Gagged

PUBLISHED: 11:53 24 April 2008 | UPDATED: 13:12 06 May 2010

SIR, — The Local Government Ombudsman awarded an aggrieved resident of Bricket Wood £250 compensation following a complaint of unfair treatment by her local planning authority ( Injustice over rural office plan , Herts Advertiser, April 10). According to

SIR, - The Local Government Ombudsman awarded an aggrieved resident of Bricket Wood £250 compensation following a complaint of unfair treatment by her local planning authority ("Injustice over rural office plan", Herts Advertiser, April 10). According to your report, he said the resident had been deprived of the opportunity to make her objections known and was therefore left with the uncertainty of not knowing whether they would have affected the outcome of the application.

A similar situation has occurred here in Harpenden in connection with the recent felling of mature healthy cherry trees ("Chopped-trees row halts further work", Herts Advertiser, March 20 and previous editions). Harpenden Town Council submitted an application ref. TP/507/07/CA for tree work to St Albans District Council on October 15 last year for permission to remove unspecified trees, selected ash trees, hazel and thorn and general scrub clearance. No mention of the cherries.

None of the residents living in the vicinity of or opposite the area of Common in question received a letter inviting us to comment on the application and no notices were posted on site. The town council did not publish any information to this effect on its website, in its glossy quarterly, in the Town Hall or on any of the official notice boards. To all intents and purposes, it was a secret application.

Like the resident of Bricket Wood, my neighbours and I feel we too were deprived of an opportunity to make our objections known and are also left with the uncertainty of not knowing if they would have affected the outcome of the application.

If a householder applies for permission to remove or even prune a tree in a Conservation Area, there is a statutory obligation on the planning authority to contact adjoining and nearby residents with an invitation to support or object to the application. There appears to be no such duty imposed on another statutory body.

The clerk of Harpenden Town Council has said they followed due process and have done nothing wrong. I wonder if he's talking procedurally, legally, or morally - or all three?

ROBERT HILL,

East Common, Harpenden.

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