Planning decision is an end to democracy'

PUBLISHED: 13:24 28 February 2008 | UPDATED: 15:41 11 May 2010

ANGRY residents claim that the outcome of a planning appeal has seen an end to democracy . They are disappointed that a planning inspector, gave the go-ahead for a housing development in Green Drift, Royston. This was after residents campaigned against t

ANGRY residents claim that the outcome of a planning appeal has seen "an end to democracy".

They are disappointed that a planning inspector, gave the go-ahead for a housing development in Green Drift, Royston.

This was after residents campaigned against the development on the scale being proposed.

And there was support for the campaign from Royston Town Council and North Herts District Council.

District councillors twice rejected plans to develop the site.

The developer, Croudace Homes, submitted an appeal against the refusal to build 14 homes on the site and was given the go-ahead after an independent inspector from The Planning Inspectorate had examined written evidence.

But the approval of the scheme has led to an immediate protest from residents about the decision.

One resident, Liz Hale, of Green Drift, described the battle over the site as a David and Goliath contest.

"It would appear that the modern day Goliath is extremely rich and influential," she said.

She said the outcome gave the appearance that democracy and public involvement in such issues was a sham.

"It would appear that democracy is well and truly dead," said Mrs Hale.

She said it appeared to be a waste of money having elections.

"Why bother to spend our rates on a town council, district council or even a county council when our elected representatives listen to the people who elected them and make a decision when they are then overruled by out-of-town developers and unelected civil servants," said Mrs Hale.

"It would seem there is no point in local government," she added.

Caroline Coates, of Green Drift, who was one of the leading campaigners, said in spite of seeing the proposed development reduced from an original 17 dwellings to 14 dwellings this did not give "much reward" for four years of work.

"By the strength and validity of our arguments we carried our town councillors and district councillors with us," she said.

But she accused North Herts District Council's planning officers of going against the residents' protest during the campaign.

"Now The Planning Inspectorate has produced a superficial report simply trotting out the district council's view."

She said although flaws in the plan had been acknowledged they were ignored.

"Every person who objected has been ignored. What kind of system is this when no weight is given to a valid argument?"

And she stressed: "Each time a detrimental development is sanctioned it paves the way for more of the same.

"It is shameful. It is paving the way for the wanton destruction of the traditional residential roads which together make the character of our town."

She added: "It seems that there is nothing we can do to stop it."

In his report, planning inspector J P Watson said the height and mass of the new houses would be "consistent" with the street scene and the development appeared to be in "harmony" with its surroundings.

He continued: "There is no dispute that additional development on the site would be acceptable. The difference between the parties is one of degree."

Mr Watson said he did not consider that the development would be "too cramped".

And he added that the buildings now on the site had no particular merit and suggested they should not be demolished.

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