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Council backs down to help Pevensey war hero
A disabled war hero will be allowed to build a specially-adapted bungalow at his grandparents' home after a council caved in to pressure to reverse a planning decision.
A senior Conservative source has confirmed that Tory-run Wealden District Council will allow 20-year-old Royal Marine Joe Townsend to build his dream home, stating the local authority is "going to make sure it happens".
Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Conservative leader David Cameron urged the authority to reverse its decision after Mr Townsend appeared in The Argus.
Mr Townsend's grandfather David Carter, 72, submitted the application to finance and build the bungalow in paddock land at his home in Hankham Hall Road, Pevensey.
But Mr Townsend, who lost both his legs, one completely and one to the knee after stepping on a landmine in February last year, was left devastated when the application was turned down.
He has undergone a succession of operations, with another planned next month, plus rehabilitation at Headley Court in Surrey, but away from his family.
Mr Brown, prior to the cave in, said: "The whole country owes Joe huge gratitude for the sacrifice he's made for our country. It's unacceptable that he is being stopped from having the home of his choice."
Councillors last month voted by a slim majority to reject the plans incorporating a bathroom and carers room, deeming them 'intrusive', despite listening to Mr Townsend's own arguments first hand.
More than 152,000 protesters have signed a Facebook group entitled “Support for Joe to get his bungalow” and 8,000-plus have signed a petition on the 10 Downing Street website.
Councillor Roy Galley, cabinet member for strategic planning and housing delivery with Wealden District Council said: "We have always recognised the huge sacrifice that Joe has made and have been wholly committed to working with Joe, his family and their planning agent to ensure that he gets the home he needs and deserves.
"Immediately following the planning decision, we approached Joe's Grandfather and wish to work with him to reach a solution which is acceptable to everyone. We have agreed with the family that we will meet at their earliest convenience and that meeting will take place this week."
He added: "With a successful outcome from that meeting, we will do everything possible to make sure his application is determined without delay.
"Working within legal timescales, this could mean a decision in principle as early as the end of next week.
"Whilst our immediate priority is resolving this issue for Joe, we are also deeply concerned that there is no specific Government planning guidance in the matter of special arrangements for injured servicemen.
"We will therefore be urging the Prime Minister to reduce the chances of any other council being caught in a situation where there is a heart-rending pressure created by a badly-injured service man or woman needing special accommodation in an area where planning policy directs it to be inappropriate."