Omission sites in the Local Plan and the “Old Park Farm 2” planning application: some worrying facts

19 Mar

These are sites that developers feel should be included in a Local Plan but which are not – the Planning Inspector hears evidence about the sites and then decided whether to include them in the local plan.  EDDC’s list of omission sites and their rationale for each of them is in the evidence they presented to the Inspector earlier this month

This matters because one of the omission sites – the “Old Park Farm 2” site – is now the subject of a “special” meeting of the Development Management Committee on 25 March 2014.  This is a site owned by the Stuart family – former enthusiastic members of the East Devon Business Forum.

The Planning Inspector said at the hearing that, if Local Plan numbers are OK, the omission sites will not be discussed in his report at all and he has confirmed that his report will be with EDDC by 31 March 2014.

So, why has a “special” meeting been arranged for this particular planning application (on a site owned by a former EDBF member) when it may well be that by 31 March it could be discounted from the local plan?

It appears that the reason given is that, as a rule, planning applications should be decided within 13 weeks and so this application must be heard before the inspector reports.  However, a correspondent on the website of Independent Councillor Claire Wright has pointed out that the clock only starts ticking on the 13 weeks when all documents have been received, as reported by Damien Mills below:

A district council spokesperson justifies considering these applications ahead of the Planning Inspector’s verdict on the local plan on the basis that, ‘… otherwise they would not be considered within the Government’s specified 13-week period which would put the council at risk of an appeal.’

Like Phil Wakely, I think this is a red herring as the Town and Country Planning [Development Management Procedure] [England] Order 2010 clearly states that the 13-week period begins the day after the application and any supporting documents are received:

‘A valid application shall be taken to have been received when the application, and such of the documents, particulars or evidence referred to above as are required to be included in, or to accompany, the application have been lodged with the appropriate authority mentioned in article 10(1) and the fee required to be paid has been paid.’

While it is not clear from East Devon’s planning portal when, exactly, the revised application was submitted, it is apparent that the supporting documents were not lodged with the council until Monday, January 6 – see, for instance, documents 1313229 [on Page 2] and 1313227 and 1313228 on Page 3:

On this basis, the Development Management Committee has until April 4 to reach a decision so, why is it we are being encouraged to believe otherwise?!

So, we seem to have special treatment for a planning application which might, within days of its hearing, be declared as not being needed.

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