Councillors clash at Darlington planning meeting which approves log cabin scheme for vulnerable people

DIFFERING VIEWS: Councillors disagreed at a planning meeting at Darlington Town Hall

DIFFERING VIEWS: Councillors disagreed at a planning meeting at Darlington Town Hall

First published in News

TENSIONS rose at a planning meeting in which a councillor described a proposed accommodation development for vulnerable youngsters as being like an “open prison”.

The comment was made by Councillor Gerald Lee at a Darlington Borough Council planning committee meeting in which an application to build six log cabins in Hurworth Moor, off Neasham Road, was approved.

The cabins will primarily house pregnant young women, or young parents, who are considered vulnerable for reasons such as mental health problems and learning difficulties.

Councillors were told at the meeting that the site would be monitored by cameras 24 hours a day to minimise the chance of anti-social behaviour at the site.

Occupants would also have to adhere to strict night-time curfews and agree to work with necessary agencies if they wanted to remain on site.

Families could live in the cabins for anywhere between six months and two years, depending on how they progressed and when social agencies deemed them ready for re-integration into wider society.

The application received 57 letters of objection and a similar proposal was turned down in 2006.

The meeting was told that special transport would be laid on for the cabins' occupants when they needed to access amenities, but Cllr Lee spoke out against the scheme.

He said: “There are no pavements, the site isn’t on a bus route, there are no facilities locally for the occupants of the cabins.

“Whilst I accept that a coach will be laid on to take them to and from the site, we must not forget we are talking about young people, young ladies and men who probably want that extra bit of flexibility to go into Darlington and go into Stockton when they want.

“That application is very similar, is very much, to that of an open prison.

“At the end of the day any young parent, young people, within these cabins will only get access to the town and to the facilities when a bus is put on.”

Cllr Lee’s remark sparked objections from some fellow councillors, while others accused members of playing politics.

Chair of the meeting, Cllr Paul Baldwin, denied that anybody was playing politics and said he wanted to put it right that the application was nothing like an open prison.

Cllr Lee said that he was entitled to his opinion and it was not up to Cllr Baldwin to put it right.

The application was approved with a majority vote.

Comments (20)

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5:45pm Wed 30 Jul 14

The Love Slug says...

well the gypo's get a full on butlins camp built down there with no objection from the council, so why shouldn't we have loonies and wrong uns too. Darlington - the town that embraces all
well the gypo's get a full on butlins camp built down there with no objection from the council, so why shouldn't we have loonies and wrong uns too. Darlington - the town that embraces all The Love Slug
  • Score: 10

6:49pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Alan Macnab says...

I am a member of the Planning Committee which considered this application today. I voted against this application because it is outside the development limits for which planning permission can be allowed and there is no footpath outside the development on Neasham Road. The Planning Committee refused a similar application for this site in 2006 and really nothing has changed. I also felt that log cabins were an inappropriate development in the countryside in this area. The decision was clearly wrong and now opens the floodgates to inappropriate development in the countryside.
I am a member of the Planning Committee which considered this application today. I voted against this application because it is outside the development limits for which planning permission can be allowed and there is no footpath outside the development on Neasham Road. The Planning Committee refused a similar application for this site in 2006 and really nothing has changed. I also felt that log cabins were an inappropriate development in the countryside in this area. The decision was clearly wrong and now opens the floodgates to inappropriate development in the countryside. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 28

9:51pm Wed 30 Jul 14

harry2 says...

This sounds awfull these vunerable people sounds like they need help with living skills but also they need to be part of a community and help with how to live within a community
This sounds awfull these vunerable people sounds like they need help with living skills but also they need to be part of a community and help with how to live within a community harry2
  • Score: 13

10:21pm Wed 30 Jul 14

Alan Macnab says...

They do Harry 2 but the development is in an isolated area outside Darlington no where near a community, There is no footpath on Neasham Road which is a dangerous unlit road, I judged the application on planning grounds and concluded that I could not support it,
They do Harry 2 but the development is in an isolated area outside Darlington no where near a community, There is no footpath on Neasham Road which is a dangerous unlit road, I judged the application on planning grounds and concluded that I could not support it, Alan Macnab
  • Score: 18

11:34pm Wed 30 Jul 14

laughingboy51 says...

