Posted by: westlancashirerecord | August 29, 2016

Council Accepts Aughton Planning Inquiry Decision As Lawful

Hopes in Aughton that the recent Parrs Lane planning inquiry decision might be challenged as unlawful have been dashed by the Director of Planning in a reply to Aughton Residents’ Group. Colin Atkinson sought answers on behalf of incensed residents.

John Harrison john-harrison replied “Firstly, you asked whether this appeal decision means the whole Local Plan is now void and will have to be subject of another full examination. The short answer is “no”. The Planning Inspector considered that the merits of the proposed development outweighed potential harm to the countryside and its being contrary to our Local Plan policy and consequently ruled in favour of the developer and against the Council’s original decision in a finely balanced judgment. The Inspector gave weight to the policies of the Local Plan in this decision (e.g. see paragraph123 of the appeal decision letter), and, in current and future planning decisions, the policies of the Local Plan will continue to have weight.

“Secondly, you asked how it is that the developers have been able “to determine which of the Plan B parrspic sites should be brought forward without any consideration / selection process by WLBC”. This matter – i.e. the workings of “Plan B”, as set out in Policy RS6 and paragraph 7.68 of the Local Plan – was considered by the Inspector in paragraphs 14-38 of his decision letter. The Inspector acknowledged that the Local Plan text “confirms that [in the event that safeguarded land were to be released for development] it would be the Council who would commence a review to determine which Plan B sites would be the most suitable for release” (paragraph 14 of the decision letter). The Inspector went on to conclude that the proposed development is contrary to Local Plan policy RS6. However, in the overall balance, this conflict with policy RS6 was outweighed by other considerations.

“Finally, you asked whether the Council will have the willingness to “appeal these decisions to the High Court”. Under Section 288 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, the local planning authority is only able to challenge a decision of this nature (i.e. the allowing of an appeal by the Planning Inspectorate) on the grounds that the Inspector has erred on a point of law. Whilst the Council is, as previously stated, disappointed by the Inspectors decision, it does not consider the Inspector has erred on a point of law, and therefore considers that it has no valid grounds for an appeal to the High Court”.

Residents simply do not believe this reply. It has been stated at the Aughton Parish Council that if Wainhomes and or Redrow won the appeal it would mean WLBC had an invalid Local Plan. The letter also does not answer fully the question of which Plan B sites should be brought forward, it merely comments on it. Just as the Altys Lane stitch-up was a local political necessity to save a Tory council vacancy so is this a national political favour for developers.

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