One-stop meeting to consider Tesco store plans
CHANGES to the planning process mean that Tesco s controversial application for its proposed St Albans superstore will be decided at one meeting. The application to build a 6,480 square metre store on the former Evershed s site in London Road will now be
CHANGES to the planning process mean that Tesco's controversial application for its proposed St Albans superstore will be decided at one meeting.
The application to build a 6,480 square metre store on the former Evershed's site in London Road will now be decided at a planning referrals meeting on June 30 instead of going to an area planning committee beforehand.
The same will apply to applications to build a total of 100 properties on two Oaklands College sites and 72 new homes on the Beaumont School site which will also go straight to the planning referrals committee on June 18 without a vote by an area planning committee first.
Previously most major applications went to their local planning meeting where 12 local councillors made a recommendation with the decision resting with the main planning referrals committee.
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The decision to change was taken by planning portfolio holder, Cllr Chris Brazier, in conjunction with the heads of the council's legal and planning services.
Cllr Brazier explained that they wanted to deal with all major applications on one night to make it less confusing for the public.
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There would be no misunderstanding about which meeting to turn up to if people wanted to make representations and the democratic process would not be compromised because planning referrals was made up of councillors from all three area planning committees.
He added: "Any councillor and two member of the public can speak out at referrals;
it is a clearer fairer system."
But Labour group leader Cllr Roma Mills described the decision as undemocratic and said it prevented communities affected by an application having their say.
She said she was concerned because it took the decision away from councillors - and therefore the community - who would be affected by the application.
Cllr Mills described the decision as high-handed and added, "the only reason I can see for doing it is to save time, hassle and money but it is not good a good way of dealing with applications.