Catalogue of errors reveals 20 other planning mistakes as Milton Keynes residents continue to wait for Blakelands report

An internal council list has revealed more than 20 planning permissions where important conditions were left off decision notices that were sent to developers.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

They echo mistakes made when Milton Keynes Council granted permission for a giant warehouse in Blakelands that controversially excluded some 14 conditions.

A meeting last week heard a former chairman and current vice chairman of the committee complain that the list had not been brought to his attention.

Cllr John Bint (Cons, Broughton) said: “I was horrified to discover that a document has existed for about a couple of years that shows another 20-something examples of wrongly-issued decision notices.

“Despite the fact I am a vice-chair of this committee and chair last year, the existence of this document and its contents had not been brought to my attention throughout that period.”

Cllr Bint called for “transparency” to be added to the council’s plans for improving the planning service, which was added to by resident Davina Scholefield.

She said: “It is not easy to obtain information about mistakes. It is crucial there is complete transparency.

“The culture of concealing mistakes must stop.”

A drone picture of the warehouseA drone picture of the warehouse
A drone picture of the warehouse

Tracy Darke, the council’s director of planning, strategic transport and

placemaking, told Thursday’s development control committee that the other errors were “nothing like the Blakelands decision.”

She said mistakes were “not dissimilar to any council planning department.

“If you were to forensically look at decisions that have been issued over time there will always be instances where there is human error or that conditions are missed.

“It is all about getting decision notices as good and as legally watertight as we can possibly get them. It’s all part of the improvement and development and training that we need to be doing.”

The council has been implementing its own changes even as it waits for the findings of an external audit into the Blakelands decision.

The meeting also heard that Marc Dorfman’s report into Blakelands, where missing conditions were only added after another planning application was made, had been delayed again. The original report was expected last September.

Davina Scholefield said: “There is no plausible explanation for the repeated delays.

“I think the council owes the affected community a full and detailed explanation about what has been going on here and why so many promised deadlines have been missed.”

Responding to a question from the local democracy reporter the council’s deputy chief executive, Tracey Aldworth, said the council has the option to pull the plug on the Dorfman report.

But “he is still following a couple of lines of inquiry from residents” to follow.

“I understand that he’s still hoping to complete the report in September. In the light of the additional information that he’s been asked to review, he’s indicated that he will need a little more time to complete the work.”

She added that Mr Dorfman is well aware of the importance of delivering this investigation as quickly as possible. She is speaking to him on a weekly basis.