You may already have heard the disappointing news that the government inspector has overturned the Labour council’s decision to refuse planning permission to build 129 houses on Strawberry Fields in Carlton. The council listened to us and understood why this was entirely inappropriate development and therefore correctly turned down the application. Despite hearing compelling evidence from myself and members of the Carlton Neighbourhood Forum the government inspector chose to ignore all of the local knowledge and expertise and overturn the council’s refusal of planning permission.
We gave it our all speaking on behalf of the village at the appeal and fought the good fight for Carlton. Along with other residents I spoke passionately for the village and against its over-development. I also went to the inspector’s site visit to Carlton to show him the impact such a large development would have – including the current rhubarb production and Rhubarbfest. The windy village roads, which already suffer at school drop off and pick up times can’t cope and local village services and infrastructure can’t absorb a development of this size.
It’s so frustrating that local decisions can be overturned by a national government as it flies in the face of local democracy.
Some may try to blame the council for this decision for their own reasons. But I can’t be clearer that this decision was made by the government inspector and it is plain wrong as he could and should have listened to us as people who know the village and live here.
Unfortunately the previous Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government relaxed planning legislation to help developers by having a presumption in favour of ‘sustainable development’ which makes it much harder for local councils to stop development and for government planning inspectors to overturn local decisions.
I want to thank all the local people who worked tirelessly to fight this, who put in many hours of their time on behalf of the community and to those who objected and attended village meetings.
We now all need to get together and think about next steps. The important thing is that we continue to work for what is best for Carlton. We can still make a difference in shaping the exact development that will take place. We need to make sure it’s the best it can be to fit in with the existing village and to still try to maintain the character of our village. I will make it my priority to push the council for the improvements that will be badly needed with such a development.
We will certainly have had more than enough large development so it is more important than ever that we continue to produce our village plan.
Carlton is a fantastic village and I’m determined that it will continue to be. Despite this blow to our collective spirit, it won’t be defeated. We have to look to the future and re-group. By continuing to work together with a passion for Carlton, we can ensure that we get the best for Carlton residents, businesses and a thriving Carlton village community for many decades and generations to come.