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Thursday, 18 December 2014

Single vote breaks rules for site plan

AN angry homeowner has hit out at Lake District bosses for breaking their own policies to allow a major planning application to go ahead.

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LET DOWN: An angry Ron Dickson is protesting a controversial decision to allow Bateman Toyota to build a new showroom on a nearby green field site HARRY ATKINSON REF: 50032246B001

Former paramedic Ron Dickson fought proposals to build a new car showroom on a green field site just metres from his home in Lindale.

But the plans, for a new Toyota dealership and workshop at the existing Bateman BMW and Mini, were passed by one vote at the authority’s development control meeting in April.

Now Mr Dickson, who retired to his bungalow with his disabled wife Noelle in 1996, claims he has received no acknowledgements to his letters querying the decision.

The father of one added he has been told his only right of appeal is to take the case to judicial review – a complex legal process costing tens of thousands of pounds.

“All I’ve got is my home and they’ve ruined that with this decision,” Mr Dickson said.

“So how am I supposed to afford to get a second opinion on whether this development should actually be allowed to go ahead?

“I’ve lost faith in the national park authority. It’s totally weighted against individual residents and their rights.”

Members of the authority’s development control committee were told the proposals went against existing planning policy when the matter was discussed five months ago.

But it succeeded by one vote on the basis that 21 jobs at the firm would be saved.

The committee was also told that a further 13 jobs could be created over five years if planning permission was given a green light.

In a letter explaining the case to Westmorland and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron, LDNPA chief executive, Richard Leafe, claimed the application was seen as an exception to planning policy because it safeguarded 40 jobs.

Mr Dickson added: “Where did this figure come from? It’s seems to be a fabrication to justify the fact that they’ve bent their own rules to allow this application through.

“The whole thing stinks and I feel terribly let down by the system.”

LDNPA planning officer Ben Long responded to the claims, stating the Bateman Toyota application had been a finely balanced case.

He added that Mr Leafe had been talking in “higher terms” within the letter to Mr Farron and that the figure of 40 jobs had been “an approximation”.

“It was a real balancing act which on this occasion amounted to significant economic benefits against limited harm to the land,” Mr Long said.

“Economic prosperity within the national park is a key planning consideration and the committee felt it warranted a departure from planning policy for this application.”

Mr Dickson was refused planning permission for a caravan park on the land in question in 2000.

And the Bateman Toyota application was itself first rejected by national park planners in 2009.

Mr Farron, who has repeatedly called for national park representatives to be publicly elected, said he hoped a mutually agreeable solution could soon be found.

“I would hope that a representative from the national park will meet with Mr Dickson to listen to his concerns and help find a way forward,” he said.

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