Fed-up councillors to lobby government to 'scrap the Planning Inspectorate'

Surrey Comet: Fed-up: Councillors will lobby government to scrap the Planning Inspectorate Fed-up: Councillors will lobby government to scrap the Planning Inspectorate

Fed-up councillors will lobby government to scrap a body of “remote” planning chiefs they say have taken power away from residents.

Fear of the Bristol-based Planning Inspectorate has led councillors to wave through planning applications they disagreed with, like a four-storey block of flats next to Chessington North station.

Ruling Liberal Democrats voted for a motion to review and scrap the inspectorate at last week's full council meeting.

The Conservative opposition group abstained.

Lib Dem councillor Vicki Harris, who proposed the motion, said: “The planning inspectorate is too remote.

“They don’t really understand localism.

“Admittedly they come here for a site visit, generally one day.

“It’s an exercise that can never really take into account the nuances of the local area.”

 

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Councillors approved a block of flats on this Bridge Road site in July after admitting the Inspectorate would allow an appeal.

Tory Coun David Cunningham said: “It is really shifting the buck from where you do actually have control where Kingston policies are concerned.

“If you were serious about it you would do something about your own policy.”

But he added: “We can all agree that we have been unhappy with some of the local decisions that have been overturned by the inspectorate.”

Coun Andrea Craig said: “There is a need for our own local plan. I think there is a lot of work to be done.”

Coun Patrick Codd criticised the practice of taking “most major and therefore controversial” planning decisions at Development Control sessions, instead of at neighbourhood committees.

Speaking after the meeting, Coun Harris said: “I think we have struck the right balance.”

A Planning Inspectorate spokesman said: “The Planning Inspectorate does in fact uphold the majority of local council decisions - on average 34% of appeals are allowed nationally.”

“The Inspector will be fully aware of the background and issues involved relating to an appeal from the reading of evidence provided by the appellant, the council and any third party representations.”

“Whilst appeal decisions are made at a national level, they are informed by evidence submitted by the parties at a local level.

“This would include the degree of compliance with local planning policies and the views of local residents.”

Comments (1)

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12:27pm Sun 5 Jan 14

Henrybenrycat says...

Local Government across the country runs scared of the litigation costs consequent of the planning inspectors overturning their decisions. The result is that localism and guidance on planning policy from ministers (DCLG and DECC in particular) are rendered irrelevant to local planning decisions.
Local Government across the country runs scared of the litigation costs consequent of the planning inspectors overturning their decisions. The result is that localism and guidance on planning policy from ministers (DCLG and DECC in particular) are rendered irrelevant to local planning decisions. Henrybenrycat

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