Humanity and common sense

Date: Tuesday 29th January 2019

I WRITE in support of your editorial comment (Herald, 19th January) which was generated by our planning application in which we successfully campaigned to help preserve the Shire breed.

You wrote of the importance of retaining public participation in the planning process, and I urge all Eden district councillors to reject the idea of restricting the number of planning applications put before their planning committee.

Were it not for the six planning committee members who understand our desperate need, we would now be looking for new homes for our Shire mares.

I believe in a “bottom up” rather than a “top down” policy. Why have parish and district councillors if the planners refuse to take any notice of their submissions?

Over the past three months, I have been astounded by the number of people who have shared their horror planning stories with me. One, a highly intelligent professional, still has nightmares about it.

Whether it be an application for a new home or an extension, if it comes from an individual, the computer says no. We were criticised for being at odds with the linear character of our village, yet large, out-of-scale developments have driven a coach and horses through that principle in recent years and a future development would go much further back than ours.

The Nolan Committee, reporting on standards in public life, said there was nothing intrinsically wrong if planning committees did not follow their officers’ advice and that councillors may be influenced by feelings which did not derive from dispassionate examination of planning issues.

It continued: “In our view, if planning decisions by local authorities were to be regarded as quasi-legal decisions, in which councillors played a role similar to that of inquiry inspectors or judges, there would be no point in involving councillors in such decisions. They might as well be taken by planning officers or by inspectors.”

The planning committee brings humanity and common sense to the table. Democracy dictates that this should continue.

DIANE and SID STEADMAN

By email