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Lanner Parish Council accused of 'inexcusable' behaviour

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: January 27, 2013

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A senior Cornwall councillor has launched an astonishing attack on a parish council which launched a legal challenge against 25 affordable homes being built in its community.

Lanner Parish Council, which had argued that the scheme on the outskirts of the village broke housing and countryside protection policies, last week lost its action against Cornwall Council's decision.

It has already applied to seek leave to appeal but has yet to decide whether to pursue the case further in the courts.

In the meantime, Councillor Mark Kaczmarek, who lives in the village and is Cornwall Council's cabinet member for housing and planning, has written a bruising letter to the parish council accusing it of wasting tens of thousands of pounds.

Coun Kaczmarek wrote: "What can not be overlooked and what is inexcusable is that the actions of the parish council have cost Coastline Housing well in excess of £200,000, cost the public sector a significant amount of money, risked the loss of around £3 million in funding that Coastline are reliant upon to undertake the development and delayed the provision of much needed affordable housing within the parish.

"This is in addition to the reputation damage that the parish council has caused to itself and those putting their faith in local democracy and the will of Cornwall Council to facilitate the provision of affordable housing where it is right and proper to do so."

He also accused the parish of being "ignorant" or having "disregarded" the duty of Cornwall Council to provide housing and denied people new affordable homes.

He added: "The financial and emotional cost to those people is unimaginable and your parish council has let down the very people it should have been supporting."

In his four-page letter, Coun Kaczmarek also accused the council of wasting £20,000 on the "unpalatable episode".

He went on: "I will leave it to the conscience of every parish councillor as to whether they contribute personally to the wasted costs."

The legal challenge by the parish council, which had argued that under local policy only "about 12" affordable homes would be allowed on an "exceptional" rural site, was rejected by the High Court a week ago.

Judge Anthony Thornton QC ruled the limit on the number of homes was not set in stone.

Ashley Wood, chairman of the parish council, said his initial reaction to the letter was "unprintable".

He declined to comment further until the letter had been discussed by the full council. It meets on Thursday when it is set to decide whether to take the matter to appeal.

Mr Wood has already said that was "likely".

He said when the judge's decision was made: "The decision appears to fly in the face of the principles underpinning the much-trumpeted localism.

"For instance, where previously local need was intended to be established at parish level, there is now the real possibility that Cornwall Council will assess this on a district or even county-wide level.

"The effect of this is that village communities across the county could face development on a scale that far exceeds the needs of their particular villages."

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2 comments

  • WilliamRees  |  February 06 2013, 4:17PM

    Unfortunately Lanner Parish Council actions have cost the Cornish Taxpayer a lot of money. All Cornwall Council Taxpayers will have to pick up the legal costs of expensive lawyers.This money could have been spent on front line services. Should the Local Councillors not be surcharged the costs? They alone decided to go ahead with the action of having a Judicial Review on a application that had been approved by the democratically elected committee.

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  • josdave  |  January 28 2013, 12:37PM

    About time these NIMBYs lost a case. What gives them the right to refuse locals a chance of owning their own homes? Of course it begs the question what is affordable as if you have millions anything is affordable but I hope they will be a fair price and the NIMBYs can go back into their holes ready to climb out and protest about the next thing that gets their goat.

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