Councillors have been told that the amount of planning applications they have to deal with due to highways concerns in rural areas will be reduced.
Cllr Thomas Marshall, chair of Lichfield District Council’s planning committee, told a meeting this week that they had “re-assessed advice” being received from Staffordshire County Council’s highways teams.
It comes after a debate over an application to convert a disused barn at Brookhay Farm into a house.
The committee was forced to decide after highways raised objections due to the fact the development could only be reached by car due to a lack of footpaths and street lighting in the area.
But Labour’s Cllr Diane Evans said common sense needed to be applied when considering whether to debate such objections in rural locations.
“This is another incident with Staffordshire highways who are unwilling to allow buildings where there’s no street lighting or paving. What does one expect in an area such as this?
“Even if you come from Burntwood to Lichfield there are areas where it is dark and there is no pavement.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t accept this. We are being encouraged to develop places like this where everything else is derelict and not going to be used.”Cllr Diane Evans, Lichfield District Council
Conservative committee member Cllr Joseph Powell added:
“I totally agree with Cllr Evans. The times we’ve asked highways and pointed out the dangers of what they’re allowing and they say ‘no objection’ – but for something like this which will be a vast improvement they say ‘oh dear me, no’.”Cllr Joseph Powell, Lichfield District Council
Committee chair Cllr Thomas Marshall said the district council had looked to reconsider when such objections should require a decision by councillors.
“This is probably the last time we shall see an application brought to this committee because of highways objections such as this.
“We live in a rural community and we have a large number of redundant rural buildings. The fact they can be used for good accords with the wishes of many members of this committee.
“We have re-assessed advice we are getting from county highways and I don’t think you’ll be seeing another one brought to this committee on this basis.”Cllr Thomas Marshall, Lichfield District Council
The Brookhay Farm barn conversion was unanimously approved by the planning committee.