Earby fury over Pendle Council planning ‘mistake’


Earby Town Council is to write to Pendle Council asking it to revoke a decision its planning department made by mistake.

The town council’s objection to an application submitted to Pendle Council to demolish the over-bridge link at Wardle Storeys offices in School Lane, Earby, was never logged due to an administration error.

The application, which received two other objections from the public, also included plans to lay out 18 parking spaces, the construction of a bin store and external alterations.

At Monday’s Earby Town Council meeting, councillors agreed that clerk to the council Stephen Schollick should write to Pendle Council to request the revoke or, failing that, ask the council to pursue a judicial review to quash its own decision.

This course of action was taken by councillors after Mr Schollick told members that even if Earby Town Council went down the route of a judicial review on its own and won, it would cost an estimated £20,000 in costs and, if it lost such an action, in the worst case scenario, it could cost up to £40,000.

Councillors in Earby are angry and feel Pendle Council has “totally disregarded” its view. Unhappiness with the plan centres on the location of a bin store and some parking spaces which will be located on what is now green land by Earby Beck.

Coun. Vera Cocker said: “This has put us in a position we can’t possibly afford it. It’s so important to Earby, it’s something quite major. I’m just so cross about it.”

Coun. Chris Tennant added: “We can’t afford to gamble those sort of costs on a judicial review.”

On the course of action agreed, Coun. Tennant added: “We have to do that to give the council a chance to explain itself and make amends.”

However, Coun. Peter Wilkinson said there was a level of professionalism expected by planning staff and this was “not good enough”.

The town council is also going to request an informal meeting with the Wardle Storeys planning agent to see if the issue around the bin store can be resolved after a suggestion by Coun. Peter Hartley.

Responding, Pendle Council’s Planning Manager Neil Watson said: “I accept we have made a mistake and we have apologised for that. It was human error.

“Although the process was incorrect, my view is the decision in planning terms was still the right one.”

Mr Watson said a different process had been agreed with Earby Town Council to ensure a similar incident does not happen again.

A permitted development notification to convert the building into 18 apartments is recommended for approval at Pendle Council’s West Craven Committee meeting on Tuesday.