Why are we waiting?

Totally unacceptable delays with planning decision in Ingleby Barwick

The Conservative Secretary of State for Department of Communities and Local Government has failed to issue a decision on a controversial planning application in the borough of Stockton.

We were due to hear on or before November 10th 2014 whether 550 new houses would be built on green fields south of Ingleby Barwick but there has been only silence.

Following my enquiries, Mr Pickles’ office have acknowledged they had missed the date but said they “can give no cast iron” date when we can actually expect to hear. They also offered absolutely no explanation for the delay. This is a disgrace.

Stockton Council officers, councillors, concerned residents and I spent three solid days in good faith in a hearing before a national planning inspector, as did the agents for the land owner and developer. There was also the considerable expense of hiring barristers and the hours spent in preparation.

The Planning Inspector confirmed he had hit his target of producing his report for the Government on September 10th, so it is not as though Mr Pickles hasn’t had long enough to look at the matter.

As I said to his office when I made my enquiries about their tardiness, this also really matters because of a knock on effect.

The council has already turned down two further applications for more housing on neighbouring fields and those developers have had to put in appeals in the dark. It is unreasonable to expect either the public purse in the shape of the local authority (Stockton Borough Council) or the landowners and their agents to fund appeals, barristers and spend time at planning enquiries without knowing the outcome of this earlier linchpin application. Knowing whether this appeal is to stand or fall will make a crucial difference to the progress of those other applications – and indeed other green wedge applications across the borough.

Local representatives and residents will also once again need to give up their own time in attending, listening and speaking.

It’s a disgrace to expect all of this without knowing the outcome of the first application.

We don’t want these houses building on our green wedge, after a lengthy campaign we deserve an answer.

Local people are suspicious that politics have been brought into play here, that Mr Pickles is going to leave the decision until after the General Election so that the result wont damage his candidate’s chances. Let’s hope that is not true, it would be a very dark day for democracy.

This article was sent to the press but not published

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