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Objecting to gypsy developments in Darlington a waste of time, says councillor
OBJECTING to gypsy developments in Darlington is a waste of time, according to a councillor who is calling for changes in national policy.
Councillor David Lyonette spoke out at as applications for two gypsy developments in the town’s Snipe Lane were granted at a planning meeting held by Darlington Borough Council today (Wednesday August 28).
As councillors and planning officers raised concerns about site accessibility – which will be pushed to near maximum by the developments – Coun Lyonette said there was no point objecting at this stage as the council was likely to lose on appeal.
The Labour councillor criticised national policy relating to provision for gypsies and travellers and expressed concerns about local authorities losing control of town development.
He said: “We need to discuss how we deal with this issue in the future. It is a waste of time objecting at the moment.
“Unless national guidelines change, appeal inspectors will take that course of action and unless we reach an exceptional point where things have gone beyond guidelines, we are wasting time arguing against it.”
He added: “We have to get our act together, right around the town. I have nothing against the desire of the applicants at all, but are we going to see dozens of these sites all around town?
“If we are going to have them dotted everywhere, it will affect the appearance of Darlington. We are being prevented from planning our own town.
“Saying no at this point will do us no good but how we will tackle this without changes in the law and guidelines, I do not know.”
Planning officer Dave Coates, who accepted the planning applications would have probably been turned down if they had come from non-gypsies, said: “It is a national issue, as a local authority we have to make provisions for gypsies.
“We are not yet in a position where we have met Government policy as we are still going through the process.
“The reason it is taking so long is because it is a difficult and emotive subject to address with members of the public.
“As soon as we identify sites around the borough, it attracts significant interest and it takes a huge amount of time to resolve matters.”
The newly approved Snipe Lane sites will accommodate two touring caravans, two utility buildings and two mobile homes.