Council planners didn't want to be 'rushed'
3:04pm Wednesday 28th August 2013 in Sport
VALE Council planners’ failure to determine commitments when discussing an application to build 140 dwellings in Wenvoe, has caused developers to seek a public inquiry.
Redrow said the lack of progress on evaluating the Section 106 agreements - planning obligations which make a development proposal acceptable in planning terms, otherwise not acceptable - had led to its move.
But the Vale Council said it did not want to be ‘rushed’ over the planning proposals for the scheme which became valid in December 2012.
It said the planning authority had eight weeks to determine the application or agree an extension of time with the developers and if no time extension was formally agreed, the applicant had six months to launch an appeal after the original submission date if no decision had been made.
Vale Council operational manager development control, Marcus Goldsworthy said the council had negotiated with the developer with regards to the proposal, including the necessary 106 commitments to mitigate any harmful effects of the development.
He said: “Unfortunately, the developer decided to proceed straight to appeal instead of continuing with discussions with the council. A number of unresolved issues remained with the developer, including the majority of the section 106 contributions.”
The appeal was received in May 2013 and was registered as valid by the Planning Inspectorate on August 1 after Welsh Government checks to ensure an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not necessary.
He added: “The authority will report the matter to the planning committee at the next meeting indicating the stance it would have taken if the application had been allowed to run its course.
“When considering major applications, such as this application for 140 houses, the council must be allowed to properly consider all aspects of the proposal and associated impacts and cannot rush to any decisions. Welsh local authorities only have eight weeks to consider major applications compared to the 13 weeks afforded to English authorities.
“Funding for necessary road improvements would come from the 106 contributions, however at the point when negotiations between the council and the developer ceased, these arrangements had not been finalised by the developer.”
Managing director for Redrow, Stuart Rowlands said it had met with the council on April 26 to discuss the Wenvoe application and the disappointing lack of progress on evaluating the S106 contributions.
He said: “At the meeting we made it clear that we were considering the appeal process due to the fact that the application had run beyond the statutory period for determination.
“Notwithstanding those intentions, Redrow and the Council jointly appointed a third party to assist with the resolution of S106 matters in terms of valuation and this process is significantly advanced. Redrow continue to co-operate with the Vale on these matters.”
Elizabeth Mildred, of the Wenvoe Residents’ action group, said: “For some reason best known to themselves, the Council has allowed the application to expire, so meaning that the (Welsh Government) WG has now registered an appeal by Redrow with residents only having until September 12 to voice their objections.
“We simply cannot fathom is why the Council have failed to come to a decision about whether or not to allow planning permission within the required time-frame thus allowing Redrow the option of immediately appealing to WG, but have been having such detailed negotiations behind closed doors with Redrow, going as far as negotiating S106 agreements whilst simultaneously allowing the application to expire.
“We are concerned that any representation that residents make now regarding inclusion/non-inclusion of the site in the LDP and housing requirements will be out-of-date when the inquiry takes place as the Council have still not published their amended LDP or confirmed what the revised housing figures are to be.
Vale MP, Alun Cairns said he was concerned the Vale Council did not act within the required timescale.
He said: “A rejection by the Vale planning committee would have sent a strong message to the Welsh Government’s planning inspector, should they have appealed the decision. As it stands, the inspector will have to decide without a formal view from councillors.
“The delay of the LDP could be critical to this application.
“The Vale cabinet has left green spaces exposed and developers will use that as a reason to press ahead with applications.
“If suitable development plans was in place, this space would have little chance of being developed. They have a lot to answer for.”
Appeal details can be found at www.pcs.planningportal.gov.uk/pcsportal/casesearch.asp using the reference APP/Z6950/A/13/2197735.