I was privileged to spend four years on the Western Sub-Planning Team and a year as a member of East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s main Strategic Planning team. It was a poisoned chalice at the best of times, balancing the needs to be supportive of important developments schemes whilst understanding the legitimate concerns which some of them generated from local residents.
Some schemes where there is overwhelming opposition and very little planning merit, like the now famous ‘Willerby Hill Wind Turbine’, were easy to reconcile, but others were more difficult, such as the ‘New Wolfreton School’ which had considerable benefit to the local community, but also had valid issues of concern from the immediate locality. Resolving such issues are one of the reasons why we have local Councillors!
Even though it is 18 months since I stopped having to make such judgements, as I journey through my former Ward on a daily basis, I see literally scores of new developments which I was party to, both for and against!
Some of my “approvals” have turned out to be errors of judgement but most have not. I do wonder however sometimes where the ones I voted against or even campaigned to defeat, would have fitted on that spectrum too??
Many Councillors on these committees were able to take lead from their local Parish Councils. This was particularly the case where the PC was known to be even handed in it’s approach to individual planning decisions. Parish Councils have a very influential role in the planning process, rightly so, as they can oppose any scheme, however large or small. This results in the matter being referred to the relevant committee with the narrative of being “strongly supported or opposed by the Parish Council!”
Kirkella Parish Council however seemed to oppose rather a lot of schemes, meaning a higher proportion of them ended up on the planning committee agenda!
Sometimes I had the dubious pleasure of being glared at by a “coterie”(or whatever the collective noun is) of Parish Council Members, who had turned up to register their disapproval.
Kirkella Parish Council was well known for registering their disapproval at a lot of things and many other Planning team members used to raise their eyebrows and stifle a chuckle whenever the reasons for objection (for that was the norm) was!
Despite this even I was surprised and saddened at Kirkella Parish Council decision to refuse to support a memorial bench for Jessica Lawson, the pupil of our local school who tragically died on a School trip to France. The predominantly black bench with a red trim was to replace a rotting wooden bench which is currently unusable.
The PC’s refusal, because the bench would be “non-standard” is plain wrong and I sincerely hope they reflect on this decision before much longer.
The anger and upset of many villagers can be seen by the balloons left at the site and I fully support their campaign.
I know that some people will criticise the bench being draped with balloons and other memorabilia, but who can but feel for the family and friends of Jessica and the pain they must have been through. I am sure that if the Parish Council reconsider that they could ask that the bench is not festooned with too many balloons and is regularly kept tidy. I am sure that would be the families wishes too.