Councillors force law change

PUBLISHED: 10:27 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:01 04 May 2010

ANGRY councillors, who lost their tempers after plans for the Lidl supermarket and Focus DIY store were rejected under officers delegated powers have forced a change in the planning process. Action is being taken to make sure that all major applications

ANGRY councillors, who lost their tempers after plans for the Lidl supermarket and Focus DIY store were rejected under officers' delegated powers have forced a change in the planning process.

Action is being taken to make sure that all major applications are highlighted and easily identifiable to councillors to ensure they can have their say.

The move comes after Independent councillors Derrick Beckett and Andy Wright and planning committee chairman, Conservative councillor, Philip Read, complained that too many major applications were being decided by officers.

They were angry that plans by Lidl and Focus DIY were not put before East Cambridgeshire District Council's planning committee for discussion.

David Archer, the council's development director told planning committee members in a report to last Wednesday's meeting that current procedures were introduced in 2002 after the council failed to meet Government timescales for determining planning applications.

"Members took the decision that the determination of all applications should be delegated to the executive director of development services," he said.

"Where the parish council's view of the application is broadly in accordance with that of the officers then a delegated decision can be issued, whether it be for an approval or a refusal.

"It has meant this council has been able to access in excess of £4 million in planning delivery grant due to improved performance."

Cllr Beckett said: "A lot of councillors felt they were not having enough input in certain planning applications. They felt the system should be changed so that significant applications had members' involvement.

"I have only been on the planning committee since May and I thought we were just ticking boxes. I thought we had to redress this situation somehow.

"I'm not saying members would not have turned down the Lidl application but they wanted the chance to discuss it."

Cllr Becket contacted the district council recently to call in to the planning committee an application for a hotel and warehousing in Angel Drove and a supermarket on the Thurlow Nunn Standen site in Lisle Lane only to discover they were already added to the agenda.

Now the issue will be raised again at a full council meeting in February.

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