By Anna Whittaker, Local Democracy Reporter
A councillor said he is ‘sorely disappointed’ after his own authority decided to vote against plans to allow his family’s business to continue operating in an area of green belt land.
The business, owned by Councillor Roger Jackson (Con) and his son, collects waste wood and transforms it into logs and chips.
A planning report from Newark and Sherwood District Council said it had “undeniably harmed” the green belt.
Cllr Jackson is a Conservative member of the authority, and is also the Portfolio Holder for Cleaner, Safer, Greener.
The authority assessed ‘Tricky Trees’ in Old Epperstone Road, Lowdham, over concerns its expansion had encroached onto land beyond its existing planning permission.
A decision on the retrospective application was deferred at a planning meeting in February and a decision was eventually made on August 11.
The council said, at the time, the yard area at the business has been increased by around 60 per cent, a figure Cllr Jackson disputes.
Council officers recommended the application was refused.
Six councillors voted for and six councillors voted against, meaning the final decision came down to the chairman, Roger Blaney (Con) who voted for refusal, saying he did so “with a heavy heart”.
Now, Cllr Jackson has told the Local Democracy Reporting Service it was “sorely disappointing” to have the application turned down.
He said: “My son started this business from scratch 10 years ago and I own the land. He is devastated and my grandson burst into tears when he found out.
“Their livelihoods have been taken away from them.
“I thought we had ideal special reasons for expanding into the green belt because we are a business with rural jobs, producing green energy in the middle of a climate crisis.”
Cllr Jackson previously said the business may have to close if planning permission was refused.
He added: “My son is looking at his options, we can still operate on a smaller site which makes it really daft.
“I thought Conservatism was about supporting local businesses. We aren’t breaking the law we were trying to have a legitimate business.
“My son isn’t wanting to build a housing estate. Sometimes in planning, you have to have some common sense.”
During the meeting, many councillors said they felt torn over the application.
Councillor Tim Wendels (Con), ward member for the area in Lowdham, said he supported the application and added: “The applicant is passionate about making his business successful and has done everything possible to remove concerns previously expressed.
“I honestly believe we need a break out of common sense for this application to be approved.”
But Councillor Malcolm Brock (Lib Dem) said: “I have sympathy for the applicant here but in my mind, I would not want to sacrifice the green belt. If we did I think we would set a precedent.”
Councillor Tim Wildgust (Con) said it was one of the most difficult applications he had dealt with.
He added: “I’ve got to support the officer recommendation on this, even if part of me thinks its crazy, because of that law.”