Planning cuts

PUBLISHED: 10:34 13 November 2008 | UPDATED: 13:43 06 May 2010

IR — I am extremely grateful to you for having published my letter (Herts Advertiser, October 30) regarding my planning issues and in reading some of the other letters, feel the need to reply to the one by Vanessa Gregory regarding planning cuts. It is ea

IR - I am extremely grateful to you for having published my letter (Herts Advertiser, October 30) regarding my planning issues and in reading some of the other letters, feel the need to reply to the one by Vanessa Gregory regarding planning cuts.

It is easy to sympathise with the view that every time St Albans District Council makes cuts of any kind that we the residents will inevitably be the ones who will receive a poorer service. However in this case it must be said that the councillors were handed a poisoned chalice.

By implications any cuts to the St Albans planning department let alone the Conservation and Design Team would imply that the future impact of development on St Albans - an historical city deserving of preservation - would be left in the hands of unscrupulous, money-orientated developers.

It is safe to say that at any time that the community have had any worries about undesirable development they have not found it difficult to present their case and have an impact on planning applications. The Park Street Rail Freight Depot and the London Road Tesco proposal are but two that spring to mind and this was not done by lobbying the planners but by communicating the public's feeling to their elected representatives who, had they not paid notice, would have felt the pressure at the next ballot.

Can the same be said of our high-ranking and very qualified planning officers/conservation team experts? When their recommendations for approval fly quite literally in the face of public opinion do they suffer the same fate as our politicians?

So when our elected representatives had to decide how to improve the performance of a planning department which has long been in disarray, it was not difficult to recognise that there was no need to have two departments where one was in the position to override the other, often undermining the officers' confidence and not always reflecting public opinion.

As for the view that the former head of planning Dean Goodman was made the scapegoat, I am aware that he was not the only planning department employee to be made redundant - sadly the list was too short due our elected representatives having to balance the books and realising that we the taxpayers could not afford too many golden handshakes.

The people who live, work and play in St Albans should have greater representation in the planning process and do so though their elected councillors. We should therefore trust them and their ability to represent the needs of those who are most affected by planning decisions.

Should they not prove able, then the public should not have to suffer the consequences indefinitely.

TERENZIO DI FRANCESCO,

Stanhope Road, St Albans.

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