Lewes Forum thread

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Lewes Forum New message

Peter Gardiner should resign... NOW!

 
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On 29 Oct 2008 at 7:46pm Spinster Of This Parish wrote:
Just watched the Inside Out programme on BBC1.
Well done to Pru Rowntree, Jenny Munford and Rita Ellis for speaking on behalf of the disillusioned residents of Lewes.
Peter Gardiner was interviewed too and demonstrated his complete lack of compassion and knowledge of duties and responsibilities of councillors and planning legislation. Shame on him and shame on Lewes District Council.
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On 29 Oct 2008 at 7:57pm Local wrote:
Gardiner's lack of knowledge didn't come as a surprise, but now it's been aired on television he should consider his position. Very good piece and interesting to see Rochester council pulls the same tricks as Lewes - not consulting Environment Agency, 'losing' objection letters.
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On 29 Oct 2008 at 8:25pm Ben wrote:
I haven't seen the programme, but Peter Gardiner used to be Head of the School of the Built Environment at Brighton University, so I'd be surprised if he had a complete lack of knowledge about planning legislation.
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On 29 Oct 2008 at 9:16pm MC wrote:
Sh*te. So that was why my phone bleeped me. Has anyone added it to YouTube... or is there any other way I can view it
 
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On 29 Oct 2008 at 9:22pm Local wrote:
Ben - it might be best not to comment about something you haven't seen. Spinster explained quite clearly how Gardiner displayed his ignorance.
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On 29 Oct 2008 at 9:43pm Ben wrote:
Okey doke. I shall wait to be surprised.
 
 
On 29 Oct 2008 at 9:52pm Corrie fan. wrote:
Just checked the BBC I player...Not available yet,but it says 'cpming soon' so it should be available to watch again shortly,and for the next week or so.
Was watching Coronation Street....
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 1:40am Ben wrote:
Right, seen it now.

There's some clever editing in that piece. The presenter talks about a lack of dialogue between the Planning Committee and residents. Then we cut to Peter Gardiner saying that the Planning Committee shouldn't make up their minds about a scheme before it goes to committee. He DOES NOT say there shouldn't be any dialogue. Then we cut to Kelvin MacDonald saying that it is a myth that planning committees can't have a dialogue with residents.

See what they did there? Never trust what you see on television.

For anyone interested in the truth about what Councillors can and can't do it's all in "Guidance for Members and Officers on Planning Matters", you can find it via Google.
 
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On 30 Oct 2008 at 7:28am Corrie fan wrote:
I just logged onto the BBC website,and watched Inside Out.The wrong one(London) To get to the correct one,go onto the BBC homepage,and put Inside Out in the search box at the top,then pick the South East region from the long list.Voila.Got there in the end...
 
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On 30 Oct 2008 at 7:59am One Voice wrote:
Ben, you seem abnormally keen to protect the Council and the Councillors, but incredibly naive about the processing of planning applications during the last five years. What is your agenda?
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 8:04am Heffer wrote:
Ben, you'll send that Google link onto the council too then I hope! Gardiner may have NOT said there shouldn't be any dialogue [in the programme] but I have sat in a meeting with him where he has said exactly this and the been backed by the District Solicitor. I have also heard this mantra from lots of councillors in the past. Lewes District Council have encouraged this atmosphere so they don't have to consult.
What Gardiner did say was he could give us examples of where the Planning Committee has rejected or demanded changes to applications - I look forward to that list. But especially where it has examples that match concerns raised by ordinary folk and not just their planning officer issues.
The main point made was the lack of a local plan. And where MacDonald is right in that they would be able to refuse or adapt applications if they had some form of town plan. I don't hold out much hope for this because LDC don't even stick to any they have [such as they are] - the Lewes House site does not conform to their own development brief so what hope is there then?! You may think they could refuse because of the conservation area - where it is supposed to be 'enhanced' by any new development - show me where the crappy Baxters building does that? Biggest issue for Lewes is all the major sites in town are now under construction or too far advanced in the planning process to make any town plan worth its salt. I just hope other towns and cities learn from the balls up in Lewes.
Resign now!
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 10:08am Ben wrote:
My only agenda is to speak out when I see any examples of the hysterical prejudice and / or exaggerated nonsense that pervade this forum. I prefer to look at the facts objectively and make my own mind up. What I saw in the programme in no way matched the monocular reaction of Spinster and co. The only person who should resign is the producer of the programme, for putting together a deliberately deceptive montage of interviews that gave those people who are so desperate for evidence of political incompetence exactly what they crave.

