The Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council has reacted to the news that the Government has allowed 550 homes to be built on land in Ingleby Barwick despite the application being unanimously rejected by the Council’s Planning Committee.
The application was refused by the Council’s Planning Committee in June 2014 but the applicant, Tiviot Way Investments appealed. However, the appeal was rejected by the then Secretary of State, Eric Pickles.
The applicant challenged that appeal decision at the High Court where the appeal decision was quashed on 20 July 2015.
The case was then remitted to the Government which has this week determined that the appeal should be allowed.
Councillor Bob Cook, Leader of Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council, said: “It’s farcical. The Government has done so many u-turns on this it’s enough to make you feel dizzy.
“Shortly before last year’s General Election they bucked their established trend of overturning our local planning decisions by actually supporting our rejection of this unnecessary development.
“Today’s change of heart makes that seem very hollow indeed, and makes a mockery of Government rhetoric about devolution and local decision making.
“This is yet another case of the Government overturning a housing application rejected here, despite local opposition and when people see these 550 houses getting built they should remember that they were properly considered and unanimously rejected by this Council’s Planning Committee, only to be waved through by the Government.
“We have already paid hefty High Court and legal costs of more than £100,000 defending planning decisions in the Low Lane area of Ingleby Barwick and at a time when there is extreme pressure on the Council’s budgets. Our planning officers must make their recommendations reflective of national planning policy and appeal decisions. That is why, despite local opposition, some schemes are recommended for approval because the professional view has to reflect these factors. It is quite wrong.
“We have always maintained that planning decisions are best made locally and not in accordance with inappropriate national guidance. If you want an example to back this up, you need look no further than this case.”