Christchurch residents want their own planning committee

Christchurch RESIDENTS have started a petition asking the borough to have its own planning committee.

The move comes amid frustration with the current one-committee system introduced when the BCP Council was formed three years ago.

Petition organizers say they want a planning committee made up entirely of Christchurch councilors who can make ‘informed decisions’ on local petitions.

They say the growing perception is that decisions are made by councilors in Bournemouth and Poole who ‘do not know the area or local planning policies’.

Only three of the 15 members of the planning committee are from Christchurch and can still be outvoted.

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Steve Alves, secretary of the Friars Cliff Residents’ Association, which is leading the bid to secure at least 2,000 signatures to bring to the BCP cabinet, said: “Local Christchurch residents are growing increasingly frustrated with the current decisions of the planning committee.

“Too often, objections from local residents based solely on planning policies are ignored in favor of councilors advocating for developments where they have never even visited the area.”

He added: “Some committee members have proven to be completely out of touch when dealing with a city other than their own.”

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The Reformed Christchurch Residents Association supports the move.

Recent applications that have raised alarm bells include large houses turned into apartment blocks in Chewton Farm Road, beach hut expansions in Avon Beach and proposals for Barrack Road.

The four parish councils in the borough funded a report which was presented to Overview and Scrutiny in January by Highcliffe and Walkford Parish Council Chairman Bob Hutchings.

He said residents lack confidence that the current system allows for the right decisions to be made and that a multi-committee approach has worked well in other unitary authorities.

The committee said it would revisit the report later in the year, but the BCP administration has previously said that returning to three separate planning councils, one for each city, would be bureaucratic, time-consuming and costly.

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