Oldham Council defends planning process

With controversy surrounding the approval of two planning applications in Oldham, including yesterday’s news of the suspension of the head of planning, the council has completed an investigation which it said showed “all procedures were correctly followed in line with legal requirements”.

A statement released today by Cllr Hannah Roberts, cabinet member for housing, said: “We have received a number of complaints in relation to the planning applications at Hodge Clough Road and Knowls Lane and the key areas have all been addressed and responded to.

“Where there are found to be more detailed and specific questions, those complainants will receive a separate response.

“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.”

Regarding the news that Stephen Irvine, head of planning at Oldham Council, had been suspended due to accusations of gross misconduct, Roberts said “it is not appropriate for us to comment on the employment status of individuals.”

At a raucous planning committee on 1 July, 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.

The Russell Homes scheme was particularly controversial, with local groups vehemently opposed the project. Following the planning committee, which was mired with confusion and voting miscounts, the process was described as a “kangaroo court” from viewers in the public gallery.

In a letter to the council yesterday, the borough’s Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Howard Sykes urged the council to investigate the approval of the projects, and if the allegations of gross misconduct applied to them, then he asked that “the decisions in relation to these applications are ‘revoked’ and returned to the planning committee with appropriate reports for decision.”

Irvine has been in his role since November 2015, having previously worked as a planning director at NLP, and at Cheshire East Council, where he was planning manager.

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Well done OMBC for defending your planning process !!!

By Anon

Ha ha what a joke. Whipped members who have even admitted it. Omitted documents. Bring on the QC

By Grotton Res

Hannah Roberts is wrong when she says they have responded to all complaints, many of us have still not had any response. Just yet another example of OMBC doing what they like and getting away with it, they are a true disgrace and just treat residents of the borough with total contempt. The planning meeting was a disgrace and the facts were not all presented along with a number of inaccuracies.

By Melanie

Indefensible with the amount of Brownfield Land in Oldham

By Tha'knows

Good luck revoking a Planning permission for 265 houses hope you have deep pockets for the compensation payable to the developer if you go down that route.

By Anon

An unpopular decision locally perhaps! But the attempt to discredit the Planning Officer by the local Lib Dem Leader with misplaced allegations of misconduct, and the subsequent gleeful re-posting of the story by certain Lib Dem Members is nothing less than sleazy and diminishes the values of the party. This is an attempt to overturn an unpopular decision by discrediting the Officer and is shameful. I am, as a Lib Dem voter, very disappointed with the approach. A man has been deliberately slandered because his professional opinion was not what certain members wanted to hear. Difficult decisions are not always popular – this does not justify the malicious accusations towards the Officer.

By On the other hand!

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