Don't restrict public input

I note that significant changes are proposed for the latest draft of Northumberland's Core Strategy, and that the consultation on these will take place during June and July.

Friday, 11th March 2016, 8:00 am

If I believed in conspiracy theories I might suggest that such timing is suggestive of an attempt to bury the issue, coming as it does at the fag end of the European referendum campaign and the start of the summer holidays.

This is an important document which will help determine planning policy in the county for the foreseeable future.

If the council wants to avoid real engagement with local opinion, it could not have chosen a better time to do it.

As well as such inappropriate timing, which has also characterised earlier consultations, public participation in the process is further restricted, especially in many rural areas where broadband download speeds are abysmal, by restrictions on the availability of paper copies of the consultation drafts.

Northumberland County Council has increasingly alienated the planning process from the communities it is supposed to serve.

As well as this consultation, it appears that it is, yet again, re-organising its planning administration in a manner which will turn it even more into a remote, bureaucratic exercise, devoid of local knowledge, understanding and input.

Colin Wakeling