THE leader of Newport council’s Liberal Democrat group has resigned from the authority’s planning committee, claiming it is “increasingly toothless”.
Cllr Carmel Townsend has voiced frustration over the number of decisions being made after planning appeals to the Welsh Government and says city councillors have an increasing lack of influence.
She resigned from her position on Newport council’s planning committee on Monday with immediate effect.
“The committee is increasingly toothless, with councillor input of limited value,” Cllr Townsend said.
“So many decisions get appealed back to the Welsh Government, and they are almost always upheld by people who don’t understand the negative impact on the ground.
“In my area, and elsewhere across Newport, people’s quality of life is being damaged by almost a developer free-for-all. This impacts parking, general amenity, and litter and rubbish.”
Cllr Townsend, who represents the St Julians ward, has been a member of the committee since 2017.
But she says the city needs “a new strategic direction, rather than a leadership that appears to be frightened of appeals and Welsh Government planning inspectors”.
“I am resigning so that I can be completely free to stand up for residents who deserve far better, and be critical of the decisions being made,” Cllr Townsend added.
Conservative councillor Charles Ferris, who is also on the committee, said he shared some of the frustrations voiced by councillor Townsend.
“I do not think it’s a fault of Newport council or the planning committee,” he said.
“But it is the fact that we seem to be tied by diktats of the appeal process and the inspector seems to cast in stone what will be accepted.
“It goes against in many ways the influence of the planning committee.”
Cllr Ferris said there has been particular frustration over applications regarding houses in multiple occupations which have been recommended for approval despite parking concerns.
Despite being against an application, Cllr Ferris said the committee can be reluctant to reject plans if the decision is likely to be overturned after an appeal.
“If we vote against it goes to the inspector, who can award costs against the council,” Cllr Ferris said.
Newport City Council has been contacted for comment.