Councillors ask developers to pay up

Exmouth planners have joined a nationwide campaign which could result in supermarkets and large developers footing the bill of a process that could lead to their plans being refused.

Councillors have backed a campaign to change the law to force developers to pay town halls for the resources used when they scrutinise a planning application.

The campaign also calls for parish and town councils to be able to call on representatives of the developers to public meetings to answer questions on the merits of an application.

Exmouth town councillors have recently ruled that major applications, like large housing developments or supermarkets, should be debated in separate ‘standalone’ meetings giving the public a chance to have their say.

The campaign, which has attracted the support of 570 town councils, was started by Councillor Ron Bailey of Leiston-cum-Sizewell Town Council.

It follows a bid by Tesco to build a new superstore in their town; the application is eight inches thick, 1,000 pages long and cost hundreds-of-thousands-of-pounds.

Steve Shaw from unlock democracy said: “Tesco have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds …the evidence supports their application and there is nothing wrong in that.

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“But there maybe other views those other consultants may take. We need an alterative view…so we can take that best decision. There is no way we can afford this money.

“They are going to significantly affect our town…so it is reasonable that they pay a smaller amount to enable us to carry out our duty.”

Lib Dem town planner Tim Dumper said: “In order to have the debate regarding a large planning application on a level playing field it is only right that some resources

are provided for an independent study and that developers should foot the bill of that study.”

Conservative Bill Nash said: “What I think is important is that if there is a large application that councillors should be able to debate it separately and the public should be given the chance to ask questions which is what we do.

“But developers should be there to answer those questions.”