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Saturday, 26 July 2014

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Plans for flats in Cumbrian village thrown out

Villagers applauded as plans for a controversial development were rejected by councillors.

Skelton House scene photo
The old Skelton House site in Wetheral

The proposals by Citadel Estates for changes to a planned block of flats in Wetheral were turned down by Carlisle City Council’s development control committee, against officials recommendations.

More than 80 people objected to the proposals, and a crowd of about 60 were at the Civic Centre to hear the decision.

In 2012, Citadel Estates won planning permission to build 15 apartments on the site of Skelton House, which has now been demolished.

Last year the company tweaked the proposals, increasing the size of the block and adding a fourth storey, although the scheme was still for 15 apartments. Following an outcry from residents the plans were rejected late last year.

Citadel lodged an appeal and simultaneously tabled another third set of modified plans, again for 15 apartments but this time over three floors. This was the proposal discussed yesterday.

Planning officers said there was a “marginal” difference in their report.

Andrew Hall, one of the local objectors, spoke to councillors. He said: “It is in times like this that the ordinary, decent, law-abiding citizens, who pay their taxes, need their elected representatives to ensure their best interests are protected and their opinions are listened to.”

Isabel Ferguson, another protester, said the proposed building would “dwarf” listed structures nearby.

“There appears to be no benefit to anyone except the developers,” she added.

Citadel’s agent, Andrew Willison-Holt, urged members to only consider the application with reference to the proposals granted permission in 2012, pointing out the plans were an alteration to these.

“All the objectors can do is carry on throwing mud and that is all they do,” he said. “They disregard the law and planning process.”

He also told councillors they needed to treat the building approved in 2012 “as built” and he did not believe planning inspectors would uphold any refusal.

However, Ray Bloxham, the Mayor of Carlisle who represents Longtown and Rockliffe, replied: “This committee won’t be bullied.”

Mr Bloxham added that he was concerned about proposals from the developer to have waste collected from the planned building by a private company.

“At the end of the day, what happens if the [waste] management scheme is no longer in place? I’ll tell you what will happen, this council would have to pick up the bill and pick up the waste.”

Other members were concerned that the building did not have a back door and said this could be dangerous if there was a fire.

However, Heather Bradley, who represents Currock, said: “Some comments that have been made should possibly have been made at the time of the original application.”

The motion to reject the plans was carried by five votes to three with two abstentions.

After the meeting Mr Willison-Holt said one option available to the firm would be to appeal this decision.

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