I make no apologies on behalf of the planners or the Councillors regarding their record over the last few years and I certainly wouldn't try to defend them. I myself have been at the sharp end of their exasperating approach to planning and conservation. But that doesn't mean I read things into a television programme that aren't actually there.
As for naivety, I think it is naive to think that Councillors can sit down with locals and discuss a specific application while remaining impartial, particularly when everyone is so against development. In practice, there are very few Local Authorities in the country where Planning Committee Members will risk accusations of bias or impropriety by getting involved in discussions about specific sites.

[Sorry if this post appears twice. The first attempt had a naughty word in it].
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 10:48am Dave wrote:
Are you a developer then Ben?
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 10:55am Ben wrote:
No. Nor do I work for the Council, etc etc.
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On 30 Oct 2008 at 11:50am Nosey wrote:
Just a pratt then?
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 12:02pm ben wrote:
The other thing I've noticed about this forum is that when people can't or don't want to understand something, they just get abusive.
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 12:13pm Local wrote:
Yes Ben we noticed - wasn't it you who said, 'Sorry if this post appears twice. The first attempt had a naughty word in it.'
Nosey - it's important that Ben should post on here as otherwise we never hear what Lewes District Council or East Sussex County Council are thinking.
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 12:45pm Lopster wrote:
Ben the council is obliged to represent the views of the electorate - that is why we vote so that our views are expressed - consequently I would suggest that it is their DUTY to obtain public opinion and NOT keep themselves away from it beforehand so as not to be biased by pre-judgements at planning meetings thus able to "fairly" judge any new evidence that comes to light (thats what the man said irrespective of whether or not you think that the question and answer were "unfairly" editted) - other option is to have public meeting/referendum to present options afterwards so that the electorate can make up their minds (those that bother to get involved of course) - Ben - your defense of our weak council is unhealthy and biased in the extreme - no wonder that us other posters see you as involved - in a town the size of Lewes and with thge historic significance of Lewes it is not difficult to involve the electorate -
We need to discuss a voting strategy in this town at ALL levels - I would suggest that this forum is a great vehicle for that - open to suggestions guys...
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 1:02pm Ben wrote:
Lopster, did you and the others actually read my post above? In no way am I trying to defend the Council. I'm just pointing out that the programme was deviously edited and Spinster and Local are wrong to call for a resignation on the back of it. I'm sorry if people are disappointed by this evident truth: by all means call for his resignation on the back of LDC's record over the years if you like.

