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NORTH CORNWALL YIELDS TO DoE PLANNING SYSTEM CRITICISMS

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North Cornwall DC has reluctantly adopted the 64 changes to its planning system recommended in a scathing DoE repor...
North Cornwall DC has reluctantly adopted the 64 changes to its planning system recommended in a scathing DoE report published last month.

At the council meeting last week which discussed the 94 page report, planning committee chairman Harvey Lander said it contained many inaccuracies and several of the recommendations should not have been included. Other members accused the DoE of double standards.

The inquiry criticised the council for failing to adhere to its structure plan but Mr Lander claimed the DoE itself ignored the plan when it overruled the council's decisions to refuse planning permission for a supermarket and a windfarm.

'It leaves me absolutely at sea that we have to observe the structure plan and then when we do we get it overturned', he said.

Members felt that if North Cornwall was being forced to put its house in order the DoE should do the same.

The council decided to write to the DoE asking for assurance that ministers would cease to overturn decisions refusing planning permission, especially when it concerned sporadic development in the countryside - the main focus of the DoE inquiry (LGC, 26 November).

Mr Lander said many of the inquiry's recommendations had already been implemented before it was published, while others would be of little use - notably the suggestion that aerial photographs be used to cut down the number of site meetings.

He believed the planning committee would still go its own way. 'Some chance I've got of leading you lot', he said.

The DoE launched the inquiry following a Channel 4 documentary 'Cream Teas and Concrete' which discredited the planning committee's procedures.

Independent member Brenda Parsons took part in the programme and campaigned for changes. At last week's council meeting she said she had been subjected to a lot of abuse since she took her stand and gave other members the chance to apologise. None did.

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