Dunmow Town Council to hire expert to help fight housing plans

DUNMOW town councillors have agreed to hire an expert to give professional advice when they handle large housing applications.

The town has been inundated with an unprecedented number of planning applications in recent months, and councillors decided to take “a pro-active approach to protecting the character and integrity of the town” at a full council meeting.

They approved a motion that would allow the town clerk hire an adviser, on a freelance basis, with the knowledge and skills to help the council formalise responses to the larger applications.

Town clerk Caroline Fuller was pleased councillors approved the recommendation.

She said: “The council’s decision to employ the services of a professional planning consultant when objecting to the larger contentious planning applications will enable us to make objections which stand up to the district council’s planning committee and, if necessary, the Planning Inspectorate.

“We are receiving an unprecedented number of planning applications and are taking a pro-active approach to protecting the character and integrity of the town.”

Dunmow’s mayor, Phil Milne, told the Broadcast: “I think there is so much going on at the moment we need planning advice. It is horrendous the amount of big planning applications coming through.

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“How often we will have to use someone I do not know, but we have certainly had a lot of big proposals come through in the last few months. We have learnt a lot be we do need someone who really does know and understand.”

Speaking at the meeting, Cllr Trudi Hughes said: “If Uttlesford refuses the land south of Ongar Road application, which many residents oppose, it will go to appeal and we will need to have a strong claim to refuse it.

“We do not have the expertise to make really robust letters. The clerk should be able to draw on somebody’s services and she needs to be given that authority.”

Cllr John Davey agreed, adding that the council “should have the funding” to get the expertise needed to fight applications, but stressed the council should have a number of experts it can call on when needed.

? Should the council hire a freelance planning expert when dealing with the larger applications? E-mail emma.hardwick@archant.co.uk