Councillors have been accused of “ripping the character and soul out of Lichfield”.

A number of residents aired their views at a recent meeting of Lichfield District Council’s planning committee after a proposal was approved.

But in an open letter to members of the committee, the residents said they were concerned over whether public views were really being heard on planning matters:

“The outburst was as a result of frustrations felt by many of the objectors present due to the continued performance and decisions, from not only Lichfield District Council’s planning department, but also the planning committee.  

“Those who have experienced the planning process as we have question the capability of those involved but, more importantly, their compassion.

“They seem unable to make decisions which consider the impact on residents, but rather make decisions which align only with the wishes and pockets of the developers.

“The ‘presumption in favour of developers’ is ripping the character and soul out of Lichfield, and causing untold stress to those residents who are increasingly unlucky enough to experience profit-focused builders.”

“Budget protection and cowardice”

The statement also accused the council of showing “cowardice” when taking on developers:

“The metric of ‘no failed planning appeals’, self-selected by the council to assess quality planning, is at the heart of many of the planning deptartment ills.

“This metric is not one of quality but one of budget protection and cowardice.

“Cowardice to stand firm with its  planning policies, which residents believe are in place to protect this city and themselves.

“Those that have experienced planning would challenge this belief.

“Policies consulted on and adopted appear to be optional dependent on the level of force with which the applicant is prepared to threaten an appeal if refused. 

“It is the good people of Lichfield that pay the price – too many cookie cutter developments, loss of greenery, over development and back-yard development.

“A small price – Lichfield District Council considers – to pay as long as budget is saved.”

“Lack of challenge and debate is a disgrace”

The residents say they wrote the letter after being told their outburst at the planning meeting had been criticised by members of the committee.

But they accused the members of failing to tackle the issues at hand after the local authority figures revealed that only six members of the 15-strong committee had attended all six sittings of the committee since June, with one only attending half of the sessions:

“If the actions are ‘unseemly’ to you [the members of the committee], we suggest you look at yourselves.

“The lack of challenge and debate of the recommendations by the planning department by most councillors is a disgrace.

“The lack of attendance by many is unacceptable.

“You are often the last hope of objectors who need help to protect their homes and privacy – you are failing them through your action, or more accurately, your lack of action.”

A spokesperson for Lichfield District Council spokesperson said councillors judged each proposal based on a range of factors:

“When planning decisions are made by the planning committee, they receive detailed reports on every application.

“This enables them to make informed decisions, having regard to local and national policy and all other material planning considerations.”

Lichfield District Council spokesperson

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12 Comments

  1. More houses = more council tax. Lichfield has become a nightmare to live in and drive around. Infrastructure can’t cope and little room to improve it. Lack of facilities. If I could move I would.

  2. I think there should be a north bound slip road on the A38 down by tippers, to reduce congestion on the trent valley round about. Also the A38 designated slip lane down towards swinfen needs to be reworked to speed up traffic and keep trafic in the outside lane towards shenstone flowing, its stop start. Also pls if you do do these road works pls plant some more trees to offset the environmental damage!

  3. There is a significant pot hole on the trent valley round about coming up under the trent valey train bridge, it’s been there for about 9 months.
    Its right outside the windows of the council tip building (must be the first thing they see looking out the window). Surprised theres not been litigation against the council for destroyed aloys. Apprehensive about driving my MB over it.

  4. AnnS
    I’m with you. This City has gone right down in my opinion. Infrastructure cannot cope and the problem is,the council will be building more over the next few years because money talks and the residents mean nothing to them. I live on the A5127 town centre road and its congested all day now. The County Council have done nothing about it for years. Probably never will.

    http://www.l-a-g.co.uk

  5. At the end of the day a single representative gets five minutes (on a stop watch) to make a presentation to the committee. I was totally ignored when making mine and committee members could be seen talking to each other. Many letters that had been sent in support of the local issue were precised down to make them meaningless. The members in the gallery likewise remonstrated at the dismissive attitude of the LDC committee. Ours was one of many similar examples I have heard of since. It really does beg the question ‘who do the committee think they represent?’ They were elected to deal with issues in their respective wards. If they are constrained by National policy they should make this plane in any decision. Our observations are that the business objective always take presidence over any other consideration. It is not difficult to believe the LDC do not represent ordinary citizens. Nothing has been learned from Friarsgate.

  6. What’s happening with the development of the former nursery on Cherry Orchard? The site has been fenced off for years and is a real blot.on the landscape.

  7. The very simple reason , the council is building more housing as fast as it can allow boils down to the funding they get under the new homes bonus. They know this bonus will run out soon if the next government axes it. The more houses they can build the bigger the prize. As soon as the new homes bonus ends from central government the sooner they will slow down the housing market as it will no longer be in their interests

    The issue about planning advice is more complicated , you cannot blame council planners , if the very rules they are expected to follow allow such developments. For all of you that criticise planning decisions m remember that every time the council lose a planning appeal , They get stuffed with all the costs that comes out of tax money. If the council has no chance in winning if they refuse and it’s appealed then damn right they don’t refuse and allow the planning application through. The rules are against planners , it’s hard to refuse and win on appeal these days as the planning inspectorate is build bonkers , build under all extremes..

    The real enemy in council planning in Lichfield is the conservatives policy and the planning inspectorate dictatorship they are the enemy

  8. If you really think traffic is bad in Lichfield try Birmingham. Two cars at traffic lights = traffic jam in Lichfield. Getting round is largely easy, apart from some minor delays in rush hour. We’re also blessed with safe roads here compared to bigger places.

  9. Richard, I commute to Birmingham, Solihull and every other week through Central London. Believe me, Lichfield between 8:15 and 9:30am on any weekday is on a par with all the others. It never used to be like this.
    Also – the sentiment of “if you think this is bad…etc ..” is a tad empty after all, it’s a not a race to the bottom, is it?

  10. Pothole queries can be raised online. I pushed one through just a mere 9 years ago and it’s just been fixed, so they’re pretty quick (honest, I’ve got the email proof).

    I live in Burntwood and divert completely around Lichfield in the morning – towards Brownhills, up the A5 then the A5148 just to dodge any Lichfield traffic. In all honesty though it’s quicker on a pushbike if you want to get from one end of the city to another – the cycle route through Beacon Park and Stowe gets you from the West to East of Lichfield quicker than a car.

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