A PROTEST against central government planning guidelines has seen North Devon councillors hand deliver a letter to Number 10 Downing Street.
Yesterday a group of councillors met North Devon MP Nick Harvey outside the building where they handed in a letter and a Notice of Motion.
They talked of the council’s concerns at how government policy is restricting councillors from exercising local democracy when determining planning proposals.
The Notice of Motion was raised by councillor Joe Tucker at a full council meeting two weeks ago.
After the letter was delivered the councillors and Mr Harvey had a meeting with planning minister Nick Boles to discuss their concerns.
Councillor David Worden who attended the meeting said: “We have had a constructive meeting and I would like to thank the Minister for taking time to meet with us and hear our concerns. He has given us some useful advice and has said he will get back to us with further information that will help strengthen our case locally.”
Mr Harvey said: “Councillors explained vigorously to the planning minister the difficulties they face in dealing with opportunist and mischievous planning applications.
“The minister usefully clarified certain points and was sympathetic to their concerns, making clear they will be in a much stronger position once the local plan is adopted.”
North Devon Council leader Brian Greenslade said he was grateful the councillors had gone to number 10 to discuss the issues.
“I am grateful that the Minister was able to meet the North Devon Council deputation at short notice,” he added. “Also, thanks to our MP Nick Harvey for his support and help in making the arrangements at Westminster.
“It is time the Government ensured a level playing field, so councillors who serve on Planning Committees have the chance to take a balanced and fair view of planning applications they receive.”
Peter Heaton-Jones, Conservative Parliamentary candidate for North Devon, did not attend the meeting but said:
“I fully support today’s delegation to Downing Street calling for fairer planning rules and greater powers for local people here in North Devon.
“This is a cross-party campaign and not a partisan issue. The current system gives too much weight to developers and leaves our local planning committee virtually powerless.
“I have already written to the Secretary of State Eric Pickles and the Planning Minister Nick Boles, in particular about the Larkbear approval, which is now being referred to the minister for review.
“Local people and our elected representatives here in North Devon should be the ones who decide whether developments are allowed on our own doorsteps. I will work with everyone to ensure that happens.”