Mayor of Calderdale Chris Pillai in planning procedure row

A ward councillor – who is this year’s Mayor of Calderdale – is calling on the authority to change the way it approaches some submissions made over planning applications.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 11:00 am

Coun Chris Pillai (Con, Rastrick) was concerned two letters of objection he had forwarded on to the council were not listed on briefing papers given to councillors on Calderdale Council’s Planning Committee.

Mr and Mrs Hosty’s application to build a two storey side and single storey rear extension at their Foxcroft Drive, Brighouse, home was approved with conditions by the committee after a row about what did or did not constitute an objection.

Coun Pillai’s own summary as a ward councillor was published in the papers and committee chair Coun Victoria Porritt (Lab, Elland) said members were satisfied points had been raised.

Coun Chris Pillai (Con, Rastrick) who is also the Mayor of Calderdale
Coun Chris Pillai (Con, Rastrick) who is also the Mayor of Calderdale

He had highlighted concerns about highways issues, loss of light and size and scale of the development as well as issues which might arise during construction including lorry access, noise and dust.

Coun Stephen Baines (Con, Northowram and Shelf) was concerned it was out of character and allowing it might set a precedent.

Planning officers said each application had to be looked at on its own merits and overall there were no problems, with any loss of amenity not to the extent that it would cause harm.

Coun Pillai said he was unhappy two objections he had emailed in to officers on behalf of objectors back in February were not published on the planning portal .

He asked for a 21-day adjournment so they could be placed there and said procedure needed to be re-examined for the future.

“I need to log a protest that there had been a slightly ingenuous procedure. That is poor and something needs to be done about this,” he said.

Coun Porritt asked for the matter to be clarified.

Planning lead Richard Seaman said one of the letters Coun Pillai had forwarded on had an address but no house humber and an illegible signature – although this had actually been published on the portal – while the other had no address or signature and had not been.

He explained: “Clearly, if objectors are completely anonymous it is difficult for council officers to decide what, if any, weight should be attached to the letters.”

Coun Baines said sometimes people who did want to be identified, for example for neighbourly relations, asked ward councillors to ensure there views were heard and that is what had happened here.

Mr Seaman said: “It is important though that there is a point of principle around making objections to planning applications.

“I note what you say about people not wanting to fall out with their neighbours but in terms of transparency an applicant is assuming expectation people will object to their scheme.

“I’m not aware of any council who would attach the same weight to an anonymous objection,” he said.

Coun Baines said if submitted by a ward councillor it should be accepted as a legitimate objection in the future.

At the meeting the committee also approved another application, submitted by Mr Majid Azeb to alter a planning condition relating to the roof at Trafalgar Works, Haugh Shaw Road, Savile Park, Halifax, the requested mono pitched roof negating the need for a valley gutter.

There were no objections to the application and one letter of support. Members were told it had only originally come before planners in 2019 because the applicant at that time was Coun

Faisal Shoukat (Lab, Park), and applications submitted by councillors have to come before the committee.

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