Oldham Council has confirmed that head of planning Stephen Irvine has resigned, bringing to an end an internal investigation into allegations of misconduct.
On Monday, it was revealed that Irvine had been suspended while an investigation took place, although it was not revealed what the claims were in relation to.
In recent months Oldham Council’s planning committee had been mired in controversy around the approval of two particularly contentious planning applications; Russell Homes was granted planned consent for 265 houses at Knowls Lane, a 39-acre greenfield site in Lees, while 32 houses were approved from First Choice Homes in Hodge Clough Road. Irvine represented the council at the committee on 1 July, with complaints received afterwards regarding how the democratic process was managed.
Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Howard Sykes urged the council to investigate whether the allegations against Irvine was related to the approval of the projects, and called for the decisions to be revoked if anything was found amiss.
However in a statement earlier this week, the council defended its decision to approve the projects, stating “a thorough investigation into the process has been carried out and we are satisfied that all procedures were correctly followed in line with legal requirements. The decision taken by the Planning Committee stands as we believe the developments are in the best interest of the borough.”
Today, the council confirmed that Irvine had resigned, with no further comment regarding the nature of the accusations.
Helen Lockwood, deputy chief executive said: “I can confirm that Stephen Irvine has resigned as head of planning at Oldham Council. This decision brings to an end any ongoing internal investigations. However, we can confirm that the allegations made were not related to his role in supporting the Council’s planning committee nor to the advice or outcome of any planning decision.
“We regret that the details of an internal process relating to an employee were made public before we had chance to undertake an investigation or reach any conclusion as to the validity of those allegations.
“We wish Steve well in the future and thank him for all his hard work for Oldham Council over the years.”