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Friday, 22 August 2014

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Anger at ‘confusing’ question in planning poll

Cockermouth goes to the polls next week to decide whether to adopt a pioneering order which would relax planning procedures in the town centre.

But some residents who have received their postal votes are claiming that the wording of the neighbourhood development order question is confusing and it should be rewritten.

Peter Fox, 69, a magistrate, of Norwood Drive, said: “I think it’s going to be an invalid vote because the question is so confusing. People may well be voting for the wrong things as they have misunderstood the question.”

He has contacted Allerdale council but said: “I have not been able to speak to anyone who has anything to do with it.”

The question asks: Do you want the type of development in the neighbourhood development order for Cockermouth to have planning permission?

Jack Storey, 72, of Croftside, said: “The question being asked is confusing. I expect many folk will not give the answer that they think they are giving. The question should be changed.”

Cockermouth was earmarked for the pilot scheme by the Department of Communities and Local Government after the 2009 floods damaged hundreds of properties and many people complained that strict planning laws delayed urgent repair work.

If residents vote in favour of the order, Cockermouth will be the first town in the country to take part in the pilot project which would give automatic planning permission for certain types of schemes.

A spokesman from Allerdale council said: “The Cockermouth NDO referendum question was set by the Government, under the Neighbourhood Planning (Referendums) Regulations 2012. The council was not allowed to amend it.”

The spokesman said that by answering ‘yes’, people would be saying that they want planning permission to be automatically granted for the four types of development specified on the order.

The referendum takes place next Thursday. All Cockermouth residents on the electoral roll will be able to vote.

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