The planning application for the residential development on the site of the old sorting office comes before the Town Council Planning Committee this Wednesday (12th June).
Full details of the application can be found on the CBC website here.
I am fully aware of the strong feeling among local residents and businesses towards this application and I am listening to those concerns. However, as the Vice Chair of the LLTC Planning Committee, I am not able to express a view one way or another prior to the meeting (to do so would prejudice me and prevent me from taking part in the discussion and vote at the meeting). This is the same for all Councillors – both LLTC and CBC – who sit on either Council’s Planning Committees.
As I explained in a blog post several months ago – see here – it is important to understand the different roles of the two Councils in the planning process.
The Town Council (LLTC) has only an advisory role in the planning process – it does not decide on whether permission is granted or not. It may decide to ‘support’, ‘offer no objection’ or ‘reject’ the application, but LLTC’s decision is not in any way binding on Central Beds (CBC). LLTC is only a consultee, in much the same way as many other individuals and bodies are consulted.
It is also important to highlight that objections to a planning application have to have ‘planning grounds’ – unfortunately, the days when local Councillors and residents could object on the grounds of simply not wanting it are long gone (was this the case, it is likely very few of the current developments we see around the town would be going ahead!).
However, it is often possible, with input from local residents, to build a strong argument based on planning grounds. This is why it is important for residents to write to their Councillors and make their objections known. All of these objections can help to support a case against approval based on planning grounds.
Please continue to let me know your views on this or any other application (both for and against). I may not be able to give you a response on whether I agree or not, but I will certainly listen to local opinion, and where there are valid planning reasons I will use these to argue the best outcome for local residents.