Is there any point in consulting the public?

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20 Nov 2010
If one were to cast an eye over the last few years’ worth of consultations and planning matters which have impacted on Bapchild, you’d almost certainly come to the conclusion that our opinions fall on deaf ears time and time again.

Just looking over the responses from the recent consultation on the Stones Farm SPD we can see that 99 individual matters were raised of which a staggering 82 have been totally disregarded by the planning department of Swale Borough Council.

Whilst some small and on occasion important issues did get addressed, the really important fundamental objections from all parties have simply been brushed aside. It wasn’t even one of consultations where the applicant has garnered a balance of residents both supporting and objecting to aspects of the consultation. Here it was clearly a case of objecting en masse.

So with this in mind is it acceptable to override the public’s views, apparently Swale Borough Council’s planning department believe it is, whatever the magnitude of those objections.

So what was the point in consulting us in the first place, are we simply living in a world where fear of an appeal or at least the financial burden of such overrides their duty to serve in the public interest?

Has the planning system degenerated to a point where those with the deepest pockets can simply buy their way through the planning process?

It’s certainly true that the planning system is stacked against opposing parties; we have no right of appeal unlike the applicant.

However bleak the situation appears, I still believe in our right to be heard, it’s still worthwhile taking part whatever the outcome, but change is required and soon.

Could the forthcoming Localism Bill offer a degree of hope?

Will Local Government start to acknowledge that it exist for our benefit and not for those greedy self-serving organisations that they appear so readily to jump into bed to satisfy what they define as a necessary compromise?