It’s been a long week In Pamington. With little more than a month passed since the highly controversial decision of Tewkesbury Borough Council’s Planning Committee to grant Planning Approval for a Chicken Farm at Starveall (9 votes to 8), nobody – not even the Council itself – had been expecting exploratory or ‘test’ bore holing to begin in the area of the Site.
With so much of the concern of Residents being focused upon the restructuring and ‘commercial use’ of Starveall Lane, which travels nearly a mile from the nearest road, everyone in the Village had assumed that no work would take place on the Site, before the Lane itself had been developed.
They were therefore shocked to find an articulated lorry reversing along the whole length of the Lane before this had happened, and absolutely horrified when the long-predicted damage to the surface immediately appeared.
Receiving e-mails from people in Pamington over last weekend, there was little I could do to seek clarity on what was actually underway and whether it broke the terms of the Planning Permission as many people already thought.
It actually took until Wednesday and a meeting with the Borough Solicitor to gain full clarity on the position and to say I felt as frustrated as everyone in Pamington would be an understatement indeed.
Amazing as it will seem to those reading, as the testing has taken place outside the official development Site, in Legal terms it is considered to be unrelated to the Development. The fact that were it not for the Development going ahead, there would have been no need for the testing to be taking place gives no grounds in current Planning Law for arguing that the Terms of the Planning Permission have been in any way breached.
The very painful pill to swallow is that the arbitrary nature of the way that the Planning Decision was made and observed to be made by many residents has also left local people woefully exposed to what happens next. Planning Legislation in the times of ‘Localism’ actually gives very little thought for the issues which relate most closely to locality. The system is flawed and there is simply no justice when people are having this kind of experience and find themselves at the mercy of the one-size-fits-all and quixotic mentality of London based policy making.
Whilst this is the reality of this specific situation, the approach adopted not just by Tewkesbury Borough, but also by the majority of Local Authorities seems at best defeatist. At worst, it appears completely contrary to the purpose for which Council’s were created to exist and against the will and the best interests of the very people who elect them to take those responsibilities on their behalf.
The real depth of this story is that people everywhere are being failed because those with the responsibility to deliver something better on their behalf are not stepping up to the mark to do it, simply because they see that rules prevent them from doing so.
The rules aren’t working for the very people they are supposedly there to serve and that will stay the same until organisations that will be noticed by Central Government when they do act, actually start to do so.
Local Authorities can do this, but their political relationships with the Government simply mean that they won’t. When it boils down to it, it is political affiliations, groups, parties and all efforts being focused on keeping them in power which are making every day and real life situations like the one which has unfolded in Pamington so very hard for normal people living their lives to bear.
Moving forward, accepting that the Chicken Farm will go ahead is now something that everyone in Pamington has to face.
However, I am continuing to follow up with the Planning Department very closely and hope that interventions from Organisations such as those with responsibility for the Gas Pipeline which Starveall Lane crosses will at the very least bring some positive influence upon the approach to the way that the development takes shape from here.
My thanks goes to Pamington Residents Association for their continuing efforts to keep everyone regularly informed.