Alan , I know you through press and social media sites to be a genuine guy, how the heck you can go along with this load of cowboys beggars belief. To tell the truth Darlington B.C. must be the laughing stock of the county with their hair brained developments and schemes. I am disgusted. The sooner we get rid of this deadwood at the top, the better.
Alan , I know you through press and social media sites to be a genuine guy, how the heck you can go along with this load of cowboys beggars belief. To tell the truth Darlington B.C. must be the laughing stock of the county with their hair brained developments and schemes. I am disgusted. The sooner we get rid of this deadwood at the top, the better. laughingboy51
  • Score: 15

8:52am Thu 31 Jul 14

Alan Macnab says...

Thanks laughingboy51. It's frustrating really frustrating and yes shocking. The Labour leadership have their own agenda and if anyone puts a opposite view they attack that person like a pack of hungry wolves. They insult, are offensive and spiteful. They pinch ideas and pass them off as their own. Yet they can see nothing wrong with their behaviour. A prime example of this was last Monday when the Leader of the Council insulted the Mayor of Darlington and a magnificent park which the community had come together to create. I find it incredible that no one in their own party stands up to them basically because they are afraid of the leadership. I believe the Council can become a better place marked with civility and respect for alternative viewpoints. That's what I want to see.
Thanks laughingboy51. It's frustrating really frustrating and yes shocking. The Labour leadership have their own agenda and if anyone puts a opposite view they attack that person like a pack of hungry wolves. They insult, are offensive and spiteful. They pinch ideas and pass them off as their own. Yet they can see nothing wrong with their behaviour. A prime example of this was last Monday when the Leader of the Council insulted the Mayor of Darlington and a magnificent park which the community had come together to create. I find it incredible that no one in their own party stands up to them basically because they are afraid of the leadership. I believe the Council can become a better place marked with civility and respect for alternative viewpoints. That's what I want to see. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 29

3:37pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Jan Van-Winkel says...

And the cost of this scheme to our hard pressed Council?
Surely there are other options for this particular group of people.
And the cost of this scheme to our hard pressed Council? Surely there are other options for this particular group of people. Jan Van-Winkel
  • Score: 6

3:49pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Alan Macnab says...

I will find out and post on here. There was this application before the Planning Committee and we had the option to approve, reject or defer pending a site visit. The first option was taken.
I will find out and post on here. There was this application before the Planning Committee and we had the option to approve, reject or defer pending a site visit. The first option was taken. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 3

5:25pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Rover13 says...

Not more gypos, where will it stop, shall we just give them our town , this is not a site for single persons, it is a back door to let more in.
Not more gypos, where will it stop, shall we just give them our town , this is not a site for single persons, it is a back door to let more in. Rover13
  • Score: 6

7:22pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Border Terrier says...

The Love Slug wrote:
well the gypo's get a full on butlins camp built down there with no objection from the council, so why shouldn't we have loonies and wrong uns too. Darlington - the town that embraces all
"Strange" But unfortunately very true!
[quote][p][bold]The Love Slug[/bold] wrote: well the gypo's get a full on butlins camp built down there with no objection from the council, so why shouldn't we have loonies and wrong uns too. Darlington - the town that embraces all[/p][/quote]"Strange" But unfortunately very true! Border Terrier
  • Score: 0

7:23pm Thu 31 Jul 14

pager11 says...

D.B.C. do whatever they want, why refuse something in 2006 and then allow it threw, all lip service and are definitely not democratic. Don't know if this is true but have heard they are buying the old Fire/Ambulance station in Borough road for the Civic, but are gooing to fundraise £1.6 million for the civic? They have plenty of money in the coffers believe me.
D.B.C. do whatever they want, why refuse something in 2006 and then allow it threw, all lip service and are definitely not democratic. Don't know if this is true but have heard they are buying the old Fire/Ambulance station in Borough road for the Civic, but are gooing to fundraise £1.6 million for the civic? They have plenty of money in the coffers believe me. pager11
  • Score: 2

7:27pm Thu 31 Jul 14

Border Terrier says...

