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'No show' councillors still refuse Hempsted house plan

By citizenmike  |  Posted: May 07, 2014

By Mike Wilkinson, Public Affairs reporter

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Councillor Paul Toleman (C, Westgate) said: "I did actually go to the meeting but I was two hours late."

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Councillors were left embarrassed when it emerged that none of them turned up at a site visit to discuss a controversial Hempsted house building plan.

The city council’s planning committee had been due to visit the site, off Rectory Lane, to see if it is suitable to build a new three-bedroom house.

They feared that allowing the property to be built could open the floodgates for other homes on the land.

But when a site visit was scheduled for April 14 nobody turned up.

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In her report to councillors, planning officer Caroline Townley conceded: “A site inspection meeting was arranged for 12.30pm on Monday, April 14. No members attended the meeting and as such no formal committee site visit was undertaken.”

She added that council officers, who did show up, had an informal meeting instead.

At a meeting on Tuesday, councillor Phil McLellan (LD, Barnwood) said: “I have to apologise that I didn’t go to the site visit. I have got no excuse because it was in my diary.”

Councillor Nigel Hanman (C, Grange) said: “I apologise for not going to the meeting.”

Councillor Paul Toleman (C, Westgate) added: “I did actually go to the meeting but I was two hours late.”

Some councillors say they looked at the site in their own time.

Despite the site visit not taking place, councillors refused the plans for the house after a swathe of angry objections from residents in neighbouring Chartwell Close, Rectory Lane and Foxleigh.

After much deliberation, the plans were refused because of the siting of the building, the impact on neighbours, access and the implication of the development on protected species.

Resident Michael Webb said: “This is green field land and the proposed development is not sympathetic to the neighbouring properties, the environment or the village.”

Ron Beddall, from Chartwell Close, added: “I can only express my shock, amazement and disbelief that the city council are considering the erection of a three-bedroom house on land that is well known as the habitat of a protected wildlife species, namely the Great Crested Newt.”

But Peter Tufnell, representing the Snell family, who are behind the plan, said: “The residents seem to be under the impression that the more letters they write the greater the likelihood of preventing this sustainable development.

“It is quite somewhat ironic that the objectors wouldn’t be living here if the Snell family had not sold the land that is now Chartwell Close for development.”

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4 comments

  • toadhall99  |  May 08 2014, 7:43AM

    "I did actually go to the meeting but I was two hours late." Try saying that in your next job interview and see what happens. ....

  • MikeMorrisOBE  |  May 07 2014, 9:57PM

    What a disgrace. Talk about democracy by proxy. I bet if they'd been told their expences could be collected at the same time, they would have been there 2 hours early. I wonder how many claimed for attending the site visit.

  • Apothegm_  |  May 07 2014, 8:31PM

    Just a case of mass incompetence...

  • Kay_Powell  |  May 07 2014, 3:59PM

    OMG, where do I even start with this one? There are thirteen councillors on that committee. It is reasonable that some of them might not have been able to attend the meeting, but I would point out that they have a few reserves as well, so there are really no excuses. Councillors like to accuse members of the public of being apathetic...

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