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Westminster turning screw on Uttoxeter planners

By UttoxeterPostandTimes.3522974.UttoxeterPostandTimes  |  Posted: February 17, 2014

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THE man heading a committee deciding where to put thousands of homes in Uttoxeter has admitted it has become ‘extremely hard’ to reject housing applications.

Martin Blencowe, chairman of East Staffordshire’s planning committee, said government legislation is encouraging leniency when considering applications for houses.

As Westminster looks to address a national housing shortage, Councillor Blencowe admitted his colleagues are having ‘serious reservations’ about the amount of applications they are having to pass.

And, with more than 12,000 homes having to be constructed in East Staffordshire by 2031, the news will worry protestors looking to block developments across Uttoxeter.

Speaking at a recent Uttoxeter Town Council meeting, Councillor Blencowe said: “It’s well documented that a lot of applications in the Burton area have been approved because that’s the way the law has been written and councils have to enforce that.

“But councillors have had serious reservations about how many applications that they are having to approve.

“A lot of councillors now see planning policy as just being handed down from Westminster. Legislation is legislation at the end of the day.

“We have lost a number of appeals for applications that we have tried to reject where our decision is overturned by the national planning inspectorate.

“We found ourselves in a very difficult position, but that’s where we are.

“I have to admit that it’s become extremely hard for the planning committee to reject applications for houses.

“I want to get a healthy discussion going on about each and every planning application for houses in Uttoxeter.”

Councillor Blencowe was speaking in response to a resident’s letter asking whether there would be a public consultation on plans to build 365 homes at Hazelwalls Farm.

He said: “In answer to the letter we’ve received, there has already been extensive public consultation about Hazelwalls Farm and that will continue.

“However, it should be noted that the Hazelwalls Farm plan is still in the pre-application phase.”

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