Inspectors are not always right
Sir, Eden District Council is waiting to hear if it is to be placed under special measures for quite regularly rejecting planning applications which are subsequently overturned by inspectors for the Secretary of State (Herald, 26th May).
But we need to be cautious. Despite the stumbling manner in which councillors appear to reach many decisions, we should not presume that a planning inspector addressing an appeal will always reach the right answer either.
On a recently completed Story Homes development at Lazonby it was assumed that a long section of traffic-free limited mobility accessible footpath through the site would be constructed in accordance with the planning application plans.
However, due to errors in surveying and faults in construction it became necessary to install two flights of steps in the path, which prevented assess to it by users with limited mobility, prevented access to a children’s play area by those most likely to use it — people with push chairs and buggies — and made the path unadoptable as maintainable at public expense by Cumbria County Council.
Due to a lack of procedural diligence it was not possible to object to one of the flights of steps; but because the second flight had been installed without planning consent Story Homes had to seek retrospective planning approval for the steps.
Eden Council’s planning committee responded to local objection to the flight of steps and refused to grant approval for them. Story Homes appealed against the refusal and an inspector on behalf of the Secretary of State overturned Eden’s decision.
In this instance surely the planning committee was correct and the planning inspector was wrong. Yours etc,