Calderdale Planning Committee must reject Council officers 'approval' recommendation, says Action Group

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

The decision by officers of Calderdale Council to recommend that the Garden Street planning application should be accepted is completely expected, say the Garden Street Action Group, but should just make everyone in the community even more determined to secure its rejection by the Planning Committee on Monday 28th September.

Spokesperson for the Garden Street Action Group, Anthony Rae has told the Hebden Bridge Web: “It was a foregone conclusion that the Calderdale officers were going to recommend acceptance, so this comes as no surprise. But what has shocked us is the systematic one sidedness of the evaluation of the planning application which they have provided to councillors. But then this is just another example of the repeated failures of process by the Council which has already led the Action Group to complain to the Local Government Ombudsman and the Council's External Auditors”.

We're compiling a very long list of factual inaccuracies, misquotations from policy, and above all, lack of balance. The best example is how they have treated the huge number of objections, 3,399 in total (1726 to the main application; 1673 to the second application to demolish the retaining wall – duplications between original and revised schemes removed from each amount), compared to the grand total of 8 expressions of support. The latter are summarised in 20 bullet points over more than half a page; yet 10 of the points were provided by just two people, and 5 in one 3 sentence email! Another half page is given over to a detailed summary of the response to the developer's adverts. Meanwhile the overwhelming number of objections are identified in just 4 sentences, then summarised in a jumbled and inaccurate list of around the same length (24 bullet points). The 264 personal comments on these objections should have been treated in the same way as the 8 supporters. And the personal statements of the 116 businesses opposed aren't mentioned at all!”

The Action Group will be submitting their critique of the absence of balance in the report to the Planning Committee councillors, ward councillors and to Calderdale Council chief executive Owen Williams, demanding an explanation.

Anthony Rae concluded: “This lack of fairness should make everybody in the community more determined than ever. Above all, come along to the special Planning Committee this coming Monday 29th September at 6 pm in the Kings Centre, Halifax HX1 2TS. Visit our stall in the Square this Saturday to get more details on how you can attend the meeting, or look at our website. There's a bus every 10 minutes, and it stops almost outside!”

“Yet again Hebden Bridge has been failed by the Calderdale officers; we now need to rely on the good judgement of the councillors on their Planning Committee to stop this completely unnecessary and damaging development.”

See also YouTube videos from the public meeting at Riverside School

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