Rare moment when public’s voice won

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THE planning refusal for Archery Road will go down in history as one of those rare moments when the voice of the people was heard.

Where councillors woke up and smelt the roses (well, all but two of them) and could see without little doubt here was a golden opportunity to stop this disastrous proposal and ensure something better in its place.

This David v Goliath exercise was not just about fighting the developer but also the planning department whose persistence to carry on with the intended plans despite the huge influx of objections and a dedicated campaign group STAG.

Some 33 months later we must also ask how taxpayers’ money has been wasted by the planning department on the man hours, resources and meetings. Obviously nobody within the council or councillors appear to have cared about the costs of this now defunct application.

None of this was necessary had Tim Cookson, the Borough Planning Officer, not succumb to Galdedale’s demands and kept to the original plan for the Archery Ground. A plan that would have been more acceptable and sensible for the area.

The plan that Mr Cookson told then MP Michael Foster how it would be spatial, of high quality materials and to blend in with the conservation area. So instead he and planning officer Karen Phillips ploughed on in denial there was anything wrong about the Gladedale application. During which time rapport with them on issues about the application was dreadful. We locals and objectors were a total nuisance. Replies to emails could take up to three months and then often little or no answer to the subject.

The borough is already littered with bad buildings that are an affront and yet we forget what damage they do. Buildings carelessly allowed that are do dreadful damage with which we have lived with for so long that we accept them instead of being ashamed. This time round HBC think about it. Listen to the public for once.

RICHARD HERITAGE

Dorking

Surrey