No voice for our councils

I am writing in response to the DDDC planning meeting held on Tuesday, July 5, which dealt with the Darley Dale Primary School planning application made by DCC. I was struck by the very poor quality of the debate and total lack of rigorous examination of the many legitimate, detailed objections raised by the public.

Following the presentation of what I considered to be a number of sound, reasoned and well articulated objections, the committee’s response was lamentable.

They failed to address most of the central issues saying that they could do nothing about the traffic problems on Greenaway Lane and the local road network, ignored the fact this is a totally unsustainable location, made no response to the loss of school facilities, did not comment on the damage that will be caused to the environment and clearly failed to understand the conservation argument and the extent of damage that will be caused to this Heritage Site.

Further to this they made no response to the very real concerns and worries that vulnerable clients and workers at the Mencap Centre have, about placing their operations in jeopardy and dealt with a plea from a representative of the clients at the Greenaway Workshop with platitudes. Finally the committee made no response to Darley Dale Town Council’s representatives and seem to have forgotten that this council is indeed the legitimate, elected voice of the town. Ignored again.

The committee then proceeded to drive a coach and horses through the Local Development Plan by agreeing to depart from planning policies, ignoring essential policy substance and by-passing this statutory document, which has cost large amounts of public money to establish, and is there precisely, to prevent this kind of inappropriate development damaging our communities.

The committee’s remarks quickly turned to one matter only, that of affordable housing.

This was lead by a small group of councillors, the majority not speaking at all, who made emotional rather than rational comments, not based on the detailed facts, and indeed completely failed to present a perceptive, well reasoned, balanced or intelligent set of arguments. They merely claimed that this was a very difficult decision.

One councillor claimed that the only thing people cared about was housing and education. Not true, and this has been clearly evident during the past three years through this community’s consistent objections. As ever the motion was proposed and agreed upon by councillors who do not represent Darley Dale.

I do not believe that the committee were properly familiarised with the arguments, were dismissive of public opinion and clearly not equipped to deal with this complex and controversial application.

There are clear messages from this to be sent to communities in the Derbyshire Dales. Your views will be ignored and your town and parish councils have no voice.

Andrew Bullock