One point: the statutory public consultation that accompanies every planning application is the democratic process by which public opinion is obtained. No other process is required by law.
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 1:02pm Frank Keys wrote:
I tend to agree with Ben's post that some people on this forum have made their mind up about the supposed conspiracies within our councils. This was one of the most biased TV shows I've ever watched. Planning isn't my biggest issue in the town, as I actually think Lewes has been spared the mass development of other towns such as Seaford, Newhaven and Peacehaven in the District. I have been put off by the shrill 'Crawley by Ouse' rhetoric of the protest organisers, and I also know some people who are in favour of more development in the town (not just developers or council staff) and there are 500 homeless people in the district who need housing. So yes councils should represent public opinion, but frustratingly, that doesn't mean you're always going to get exactly what you want as other local people may disagree with you.
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 1:10pm Taff wrote:
I actually agree with some of what Ben has said. The media will try all sorts of tricks to bull up the situation. Years ago it was called investigative reporting, now it has become applied to everyday events and the BBC in particular have been known to sensationalise items that didnt need it.
The media are the lowest of the low in my opinion. They will never publish anything in its entirety and reality if they cannot make anything from it.
Call me cynical if you want, I have had many dear friends become victims of such media attention.
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 2:15pm Frak wrote:
Have to agree with Ben to some extent here, the section of the programme with Peter Gardiner was edited to agree with what was quite a very one-sided piece. He didn't say that they weren't allowed to speak to people, just that they shouldn't make up their minds too early - which surely is common sense, and not actually what the other two contributers were talking about.
I'm not saying that the council are doing a good job (i haven't a clue, I don't work in plamming), but as with anything on TV the viewer will take from it what they want to hear, and the producers will produce what is the most interesting/bigger story even if it not the 'whole' truth.
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 4:27pm Dave wrote:
If anyone else missed it the programme is here
www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00f8r0l
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 6:51pm I dont live in lewes anymore wrote:
My dearest Benjamin, do you really find it that suprising that when a council (Sorry Dah-lings we have to remain aloof) acts in a fashion that negatively affects local residents, that those residents tend to get hysterical. I note your use of the word "predudice". If you take it to mean an unfavorable opinion formed without knowledge then it's hardly suprising that Lewesians suffer from it when they are by design kept in the dark. Councilors disagreeing (as is their right) with the Planning Dept, over sizeable developments only adds to the insecurity.
Maybe councilors are more qualified than planners... I'll ask Wikki.
PhilX
ps. Gardiner came over as a pompous ass and that was nothing to do with editing.
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 7:04pm Ben wrote:
By prejudice, I mean prejudgment, ie, forming an opinion without bothering to find out the facts, or deliberately ignoring them.

Why you are confusing this with a perceived lack of information from LDC about planning matters, I'm not quite sure. Please clarify. Gardiner did indeed come across as pompous, but is that a resignation offence?
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 8:13pm Bradley wrote:
But what did he say that would warrant his resignation?
 
 
On 30 Oct 2008 at 8:49pm Old Git wrote:
What Peter Gardiner basically said was that it is perfectly OK for Planning Committee members to listen to what local people have to say, but - as a Planning Committee member - they shouldn't make their mind up until they have had all the evidence (from both sides and from their professional planning officers) presented to them at the meeting that will make the decision.
That seems to me to absolutely CORRECT.
Under the regime that pre-dates Peter Gardiner's election to the council, things were certainly interpreted differently. Planning Committee members were told that they shouldn't get involved in any way, because their ONLY role was to turn up at a Committee meeting and take a decision.
It was following that advice that led to the shambles that was LDC's input into the planning application for the Falmer Stadium that ended up costing the council a fortune to oppose the wishes of thousands of local people.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 9:04am Town Centre Resident wrote:
Actually what Peter Gardiner said was a vey poor attempt at avoiding lying.
The Council have continued to advise Councillors incorrectly about meeting with the public, supported by Mr Gardiner. These facts emerged at a meeting attended recently by residents and Norman Baker, which is why the issue appeared in this programme.
Anne De Vecchi has also continued to allow this to take place despite the issue being raised 4 years ago when an e-mail emerged signed by her, and Peter Gardiners predecessor Neil Commin, advising Councillors not to attend a public meeting about the Lewes House site because, whilst 'in their minds they might be listening' attendence would give the impression of support.
Of course Peter Gardiner should resign, or ask those who advised him incorrectly about this issue, to do so instead.
My view is that anyone with common sense would have realised that the situation was undemocratic, and if they had actually read the Code of Conduct regarding meeting with the public, they would know that Council legal advice was incorrect.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 9:47am I dont live in lewes anymore wrote:

