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West End News : LibDem Councillor slams "bizarre" Dundee planning decision by Scottish Executive

February 26, 2006 7:20 AM
West End News : LibDem Councillor slams

West End News : LibDem Councillor slams "bizarre" planning decision

LibDem Dundee City Councillor for Tay Bridges Ward, Cllr Fraser Macpherson, has sharply criticised the Scottish Executive Inquiry Reporters' Unit over its decision to partially uphold a planning appeal at the former Tay Rope Works site in Dundee's West End.

The decision, just received by Dundee City Council, comes six months after the City Council's Development Quality Committee unanimously refused an application for two houses to be built on the site.

Cllr Macpherson said, "The Reporters' Unit has come under a great deal of criticism locally for overturning the democratic decisions of the elected local authority, but this decision is almost bizarre in its outcome, in that the Reporter has upheld the appeal in part, in that one property has been allowed on appeal, but the other remains refused. It's a bit like the Scottish Executive saying - we will neither agree with the Council and local objectors nor with the applicant, but the Reporter will invent his own planning application.

"Complaints about the current appeals system from Dundee councillors have been consistent for some time. The Reporter is not local and has been elected by absolutely nobody but he continually overturns locally determined applications. In this case, the Council refused planning approval, taking into account eighteen letters of objection, together with a petition with 25 signatures from local residents. The peculiar aspect in this particular case is that the Reporter has neither upheld nor refused an appeal - he has effectively invented his own application. Half of the application remains refused and the part he has agreed to is approved with very specific conditions detailing its site, finished ground levels, materials and parking.

"The new Planning Bill envisages substantial change to the planning process and if any case highlighted the need to review the role of the Scottish Executive Inquiry Reporters' Unit it is this decision. I have already contacted the Director of Planning & Transportation and the Depute Chief Executive Support Services at the City Council expressing my disquiet about this decision and asking about the legal position. I have never before come across a Reporter upholding half an application - it is really rather bizarre," concluded Cllr Macpherson.

BACKGROUND NOTE ON PLANNING APPLICATION :

The site of the former Tay Rope Works in Dundee's West End lies between Magdalen Yard Road, Thomson Street and Seafield Road. The original planning application for 2 dwelling houses was refused by the City Council unanimously on 29th August 2005. The Reporter's decision letter, just received by Dundee City Council, indicates that the Reporter has granted consent for the northmost house but refused the southern one. The refusal is on the basis of scale and design in such a restricted location, unrelated to its surroundings. He makes a reference to perhaps joining the remainder of the site to the remaining Rope Works site for which there is a current application (yet to be determined by the City Council).

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