Planning committee chairman slams discourteous developers

The chairman of Thurrock planning committee has rounded on developers who threatened councillors with new government legislation just days after Labour was installed in Westminster.

Michael Fletcher spoke out after representatives of two developers who wish to build on Thurrock green belt land threatened that any appeal against rejection of their plans would likely be lost after the new Labour Government called for £1.5million new homes to be built.

Planning officers also came under fire for recommending rejection of both proposals.

Ian Anderson from Mulberry Strategic Land told members there was little point in opposing plans to build up to 1,000 homes on green belt land in East Tilbury following the Government’s stated intention of building 1.5 million new homes and reviewing green belt policy.

Kevin Leigh, speaking on behalf of developer, Grasslands Ltd, made similar remarks over plans to build 750 homes on Thurrock Airfield. Both implied the council would have little chance of winning an appeal in the face of new Government policy and had been wrongly advised by officers.

Mr Fletcher, who had earlier warned members they could only judge applications on current laws, and to put aside any feelings over the tone from the developers’ remarks, said: “We’ve had a couple of instances tonight in our applications of suggestions, both implicated and straight out that our planning officers for some reason don’t know their job or are misleading us or don’t have the ability to give us a decent proposal.

“We on the committee are very used to disagreeing with our colleagues, the officers and very often it is because while they may be correct in their application law we may have a different view from the position of our jobs as representatives of the local people.”

Mr Fletcher added: “However, whether we agree or disagree with our planning officers it is always done with the point of view of respect and I would like to see the same respect shown when making application statements to this committee.

“I trust If I see either of you gentlemen again, which I hope I do, that you will bear that in mind. Do I make myself clear?”

Christine Sexton

Local Democracy Reporter