We'll revolutionise planning, fast track business applications and tear up village boundaries

PUBLISHED: 10:49 23 March 2010 | UPDATED: 09:35 02 June 2010

Design awards presentation night

Design awards presentation night

By John Elworthy FAST tracking of business applications, tearing up of village boundaries and tackling inconsistent advice on highways matters will revolutionise planning in Fenland, says Council Leader Alan Melton. And in a hard hitting speech to devel

Design awards presentation night

By John Elworthy

FAST tracking of business applications, tearing up of village boundaries and tackling "inconsistent" advice on highways matters will revolutionise planning in Fenland, says Council Leader Alan Melton.

And in a hard hitting speech to developers and architects he promised Fenland's growth "will no longer be held by hostage by conservation rules."

Cllr Melton unveiled Fenland District Council's new approach to planning in a keynote speech to a packed audience at the Cambs Times/Wisbech Standard/Fenland District Council Building Design Awards finals.

"First of all there will always be a presumption in favour of approval for proposals that are legal and well designed," he said. "In the event of a business application that will be fast tracked and ridiculous minutia such as types of trees and landscaping will not prevent the issuing of a decision notice."

He pledged that village development boundaries "will no longer be sacrosanct- it is ridiculous that boundaries set in 1993 are still used as a reason for refusal. This will not happen, with immediate effect."

It was not a licence to propose mansions in the open countryside, he said, since developments will have to be in the vicinity "and form a continuous line of development".

Fenland would be ready for the upturn and it was essential the district was able to meet ambitious targets for housing growth.

Potential delays by Middle Level Commissioners to developments would be tackled by councillors who serve on their boards taking a "more strident approach" and decisions, if necessary, would be issued without their approval.

But it was on being "held by hostage by conservation rules" that attracted considerable ire from Cllr Melton who listed cases where conservation officers had hampered redevelopment and led to derelict sites.

"How can we justify a sustainable development policy when listed buildings and buildings in conservation areas are not allowed to install double glazing?" he said.

He promised quality would not be sacrificed for quantity as a panel being set up by Cambridgeshire Horizons would oversee "the sustainability of projects in fenland".

Cllr Melton said for the new approach to work, it was up to developers to work with the council "as partners. When we ask you for clarification or information, we shall expect it well within the deadlines.

"Otherwise we reserve the right to issue a decision notice of refusal within our target limits".

He added: "I know that some of this is music to your eyes, and I know you will be cynical and say we have heard it all before.

"Well here it is. It has my name on it. Feel free to quote me.


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