Thursday 25th July 2019
Little Down Development
An open letter to the residents of Shaftesbury.
The Town Council has received concerns and allegations regarding its handling of the planning application submitted by Redrow for development at Little Down.
The Council takes all concerns seriously and has carried out an investigation into these allegations relating to process and these have been presented in a report to all members of Shaftesbury Town Council. This report is available for you to read on the Council’s website https://www.shaftesbury-tc.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/2019-06-28-Little-Down-Investigation.pdf.
It may help you to understand the context around this matter. The Town Council is a statutory consultee on planning applications but does not have the power to determine the applications. It will consider any application and the views of the residents in making its comments on all planning applications within its area. The responsibility for this is delegated to the planning and highways committee although there are occasions where due to time constraints, the general management committee or the full council will consider an application. There is no difference in the validity or weight of the response from these three meetings.
The Council met several times with the developer, Shaftesbury Open Spaces Group, representatives from AONB and landscape architects to bring about some changes to the proposed scheme to improve it for the people of Shaftesbury. All parties embraced this proactive approach and worked well together.
It is unfortunate that there are some people who are unhappy with the outcome of the Council’s observations to the Planning Authority however, it should be stressed that the responsibility has always been with, and continues to be with, the Local Planning Authority for determining planning applications.
This particular planning application was received by North Dorset District Council, was amended and re-consulted by North Dorset District Council under their constitution, the Town Council’s observations were under that system however the decision on that application was taken by Dorset Council under their constitution following Local Government Reorganisation. There was every reasonable expectation at the time that Shaftesbury Town Council was re-consulted that under North Dorset District Council process this application would go to committee and not be decided under delegated powers although an objection or representation does not trigger an automatic referral to Committee.
I trust that this letter, although unable to change the outcome of the decision made, will demonstrate the work that Shaftesbury Town Council has undertaken to try and work with developers for the benefit of Shaftesbury and reassure residents that it has carried out its duties in accordance with the law and its policies and procedures.
Mrs Claire Commons CertHE PSLCC
Town Clerk and RFO
For and on behalf of Shaftesbury Town Council