Step­ping back in fight to keep a bound­ary

Rutherglen Reformer - - News - Edel Ke­nealy

Calls for the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment to in­ter­vene in the fight to re­tain the bound­ary of Holmhills Wood Com­mu­nity Park have been re­jected.

Cam­bus­lang Com­mu­nity Coun­cil re­cently called on the gov­ern­ment to ‘call in’a plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion which sought to con­vert 720 square me­tres of park land into pri­vate gar­dens.

But chief plan­ner John McNair­ney said this would not be pos­si­ble be­cause the pro­posal was not of na­tional im­por­tance.

Sub­mit­ted by house­hold­ers at 3, 4 and 5 Gre­nadier Park, the ret­ro­spec­tive ap­pli­ca­tion was ap­proved by coun­cil­lors at last month’s meet­ing of the lo­cal author­ity’s plan­ning com­mit­tee.

Mr McNair­ney was asked to look into the con­tro­ver­sial plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion be­cause lo­cal cam­paign­ers be­lieved South La­nark­shire Coun­cil was not able to as­sess the ap­pli­ca­tion with due im­par­tial­ity.

This was be­cause the coun­cil had agreed to sell the part of the park while EU fund­ing reg­u­la­tions were still in place at Holmhills; failed to con­sult on the sale of the land and failed to ad­ver­tise the planned de­vi­a­tion of the lo­cal devel­op­ment plan.

In a re­sponse to the com­plaint, drafted by ar­chi­tect Dave Sut­ton, Mr McNair­ney said:“Min­is­ters do have the gen­eral power to call in any live plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion, but in prac­tice will ex­er­cise this power very spar­ingly, recog­nis­ing and re­spect­ing the im­por­tant role of lo­cal au­thor­i­ties.

“Con­se­quently, they would only con­sider in­ter­ven­ing in cases where there were is­sues of gen­uine na­tional sig­nif­i­cance that would war­rant them de­ter­min­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion.

“Hav­ing fully con­sid­ered the in­for­ma­tion that you have sub­mit­ted, min­is­ters do not con­sider there to be any grounds which merit call-in of this par­tic­u­lar plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion for de­ci­sion at a na­tional level.”

But he added:“The fact that an ap­pli­ca­tion is not called in does not mean that min­is­ters are giv­ing ap­proval to the pro­posal or agree­ing with the con­sid­er­a­tion of the coun­cil.

“They are merely ac­knowl­edg­ing that it is in the coun­cil’s area of re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­cide on the ap­pli­ca­tion and to en­sure that pro­ce­dural re­quire­ments are ap­plied prop­erly.”

Given the com­mu­nity coun­cil be­lieves the coun­cil has not fol­lowed pro­ce­dures for ad­ver­tis­ing the plan­ning ap­pli­ca­tion, pro­ce­dures at­tached to pri­or­ity green space and the lo­cal devel­op­ment plan, Mr Sut­ton says he will be tak­ing his com­plaint to the Scot­tish Publics Ser­vices Om­buds­man (SPSO).

Mr Sut­ton said:“To build trust in plan­ning process you need it to be trans­par­ent and open.

“We can and will go down the com­plaint of mal­ad­min­is­tra­tion route with SPSO, but we would pre­fer it if the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment ac­tu­ally first ap­plied its own pol­icy for such ap­pli­ca­tions - Cir­cu­lar 3/09 and the T&CP (No­ti­fi­ca­tion of Ap­pli­ca­tions) (Scot­land) Di­rec­tion 2009.”

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