CROSS PARTY WORKING GROUP TO ADVISE ON AREA PLANNING PROPOSALS
Consensus agrees way forward as council seeks to cut planning costs
Changes that will see Northumberland County Council planning regime overhauled have been agreed at yesterday’s (1 April) and a cross party working group agreed to advise the council on whether the moves should involve the creation of 1 county wide planning committee or 3 separate area based planning forums.
The planning changes were considered against the backdrop of a damning independent report by Deliotte who highlighted serious concerns in the way planning operated in Northumberland. Northumberland taxpayers were faced with a £1.8m bill for planning decisions which were not based on material planning considerations and the Labour administration put forward a series of 21 proposals aimed at cutting costs and streamlining planning processes to boost economic activity across the county.
Local Conservatives had mounted a campaign to stop the changes which they described as ‘Stalanist’ but the meeting saw a change of mind and the acceptance of 20 of the 21 proposals contained in the proposed changes.
The council’s changes were also backed by Conservative Minister Eric Pickles Department of Communities and Local Government.
The Labour group also proposed amendments which were carried to protect and enshrine the role of town and parish council’s in the new planning scheme.
A Labour group spokesperson said
“We’re pleased that the Conservatives finally saw sense and voted to introduce 20 out of the 21 proposals. We think that it’s a good step forward to set up a cross party working group to explore further whether the county would be better served by 1 county wide planning committee or 3. We’ve got to cut costs and make planning more responsive to create the conditions to grow the Northumberland economy and we welcome the cross party approach taken in yesterday’s meeting”.