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Tories refuse public consultation at Neighbourhoods for major planning applications


Opposition Liberal Democrats left fuming as the Conservative Administration put a stop to both controversial planning applications for the Tesco site by the old Toby Jug site on the A3 and Tolworth Tower being discussed by local residents at Surbiton and South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committees.

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Opposition Liberal Democrats are left fuming as the Conservative Administration put a stop to both controversial planning applications for the Tesco site by the old Toby Jug site on the A3 and Tolworth Tower being discussed by local residents at Surbiton and South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committees.

Neighbourhoods were set up by Liberal Democrats 22 years ago to ensure local residents could have a say in local issues before decisions were made. Under the previous Lib Dem Administration, Neighbourhood Committees were automatically consulted on all large planning applications before a decision was made at the Development Control Committee and residents were invited to have their say.

Lib Dem Chair of Surbiton Neighbourhood, Councillor Malcolm Self said

“Without any public consultation, the Conservative Administration made divisive and undemocratic changes to the Council’s Constitution at the last Council meeting. Sadly, the result is that both Lib Dem run Neighbourhood Committees closest to the area where residents live will not be consulted on the Tesco site or the Tolworth Tower planning applications.”

The Council’s Constitution has currently been removed from the Council’s website because Council officials are trying to make sense of what is not clear in the terms of reference written by the Leader of the Council leaving a lot of democratic uncertainties open to question.

Lib Dem Chair of South of the Borough Neighbourhood Committee, Councillor Rachel Reid said,

“It seems it doesn’t matter what was written in Kevin Davis’ terms of reference and voted on at Full Council as we have now received official confirmation that the Conservative Chair of the Development Control Committee, Councillor Richard Hudson, does not want local Lib Dem Neighbourhood Committees consulted on these important planning applications."

The Conservative’s new rules will see an additional Pre Development Control Committee which includes a presentation from the developer. The meeting will be held at Guildhall about a week before the formal decision is made but objectors and applicants will be limited to a maximum of 30 minutes in total to present their cases.

In conclusion, both Councillor Reid and Councillor Self agreed,

“We still feel that residents should have the opportunity to express their views on these large applications without a time constraint at our respective Neighbourhoods where local views count. In reality, the Pre Development meeting will mean only up to six residents can speak. We will continue to lobby the Administration to allow proper democratic public consultation at our Neighbourhoods.”


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