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Mark Formosa Reports
10:00am Monday 14th September 2009 in Sponsored columns
I had a lesson last week in how Taunton Deane Council planners treat the people they represent - that’s us, the council taxpayers.
We were particularly upset in North Curry last year to see our local pub demolished.
The developers didn’t even tell the council, as they were supposed to, that they were going to do it.
At the time, the Deane council watched it happen.
Last week, the Deane planning committee rolled over and gave the developers permission to build eight homes on the site, which they would have found difficult to do if the pub was still standing.
Two earlier applications were refused and the refusals upheld on appeal by a planning inspector because the developers would not agree the inclusion of affordable housing.
This third application was identical in design to the second application and again excluded the social housing element - but this time the Deane bowed to the pressure, they say because of the current housing market, and handed over the valuable planning consent.
It was an unpleasant experience for the residents and parish councillors who attended the committee with me to speak against this unwanted and out-of-character development.
Part of the planners’ reasoning at the meeting was ‘oh well, they’ve got another pub in the village so that one will now be more viable’.
Using such a Soviet approach, we can close all the village pubs in the Deane and make the pubs in Taunton more viable.
With over seven pubs a day closing around the UK anyway, that scenario might not be too far away from the truth.
For, despite what Chancellor Darling might try to claim in a desperate attempt to stave off the coming General Election defeat for Labour, we are still deep in the worst recession since the 1920s.
People just don’t have money to spare for going to the pub; many barely have enough to keep a roof over their head and feed and keep warm their family.
Conservatives are very aware of the challenges facing the pub industry, even discounting the lack of support from the Deane council.
That is why some time ago we launched a ‘Save the Great British Pub’ campaign.
To find out more, email me at email@example.com or visit www.markformosa.com