CAMPAIGNERS have declared “enough is enough” after growing tired of seeing planning wars go the way of developers.
Last night protesters from a dozen campaign groups united to send a loud and clear message to Cheshire West and Chester Council.
The councillors were meeting to decide who should determine the hugely controversial re-submitted Chester Student Village application and they were met by angry campaigners from across the area.
North Blacon Residents Association (NBRA) and People’s Revolt Over Unsustainable Development (PROUD) led the show of strength outside the council chamber in Winsford.
“We want to send out the clear message to all councillors that it’s time to listen to residents and not ignore them,” said PROUD spokesman Darren Johnson.
NBRA secretary Ruth Shaw, who is also part of the Friends of North Chester Greenbelt, said: “Campaigners who have joined us tonight represent thousands of angry people who believe the democratic process in respect of planning issues within this authority is clearly flawed.”
Organisations and communities represented included NBRA, PROUD and Friends of North Chester Green Belt along with Malpas and Upton in the Chester area and Ledsham Manor Action Group from Ellesmere Port.
Defend Delamere Forest also joined the demonstration as did the Save Winsford Flashes, Save Winsford Areas and Save Rilshaw campaigns and angry residents from the village of Moulton near Northwich.
Campaigners have deep concerns over the way a number of controversial planning applications have been dealt with including the student village and the Saighton Camp development in Chester.
There are also fears large parts of the greenbelt across the borough will be given over to developers after CWaC approved the draft local plan which advocates building 22,000 new homes between now and 2030.
Referring to the student village application, Mrs Shaw said: “We’re aware there are councillors from all parties who are deeply concerned, not just about this particular application, but about what is happening with the planning process here.
“The resubmission of this third student village application is a shining example of everything that is wrong within this authority.
“This application was refused consent on January 24 yet here it is again, materially unchanged and back for councillors to make another decision on it.
“This is a damning indictment on how a council’s clear refusal is just ignored by developers and a very real indication of the threat to large swathes of green fields across this county.
“When is the word ‘no’ going to be understood by developers and resident voices heard instead?”
Planning decisions must be made under the law and must not be party political.
Councillors should make decisions based on the evidence before them and determine each application on its own merits.
But the campaigners have concerns over the way some councillors have voted on past applications. They believe there should be an investigation into how planning decisions are reached.
Mr Johnson said: “While we wait for planning matters to become more transparent, we can take action.
“Together we can make a difference to the way residents are able to make their voices heard. More groups would have been here today if we had more time.
“It is intended that all groups share information and build on the strength of numbers we have so people can make contact via the PROUD website to take this forward.”