UK council gets a primetime grilling for planning decision

By Rob O’Brien
Rarely are Australian councils subjected to brutal scrutiny on television, but a tale of caution has now emerged from the UK.

A show that purports to campaign on behalf of ordinary British citizens who perform ‘extraordinary acts of generosity’ has rallied behind an Afghanistan war veteran’s struggle against his council’s tough planning laws.

TV celebrity Noel Edmonds, the Bert Newton of UK entertainment, launched a broadside against Wealden District Council in Sussex on England’s south coast after it rejected the former soldiers’ plans for a purpose-built bungalow. 

The soldier, 20-year-old soldier Joe Townsend, lost both his legs to a landmine in Afghanistan.

Wealden District Council rejected Townsend’s bungalow application despite the show’s presenter revealing support from both Opposition parties in the UK parliament and the Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

In a press statement following its decision in January, Wealden District Council’s head of planning and building control, Kelvin Williams, said: “The Council seeks to support families who need to provide extended care facilities but the erection of a new bungalow outside of the development boundary would be intrusive and be in direct conflict with existing policies to restrain building in rural areas.”

On the show Noel’s HQ, presenter Edmonds railed against the council’s decision, launching a tirade against the council press officer, who allegedly told the show’s production team that it was the policy of the authority not to speak to entertainment shows.

The council has since offered a new hearing to Townsend which will likely involve planning permission for the development, but councillors are unhappy about the precedent and will be appealing to the Prime Minister for more guidance on planning laws for servicemen and women.

Councillor Pam Doodes, leader of Wealden District Council said: “This case has raised a number of deep concerns over national policy and I shall be writing to the Prime Minister urging him to issue further government guidance on the provision that local authorities make for servicemen and women disabled in the service of their country.”

Watch the video.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at  

Sign up to the Government News newsletter


Leave a comment:

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required