Bemused by inconsistencies of planning decisions

Date: Tuesday 2nd May 2017

Sir, Your editorial of 22nd April commented on how inconsistent Eden’s planning decisions can be. I’ve been a chartered town planner, working in rural planning for 35 years, and I too am bemused.

Eden District Council’s new local plan, which will be adopted in the next few months, rightly says that speculative housing should be built in settlements where there are services and jobs for the new residents, especially in the towns and larger villages.

That means fewer car journeys and less carbon emissions — and it’s called “sustainable”, the word the Government says is central to its national planning policy.

So what has Eden District Council just done? Approved two speculative housing developments in Sockbridge and Tirril, where the new occupants will make virtually every journey by car — for employment, shopping, entertainment, doctors and everything else — because there are none of these vital services there.

Eden District Council had proposed Sockbridge and Tirril to be a “key hub” for housing development, but the local plan inspector instructed it to rewrite the policy in line with Government rules and told it to involve myself in that work. Sockbridge and Tirril will not now be a “key hub” and this sort of speculative development will not be allowed.

So why did the council do it? The developments will be blots on the landscape, extensions to the village, unsympathetic to village character and overbearing to nearby residents. And both contradict the expressed opinions of planning inspectors and Eden District Council in the past.

Eden District Council claimed it was because the Government wants lots of houses to be built. But the Government wants houses to be built in the right place. Sustainably.

The council claimed that it could not take into account the emerging local plan, which flatly rejects speculative housing here. Our barrister told it that it can and should take the local plan into account. The council accepted that he is correct, but refused to change its view. Yours etc,


(Chairman, Sockbridge and Tirril Parish Council)