Town council '˜disappointed' with planners over Walkergate issue

Berwick Town Council has expressed disappointment that its councillors were unable to take part in a debate on amended plans for new offices on Walkergate.

Monday, 30th January 2017, 6:14 am
New offices on Walkergate, Berwick.

A retrospective application by Arch for additional mechanical roof cowls on the former Kwik Save site, now occupied by accountancy firm Greaves West and Ayre, was approved by Northumberland County Council’s strategic planning committee on January 3.

However, it has now emerged that Berwick Town Council did not receive a letter informing them that the item was on the agenda until the same day as the meeting.

Furthermore, the county council’s letter stated that any applications to speak on the matter had to be registered by December 30.

In an exchange of emails between interim town clerk Gareth Davies and planning officer Neil Armstrong, it emerged the notification letter, due to be sent on December 21, was franked December 28, with second class postage rates.

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As a result of the delay in sending out the letter of notification, and the impossibility for the town council of registering to speak, Mr Davies requested the item be withdrawn from the agenda but this was refused.

Town councillors had previously expressed concerns about the application and requested more information.

Mr Davies said the issues ‘did not reflect well’ on the county council.

Town councillors have agreed that any decision to make representations at a planning committee meeting be included in its minutes so the county has early notice.

A county council spokesperson said: “We have apologised to the town council for the issues relating to timeliness of correspondence around their representation – which was impacted by the Christmas holiday period.

“We have also reassured the council that the issues raised by them were fully taken into account in considering the application, including being highlighted by the case officer in his presentation to the planning committee.”