The many members of the public who sat through two hours of questions and debate on the planning application for 600 homes on Penny Pot Lane were perplexed by the final decision to defer the application.
During the course of the debate, it seemed clear that a big majority would reject the application on the grounds of inadequate highways arrangements, including the choice of a bus-only route via Orchid Way, and prematurity ahead of the public examination of the council’s submission of its Sites and Policies DPD by a government inspector.
Following advice from the legal officer in attendance, members were warned of the risk of appeal by the applicant in the event of refusal or deferral.
The committee voted for deferral, for the application to come to the same committee, with different highways proposals.
Don Mackenzie. who spoke to the committee to urge refusal, said: I am afraid that my ward residents and the wider public will be unimpressed with the unsatisfactory conclusion to the long debate. They expect open discussion, clear argument for and against, and a transparent decision. What they got was whispered discussion between planning officers and the compromise of a vote to defer back to the same committee. One is left to wonder what the 2 hours of debate had achieved, and exactly how open and transparent are the planning authorities procedures.
One also has to ask what is the purpose of the deferral. Committee members expressed such fundamental dissatisfaction with the highways arrangements that it would seem impossible for this application to come back with sufficient changes not to constitute a new planning application. Members should have voted to reject, as they seemed to wish to do, and left it in the hands of the developer to think again.