Call for urgent review after alleged 'manipulation' of planning process
A COUNCILLOR has called for the alleged manipulation of the planning process in Bolton to be scrutinised.
Cllr Andy Morgan is urging Bolton Council to carry out an urgent review of planning breaches and enforcement over the past five years.
It follows a number of high profile and controversial planning decisions in recent months.
A motion being submitted at tonight’s full council meeting reads: “This council believes that some applicants and agents are manipulating the planning system to achieve their own personal aims contrary to our own planning policies, guidelines and planning objectives.”
It continues that if successful, officers at the council would be committed to looking into the number of planning breaches and enforcement actions, plus the number of retrospective planning applications by ward and also how many were approved or rejected.
A policy development group would also be established to ensure the planning enforcement process is fit for purpose.
But Cllr Hanif Darvesh, chairman of the council’s planning committee, accused Cllr Morgan of playing with residents’ emotions and expectations by manipulating their understanding of the planning system.
Cllr Morgan said he submitted the motion out of frustration, adding that he thinks there is an emerging pattern of retrospective planning applications coming through to the council.
He added: “This motion is about making sure the existing enforcement system is robust enough.
“This is not a political motion and it’s not a criticism of our officers but we as a group want to make sure our democratic process is being worked through.”
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Cllr Darvesh said: “The planning system/committee is not a court of law. We cannot interrogate or cross examine applicants about a retrospective planning application, nor can we punish them.
“As a member of the committee Cllr Morgan knows full well the legal restrictions placed upon us and the process that we must follow.
“By pretending otherwise, he is simply playing to the gallery.”
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