In itself being aloof arent grounds for saying goodbye. Just an opinion but being aloof when the good old general public are crying out both for information and to be listened to (don't care if it's district or county council) is tantamount to saying "You don't matter but us in the know do". That strongly hints at taking a superior stance which again is fine, providing you are superior which he isn't.
It comes back to the good old democracy argument again. Yes councilors and those on the council have powers to act on our behalf but as, if not more importantly, it's how they use those powers to BENEFIT the electorate.
PhilX
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 9:51am Town centre resident wrote:
see my post below. Cll gardiner has reason to seem 'shifty'
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 11:04am Ben wrote:
Hmm. Whatever the CoC and Kelvin MacDonald say, I think it's nave to believe that Planning Committee members should be fully involved in planning application discussions or public meetings. Once you go down that route, developers will quite rightly and fairly ask for their own discussions with the Planning Committee, and imagine the uproar if the Committee was sitting down for a series of cosy chats with, say, the Styles about the Phoenix site. Quite apart from the fact that almost every application would be susceptible to challenge at judicial review. It's just not realistic.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 11:29am Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
Didn't the developer behind one of the recent planing applications (sorry, can't recall which, might have been the new barracks in St Nicholas Lane) give a presentation to councillors prior to the application being considered in committee? Not far short of a "cosy chat" imo.
I think it's utterly reasonable to expect planning committee members to be involved in public meetings. It's a very good way for them to find out what people think, and if they're not prepared to listen to their constituents they've no business being on the council imo.
It certainly wouldn't be grounds for taking a decision to judicial review: there are 3 - when an action is ultra vires, when a procedure is unfair (this usually requires a breach of the principles of natural justice), or when a decison is "unreasonable". Simply attending a public meeting would not render the planning application process unfair imo as it is not part of that process.
Having been secretary to two planning committees, in my experience there is nearly always dialogue between leading members of those committees and those submitting major applications. Very often, this dialogue is conducted via council officers, to make it look as though it isn't happening.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 11:52am Ben wrote:
Annette, wouldn't your second ground for judicial review would include a claim of bias?

If anyone knows of a Local Authority in this country where Planning Committee Members take the risk of being openly involved in meetings or discussions with either the public or applicants, I'd be interested to hear about it, and how it works in practice.
 
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On 31 Oct 2008 at 12:17pm Town Centre Resident wrote:
Ben, I appreciate your attempt to defend Cllr Gardiner, but you are avoiding the same issue that he avoided, and offering a similar defencse as misguided Councillors. Do you happen to be connected with LDC?
Councillors can meet with the public to listen to, and discuss planning issues, although they need to tread carefully. This point was made by the RTPI representative on the programme, and in a letter written by District solicitor, Catherine Knight
Unforunately for residents, and tax payers, he Councils more junior planning solicitor, Mark Reynard, and Cllr gardiner have been advising Councillors that they cannot meet with the public at all. this is wrong, and contradicts not only the code of conduct, but also the correct advise of the RTPI, the Councils own District solicitor, and Government advice.
There is no defense of this failure, which has led to a situation where members of the public have no voice on general planning matters, such as making a councillor aware on the day of a meeting that Planning Officers have made a significant 'mistake' in a report. This is leading to expensive deferrals, and representations, as well as being undemocratic, patronizing, and rather inappropriate.

 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 12:18pm Town Centre resident wrote:

Ben, I appreciate your attempt to defend Cllr Gardiner, but you are avoiding the same issue that he avoided, and offering a similar defencse as misguided Councillors. Do you happen to be connected with LDC?
Councillors can meet with the public to listen to, and discuss planning issues, although they need to tread carefully. This point was made by the RTPI representative on the programme, and in a letter written by District solicitor, Catherine Knight
Unforunately for residents, and tax payers, he Councils more junior planning solicitor, Mark Reynard, and Cllr gardiner have been advising Councillors that they cannot meet with the public at all. this is wrong, and contradicts not only the code of conduct, but also the correct advise of the RTPI, the Councils own District solicitor, and Government advice.
There is no defense of this failure, which has led to a situation where members of the public have no voice on general planning matters, such as making a councillor aware on the day of a meeting that Planning Officers have made a significant 'mistake' in a report. This is leading to expensive deferrals, and representations, as well as being undemocratic, patronizing, and rather inappropriate.
 
