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Civic Voice Live - 29 June 2010
Posted: 29 June 2010 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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The scrapping of RDA’s whilst saving cost poses the question as to who decides where in a region the European Funds are to be spent?  Regarding Regional Spacial Strategies there is a need for a regional policy statement but something simpler should be possible with cooperative Government / Local Authority working and this includes the Parish and Community levels.

 
 
Posted: 29 June 2010 11:45 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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It is interesting how this discussion has homed in on third party rights of appeal.  The same is true of the poll on the home page of Civic Voice’s website (have you voted yet?) and the other main thread on planning ssues on the discussion forum.  Everything is pointing to this being a major priority for our lobbying.

If we are to be effective then we need examples of planning applications which have been given permission despite very obvious conflicts of interest with the local authority or where it is a clear departure from the agreed local plan/local development framework.  It would be very helpful if these examples could be sent to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) - keep them to one side of A4 and include the name of the local planning authority, the location of the development, the year(s) in question, the scale and type of development and the nature of the objection.

And what are your other priorities for planning reforms in addition to this party rights of appeal?  How can top down planning best be replaced by neighbourhood planning, for example?

 
 
Posted: 29 June 2010 11:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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The Coalition Government is clear that there will be no regional planning policies - this does beg some questions as Peter Spawforth rightly identifies.  It is promising a revised and shortened statement of national planning policies to replace the current, lengthy, series of Planning Policy Statements on different topics.  This is how things are done in Wales.  Any reform of planning policy is full of risk (losing the existing policies which are helpful) and opportunity (deleteing the unhelpful bits and adding new policy emphasis where it matters).  What would you keep and what would you change?

 
 
Posted: 29 June 2010 11:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Peter Spawforth is correct third party appeal will give local objectors the same opportunities as developers and it need not be expensive. At present going to the Planning Ombudsman will not change a planning decision however wrong the process has been an and our experience with them has been most unsatisfactory. “Don’t do it again, again”

 
 
Posted: 29 June 2010 12:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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Thanks to everyone for their contribution to this Civic Voice Live - this is very helpful in shaping our priorities for lobbying on the planning reforms.  Third party rights of appeal is clearly a burning issue - although we need to be aware that there will be strong contrary views expressed by the development industry and some planning professionals.  Do keep the ideas coming in and if we are to make any headway with the politicians then we need your examples.

 
 
Posted: 29 June 2010 01:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Thanks Tony and the team for organising the Civic Voice Live discussion today.

As you say lobbying for Third party rights of appeal is a key issue for Civic Societies and there will be resistance from developers and businesses etc who managed to get it removed from the previous government’s agenda last time.

However the world has moved on a bit, society now requires more equal rights in all walks of life and to quote BP! “we must look after the little people” From the green paper it looks as if its time has come and if every Civic Society were to write about it to their MP and the local newspaper (inviting others to do the same) I am sure it would raise the issue significantly.

For those interested more background information and links to very useful documents is on the Fairness in Planning thread   http://www.civicvoice.org.uk/forums/viewthread/3

 
 
Posted: 30 June 2010 11:55 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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I have difficulty with the idea of third party rights of appeal. Unless the right is tightly circumscribed it will effectively mean taking all but the least contentious planning decisions out of the hands of elected councillors and giving them to unelected (however skilled and fair) inspectors. If it is tightly circumscribed it will exasperate local objectors even more - instead of being told ‘Sorry, you have no appeal rights’ they will be told ‘You do not qualify under Section x paragraph y of the regulations’.

 
 
Posted: 30 June 2010 01:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 23 ]
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This is of course the issue with any appeal process, whether you are condemned to death, sacked from your job or given a parking ticket, but never an argument against the idea or for not having one. The proposals in the Green Paper - Open Source Planning - http://www.conservatives.com/news/news_stories/2010/02/new_homes_and_jobs_through_open_source_planning.aspx  seek to restrict the right of third party appeals to specific grounds acknowledging some of your concerns, but the UK continues to be an outlier amongst western democratic countries in NOT having one. Lack of a third party appeal is one of, if not the main, planning system defect at the moment.
Whatever the initial rules they will probably need fine tuning in the light of experience but the whole principle is essential to reform and bring up to date our archaic planning system. Introducing this fundamental balance into the process, which is not there currently, should itself improve the whole quality of the planning decisions made.  Planning officers and elected Councillors are only human like the rest of us and as experience has shown in the event of a close decision they will usually go for the easy life with the side that has the right of appeal (e.g. developers) to avoid an appeal from them and its associated costs. As this new balance is introduced developers will soon realise the game is up (they have had a good run) and they will have to make their schemes more acceptable to local residents and actually incorporate some of the local suggestions made during consultation to win approval.

Just having the right of appeal and never using it may be all that is required and once everyone recognises the new reality common sense should prevail around this equal balance.

 
 
Posted: 09 July 2010 08:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 24 ]
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Posted on behalf of June Paxton-White, Halifax Civic Trust

I would agree with the points listed. Another one that comes to mind is that a project may go through the planning procedure, we look at the plans, put forward our comments or objections or otherwise participate in consultations. At a later date amendments may be made, often as a result of objections or comments from varied sources, changes made by the developers, or for other reasons known to the planning officers. The outcome can be a building or site that differs radically from the one considered, but without the original people consulted having any further influence over it.  Our members will say “Why on earth did you let them pass that one?” The answer is “The plans we saw didn’t look like that”.  Similarly at the point when we see the plans they may be marked “materials or colours subject to cost or amendment or availability or consultation” or some such loophole that lets through considerable differences at a later stage. I appreciate that consultation procedures cannot be allowed to go on and on for ever but they do not always achieve the desired result.
Regards
June Paxton-White
Hon. Sec. Halifax Civic Trust.

 
 
Posted: 09 July 2010 12:11 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 25 ]
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This is an excellent point June and it happens frequently, I expect it is in the developers handbook.

Quite a bit of the dirty work takes place after the planning committee approval and planners should be obliged to discuss all significant changes with interested parties e.g. local Civic Society and neighbours. This consultation should be allowed, if necessary, to delay any building work so developers would have to change their mindset and show everyone their real intended design upfront. 

Because a developer had offended and got away with it on a previous nearby site the Council planning committee put a specific condition on his next development as a condition of their approval.  A few weeks later the developer invited a planning officer to come on a site visit and agree to his request to remove this condition. We only discovered all this by accident. It took 6 months to persuade the planning officers that in doing so they had acted illegally (only the planning committee can remove conditions put on by the planning committee).  By this time the building was finished and when it had to be brought back to the committee they were told by the same planning officers right at the end of the committee meeting discussion, when we could not challenge the legality of their advice, that the Council “could not take enforcement action anyway at this late stage” and so the committee approved the removal of their original condition. This bad legal advice was later shown to be wrong, as we knew it was, and this would have been an excellent example why an equal right of appeal should be available to a third party. No one would then able to get away with these last minute tricks.

PS. An almost total lack of enforcement is the second great deficit in the UK planning system (after equal rights of appeal).

 
 
   
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