Council loses confidence in planning department

Wednesday 5th October 2016 12:01 pm
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The area outside 35 Crowthers Hill, Dartmouth ()

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DARTMOUTH town councillors are to meet with South Hams Council officers after a series of concerns which have resulted in loss of confidence in the district’s planning department.

District councillor Hilary Bastone has offered to broker a meeting at Follaton House, Totnes, in order to iron out any problems.

It follows worries raised by the town council’s chairman of planning Cllr David Gent who said both he and the town clerk had not received a reply, or even an acknowledgement, after writing to the district council’s planning department, reporting enforcement issues over the last two months.

Another concern centred around a planning application for 35 Crowthers Hill, Dartmouth, where it appeared a neighbour’s letter of objection had somehow gone astray, he said.

Feelings have run high in the neighbourhood over the proposal by Mr A Davis to alter the garden access and path at the property, with remedial works to the wall.

Approval was granted last month by the district’s planning officers, subject to conditions which included the path not being used for parking.

The application was originally submitted to include the creation of a parking space outside of the house.

But the proposal was later amended to remove any proposed parking spaces and the highways authority – which had earlier objected on grounds of highway safety and the impact that the changes would have on access for emergency vehicles – withdrew its main concerns.

Eleven letters of objection were received, including one from Dartmouth Town Council which felt the application had a detrimental effect on the historic street scene, local stone walling and pavement.

Some neighbours felt it would have a detrimental appearance on the Conservation Area and although the revised application didn’t mention a parking space, the replacement path still means that parking there could be a possibility and was therefore an application to create a parking space ‘by stealth’, they claimed.

Others said the change to the path would be detrimental to the elderly neighbour at number 37; the height of the proposed path was not high enough to prevent parking; and the proposal was unnecessarily destructive.

In its decision notice, the council stated: ‘To be clear, there is no parking space included in this revised and re-advertised application. Officers must determine the application as it is presented, and cannot refuse it on the possibility that someone may park there in the future.

‘Similarly, it is not for officers to question the necessity of a proposal; comments that there is already parking available are irrelevant, as no parking is proposed.

‘It cannot be ignored that the proposed path would be significantly lower than the existing, and that any parking on this site would create an issue regarding highway safety. For this reason, it is proposed to add a condition to any approval to prevent parking on the path.’

The proposal involves small-scale works to the site. Although it is within a historic location, it was considered the proposed works would not harm this setting and sensitive materials would be used.

Cllr Tony Fyson said he found it an unsatisfactory situation. ‘It’s planning approval by attrition,’ he said.

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