"Log cabins" What the hell is all that about?
This town is going down the pan fast. Unbelievable nonsense.
"Log cabins" What the hell is all that about? This town is going down the pan fast. Unbelievable nonsense. Border Terrier
  • Score: 5

6:50pm Sat 2 Aug 14

settheworldonfire says...

Alan Macnab wrote:
I will find out and post on here. There was this application before the Planning Committee and we had the option to approve, reject or defer pending a site visit. The first option was taken.
You seem like a really honest and down to earth person....The people of Darlington should be proud of you.....Could you know possibly now release any other information that the public may need to know about past or future applications that are a bit dodgy...YES I MEAN DODGY...
[quote][p][bold]Alan Macnab[/bold] wrote: I will find out and post on here. There was this application before the Planning Committee and we had the option to approve, reject or defer pending a site visit. The first option was taken.[/p][/quote]You seem like a really honest and down to earth person....The people of Darlington should be proud of you.....Could you know possibly now release any other information that the public may need to know about past or future applications that are a bit dodgy...YES I MEAN DODGY... settheworldonfire
  • Score: 1

10:39am Sun 3 Aug 14

Alan Macnab says...

Thank you Settheworldonfire. There is scrupulous fairness in the system of presenting applications to the Planning Applications Committee and consideration by that Committee. Members must declare an interest if they are connected to the applicant or they are in any way connected to the objectors. In therms of this application the planning reasons for granting approval were not strong enough in my opinion. So I voted against.
Thank you Settheworldonfire. There is scrupulous fairness in the system of presenting applications to the Planning Applications Committee and consideration by that Committee. Members must declare an interest if they are connected to the applicant or they are in any way connected to the objectors. In therms of this application the planning reasons for granting approval were not strong enough in my opinion. So I voted against. Alan Macnab
  • Score: 3

12:21pm Mon 4 Aug 14

ianh says...

Alan.
Thanks for your opposition to this proposal.
You are absolutely correct to oppose this on straightforward Planning gounds.
This represents an inappropriate development at a non-sustainable location. As Cllr Lee also stated, there being no transport or even pedestrian links.
Can you please advise what the Planning Officers recomendation was?

I personally beleive that too many cllrs are content with allowing such inappropriate development in the rural wards as their party chances at the next election will be unaffected.
Alan. Thanks for your opposition to this proposal. You are absolutely correct to oppose this on straightforward Planning gounds. This represents an inappropriate development at a non-sustainable location. As Cllr Lee also stated, there being no transport or even pedestrian links. Can you please advise what the Planning Officers recomendation was? I personally beleive that too many cllrs are content with allowing such inappropriate development in the rural wards as their party chances at the next election will be unaffected. ianh
  • Score: 2

3:36pm Mon 4 Aug 14

LUSTARD says...

Alan Macnab wrote:
Thanks laughingboy51. It's frustrating really frustrating and yes shocking. The Labour leadership have their own agenda and if anyone puts a opposite view they attack that person like a pack of hungry wolves. They insult, are offensive and spiteful. They pinch ideas and pass them off as their own. Yet they can see nothing wrong with their behaviour. A prime example of this was last Monday when the Leader of the Council insulted the Mayor of Darlington and a magnificent park which the community had come together to create. I find it incredible that no one in their own party stands up to them basically because they are afraid of the leadership. I believe the Council can become a better place marked with civility and respect for alternative viewpoints. That's what I want to see.
they are no different in public either
[quote][p][bold]Alan Macnab[/bold] wrote: Thanks laughingboy51. It's frustrating really frustrating and yes shocking. The Labour leadership have their own agenda and if anyone puts a opposite view they attack that person like a pack of hungry wolves. They insult, are offensive and spiteful. They pinch ideas and pass them off as their own. Yet they can see nothing wrong with their behaviour. A prime example of this was last Monday when the Leader of the Council insulted the Mayor of Darlington and a magnificent park which the community had come together to create. I find it incredible that no one in their own party stands up to them basically because they are afraid of the leadership. I believe the Council can become a better place marked with civility and respect for alternative viewpoints. That's what I want to see.[/p][/quote]they are no different in public either LUSTARD
  • Score: 5

5:50pm Mon 4 Aug 14

ianh says...

