Tuesday, 12 August 2008

Want To Avoid Bad Publicity For Your Development Plans?

....don't tell anybody!
Only 10 per cent of Castle Point households were sent letters by the council about three public exhibitions.

The final exhibition was at Runnymede Hall, in Thundersley, but some residents only found out after notices were pushed through their door.

Lisa Chandler, 38, of Daws Heath Road, said: “We live right by where they want to build 550 homes off Daws Heath Road and we didn’t recieve a letter.

“We had a notice put through our door about the exhibition, but it wasn’t from the council. We don’t know who it was from.”
It was from people objecting to the massive new development who decided to thwart the council's 'keep mum' tactic, and sent out their own leaflets:
One man, who asked not to be named, said he had distributed around 60 notices.

He said: “If you have a set of unpopular proposals then no wonder you only inform 10 per cent of the population and publicise it in August when a lot of people are on holiday.”
The council pleaded lack of money:
Ian Burchill, corporate director for the environment at the council, said: “We wrote to every tenth household.

We couldn’t write to all 40,000 as it would have cost too much and we would have had staff stuffing envelopes for days.

“We knew people would talk to their neighbours and that more people would come to the exhibitions than those we wrote to.”
Yeah. Sure you did...

4 comments:

John M Ward said...

Yes, I have found that it is better to leaflet every household (or as many as one can reach) independently f=of the council in such circumstances.

There is a further complication with planning applications in general that deters local planning authorities (such as councils) from consulting/notifying more widely than they do.

There have been cases where, at appeal, a decision has been overturned because of what was interpreted as "excessive" consultation that "encouraged disproportionate representations against the applicant" (or similar wording). Thus undesirable developments have been allowed on appeal via what is really just a technicality.

This is now treated as case law, so planning authorities are (understandably) very careful to make sure this objection cannot reasonably be levelled against them.

That's the way it works, right or wrong...

Anonymous said...

So, they don't have local newspapers then? Councils, bloody shoot the lot of them!

JuliaM said...

"here have been cases where, at appeal, a decision has been overturned because of what was interpreted as "excessive" consultation that "encouraged disproportionate representations against the applicant" (or similar wording)."

That's a truly bizarre ruling - in effect, 'too many people havve had a say'..!

John M Ward said...

Yup, JuliaM, that's the size of it.

Remember that big developers can afford very good legal representation, whereas councils cannot. It is hardly surprising, once one has been made aware of it, as I found once I'd thought about it a bit.