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Chief executive Tony Reeves apologises after letters lost
The chief executive of Bradford Council has apologised “unreservedly” after letters objecting to a controversial planning application went missing.
Tony Reeves said ‘Sorry’ to the Bradford Odeon Rescue Group (BORG) after it emerged that the group’s objections to the demolition of Bradford’s former Odeon cinema had been lost.
The mistake came to light when BORG realised its representations about the £55 million New Victoria Place proposal had not been placed on the Council’s Planning Access website.
Mr Reeves said: “We have asked BORG to resubmit its objections to the planning application as the original copies have been misfiled and cannot be found.
“I apologise unreservedly for this. We have reviewed our systems to ensure that similar mistakes are not made in the future.”
Meanwhile, it has emerged that the Ombudsman is investigating an official complaint over a document issued to councillors by the Council’s strategic director of regeneration.
Complainant Nicholas Bielby, of Frizinghall, said ‘Document Y’, a report issued to the Regulatory and Appeals Committee on October 29, 2008, was “deeply flawed and seriously misleading.” He said the document referred to “the site” as if it were an empty site, suggesting that the demolition of the Odeon was a foregone conclusion.
Mr Reeves said: “It is inappropriate for the Council to comment on matters relating to the report to members of the Regulatory and Appeals Committee while the matter is under consideration by the Ombudsman’s office.”
The planning department has received 344 separate comments on the proposed demolition of the former Odeon building and 352 comments on the planning application for the replacement mixed-use scheme.
BORG has also criticised the way the Council records letters of objection.
A spokesman for the group said: “The planning department apparently no longer officially recognise the word ‘objection’ for they changed their recording terminology midstream to ‘comments’ which diminishes the required impact.”
When asked about this issue, Mr Reeves said: “Comments on planning proposals cannot always be referred to as objections as the planners also receive letters of support.
“The planners will make sure that all comments received about the plans to redevelop the former Odeon are taken into account.”
Langtree Artisan, the developer behind the New Victoria Place plan, said it had nothing to add to previous statements at this stage. The scheme would include the creation of the city centre’s first Grade A offices, a new hotel and apartments.