Just read the planning officers report, they recommended approval.
Whilst i may not agree with that recommendation it does put a different slant on the position taken by the cllrs on the planning committee.

The reports refers to a fine balance in terms of policy decisions but how an unsustainable location outside of the development boundaries can be considered for any habitable use is pushing matters too far for me.

The officers have to take on trust the statements/promises made by the applicant and can only add conditions to the planning consent in an effort to see those promises delivered.

I personally dont believe that these lodges will be used by "vulnerable adults" in the medium or long term. Once in place any such conditions re occupancy will be ignored as dbc dont have the resources to enforce / police those planning conditions.

DBC also have a very poor record when it comes to fighting planning appeals and i do believe that they have take the easy way out on this one. (especially as most of the cllrs will not be impacted by the decision)
Just read the planning officers report, they recommended approval. Whilst i may not agree with that recommendation it does put a different slant on the position taken by the cllrs on the planning committee. The reports refers to a fine balance in terms of policy decisions but how an unsustainable location outside of the development boundaries can be considered for any habitable use is pushing matters too far for me. The officers have to take on trust the statements/promises made by the applicant and can only add conditions to the planning consent in an effort to see those promises delivered. I personally dont believe that these lodges will be used by "vulnerable adults" in the medium or long term. Once in place any such conditions re occupancy will be ignored as dbc dont have the resources to enforce / police those planning conditions. DBC also have a very poor record when it comes to fighting planning appeals and i do believe that they have take the easy way out on this one. (especially as most of the cllrs will not be impacted by the decision) ianh
  • Score: 6

12:24pm Tue 5 Aug 14

loan_star says...

Its funny how a planning issue over "vulnerable people" can be commented on but any planning issue concerning our travelling community is not allowed.
Personally I think this is a stupid place to put this type of development. Why not stick it in Bill Dixons ward?
Its funny how a planning issue over "vulnerable people" can be commented on but any planning issue concerning our travelling community is not allowed. Personally I think this is a stupid place to put this type of development. Why not stick it in Bill Dixons ward? loan_star
  • Score: 2

12:04pm Wed 6 Aug 14

Righty wrongly, lefty righty. says...

I think it's so sad that these young families, in need of a little support, are labelled 'nutters' or 'wrong uns'. Regardless of the rights and wherefores of the development itself, not nice really is it. Some people in society are vulnerable, just be glad it isn't you!
I think it's so sad that these young families, in need of a little support, are labelled 'nutters' or 'wrong uns'. Regardless of the rights and wherefores of the development itself, not nice really is it. Some people in society are vulnerable, just be glad it isn't you! Righty wrongly, lefty righty.
  • Score: 0

1:13pm Wed 6 Aug 14

ianh says...

Righty wrongly, lefty righty. wrote:
I think it's so sad that these young families, in need of a little support, are labelled 'nutters' or 'wrong uns'. Regardless of the rights and wherefores of the development itself, not nice really is it. Some people in society are vulnerable, just be glad it isn't you!
I think the point is that this is not an appropriate location for ANY residential development due to the total lack of any infrastructure/facil
ities.

As stated earlier however, the planning history of this area suggests that the use by "vulnerable" people is little more than a smokescreen for the true future use.......
[quote][p][bold]Righty wrongly, lefty righty.[/bold] wrote: I think it's so sad that these young families, in need of a little support, are labelled 'nutters' or 'wrong uns'. Regardless of the rights and wherefores of the development itself, not nice really is it. Some people in society are vulnerable, just be glad it isn't you![/p][/quote]I think the point is that this is not an appropriate location for ANY residential development due to the total lack of any infrastructure/facil ities. As stated earlier however, the planning history of this area suggests that the use by "vulnerable" people is little more than a smokescreen for the true future use....... ianh
  • Score: 2

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