinet.

Councillor John Rest has resigned from the Cabinet.

"Ask yourself why, is it that our opinions are not valued?

"If the government want more homes built now then force developers who have full planning permission to get on with it."

Councillor Pauline Grove-Jones, chair of the development committee, expressed her support for the motion, saying that any government changes will cause "great unrest" not just in North Norfolk but throughout the country.

However, there was not unanimous support for the motion, with Tory Tom Fitzpatrick branding it "virtue signalling".

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick.

North Norfolk District Council leader Tom FitzPatrick. - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2015

"We all know that there's a problem with these houses not built up," he said.

"Rather than just try to score points off our two MPs and try and embroil them into a white paper, why wasn't [telling developers to get on with it] the substance of the motion.

"It's an empty motion and a waste of space."

Conservative councillor Nigel Dixon argued the motion was premature, and that the MPs are unlikely to support changes that deprive communities of a right to object to planning issues.

The motion was carried.

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