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MP calls on senior council officer to resign after Peel Hall appeal
12:12pm Monday 4th February 2013 in News
HELEN Jones MP has called for a senior officer at Warrington Borough Council to resign after councillors were told plans for 150 homes on Peel Hall will not be heard by the planning committee.
The Warrington North MP called for executive director of environment and regeneration Andy Farrall to resign after developer Satnam lodged an appeal against the 'non-determination of application'.
Councils have eight weeks from submission for it to be heard by the Town Hall committee.
Extensions of up to 13 weeks are available but the Warrington North MP says the council has failed to do so.
The matter is now likely to be heard at a public inquiry at some point in the future.
The Labour MP added that the council plans to bring it to the development control meeting in March were councillors can pass a resolution on what they would have chosen.
Helen Jones said: "This is an outrageous failure by the planning department and a breach of trust with local people. The application to develop Peel Hall is so high profile, I cannot believe that it was simply "overlooked" by the department.
"Now they have effectively lost the right for this application to be determined locally. I shall be writing to the chief executive calling for a thorough investigation and for disciplinary action to be taken against whoever is responsible.
"Some time ago I called for an outside expert to be brought in to review the planning department and I renew that call now. It is simply not fit for purpose.
"However, the buck must stop at the top. Senior officers are paid large salaries and must take responsibility when things go wrong. For this reason, I call on Andy Farrall, Executive Director of Environment and Regeneration, to resign. Someone must take responsibility for this fiasco and for the fact that local people have lost trust in this department."
Clr Steve Roberts (LAB - Poplars and Hulme) said: "The moment we received the news of Satnam's appeal to the inspector, Clr Lines-Rowlands and I demanded a meeting with senior officers.
"It is astonishing that no one has yet provided a satisfactory explanation as to why this application has simply been "missed".
"I am simply furious. People deserve to have planning applications determined by locally elected councillors. That chance has now gone and we are in the hands of an outside inspector. This is an insult to everyone who lives in Poplars and Hulme, who have been overlooked by Town Hall officers."
Clr Billy Lines-Rowlands (LAB - Poulton North) added: "This is nothing short of a botched job. Heads should roll."
A council spokesman said: "We are disappointed that Satnam has lodged an appeal before the council has made a decision regarding the application.
"The council has yet to receive confirmation that the appeal is valid from the Planning Inspectorate however this makes no practical difference to the council’s position.
"The council has always been clear with Satnam that the proposed development is not considered necessary, and this position has not changed.
"The planning application will be considered in full by the council's development management committee, in the normal way, on March 7 as previously planned. This will include councillors and members of the public being allowed to speak and reinforce their views on the proposal.
"The committee members will then vote as usual to determine if the planning application should be refused and the decision of the committee will be presented to an independent planning inspector, probably through a public inquiry.
"The inspector will consider the case for the applicant and the case for the council and then decide whether to allow or dismiss the proposal. The inspector will deal with the matter in exactly the same way as if Satnam had lodged an appeal after the development management committee had made a decision."