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How is this ruling democratic?

Posted on August 31 2017 at 2:34:58

At the rear of our estate there has been a long-running planning application debate: residents in Lickey Square wish to build five houses in their back gardens which will then tower over three or four houses on our estate.

The district council’s planning department has repeatedly refused planning permission. The issue went to appeal and we have learned that the appeal has been successful. 

My objection was that the proposed development has major topographical issues because of the steep slope of the land, while many mature trees have preservation orders on them which makes the development extremely difficult.

This is also, in fact, a “garden grab”. 

This type of development is specifically mentioned in the National Planning Policy Framework and reiterated in the Bromsgrove District Plan (pages 83 and 85) which states that such plans are “likely to be unacceptable and will be refused”. 

The issue was specifically mentioned by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in the House of Commons on March 26, 2015 when he said he had “…given councils stronger powers to tackle garden grabbing.” 

It appears that the council’s planning department has acted as the Secretary of State directed, after due consideration, but their decision has now been overturned.

They have also followed the recently adopted District Housing Plan, especially BDP 19n which specifically states that the development of garden land should be resisted. 

This is also supported by the recent Government White Paper dated Feb 2017 1.31 which states: “We will ensure councils can continue to protect valued areas of open space and the character of residential neighbourhoods, and stop unwanted garden grabbing.”

Our local area has seen many bad garden-grabbing developments which is why the District Plan has tried to restrict these with the support from the National Government.

The Inspector has tried to justify his decision by saying that garden developments have been allowed previously, but policies change and past decisions cannot be a justification to ignore current policies.

The whole process seems very undemocratic and leaves no process of redress for those of us affected by this wrong decision.

It also calls into question the strength or purpose of a District Plan which can be so easily overridden.

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