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On 31 Oct 2008 at 12:24pm Geoff wrote:
You cannot risk a planning decision by attending a meeting, listening to constituents or even expressing concern. You can risk it by doing such things as expressing a decisive view before a meeting, or acting in an inappropriate way, such as e-mailing a developer inappropriately, or telling a load of people in the street that you had an agreement with another member of a planning commitee about how she would vote, and were annoyed that she didn't.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 12:29pm Nosey Parker wrote:
Annette, you are quite correct in your comment about the councillors and council officers being given a presentation of the Printworks well before the PAC. The information in this cosy presentation included information that was with-held from the public and not made available until after the PAC determination!
Also, on another plnning application, I believe that one of the councillors for Bridge ward (Kim Clark?) was caught having direct e-mail communication with Charles Style well before his intentions about the Phoenix Quarter were made public.
No wonder so many residents feel that the coucnillors are crooked
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 12:42pm Ben wrote:
How many times do I have to say it? I am not defending anyone, I am only interested in being objective rather than prejudiced. I do not work for LDC, a developer or indeed anyone else at all.

I understand what is supposed to happen - the point I am making is: why do very few, if any, Local Authorities up and down the country allow their Planning Committee Members to engage openly with either public or applicant, as the RTPI would suggest? Even on site visits, members of the public are usually not allowed to talk to members.

What I don't understand is your point about having a voice. If you want to be heard, you can contact the planning officer with your concerns, you can contact your ward councillors, or you can contact your MP. That's three voices. And you are quite entitled to speak at the Planning Committee. So four voices in all.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:04pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
No Ben, because the second ground refers to the mechanics of the process. If a procedure is structured in such a way that both sides don't have a fair opportunity to make their point, that would be unfair. That's why at planning committee meetings, both a representative of any protesters and of the developer get an opportunity to make their point.
The process is quite rigorously fair from the developers point of view. There is a school of thought that it favours developers, as reasons have to be given for refusal, but not for the granting of consent - the presumption is therefore always in favour of development. There are only certain grounds on which applications can be declined, and they are quite narrowly drawn. The only point at which bias can creep in is in the weight given to positive features of a development as opposed to the negative. And of course, that's exactly where it does creep in.
The process is also considered by some to be weighted in favour of developers as they have the right of appeal, and protesters don't. And of course, developers can claim compensation for any financial loss incurred as a result of the delay in consent being granted - quite a deterrent to council officer fearful for his budget!
Bias on the part of an individual councillor wouldn't make the process itself unfair.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:07pm Town Centre resident wrote:
Ben, I appreciate you are trying to be impartial, but you are now offering conflicting views. Perhaps you have also been misled with inaccurate information about what Councillors can and can't do?
The whole point of this thread is that Lewes District residents are currently being prevented from contacting/discussing/ engageng in a dialogue with their elected representatives (Counciloors) because Peter Gardiner (the subject of this thread) is following the incorrect advise of an LDC solicitor, and advising Councillors that they should not engage with the electorate in planning matters.
You obviously have never attempted to point out to an LDC a mistake in a planning report to an officer. The residents who attempted to correct the Albion St mistakes were libelled by LDC staff in an e-mail, and even in a later public meeting. It was eventually acknowledged that a mistake had been made by LDC,
If you want to speek at a meeting you have to fight for one of three places, and unlike many other councils you only get 2 minutes to speak, wether it be about a fence, or 750 flats on a flood plain. this is why it is important to ensure you havea legal, and constructive dialogue with councillors before a meeting.
it is also interesting to note that Cllr Gardiner is building a reputation as one who fails to reply to correspondence either promptly, or at all, from members of the public.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:10pm Town Centre resident wrote:

