(28/10/2016) COLCHESTER Council admits it wasted £91,000 defending an appeal against Stane Park which it could not win.

In July 2016, Churchmanor Estates won permission for its development in Stanway after the plans were initially refused by the council. The decision was immediately overturned by a Government Planning Inspector.

After probing by Conservative Councillors, a Council spokesman for the authority recently admitted the the Colchester Borough Council had in fact spent £91,000 defending the planning committee's decision with no chance of success. A Government Planning Inspector ruled that the Stane Park proposal was compliant with the National Planning Policy Guidelines. A public house, Nandos, Coast to Coast, Bella Italia and KFC are all lined up for the development, opposite Sainsbury's Tollgate.

In a hard-hitting judgement, Senior Government Planning Inspector Clive Hughes was highly critical of the ethical standards of the Colchester Borough Council Planning Committee when it refused, without good reason, an application for a pub, restaurants and cafe units at the Stane Park area of Tollgate.

He was highly critical of the Borough Council stance of pretending to protect employment land, when the Borough admitted to him that it has a 65 year supply, there is little prospect of Stane Park ever being used as such, and it was not a valid reason to refuse planning permission for alternative uses.

The Planning Inspector rejected out of hand the Borough Council's claim that this development could and should have be accommodated in the town centre. The Borough Council was unable to demonstrate where there was space for such a development in the town centre, and if such space existed, why there own development at the Northern Gateway was given planning permission rather than being relocated to the Town Centre.

Cllr Fiona Maclean (Stanway Ward) said "The Planning Inspector received many representations from local people that they want a proper Neighbourhood Shopping Centre for Stanway. The Borough Council put the temptation of vast income they could generate from the Northern Gateway ahead of the democratic voice of the people of Stanway, and used underhand means to try to scupper the Stane Park development. I congratulate the Planning Inspector on his sensible approach of approving the Development."

Conservatives will operate a scrupulously fair, unbiased and transparent planning system.

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