Changes to how planning applications are notified is failing, Uckfield town councillors believe.
Wealden District Council stopped writing to people who lived close to a proposed new development from November 1, last year.
It now relies on notices placed outside the property where the development is planned – as they were previously – notifications via its website and to those signed up to a weekly online alerts system, with some applications being advertised in newspapers.
Three examples in Uckfield
Uckfield town councillors have highlighted three instances where, they say, notices have not been placed outside the site where development is planned.
The latest two were discussed at this week’s meeting of the council’s plans committee.
They were at 3 Woodlands Close and 24 Selby Road where councillors said they had inspected the sites and found no notices.
One councillor said Wealden’s decision not to write to neighbours was possibly leading to a democratic deficit as people might not learn of a development in time to make an objection.
Cllr Jez Beesley said with reference to the Woodlands Close application that there should be no discussion because of the lack of notices.
“Until such time as a notice has gone up and local people can have their say, I think we should defer (discussion),” he said.
Cllr Duncan Bennett said that because notifications were not being mailed to people, the site notices rule was even more important.
He said the town council should urge Wealden to reconsider its policy.
“It is perhaps a cut too far.
“I think it is a deficit in the district’s duty of care. It is almost a democratic deficit, actually,” he said.
Cllr Karen Bedwell, who chairs the plans committee, said they should write to Wealden and say they would not discuss an application if site notices were not displayed.
“I don’t think we as a town council can fairly discuss these planning applications when neighbours have not been given the opportunity to make comments,” she said.
Cllr Chris Macve believed the notice of a planning application for display was sent by Wealden District Council to the applicant who was responsible for displaying it outside the property.
The town clerk will write to Wealden District Council expressing the council’s misgivings with the new system of notifications. The plans committee will defer consideration of applications where notices have not been displayed.
The 3 Woodlands Close proposal is to remove a garage and build a two storey side extension including annexe, accommodation on the ground floor and remodelling the roof space.
The 24 Selby Road proposal is for a single-storey rear extension.
The town council plans committee first raised concerns over the notification issue last month with reference to 61 Manor Way. See our report here.
The application was back before this week’s plans committee, after notices were displayed, and members agreed to object for a number of reasons including infilling, loss of parking and congestion.