After a blunder on the dates for the public to respond to a planning application at the former Fytton Arms pub led to the application having to be deferred in the middle of the meeting, it has emerged that other similar problems have been happening in recent weeks.
Mark Kenyon, a Liberal Democrat campaigner in Saddleworth West and Lees, said: “Exactly the same thing happened on a planning application in Springhead at the end of May. Fortunately, one of the residents responded to the error, and let us know. We were able to speak to the planning office, and on that occasion at least, residents were able to get their voice heard.
“This has happened at the same time as we have had problems with the consultation dates on a proposal for 200 houses in Stonebreaks Quarry in Springhead. The dates on that have already had to be changed twice, as the planning department has failed to get notices out in time.”
Councillor Hazel Gloster, the Liberal Democrats planning spokesperson, added: “People do make mistakes, but when I heard that the same thing had happened on a completely different application just a few weeks earlier, I was shocked, although sadly not surprised. Oldham is already facing a judicial review over one of its planning applications, at Knowls Lane in Lees.
“At a time like this, we need to be making sure that we are not making silly mistakes. I said at the time that this was why Oldham gets a bad name. Now it seems it is even worse.”
As shadow cabinet member for housing and homelessness, Councillor Sam Al-Hamdani has written to the interim head of planning and the council’s chief executive, highlighting the errors and demanding a response.
He said: “I have asked the Council to confirm that no other errors of this kind were made – if we have seen two examples of it, I want to know that there have not been any more. I have also asked them what they are doing to ensure that no more of these mistakes happen again in the future.
“At the moment the Conservative Government are putting forward proposals to change the planning system in our country – proposals that I believe are fundamentally damaging, and threaten to build, build, build, on too many of our green spaces.“At this time, we need to be doing everything that we can to show that our planning process is fair, transparent and efficient. These errors undermine all of that.”