LETTER: Canalside garden planning debate

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IN the Express article dated Friday, April 15th, under the heading “Canalside Garden ‘No’”, you give an account of a decision of Burnley Council’s Development Control Committee to refuse permission for a private garden on the banks of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. Although I am not named, and have no criticism of the accuracy of your report, I request I be allowed to set the record straight in respect of some of what was said at the council meeting.

You report a Mrs Donna Wharton as saying “a deal has been made between the council and applicant. The council wants his property in Cog Lane and he has offered the property if he is granted planning permission – this is morally wrong”. I am, in fact, merely the contractor engaged to carry out the work to create the proposed garden; although the planning application is mine it was submitted for the benefit of a client. My client, who lives a short distance from the site, owns property in Cog Lane. I am aware of, but not party to, his negotiations with the council for the sale of that land.

My client used to live in Cog Lane. When he lived there he preferred to keep his land, which has planning permission for a private garage, as he meant to build a garage. After he was forced to leave Cog Lane, in consequence of the council’s regeneration policies, the land became of little use to him. Rather than accept the council’s cash offer for his land, he said he would prefer the council to provide him with land near his present home suitable for a garden. After careful consideration, the council agreed it had no need for the land, the subject of the recent planning decision and a great deal of work went into negotiation of terms on which it might be leased.

How such dealings can be construed as “morally wrong” escapes me. I am informed it had the full knowledge and approval of council leader Charlie Briggs and chief executive Steve Rumbelow. The council’s planning officers recommended planning permission should be given. I am sure all these people acted with perfect integrity and to suggest otherwise is totally absurd.