Ben, I appreciate you are trying to be impartial, but you are now offering conflicting views. Perhaps you have also been misled with inaccurate information about what Councillors can and can't do?
The whole point of this thread is that Lewes District residents are currently being prevented from contacting/discussing/ engageng in a dialogue with their elected representatives (Counciloors) because Peter Gardiner (the subject of this thread) is following the incorrect advise of an LDC solicitor, and advising Councillors that they should not engage with the electorate in planning matters.
You obviously have never attempted to point out to an LDC a mistake in a planning report to an officer. The residents who attempted to correct the Albion St mistakes were libelled by LDC staff in an e-mail, and even in a later public meeting. It was eventually acknowledged that a mistake had been made by LDC,
If you want to speek at a meeting you have to fight for one of three places, and unlike many other councils you only get 2 minutes to speak, wether it be about a fence, or 750 flats on a flood plain. this is why it is important to ensure you havea legal, and constructive dialogue with councillors before a meeting.
it is also interesting to note that Cllr Gardiner is building a reputation as one who fails to reply to correspondence either promptly, or at all, from members of the public.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:21pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I'd go a bit further than that, TCR.
The appropriate, and more usual, arrangement is that those objecting to a development have a dialogue with council officers during the consultation period and that their views are fairly expressed in the planning report. The planning officer should then advise members whether, in his/her opinion (and it is only an opinion) those objections are justified in planning terms and if so, whether they carry sufficient weight to constitute grounds for refusal that would not be likely to overturned on appeal.
Part of the problem in the history of Lewes planning applications is that the public have often felt that this last part of the process has not been properly carried out, either because of incompetence or malpractice, and that their objections have not been fairly or fully explored in the advice given to members. Councillors appear to have chosen to disregard this failing.
I have seen numerous reports to the planning committee here that I would have referred back for further work by the officers when I worked in London and I consider their treatment of objections of major applicatiosn to be cavalier, at best. I am also aware of at least one occasion when they omitted to consult a statutory consultee (English Heritage, I believe). The planning department are useless, and the councillors don't seem to want to do anything about it.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:22pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
I'd go a bit further than that, TCR.
The appropriate, and more usual, arrangement is that those objecting to a development have a dialogue with council officers during the consultation period and that their views are fairly expressed in the planning report. The planning officer should then advise members whether, in his/her opinion (and it is only an opinion) those objections are justified in planning terms and if so, whether they carry sufficient weight to constitute grounds for refusal that would not be likely to overturned on appeal.
Part of the problem in the history of Lewes planning applications is that the public have often felt that this last part of the process has not been properly carried out, either because of incompetence or malpractice, and that their objections have not been fairly or fully explored in the advice given to members. Councillors appear to have chosen to disregard this failing.
I have seen numerous reports to the planning committee here that I would have referred back for further work by the officers when I worked in London and I consider their treatment of objections of major applicatiosn to be cavalier, at best. I am also aware of at least one occasion when they omitted to consult a statutory consultee (English Heritage, I believe). The planning department are useless, and the councillors don't seem to want to do anything about it.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:41pm Taff wrote:
Based on the discussion here I dont know how this man can show his face in public ever again.
If he lives in Lewes he should have his parking fee doubled at least!
If he doesnt live in Lewes he should be made to do so, in the stocks on the castle green. Made available for rotten tomato throwing raising funds for a prime local charity. Wasnt St Marys forced to close? Whatever, I would pay for the opportunity.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:51pm Geoff wrote:
Annette
TA few to add to your list of LDC Planning Officer 'accidents'
The Council failed to consult the Fire authority regarding fire access to St Nicholas Lane. This has never been resolved.
The Council did consult ESCC regarding the loss of a car park in Albion St, but failed to include the actual view provided, which recommended refusal. They used a letter that formed part of the ongoing correspondence instead, that didn't recommend anything. they also failed to check the mistake, even though numerous attempts were made to point it out, including telling Cllr Kim Clark, who didn't check properly either.
Castle Ditch Lane
Failed to consult anyone with regard to a Listed building application for the old sub station, as they didn't even notice there was no Listed Building application, alongside the planning application It was eventually processed several years after the buildings were finished, and occupied!
Current Application in East St car park; Failed to consult, or even obtain permission, before demolishing a Listed wall, then failed to send application to correct authority.
Yellow House in St Martins Lane, failed to include views of residents regarding this application. One officer attempred to pursuade residents not to complain (no longer with LDC) eventually mess resolved following high profile media campaign created by exasperated residents, whose councillors would not reply to planning correspondence.
Mount St. Officers failed to notify a neighbour of application, and also failed to consult correctly regarding impact of application on Conservation Area. Resident eventually resolved error, without help of Councillor, by contacting MP. Officers had to reverse recommendation in report to refusal, and admitted not having visited site of proposed change.
etc etc
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:53pm Geoff wrote:
see my post above.
Oh, and he lives in/near Ringmer, who I doubt are very welcoming of his presence either.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 1:59pm Ben wrote:
In what way am I offering conflicting views? All I am saying is that Local Authorities up and down the country have Codes of Conduct allowing Planning Committee Members to have limited direct discussions with the public and applicants, and that's all utterly admirable. But in practice it's rare, and with good reason: it's very difficult to remain impartial if you are being lobbied by an angry mob of residents or an oleaginous developer. Personally I would prefer to have a clearly-defined situation where the Planning Committee is too remote, as opposed to a hazy one where there is a higher risk of prejudicial decision-making.

