COUNCILLORS and hundreds of residents in a South Lakes town have accused district planners of ‘failing to listen to their wishes’.
Both Grange Town Council and Grange and District Action Group (GADAC) have hit out at South Lakeland District Council for arranging a planning meeting in Kendal – despite ‘the biggest development in Grange for 30 years’ set to be decided during the proceedings.
The controversial plans are for 40 new homes between Grange and Allithwaite.
“Residents strongly feel it [the meeting] should be in Grange as it’s a major development – if not the biggest development in Grange for 30 years,” said Chris Eckersley, spokesman for GADAC, which represents 192 residents.
“It’s just been a rush job. A week ago we weren’t even sure if it was going to be held, let alone where it would be.”
The application for the development between Allithwaite Road and Carter Road was lodged last July.
It has attracted criticisms from residents concerned about drainage and flooding, as well as road safety around the development, while Grange Town Council has also formally objected.
The planning committee is set to make a decision tomorrow (Thursday), following a meeting in December at the town’s Victoria Hall, when the application was deferred.
“Common sense suggests that after deferring the application in Grange, it would be the right decision to hear the resumption of the application back in Grange,” said Grange Town Council leader, Coun Tom Harvey.
“Sadly, despite trumpeting the fact that the planning committee would get out in the community, it seems they've done it once and now reverted to type and retreated behind the anonymous doors of Kendal Town Hall.
"What we are seeing is the promise of community engagement over planning, whereas the reality is catering for the needs of planning officers and developers instead of our residents.”
And John Sexton, of Allithwaite Road, said: “It’s amazing that in the week when David Cameron can hold a cabinet meeting in Aberdeen, the SLDC planning committee can’t make the short trip to Grange.”
But Debbie Storr, from the district council, said the Victoria Hall’s public address system was ‘inadequate’ at the meeting in December.
“This caused difficulties for those who were listening to the speakers and the debate,” she said.
“We are continuing to look at venues both in Grange and across the district which can be used in the future.”