Councillors in West Berkshire angered locals in neighbouring Tadley last week by refusing permission for a Lidl on its boundary.
Given that the planning system is already seen as inefficient, unwieldy and too complex, this highlights another long-standing problem local authorities are in the centre of – how they deal with their neighbours.
Thousands of Tadley residents had told both Lidl and the council they wanted the supermarket and councillors were told at last week’s district planning meeting that it could mean a reduction in car use as people might walk/cycle there, rather than go further afield.
It was also seen as a help in the case of any further Covid-19 lockdown to have a second supermarket for Tadley.
However, West Berkshire voted nine to two against, which must have been a relief to Sainsbury’s which has the only major supermarket in the town.
Five years ago, the same authority enraged Reading Borough Council’s lead member for strategic environment, planning and transport, Cllr Tony Page, over its lack of co-operation over – co-incidentally – another Lidl supermarket on the edge of its district in Bath Road, Calcot.
There are also ongoing rows between Slough/Bucks councils, Reading/South Oxfordshire councils and, as Charles Bushe reports, things might kick off among Oxfordshire councils tomorrow.
Given all the existing problems with the planning system, this adds unwanted complications.
Even the duty to co-operate seemed not to have been adhered to in the Slough/Bucks dispute.
At a time when the Government needs the economy to get going, perhaps it should lean harder on councils who are not very good neighbours.
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