What I feel is the real issue here is not whether the Planning Committee members are directly contactable by either party or not, but whether people think their views are being heard and represented. Dealing with exasperating planning officers up and the country, as I do on an almost daily basis, I can understand your past experiences in this respect. I think we are all agreed that the lines of communication and representation, and indeed the general bureaucratic approach of LDC, could be a whole lot better than they are. But that's a separate discussion.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 3:33pm Ben wrote:
"Bias on the part of an individual councillor wouldn't make the process itself unfair."

What? Surely that's a cornerstone of natural justice - the right to a fair trial? If one of the judges has already decided you're guilty and won't listen to the evidence, do you still get a fair trial?
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 4:05pm Another Arrogant Sod wrote:
I agree with Ben
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 4:17pm sashka wrote:
The process is put in place to overcome the bias of councillors, or indeed anyone else.
There is little point in this process, which should enable representations to Councillors, to ensure a balanced view, if Councillor Gardiner, and an LDC Solicitor, are interfering with it, by wrongly advising their colleagues!
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 4:33pm TNT wrote:
Ben just accept it mate you are on the losing side on this.You seem to be one of these people that always think that they are more intelligent than others on this forum and therefore cant be wrong.People are entitled to their opinions as are you but if you find that you are outnumbered by supporting
Gardiner then doesnt that tell you something.People are resorting to insults because you come across as very patronising .Probably best if you stick to the Guardian.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 4:54pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
It's only grounds for judicial review if the process is flawed in such a way that the procedure itself is unfair, not the individuals involved.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 4:59pm Ben wrote:
No winners or losers as far as I'm concerned. It's not a competition. I don't like prejudice or misconceptions which is why I try to stimulate sensible debate rather than blindly join the chorus of booing and hissing.

If you'd actually read my posts you'd know I'm not supporting Gardiner, I'm just trying to put a balanced view. Everyone agrees with my original point, which was that the programme was edited in such a way as to make Gardiner look a fool. Whether he is or not is another matter and I'm certainly not going to try to argue with people who say he is.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 5:08pm Annette Curtin-Twitcher wrote:
It wouldn't make the process unfair, partly because there are many councillors on the committee, so the views of one might not count for much, and because there are checks and balances in the process itself, eg the requirement to give reasons for decisions based on planning grounds (ie, you can't just say no because you don't like it) and the right to appeal.
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 5:19pm Ben wrote:
Hmm. OK, that's interesting. So what would happen if an application was approved, say, by one vote - the casting vote of the chair - and they were later found to have colluded with the applicant, say by an exchange of emails? Clearly the consent is unfair. What would be the process for quashing it?
 
 
On 31 Oct 2008 at 7:40pm Frank Keys wrote:
I agree with Ben on this one. The programme was very poorly made. They didn't mention any of the planning applications that have been stopped e.g. Harveys depot, East Street, Malling Brooks. They had an agenda and fitted the contents of the programme to back up the NIMBY campaign. Have a look at development in the rest of the District and see if you think Lewes has got 'overdevelopment' in comparison. Could someone point me towards the part of Lewes that looks like Crawley, I must have missed the 9-lane roundabout....
 
