THE chairman of a council has launched a blistering attack on the authority’s planning department, claiming it was responsible for a litany of failures over a controversy-hit site.

Richmondshire District Council’s planning committee sat in silence for seven minutes as long-serving member Councillor Stuart Parsons castigated officers over their report about changes to plans to expand a holiday business in Hurgill Road, Richmond.

He accused planning officers of presiding over a “cock-up” and producing a report that amounted to “absolute nonsense” that was “hysterically wrong”.

The scheme to extend the UK’s first luxury sustainable holiday location was given the green light in April last year, despite concerns the site was so severely contaminated with heavy metals that those who visited it were risking their health.

It is understood a group of residents have complained to the Local Government Ombudsman over the council’s handling of planning applications at the site.

Cllr Parsons, who also represents Richmond as an Independent on North Yorkshire County Council, said following planning permission being granted last year councillors had met with officers agreed changes to the conditions.

“I really do not feel confident that we are being listened to," he said. "The report is full of errors. The wording in front of everybody is completely and utterly wrong. I am absolutely furious that the changes we agreed when we met with the officers haven’t been included in the updated recommendations.

“Quite frankly I cease to have any confidence in the planning department at Richmondshire District Council. The lack of follow-through, explanation, provision of information as requested is unacceptable. I will not be working with the planners in future I will be going through their director.”

Councillor Clive World, another long-serving member of the council, added: “Cllr Parsons has said a lot. I agree with him. We attended a meeting and were promised certain things would be amended before the report came out. It has not been amended. Why?”

Officers responded saying there had been no intention to mislead councillors and that the report featured what had been considered “the best approach to take”. They added that Cllr Parsons was “quite rightly pretty angry about the situation we have got ourselves into”.

After the meeting the council’s leader, Councillor Angie Dale, said the views expressed by Cllr Parsons did not reflect the views of the authority’s leadership.

Councillor John Amsden, chairman of planning committee, added: “I have asked the authority’s monitoring officer to look into this matter.”