Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Tulle Court - Planning approved, but disappointment for residents

Today there has been some reaction to the Tulle Court planning decision last night. The plans were approved with minor amendments, so the development of flats and houses on the now derelict site will soon begin. Whilst the re-development is good news in general terms, I am disappointed that the concerns of residents were not upheld in the planning consent. I feel that issues of access to the rear of George’s Terrace, overlooking of Carmona Drive and Church Drive, and parking problems were legitimate concerns.

Perhaps more disappointing was the lack of representation made available to residents at the meeting. The rules state that each side (those in favour of the application, and those against) may speak for two minutes. Ward Councillors may then speak, then members of the Committee, and then there is a vote. Unfortunately, two of the St Mary’s Councillors are on the Planning Committee, and so couldn’t speak for residents. The third was unavailable as well. This left local people without representation. I volunteered, but could be of little use because I am not a councillor. I arranged for Cllr Vic D’Albert, the Lib Dem Councillor for Holyrood ward, to attend and speak instead of a ward Councillor. Not only is he the Councillor for the ward next door, but he is Chair of Prestwich Area Board, and a resident of St Mary’s. Unfortunately, he was prevented from speaking, and the residents had no extra help. I am very disappointed by this.

Whilst I appreciate the potential for appeals should the rules be broken in this way, it would have been fairer, in my view, to seek a compromise position with the applicants rather than reject the offer of help from Cllr D’Albert out of hand. He wasn’t making his offer of help to score political points, but out of a genuine desire to help. Residents are entitled to representation, and could not receive it. It is my view that special arrangements should be made for alternative Councillor assistance should no ward Councillor be available.

The decision on the planning application itself was not entirely what residents wanted. But it will be accepted. The process though has left a sour taste with those of us who believe that it was rushed and completed without adequate consultation. Although we will all be happier with Tulle Court renovated and back providing housing for local people, last night’s events have sullied residents’ opinions of the Council and the democratic process, and were a shame in my opinion.

People entrusted with power should remember who entrusted them with it. At a time when faith in the political process is low, turnout in elections is falling, and opinions of politicians are poor, we have a duty of fairness to residents. I think there was a failure of that duty last night.


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