 
On 2 Nov 2008 at 1:29am Lopster wrote:
too tired with Ben's protestations to think of anything important to type to this thread - only doing this so I can have last entry on top 15 threads on site....night night
 
 
On 2 Nov 2008 at 1:31am Lopster wrote:
too tired with Ben's protestations to think of anything important to type to this thread - only doing this so I can have last entry on top 15 threads on site....night night
 
 
On 2 Nov 2008 at 12:13pm I dont live in lewes anymore wrote:
Sozs... That's it then... Debated openly and fairly & Gardiner goes.
Now THAT'S what I call democracy!
LOL
PhilX
 
 
On 2 Nov 2008 at 4:37pm Geoff wrote:
Ben; If you are genuinely trying to be impartial, you will now be aware of two things. Firstly, whoever provided you with inaccurate information about what Councillors can and can't do as discussed above, was wrong, so you might like to tell them. Secondly you will also now be aware that to be impartial you have to consider that there was nothing cruel about the editing of the programme that made Cllr Gardiner look a fool. That he might actually be a fool (or worse) When someone has been acting as improperly as he has, how is it possible to not make him look likeeither an idiot, or corrupt? It is about time the scales fell from his Lib Dem colleagues eyes.
As you are now aware, the RTPI are far more knowledgable than an amateur planning 'expert' who was previously a member of the local university science department. It is now time for Cllr Gardiner to explain why he has been promoting inaccurate legal advice, and interfering with the LDC area electorate's right to communicate properly with their elected Councillors.
 
 
On 2 Nov 2008 at 4:47pm Geoff wrote:
Oh, and by the way Frank Keys, all the applications that have recently failed, did so following the intervention of the public, and in the case of East St, a rare letter of objection from our increasingly concerned local MP.
Lewes doesn't yet look like Crawley, but could. that is the point of warning of where we might be going. A better comparisson perhaps, is Horsham. Incidentally there is a rather unattractive unfinished dual carriageway in Lewes that was created by our Council, and involved demolishing half of Malling St (including rare Mathematically tiled buildings, the whole of the corner of eastgate, and was going to demolish major parts of North St, and West st, before careering round through the paddock below the castle, and beyond. Is this the Crawley comparrisson, you think doesn't exist?!
 
 
On 2 Nov 2008 at 7:27pm Ben wrote:
Geoff, I've seen nothing in this thread to dissuade me of my two main points:

1. Whatever Gardiner has said and done in real life, the programme was a sham; and

2. A system where there is full involvement of Planning Committee Members in discussion with the public and applicants regarding planning applications is, in reality, unworkable, which is why it doesn't happen in Lewes, and why it doesn't happen anywhere else in the country.
 
 
On 3 Nov 2008 at 11:43am I dont live in lewes anymore wrote:
I don't see how the short prog' can be termed a "sham" when it flagged up so many important isssues in just a few mins. If it showed certain people up in a bad light then so be it.
Undoubtably if it had been longer more indepth reporting would have been possible.
The nub is that it said what many of us think.
PhilX

1
 
On 3 Nov 2008 at 12:29pm Ben wrote:
Right. So what you're saying in a nutshell, Phil, is that it's perfectly OK to distort people's words as long as it reflects the views of the majority?
 
 
On 3 Nov 2008 at 3:51pm I dont live in lewes anymore wrote:
Nope not saying that. Think it's clear what I said and doesn't need further qualifying. Reflecting your post the LA sometimes seems to think THEIR minority view is ok and bugger the electorate. I won't sob hysterically if a few council individuals fall on their sword. A case of what goes around comes around maybe?
PhilX


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Lewes antiques centre 53:132
Lewes antiques centre

There is not so much of a housing shortage; more a case of not enough households for preferred lifestyles. In the past, single... more
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