Can we trust county council?

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Have your say

Madam,

Can you trust those in authority?

A second, amended planning application to build on a greenfield site against the wishes of the town council and local residents is being submitted by Derbyshire County Council (DCC) after the first was withdrawn in 2009.

The first application included a plan, devised in 2006, to demolish Darley Dale Primary School, a building of historical significance, and replace it with open market housing.

Their view was the building was worn out and of no importance and they could make lots of money from a deal struck up with developers.

So, arrogantly assuming the public wouldn’t be interested in a significant housing development (which contravened several planning policies so rigorously applied to other planning applications in the area) or the destruction of an historic site, they worked secretly for two years, in conjunction with district planning officers to ensure the plan would be recommended, and submitted the application in October 2008 in which the ‘public’ were informed that:

1] all interested neighbours had been sent a consultation letter (they hadn’t)

2] after public consultation only one person had objected to the demolition of the school! (untrue)

3] demolishing the school and building open market housing was the ‘only viable option’ and on that basis the Planning Department could support it. (the plan currently being proposed, to convert the school into apartments, was dismissed at the time as too expensive. (this was before the current financial crisis)

4] the Primary School was ‘not listable’ (it transpires that DCC officers were uncertain as to whether it was or not, so it should have read, ‘in DCC’s opinion it was not listable’ but English Heritage may have a different view’).

The planning department just accepted what they were told, no questions asked, but isn’t it illegal to make a false or misleading statement in a planning application? As a result the public were deceived into believing that the building couldn’t be saved.

Fortunately, a local resident questioned this statement and Grade II Listed status was granted resulting in the planning application being withdrawn.

Had DCC informed the town council and local people about their proposals back in 2006 they wouldn’t have wasted so much time, public money and perhaps not be held in such contempt.

What happened to honesty, transparency and public consultation?

Well guess what, DCC now needs to cut £40m from its budget, but keeping the school as part of the housing development is now apparently viable?

P Thwaites

Resident, Greenaway Lane

Darley Dale