Was someone with dastardly intent trying to subvert the democratic planning process in Stony Stratford…?
The question whether someone had pretended to be others, in order to increase the number of objections to a chalet bungalow plan, has caused outrage in the town among those who have had their identities ‘stolen’.
At the centre of the controversy was Sue Starr’s plan to remove trees and build an L-shaped property on amenity land behind 12 Market Square, in Stony Stratford’s conservation area.
Disgusted resident Roy Nevitt wrote to the council after he found a fake letter on MK Council’s planning portal. He slammed: “That letter is a forgery. I did not write it or send it and I do not subscribe to its content.
“Someone has stolen my identity and used it to influence a planning decision in ways that I would oppose. You have distributed this fake letter via your website to countless people in my community who now think badly of me.
“You have a moral obligation to publish the truth about the letter’s status as a downright lie and ensure that my neighbours in Stony Stratford learn the truth; which is that I would wholeheartedly support the application and deeply resent the damage to my reputation occasioned by someone who assumed he/she could get away with such an outrageous fraud.
“This incident raises a question about the integrity of your whole planning process.”
Another resident wrote in bold letters: “Not written by me, not signed by me, not my home address,” on a copy of a letter purporting to have been sent by him.
In her report, planning officer Lakeisha Peacock said: “Several objections were received from interested members of the public. Concerns have been raised in regard to a number of these objections from interested parties, and therefore it is unclear how many of the objections were submitted by the members of the public outlined on the representations.”
However, among the genuine objectors were Stony Stratford Town Council and others who raised genuine planning issues including the potental impact on parking, on the conservation area, and from the loss of trees.
One objector claimed that it would be wrong to remove mature trees in view of the “climate emergency”.
“We have all seen the facts, which are that we need to plant more trees and halt the decline in biodiversity as soon as we can. This planning application
would be completely out of step with this. This is a question of our children’s futures and cannot only be a matter of money,” the objector wrote.
However, if the intentions of the fake objections were to persuade the council not to give planning permission, they failed. Council officers used powers delegated to them to give the go-ahead to the plan.