Burntwood’s neighbourhood plan cannot be ignored when decisions on future use of land in the town are made, a local councillor has said.

The 'blue hoarding' site in Burntwood. Picture: Google Streetview
The blue hoarding site in Burntwood. Picture: Google Streetview

Cllr Steve Norman made his comments after saying the chair of Lichfield District Council’s planning committee had spoken in favour of controversial proposals to build homes on the so-called blue hoardings site, despite officers recommending refusal.

Councillors eventually rejected efforts by a housing association to develop the site which has long been earmarked as the site for a new town centre.

But Cllr Norman, leader of the Labour opposition group at the district council, said he had concerns with the chair seeking to push members to go against planning recommendations.

Cllr Steve Norman
Cllr Steve Norman

“The chair did this with regard to the application earlier this year at the Angel Croft Hotel site, which was not contrary to the Local Plan or any Neighbourhood Plans.

“However, he also spoke, as chair, in favour of a housing development for 87 houses with no retail development on the designated town centre blue hoardings site in Burntwood, last November.

“There was no support for this. In fact there were 37 letters of objection from the public as well as strong objection from Burntwood Town Council, the opposite to the Lichfield application – so the chair isn’t even consistent with his views.

“The Burntwood Neighbourhood Plan was supported by 76% of residents in a referendum in May last year and a town centre – shops not just housing – was a big feature of this and supported in the Local Plan.

“If the application which went against this support had been approved by the committee – fortunately they agreed with Cllr Darren Ennis who spoke against it – the only way Burntwood could have saved the site is via an expensive Judicial Review.

“This is not the way to chair a planning committee in my view.”

Cllr Steve Norman, Lichfield District Council

Cllr Norman’s comments came in a written question to the cabinet member for regulatory, housing and health, at a meeting of the district council last week.

Cllr Angela Lax said

Angela Lax
Angela Lax

“The purpose of the planning system is to ensure sustainable developments happen in the right place at the right time for the benefit of the economy and the local community.   

“The members of the committee come from wards across the District and must be apolitical in their decision making. 

“The question is suggesting Committee Members should always follow a recommendation which begs the question, what is the point of having a planning committee of elected members if they always follow the officers’ recommendations?” 

Cllr Angela Lax, Lichfield District Council

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  1. At any planning committee meeting I’ve ever watched, the Chair always takes a pro-developer view. He’s always encouraging councillors to approve developments, irrespective of whether it’s in keeping with the local plan or not. I’ve seen it time and time again. The planning committee in general are utterly useless and not competent to make these huge decisions for a historic city like Lichfield, hence why we see rubbish housing estates which aren’t even in keeping with the area going up everywhere.

    They’re not fit to be in charge of planning decisions. I’d give the job to Lichfield Civic Society personally, and Cllr Joanne Grange, at least they have some common sense!

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