Wednesday, September 13, 2006


For better or for worse the appeal is over. My day started with a slight glitch yesterday morning when I found that the Council laptop wouldn't access the internet. Grabbed my things and headed for the council offices where I managed to read a couple of the bits I wanted to check before going over to the Inquiry. The procedural bits at the beginning were soon over and the two sides launched into their opening statements. Then it was time to hear the evidence for the Local Planning Authority, otherwise known as Stockton Council. I didn't think it went very well at first but perhaps I was looking at the wrong things. Some others didn't agree with me.
The inspector then decided he'd take evidence from 3rd parties after lunch, but some had left and others wanted to speak at the end. Consequently it was my turn first, followed by John. I wasn't as well prepared as I should have been and didn't feel I did very well, but the residents said it was OK. John was his usual unruffled, factual self - his experience of appearing at tribunals and courts in his former job stood him in good stead.
The appellant's case started and we sat until well after 5 o'clock hearing that.
The site visit was fixed for 8.20 this morning but I didn't feel a need to go to it. I felt sure the inspector knew what he wanted to see.
This morning's evidence continued and I thought that our counsel was very good in his cross-examinations. Unfortunately I had to miss a large part of the afternoon session to be part of planning committee, but at least we didn't have any horribly contentious ones to consider. Some did need a lot of discussion and careful wording of conditions so that (we hope) we get what we want out of them. Then several of us went back over to the Tabernacle to hear the end of the appeal. We were just in time to hear the last few minutes of 3rd party submissions and then it was time for the closing remarks.
At the end of it all we're worn out with the concentration required and have no idea of whether it went well or badly for us. The inspector was non-committal throughout, telling us only that his decision would be published in the week commencing 9th October. So less than a month before we know whether Eaglescliffe will have Category II private sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and if so whether it will be 41 or 42 units.

The good news that came out towards the end of the afternoon is that the bid for funding for Preston Park's winter garden, aka the conservatory on Preston Hall, has been successful so we look forward to the result of the work and a grand reopening.

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