It’s hard to believe that, with everything else going on in the world and the country (apparently there’s a General Election), we find ourselves once again exercised to the point of distraction by the planners of Bromsgrove.
These are the people we pay to ensure that our villages and towns, and their surroundings, evolve in the ways we would like them to, while meeting the ever-changing expectations from national government policy and, we hope, resisting the ever more hungry demands of developers who always have our highly profitable green fields in their sights.
How difficult can this be?
Too difficult, it would seem, going by their lack of control over a Barnt Green housing estate.
We’ve already wondered (in October’s Village View) how a house builder can ignore a planning authority’s requirements for a public footpath through a new development and put up gates blocking access – especially when around half the public open space provided by the development is behind those gates.
At the time, we assumed the district council would just enforce its requirements. We ordinary folk know full well that if we erect a wall or gates or put in a window that doesn’t have planning permission, the enforcement officer will be round pretty quickly to make sure we knock it down or pull it out.
But no, instead we have Barnt Green Gates-gate.
We also have a lot of careful words intended to try to make councillors and villagers just forgive, forget and get on with the status quo.
According to the developer, Cala Homes, the public right of way through the estate between Fiery Hill Road and Cherry Hill Road was an “aspiration”.
According to the planning department at Bromsgrove, the gates have been “inadvertently approved”.
This is simply unacceptable.
As the Barnt Green independent district councillor, Charlie Hotham, has predicted, we could see this end up before the Local Government Ombudsman. But all that will do is cost the district council, and us, yet more money in defending itself and then possibly paying any awards made by the ombudsman.
What we want to see is the planning department do some proper enforcement by telling the developers that obstructions “quietly shown” on plans, and which were not removed when told to do so, does not constitute their approval.
The gates should be removed and the public footpath, as was always intended by the planners, properly instated to allow all of the villagers of Barnt Green to walk safely into the Lickey Hills – and to allow access to the public open space.