Tyne & Wear

Northumberland Council fails to seek planning permission

County Hall, Morpeth
Image caption The council is expected to receive permission for the schemes on Monday

A council failed to apply for planning permission before starting on three of its own projects.

Northumberland County Council only realised consent was needed when it bid for a grant related to the work.

Its planning committee is advised to give the school heat installation schemes retrospective approval.

Councillors were told the rules governing when permission was needed were complicated and private businesses had also been caught out.

Committee member Ian Swithenbank said: "I know we have to treat retrospective applications like any other, but it hardly sets a good example to the rest of Northumberland."

The council has installed ground source heat pumps at Seahouses Primary School, Cambois Primary School and Ashington Community Football Club.

The committee, which decides on planning applications made by the council, has already given retrospective consent for a similar scheme at the authority's depot at Stakeford.

The authority was eligible to claim payments for these projects under the Renewable Heat Incentives (RHI) scheme, at which point the error was noticed, the Local Democracy Reporting Service said.

Councillors were also told some installations were allowed without approval but it was needed if the system lay outside the boundary of the building or had more than one pump.

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