Decision made on new home after council’s planning blunder

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The planning permission notice outside Gunfield in Shorefield Crescent, Milford

A BUILDER has finally won permission for a bungalow in Milford after an administrative blunder led to New Forest District Council having to launch legal action to fix its own mistake.

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The authority has been preparing a judicial review to put the planning process back on course having incorrectly given the go-ahead to the scheme for a garden at Gunfield in Shorefield Crescent.

Now the application by Jeremy Stockwell, who lives in the village, has been shown the green light properly – despite continuing objections to it by Milford Parish Council as “overdevelopment”.

As reported in the A&T, because the parish council disagreed with planning officers’ recommendation to approve the last scheme, it should have gone to NFDC’s planning committee to make the final decision.

But it was instead rubberstamped in January under delegated powers, against NFDC’s own rules – without district councillors getting a say.

Fearful of losing permission altogether, Mr Stockwell had been unwilling to sign an agreement to quash the approval, so in order to force it, a judicial review was sought by NFDC.

To help resolve the error, last week a duplicate application, with fees paid for by NFDC, went before the planning committee, which followed officials’ advice and voted unanimously to allow it under the correct procedure.

Speaking at the meeting for Mr Stockwell, planning agent Carol Evans defended the chalet bungalow’s design, saying: “It will be a very attractive and modest property that will settle into this varied street scene and reflect the appearance of properties along Shorefield Crescent.”

Afterwards, an NFDC spokesperson said: “The judicial review is still proceeding. As this is the case, it would not be appropriate to comment further.”

Mr Stockwell, who had gone ahead and bought the site after gaining the first permission, told the A&T he was now happy to sign an agreement to quash that original decision.

He said: “I’m pleased that we can now move forward for this site. We’re going to settle planning conditions and then we will start in the summer or spring.”

When the mistake was first uncovered, Mr Stockwell said he was “very disappointed”. Cllr Sue Whitlock, chair of the parish council’s planning committee, said the process had “gone wonky”.

Seeking the judicial review was agreed by a full meeting of NFDC, which also voted to indemnify the chair of its planning committee, Cllr Bill Andrews, in whose name the action is being taken.

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