Friday, 12 July 2013

Villagers lodge complaints over Travellers plans - Leicestershire

From the Leicester mercury

Formal complaints have been lodged over a decision to allow a Travellers site to be built on farmland off the Earl Shilton bypass.

Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council's planning committee agreed to the project for 20 caravans despite opposition from residents in the village.

Residents and members of the Conservative opposition were so concerned over the decision that they held a public meeting last week.

Three complaints have now been lodged with the council, including one from the Tory group, over how the application was processed.

The protesters believe that issues concerning flooding, road safety and the proposed site's impact on the environment were not fully considered by the planning committee.

Planning officers told the committee on June 25 that the proposals for Dalebrook Farm, in Leicester Road would help meet the borough's quota for Travellers' pitches and posed no environmental issues to override the need to meet that provision.

Tory group leader Peter Batty said: "I formally lodged a complaint over the manner in which the application was handled.

"We are concerned over the lack of consultation and the gathering of the necessary information to enable the members to make an informed decision on all the facts available.

"We, as a group, are also concerned over how the application, which was submitted in May, had been fast-tracked."

Mr Batty said residents were also lodging complaints with the council and considering taking the matter to the Local Government Ombudsman or seek a judicial review.

Earl Shilton resident Geoff Gilbert, who attended the planning meeting on June 25, said: "Like many or all of the people in the public gallery, I was disappointed with the outcome, as it seemed to everyone there that it was cut and dry before it was started.

"Those against the plans, in my view, were not listened to properly."

He said he did not believe the issues of flooding, access to the site, waste disposal and other environmental issues were properly considered.

He said the situation needed investigating.

"If needed, this should go to the ombudsman and let him hear all the views, both for and against, in full."

A spokeswoman for the council said: "We have received three formal complaints."

She said they would be investigated and replies issued within 10 working days.

If the complainants were not satisfied, it would be reviewed at a higher level and a reply given. Should there be no resolution, the complainants would be open to take the issue to the Local Government Ombudsman.

She said that if it was seen that planning protocol had been broken, the planning decision could be reviewed.

But she said: "That is very rare."

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