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Motoring giant accused of bullying over homes plans
FORD has been accused of bullying after it sent a letter hitting out at councillors for refusing plans to build 450 homes near its Dunton site.
The motor giant and Bellway Homes, which wants to build the properties, sent a letter through Deloitte solicitors to Basildon Council’s planning committee.
It stated both organisations felt councillors had been “misled” and made their decision to reject the application based on “false or inaccurate information”.
Ford and Bellway want to build the homes on greenbelt land in Dunton, but their plans were refused at a planning meeting on June 12. The letter angered councillors, as it also said the applicants were now considering taking the decision to a planning appeal, which could cost the council thousands of pounds if it loses.
Phil Rackley, Labour councillor for St Martin’s ward, who sits on the planning committee, said: “The letter was a bit of a bullying tactic.
“It was quite shocking for the committee to receive it. But it is not unusual for applicants who have been refused to write to us with their views. The decision was perfectly sound. It was taken after a proper debate by the committee.
“The letter was Bellway’s and Ford’s way of trying to make the committee debate this again, but the decision has been made and we will be sticking to it.”
Because of the letter, the planning committee re-voted on the issue on Wednesday. But they refused the application for a second time, on the grounds it did not comply with council planning policy.
John Dornan, Tory councillor for Laindon Park and cabinet member for the environment, added: “I stand by everything I said at the first meeting. It is unfortunate the solicitors have produced this letter. In my opinion, they tried to influence the committee and undermine the good work of local councillors who have done their best on behalf of the people of Laindon.”
The council is currently consulting on a new planning blueprint for Basildon – which could pave the way for the development to eventually be approved. But, if agreed, that policy would not come into force until 2014.
The letter also stated Ford remained committed to the Dunton engineering centre.
It said: “The decision to progress a planning application on this land for residential development in no way means Ford is lessening its commitment to the Dunton Technical Centre.”